WHY DON'T WE USE SLEEP TRAINING?
We have a few issues with sleep training. The first reason that we do not use sleep training is the idea that we can train a baby to sleep. You cannot teach a baby to sleep. It is a biological function, just like eating and eliminating. It is really important to understand this. Falling asleep is not within our conscious control - this is true for both babies and adults. The more you try to force yourself to fall asleep, the harder it is to actually fall asleep.
What sleep training is doing is training a baby not to signal or cry. We do not support this. We want a baby to sleep because all of her needs have been met, not because she thinks you are not going to come to her.
The next issue we have with sleep training is that it goes against our instincts. Even 'gentle' forms of sleep training are asking a parent to follow a plan and not their instincts.
It is critical to understand that a baby’s development relies heavily on nature, on a parent trusting their instincts. When a baby is born, their brain is only 20-25% of its adult brain. It is really important to understand what is there (an amygdala which is fully developed so they can understand and sense fear, can go into fight or flight and also freeze) but even more important to understand what is not. It is a primitive brain, and the primitive brain needs the support of a mature brain to help it do things like up-regulate and down-regulate. A baby is not born with the systems needed to tell the baby that it needs to replenish and restore its energy when it is burning so much - which is a CRITICAL function for survival. This is why we have something that nature created, called the interbrain. The interbrain connects this primitive brain to a mature brain through all the senses - touch, gaze, smell. So in order for the baby to be able to complete this very important function, a mother must follow her instincts and trust herself to know when the baby needs to be down-regulated and unregulated. This is something that she will know, not something that she will read in a book. The reason that sleep training feels so wrong is that it goes against nature, therefore compromising the interbrain.
We need to follow our instincts. We created the Baby-Led Sleep Approach ™using the motherly instincts that guide both of us. We understand what it means to hear a baby cry and we want you to use those instincts that you have to respond in a way that feels right for you. This instinct that drives your response is there for a reason.
WILL MY BABY CRY?
Yes. We are not a no-cry sleep solution. We believe in allowing babies to express emotion while in the arms of their caregivers. Their brains look for patterns, in the same way that our brains look for patterns. If we change a pattern, they are going to be upset about this and it is our job to support those tears - support but not control. Their limbic system is responsible for that expression of emotion and it is THEIRS, not ours. As parents, we are there to support those tears, never leaving, using our instincts and remaining the calm rock that they need in that moment.
CAN I CONTINUE BREASTFEEDING TO SLEEP AND OVERNIGHT?
Absolutely! We do not see breastfeeding as a 'negative sleep association' or a problem. We work with families all the time who breastfeed to sleep and still have a baby who sleeps through the night. We want to keep the pieces of your nighttime parenting that are working well for you and support you to make changes around the pieces that are no longer working.
We protect the breastfeeding relationship above anything else and want to make sure that if your goal is to continue breastfeeding, that you are able to do that. Our founder, Lauren Heffernan, is working towards becoming an IBCLC and has a very good understanding of this complex relationship.
CAN I CONTINUE BEDSHARING?
Yes! We are supportive of whatever works best for you and your family. We believe that you can still get sleep while sharing a bed with your baby/toddler.
I WANT SLEEP RIGHT AWAY, HOW LONG DOES THIS TAKE?
As we mentioned, we do not use sleep training which means that all of your sleep challenges will not be resolved in one week. Every family is unique and every family has different goals. Like anything else in parenting, there is no such thing as a quick fix. A quick fix may give you a band-aid solution but will not provide you with a lasting result. We want to get to the root of why your baby is not sleeping and for this reason, it does take time. We want your baby to sleep because her needs have been met which means that we need to take some time to figure out what she is asking of you when she is waking at night.