An Alternative to Sleep Training

Good afternoon and happy Sunday! In my most recent post, I discussed some of the reasons why my son may be awakening so frequently throughout the night. The two most common approaches that are used to address babies who awaken frequently throughout the night are sleep training and nighttime parenting. As a mother to a 9 month old boy, I accepted that the  sleep training methods that are currently available, which are effective for some babies, would not be beneficial for my son. Nighttime parenting addresses the individual needs of my son as well as fosters my maternal intuitive responses. As an advocate for breastfeeding nighttime parenting values the benefit of nursing for comfort. Here is my approach:

1. I respond to him when he cries. Nonverbal babies cry as a way to signal that they want or need their caregivers. The benefits of responding are:

  • the baby develops security that his caregivers will always come when he needs them.
  • a baby’s cry stimulates a hormone called prolactin in the mother. This hormone sends a biological response to the mother to pick up and nurse (for nutrition or comfort) her baby.

2. I parent him back to sleep. After I respond to him, I determine what support he needs to go back to sleep. I support him by nursing him, rocking him, holding him, wearing him, singing to him, or co-sleeping with him. The benefits of parenting him back to sleep are:

3. I enjoy the extra time that I have with him. These frequent nighttime awakenings are temporary. Sooner than later, he will no longer require my support to parent him back to sleep; at least to this extent. While I have the opportunity, I am embracing every moment that I have with him.

Nighttime parenting supports my maternal intuitive responses; it considers that physical and developmental factors (such as teethingdevelopmental milestones, and separation anxiety) may be contributing to the frequency of his awakenings; and the flexibility of this method allows me to individualize support based on my son’s needs. I find that using this approach truly makes nighttime parenting a wonderful experience.

Thank you for reading, I hope you have a happy Sunday! =D

Baby Not Sleeping Through the Night? These May Be the Reasons Why.

Good afternoon and happy Friday! As a mother to a 9 month old, I have become happily accustomed to sleepless nights. My son consistently falls asleep around 7:00 pm and awakes around 6:30 am, but he requires nighttime parenting to fall asleep and to stay asleep. After he falls asleep, he wakes up every hour and half to two hours throughout the night. What is causing him to wake up so often? Since he does not have an underlying medical issue, here are the possible physical and developmental reasons for his frequent awakenings:

  1. Teething. My son has been teething since he was 3 months old, and he is still teething. Signs of teething include excessive drool and fussiness. There are over the counter pain relievers such as Orajel and Highlands Teething Tablets; but I have chosen not to give them to my son. Orajel contains benzocaine which is a numbing agent that could cause serious complications; and I discontinued using Highlands Teething Tablets after they were recalled by the FDA on September 30th, 2016.
  2. Separation Anxiety. At 3 months old, my son began exhibiting signs of separation anxiety. Our pediatrician confirmed that separation anxiety can begin as early as 3 months and will peak around 8 months–which was right on target!
  3. Developmental Milestones. At 3 months, my son began trying to sit up. Soon after, he began to practice rolling over, sitting up, crawling, kneeling, etc.  Babies practice new skills even in their sleep, causing them to wake up frequently.

Since my son was born, I have come across many sleep training websites. After reading through them, they all agree that there are two main reasons why babies do not fall asleep on their own and why do not stay asleep throughout the night. The first reason is because of a baby’s inability to self sooth; and the second reason is because of a baby’s dependency on negative sleep associations. Here are my issues with sleep training:

  1. They may contradict a mother’s intuitive responses.
  2. They are not individualized to each baby’s needs.
  3. Teething, separation anxiety and developmental milestones are not considered.
  4. For many babies, nighttime parenting is essential. Many babies need to be parented to sleep and parented back to sleep.

If there are no underlying medical issues; teething, separation anxiety, and developmental milestones may be some of the reasons contributing to a baby’s frequent nighttime awakenings.

I would love for you to comment and share how you approach frequent nighttime awakenings =D

Thank you for reading! I hope you have a happy Friday =D