3. Permission to Be as Silly as You Can
Does your child love to be silly before bed? To run around, roughhouse and laugh? But, have you been told that you need to discourage the behavior? To quieten them down and ease into bedtime. It makes sense to do that, but what if I told you that laughter has been clinically proven to induce melatonin production; every giggle is bringing your child closer to sleep.
Kate Orson, author of Tears Heal, has some wonderful suggestions that we love using in our home, “If your child runs a mile when you suggest it’s bedtime, then perhaps have a fun game of chase, letting them escape so they take on the more powerful role. Or try to dress them in their pyjamas but ‘dress’ the pillow. Read their bedtime stories in a silly language, or have the book upside down, and wonder why the words are coming out all wrong. Put yourself to bed instead of your child. Each time you make a ‘mistake’ exclaim to your child about your confusion at how you just can’t seem to get it right.”
Kate also suggests that most sleep advice fails to address one of the major causes of sleep issues: the emotional struggles that our children go through. Big emotions that haven’t been processed can make it difficult for babies, children (and adults) to fall asleep, wake during the night or early in the morning. Providing a safe environment full of warmth, connection and laughter can help children release or discuss unresolved feelings so that they can find sleep more easily.
4. Follow Your Instincts and Lean In, Not Away
A study of 600 parents, by Gentle Parenting Advocate, Sarah Ockwell-Smith, revealed that 46 per cent of parents lied to a doctor, midwife or health visitor about bedsharing for fear of being judged. I understand why. Mainstream media preaches that bedsharing parents are endangering their babies lives. But, nothing could be further from the truth.
Sharing sleep promises untold benefits for both our children and ourselves. It promotes breastfeeding and increases the odds of a successful breastfeeding relationship. It offers natural protections against SIDS. And, bedsharing mothers enjoy more sleep. Dr. Stephanie Quillin and Dr. Lee Glenn published a study in 2004 in the Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic and Neonatal Nursing, in which they found breastfeeding and co-sleeping mothers enjoyed significantly more sleep than mothers who bottle fed or slept alone.
Another study reported breastfeeding parents got 40-45 minutes more sleep per night on average during the first 3 months postpartum. Many co-sleeping mothers also perceive they’re getting more sleep and thus have a more positive outlook on their babies’ sleep and their role as a mother.
So share your bed with your baby, do it with pride and find a way to make it work for you. If you’re a new mother, go to sleep with your baby and bank some much needed extra rest. If your baby is older but wakes as soon as you leave the room, watch Netflix in bed with your partner or read an eBook. Or if you’re worried about your child falling out of bed find a practical solution that works for your family like putting the mattress on the floor or using a bedrail or under the cover bumper.
And, I promise you, before you know it, you’ll easily be slipping out of the bedroom after your child easily falls asleep and like me, you’ll be missing the excuse to snuggle a while longer in the dark, black stillness.
5. Find Your Tribe (Where You Can Come As You Are)
Facing judgement as a parent is inevitable – no matter what choices we make, someone is likely to take issue with it. But, the only critic that matters is YOUR child.
But, sometimes, simply knowing that you are not alone can make all the difference. So, I’d love to invite you to come and join the Raised Good Natural Parents Group; a newly created Facebook group that offers support and guidance in a judgment free space. Just make sure to answer the three simple questions so that our wonderful admin team can approve your join request quickly. I’m excited to see you there!
What would you add to this list? I had to stop there or I’d be writing a book! Let’s blow up the comments below and share tips and ideas as we support each other to follow a path to gentle sleep.
Originally published HERE.
Tracy Gillett is an adventure-loving mum, writer and natural parenting advocate. Originally from Australia, she now lives in Vancouver, Canada, with her husband and young son. She is the founder of Raised Good, an award-winning blog and community that strives to support and empower parents to trust and follow their instincts. Tracy is the author of The Lost Art of Natural Parenting. If you enjoyed this article, you can claim your FREE Guide here: The Lies Surrounding Infant Sleep You Can Safely Ignore as a New Parent. You can connect with Raised Good on Instagram and Facebook.