Kristy Griffiths is The Sleep Teacher - certified in infant and child sleep training and mother of 3 gorgeous girls, she knows first hand how exhausting and debilitating sleep deprivation can be. Kristy offers comprehensive sleep training packages tailored to you and your families needs. She offers remote sleep training packages (over the phone or on Skype) as well as downloadable sleep routines to help you structure everything you need to perfect sleep training for your bubs.
This month, we spoke to Kristy about sleep associations and her recommendations on what works best! Read on to find out her thoughts...
Every child to an extent has some form of sleep association to go to sleep, it may be rocking, patting, a dummy, a comforter/teddy, blanket, sleeping bag, feeding, night light, music, someone sitting beside them, the list is endless.
It does not matter which association your child has, there is no right or wrong.
You do however need to remember that when your child wakes in between sleep cycles they may need that same association to resettle back into another sleep cycle, day and night!
What happens is your little one falls asleep with that association, either in your arms, feeding or you sitting beside them, they then have a partial wake up (which we all have in between sleep cycles) and naturally thinks, “Hang on, I was in Mums arms before, now I’m in the cot. I want to go back to sleep, but I don’t know how. So I am going to call/cry out for mum to come back and feed/rock me so I can go back to sleep.” This is because this is how they initially fell asleep so they start to associate it with falling asleep. This can be a very exhausting process.
Now, I am in no way here to tell you that because you are doing one or more of the above that it is wrong. I find that people will always comment on whatever you do, “oh you shouldn’t feed to sleep”, “you shouldn’t give your child a dummy, mine never had a dummy.”
I constantly have parents coming to me with Mum guilt because they know they shouldn’t be doing what they have been doing and I always say the same thing. “A problem isn’t a problem until it becomes a problem”. Don’t let what another bub or Mum does make you second guess what you are doing. As long as it is working for you and your family, there is no problem.
BUT when these associations are no longer sustainable and are causing multiple wake ups and you would like to wean off your current association, there are ways to do this. It does take time and patience but is absolutely doable. When we try to break one association, our children will tend to replace it with another. We want this new association to be something that is going to be sustainable for the entire family.
This is where a comforter comes in! I absolutely love comforters. They do take time to form an association with, but by constantly offering it to your child at bedtime and at each wake up/resettle you will help create the association between sleep time and the comforter. You can also try sleeping with it yourself for a few days to get your scent on it and make it more appealing to your little one. Comforters should be made of breathable material and handkerchief size.
Until that day comes, keep doing what you’re doing and don’t get the Mum guilts that it isn’t the “norm”!
By Kristy Griffiths, The Sleep Teacher
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