Not a day goes by that at least one parent asks me “How do I get my child to sleep?” It is the million dollar question. Whether newborn, a few months old or toddler, parents seek that miracle, that desire, that dream of enabling their child to happily go off to sleep without all the drama!
Sleep deprived parents all around the world look on websites, call information services, check in to on line chat rooms and yes, even read blogs about sleep. They visit their baby health nurse, the doctor even paediatricians to find the “cure” for their never ending problem.
Have you tried controlled crying? What about comfort settling? There is the idea of wrapping your baby in numerous layers until they cannot possibly move. Should I set the temperature of my baby’s room to exactly 21 degrees? The book says I must put my baby down to sleep at exactly 7pm. A relative says my baby should be sleeping through the night by now; she isn’t so I must be doing something wrong.
I wonder when parenting became so complicated. Did our grandmothers have the same issues? I tend to think up to a point yes, all children at some time or another have difficulty going off to sleep. I wonder though if there was so much discussion and urgency about it all. I had a conversation recently with a friend’s grandmother, a woman who had eight children. I asked her what her advice would be to parents who are looking for the answer to the great question. “How do I get my child to sleep? “What was her secret? Her answer was simple. I put my children to bed when they were tired! I made sure they had been fed, were relaxed. A cuddle and a kiss, tucked them in and that was that. I asked her what her strategy was if they cried.” That didn’t happen much. They always knew I was nearby if they needed an extra kiss or to be re tucked in “.
Are we making it all too hard? Perhaps yes.
Maybe we could try being a little more relaxed in our approach to managing sleep deprivation. Perhaps it is just that simple, put your baby to bed when they show you they are tired. Be calm and relaxed, take your time .If parents are relaxed and calm, children are more likely to be the same. Look at each of your children as individuals. Neither children nor adults fall asleep just because the clock says it is bed time.
Kerry has worked in a variety of hospitals and community settings including pharmacies, preschool and the highly regarded specialist parent facilities of Karitane and Tresillian. She has helped thousands of parents world-wide and is a mentor for other health professionals.
Kerry is a public speaker, author and mother of two beautiful teenage daughters. A friendly nature and personal approach enables Kerry to provide valuable, accurate information and support for parents of children from newborn to five years of age.