Following on from my post, the importance of self-soothing, here are my top practical steps to help babies and older children. It’s really important not to rush when you want to start to the help your baby or child, take one step at a time.
Step 1. Set the scene
When we initiate anything new in our lives, it’s always important to create the best conditions prior to starting. I really like to plan, plan plan. I find this helps you and your child feel safe as we use our higher/rational mind. So think when it may be a good time to start, don’t start on holiday as this usually fails. Talk to your baby and if you have an older child, say something like, you know it may be time to start thinking about sleep, let’s think of something really positive.
Step 2. Positive Attitude
Notice your intention and attitude, do you feel positive or does it induce many negative thoughts such as ” we tried this before and it won’t work. A basic premise of cognitive behavioural therapy works on challenging our thoughts and replacing them with positive ones. Click on the link for some ideas at https://bristolchildparentsupport.co.uk/2017/08/5-easy-ways-to-challenge-your-thoughts-and-discover-calm/. Ensure you talk about sleep positively, this is to your baby or child whatever age they are. Babies are very connected to how we feel.
Step 3. A safe, quiet, cool and dark environment to sleep.
When we feel comfortable, safe and secure we have a good sleep. In addition, there is lots of evidence to show that the room, whether the cot is in your room or you co sleep has space, is free of screens, bright lights, and noise. This is especially important for older children too. Blue light from screens and bright eco lights effect. the chemical melatonin. This chemical regulates our 24-hour cycle. Ensure the room is cool and not too hot.
It’s important to think that you always place your baby on their back and if you co sleep ensure that bed is safe for your baby/child. When you know and they know the environment is safe, paradoxically it will help them to sleep.
Step 4. Manage separation anxiety/ nighttime fears.
For babies, play games such as peek a boo, they can then become used to you being there or not. Separation anxiety is normal and part of a developmental process. So in the daytime, spend time with your baby and child, play with them, this will help them to feel safe, do not creep away if you need to say goodbye, tell them you are going and you will return. It’s just as important to help older children with their fears. They will not be able to feel safe, let go to sleep if this is not attended to first. Manage the separation, by helping them to attach to a transitional object. Give them something of yours to take with them, buy a lovely. Record your voice, so they can hear you when you are not in the room. When they wake up, praise them lots for sleeping.
Babies and children thrive on routine, it’s important to have consistent nap times and a bedtime that does not go on for longer than 35 minutes. Be consistent, this is what the research shows works in the long term.
I hope this helps, and if you are unable to do this on your own, seek help.Remember everyone deserves a good night sleep.With Love Catherine
No Tears Self-Soothing.Effective gentle techniques for settling and staying asleep Heidi Holvoet (author)