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The purpose of the following information is to educate parents on the importance of maintaining a healthy foundation of sleep habits for their children. You will also find links below (which, by the way, area always under construction) covering common questions parents have regarding their child's sleeping issues. Some of the links contain questions asked by parents from Parent Soup's Sleep Training Board to Dr. Marc Weissbluth himself.
It is always a good idea to educate yourself about common issues in children, however, with regards to sleeping issues, before you assume your child might have a sleeping problem let's define what exactly a sleeping problem is. Do the test yourself, just click here
I would also like to offer support on a one-on-one basis to provide you with a more personal and closely guided consultation. If you are interested in this type of hands-on support, just go here
How to Create A Schedule
Super Sensitive: Power: Rockers, Nursers, Intense Need For Physical Contact Just to Go to Sleep(a gradual fading approach to ease your baby into sleeping without the need for extreme soothing efforts)
Colicky Infants: Special Care in Scheduling
Early Bedtimes:Why are they so important?
Books About Children's Sleeping
Nightmares & Parasonomias: Nightmares, Night Terrors, Sleep Walking and Sleep Talking
An Introduction From Dr. Weissbluth about Sleep:
"I know that there is a lot of misunderstanding and disagreements about sleeping issues. I'll try to help you understand what is known about sleeping from the perspective of a pediatrician who has studied the subject for many years."
Here's a couple things to consider when evaluating your child's sleep habits:
ENTRAINMENT, Why is Sleep Extremely Important For Parents To Manage Well
*Entrainment* means synchronizing care taking activities with the child's needs. When she is soiled, change her; when she is hungry, feed her; when she is wakeful, play with her; and when she is tired, sleep her.
If child's needs are met on time, then everything goes very smoothly. But real life is not so easy. Wouldn't it be simple if she had some little signal to tell us exactly what needs to be done. To complicate matters, biological sleep-wake rhythms aren't well developed until 3-4 months of age or later, babies will suck even when they are not hungry, and babies will play (if stimulated) even when they should be sleeping.
I suggest thinking about baby care in a naturalistic setting before electricity was invented. Here's some thoughts from that perspective.
When babies are older than 3-4 months of age, they have well defined periods of wakefulness and sleepiness. Playing with the baby when she is in a sleeping period (mainly after sunset) robs the child of sleep. Play should occur only during the period of wakefulness (mainly during daylight).
The biologic shifts from wakefulness to sleep occur automatically and if playing, stimulation, and soothing to sleep are not synchronized with these shifts, then children become over tired. Time is required for sleep/wake rhythms to mature; they don't just show up overnight.
For some babies especially those who had colic, it might be 6-9 months before there are clear sleep/wake rhythms. Therefore, *patience* is required as you try to synchronize your care taking with these rhythms.
Early Bedtime: these sleep/wake rhythms only approximately follow clock time. So parents should be *flexible* and vary the bed time based on the child's appearance and nap pattern for that day. No rigid bedtimes please! But think of this, before electricity, what time did babies go to sleep? My research and experience in studying sleep issues suggest that most babies do much better if the bedtime is very *early*; often around 6-7 PM. There are many social problems associated with a very early bedtime, but if that is the biological need of the child, then I think it should be respected.
Overtiredness Means A Mess: If parents can avoid the over tired state, watch for cues of tiredness, soothe the child to sleep before the child becomes over tired, be very child centered regarding sleep, then the process of entrainment causes the child to associate the sensation of drowsiness with the cozy and warm feeling of being put to sleep. Under these circumstances, falling asleep is not associated with crying.
Here are 5 basic principles for understanding sleep