In short, I believe there is a better way to improve sleep for the family, one that honours a child’s emotional and physical needs and supports a child’s attachment needs. Sleep is not a skill that can be taught; it is a biological function. No sleep training method truly teaches sleep, connecting sleep cycles or self-soothing – it merely changes how a baby communicates with their caregivers.
Sleep is a vulnerable state for all humans, and even more so for our babies. It’s crucial that children go to sleep from a place of calm and feeling connected to you, not out of defensiveness from being left alone. Separation is one of our children’s most wounding experiences; it is only through connection and attachment that true independence can develop. Sleep training methods are designed to use separation and lack of parental response to change sleep behaviour, at the risk of a baby’s emotional needs being unmet.
Sleep training goes against your parental instincts. It never feels good to hear our little ones cry or be upset, and they depend on us to provide them calm, safety and security in their world. They rely on us to respond to them and to meet their needs. As caregivers, we are biologically hardwired to feel activated when we hear our little ones crying for us. Even while we are making changes, supporting our children’s emotions is a crucial part of their emotional and psychological development.
Babies are designed to wake at night and communicate their needs to their caregivers to have them met. It is vital that they do so and that they can trust us to respond! Unfortunately, sleep training only teaches a child that their cries will be ignored, that we won’t come when they call and leave their underlying needs unmet.
We have significant research that shows that traditional sleep training does not result in a baby who wakes less frequently or who has better sleep quality – instead, it merely changes how the baby communicates to their caregiver when they do wake.
I believe that babies need responsive, nurturing care both day and night and that there is a way to maximize a parent’s rest while honouring a baby’s emotional and physical needs. Improving sleep for the family in a way that understands biological norms, is aligned with realistic expectations, and addresses the root of sleep disruptions.