Sleep Like A Baby? Let’s Hope Not!

SleepLikeABaby

“Sleep like a baby”…..have you heard that expression before? If so, then you know most people use it to mean someone is sleeping peacefully and deeply. But if you have a baby at home, then odds are you know what all of us on The Baby Sleep Site® know: generally speaking, babies DO NOT “sleep like babies”!

Sleep Like A Baby? Here’s How Babies Really Sleep At Night

As many of you know, while babies may sleep deeply and peacefully for an hour or two, all that sleep is broken up by plenty of nighttime waking! And while sometimes, that nighttime waking is age-appropriate and necessary, we’ve all dealt with night waking that’s excessive and maddening, simply because it seems to have no cause at all. Here’s a look at how most babies really sleep at night (and why they wake):

Babies Wake At Night To Feed

Here’s a look at how often, on average, babies wake to feed:

  • Newborns to 3 months old: Feedings every 2-3 hours, on demand
  • 3-4 Months: 2-3 feedings per night or every 3-6 hours, on demand
  • 5-6 Months: 1-2 feedings
  • 7-9 Months: 1, maybe 2, feedings
  • 10-12 Months: Sometimes 1 feeding
  • 12+ Months: Generally no feedings

For a more in-depth look at night feeding averages (and to access a cool printable resource!), take a look at our night feedings by age chart.

Babies Wake At Night Due To Sleep Regressions

Oh, sleep regressions – they can break even the strongest of parents! A sleep regression describes a period of time (anywhere from 1 – 4 weeks) when a baby or toddler who has been sleeping well suddenly starts waking at night, and/or skipping naps (or waking early from naps) for no apparent reason. Parents often describe being caught totally off guard: you think your have conquered all your little one’s sleep challenges, when suddenly, out of nowhere, you’re back to constant night wakings and nonexistent naps.

These sleep regressions are usually linked to your baby’s development – when your baby has a burst of mobility, or suddenly begins speaking, you can generally expect sleep to take a nosedive for a short time.

For a deeper look at when sleep regressions happen, how they disrupt sleep, and what you can do to cope, check out our Sleep Regression Resources page.

Babies Wake At Night Due To Sleep Associations

If you can pin night waking on hunger, or on a sleep regression, it could be due to a variety of other reasons (check out our list of 15 reasons your baby wakes at night for details). But most often, in our experience, “mysterious” nighttime waking is often due to sleep associations. Simply put, a sleep association is anything your child associations with sleep. For many babies and toddlers, this includes being rocked, or held, or fed to sleep. Sleep associations like these can lead to frequent nighttime waking, since, when your child wakes at night between sleep associations, she needs your help to fall back to sleep.

Babies Technically Sleep Through The Night Much Earlier Than You’d Think

You may be reading all this and thinking, “Boy…I can’t wait until my baby finally starts sleeping through the night!” But here’s the bad news – sleeping through the night does not mean 12 straight hours of sleep; it actually means 5 straight hours of sleep with no feedings. Sorry! Learning that fact is a bummer, we know. The good news, though, is that you don’t have to settle for 5 hours of sleep a night for the rest of your life – you can work you way up to a baby or toddler who sleeps 10-12 hours each night, without interruption. It just won’t happen in the early months of your baby’s life.

Sleep Like A Baby? It IS Possible….With The Right Tools!

The expression “sleep like a baby” is largely a misnomer, it’s true – but you can get to the point where your baby really is sleeping like a baby. Sure, it won’t happen immediately after birth, and for many of us have to put in some sleep training in order to get to that point, but it is possible…especially if you have the right help! One of the easiest and fastest was to get to “sleeping like a baby” is to try a personalized consultation from The Baby Sleep Site®? Your consultation will allow you to work one-on-one with an expert sleep consultant. Your consultant will craft a Personalized Sleep Plan™ just for your family, walk you through each step of implementing the plan at home, and then will support you throughout the process.
 
Browse our list of consultation package options here.
 

Once you make your choice and purchase, you will immediately receive an e-mail with your Helpdesk login information. You’ll be able to login and start your Family Sleep History form right away – it’s that simple!

Want more information about how personalized help works? Check out our FAQ page here, and get answers. You can also take a tour of the Helpdesk.

Does your baby sleep like a baby, or are you working towards “sleep like a baby” status? Share your stories and questions with us!

 
bss_email_featprod_memberspic-CROPPEDOur Members Area is packed with exclusive content and resources: e-Books, assessments, detailed case studies, expert advice, peer support, and more. It actually costs less to join than buying products separately! As a member, you’ll also enjoy a weekly chat with an expert sleep consultant. And the best part – members receive 20% off all sleep consultation services!
 
Essential Keys to Newborn Sleep Essential Keys to Your Newborn’s Sleep is THE newborn sleep book that will help you to not only improve your newborn’s sleep using gentle, sleep-inducing routines – it will also answer your feeding and newborn care questions. You can even buy a bundle package that includes the e-book AND a Personalized Sleep Plan™ PLUS a follow-up email to use for further support!
 
bss_ebook_3stepsystem_leftFor those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3 Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep. Using the same unique approach and practical tools for success, this e-book helps you and your baby sleep through the night.
 
 
bss_ebook_masteringnaps_leftIf you’re looking for ways to get your baby or toddler into a healthy sleeping routine during the day, I encourage you to explore Mastering Naps and Schedules, a comprehensive guide to napping routines, nap transitions, and all the other important “how-tos” of good baby sleep. With over 45 sample sleep schedules and planning worksheets, Mastering Naps and Schedules is a hands-on tool ideal for any parenting style.
 
bss_ebook_5steptoddler_smalFor those persistent toddler sleep struggles, check out The 5 Step System to Help Your Toddler Sleep. Using the same unique approach and practical tools for success, this e-book helps you and your toddler sleep through the night and enjoy a better daytime schedule.
 

A Sleep-Deprived Mother’s Guide To Night Wakings (…before The Baby Sleep Site that is…)

SleepDeprivedGuide

Guest post by Emily-Jane Clark

Lie down in bed and close your eyes.

Baby cries.

Get out of bed noisily in the hope of waking up your soundly sleeping partner.

Whisper ‘FFS’ several times before grabbing your dressing gown and stomping into the nursery.

Pick up baby and sing to her softly while mentally recalling the book ‘go the F*CK to sleep.’

Return to bed. Start to drift off to sleep.

Baby wakes up.

Shout ‘NOT AGAIN’ loudly, in an attempt to wake up soundly sleeping partner.

Employ the ‘If She Screams Really Loudly I Will Just Feed Her’ weaning technique until she falls asleep.

Return to your bed.

Fall asleep for half an hour.

Baby wakes up.

Shout ‘IT’S YOUR TURN” at soundly sleeping partner to guarantee he wakes up.

Partner goes into baby. Baby screams.

Ten minutes later storm into nursery and retrieve crying baby from partner while tutting.

Consider whether ‘Not Being Able To Get The Baby Back To Sleep’ is reasonable grounds for divorce.

Use a method popular with the sleep-deprived known as Get Your Baby To Sleep By Whatever Means Necessary.

Baby asleep, return to bed.

Sleep for forty minutes.

BABY AWAKE AGAIN.

Climb out of bed and stomp back in to nursery as LOUDLY as possibly.

It is now 4am. You are not singing a sodding lullaby at 4am. Try to fob baby off with Ewan the Sheep instead. She screams. Decide to put the woolly little fraud in the bin tomorrow. ‘Soothes your infant into a deep sleep.’ Rubbish.

Make angry shushing sounds while walking baby around the room like a demented zombie until she goes to sleep.

Return to bed and close your eyes.

BABY WAKES UP AGAIN.

She must be teething? Or hungry? Maybe she is eating her teeth?

It is almost morning! You are tired and on the verge of exhausted madness.

So you resort to the last trick in the book – the “Sod It, She Can Sleep In My Bed” method.

Emily-Jane Clark is a freelance journalist and creator of popular blog HOW TO SURVIVE A SLEEP THIEF. She is currently writing a book Sleep is for the Weak- a humorous survival guide for tired parents! Join her on Facebook or @stolensleep.

Night Weaning vs. Sleep Training: Which Should Come First?

Night Weaning Sleep Training

For many of the exhausted families with whom we work, night weaning and sleep training are both high on the list of priorities. After all, constant night feeds can exhaust even the strongest parents, and a baby who can’t fall asleep independently is one who will wake too early from a nap, or wake during the night due to sleep associations, and not out of true hunger.

So yeah…when it comes to night weaning and sleep training, most parents would say, “Both, please!”. But this raises an interesting question – should one come before the other? Our team of consultants discussed this question recently, and we thought you’d really enjoy getting a peek into their answers!

Keep reading to learn which you should work on first: night weaning or sleep training!

Night Weaning vs. Sleep Training: Usually, Sleep Training Comes First

Let’s cut right to the chase: typically, we recommend working on sleep training first. When our team of consultants create Personalized Sleep Plans™ for the families with whom they work, they typically put night weaning after sleep training in the day-by-day section of the plan. Why? Because when a baby is able to fall asleep independently, without needing any help from mom or dad in the form of sleep associations, most families find that night waking decreases dramatically, and that some of the “night feedings” (that were actually just plain old night wakings) disappear on their own.

See, when a baby knows how to fall asleep without help at bedtime, or at the start of a nap, then he can go BACK to sleep when he wakes at night between sleep cycles (and doesn’t need a feeding), or in the middle of a nap. So if your baby is in the habit of waking frequently at night, odds are many of those night wakings will disappear via the process of sleep training.

Then, once you’ve worked on helping your baby learn to fall asleep independently at bedtime, and when you’ve worked on helping your baby fall back to sleep independently after night wakings, you can start to work on the process of night weaning, IF you and your baby are ready to drop feedings.

For more information on sleep coaching your baby, check out these resources:

Night Weaning vs. Sleep Training: 4 Times To Try Night Weaning BEFORE Sleep Training

While most families do best starting with sleep training and then moving on to night weaning – but in some situations, it’s actually best to reverse that process and start with night weaning first. Those situations include…

  1. …medical reasons. In some rare situations, parents are faced with a medical scenario in which they have to wean from breastfeeding immediately. For instance, we’ve worked with moms who, after a cancer diagnosis, have to wean before undergoing chemotherapy. In situations like these (and depending on baby’s age), it usually makes sense to wean from night feedings while you’re in the process of weaning to formula (if your child is 12 months or younger and still needs formula). Of course, if your baby still needs 1 or more age-based night feedings, keep those – but this is a great time to work on reducing any unnecessary night feedings.
  2. …a toddler who wakes ONLY for 1-2 feedings a night. While some toddlers have serious sleep problems, we’ve worked with many toddler families whose only real problem was one or two night feedings that they wished to get rid of. In these cases, the toddlers usually fall asleep fine at bedtime, wake up to feed once or twice, go right back to sleep on their own, and then sleep until morning. In cases like these, since there are no real sleep problems aside from the night feedings, it makes sense to work on gradually night weaning.
  3. …families who want to continue sharing a bed. We see this fairly often – attachment families who want to continue to share a family bed want to reduce or eliminate night feedings, but don’t want to transition baby to a crib. In these cases, what the parents want is a period of sustained sleep without feedings, so it makes sense to start with night weaning, and to teach baby to fall back to sleep without going to the breast. To do this, we usually create a special bed-sharing day-by-day plan that teaches mom and dad how to gradually help baby fall back to sleep after a night waking without needing to nurse.
  4. …babies who are always fed during every night waking. Now, this one is less sure-fire than the other 3, as it can be hard to distinguish exactly when night feeding has become a deeply-ingrained habits. But simply put, if you ALWAYS feed your baby EVERY time she wakes, then you may want to start offering other forms of comfort during night wakings, before you start actually sleep training. As one of our consultants put it, “If a family has never, ever tried offering a pacifier at 2 a.m. instead of a feeding, or simply holding and patting the baby, instead of feeding, then we usually start off trying that.” Honestly, you’d be amazed at how just this small change to the usual routine can help decrease night wakings, and can provide a great start to sleep coaching!

For more information about night weaning your baby, take a look at these resources:

Sleep Training? Night Weaning? We Can Help With Both!

Sleep coaching can be tough enough on its own – but if you are also working on night weaning, then you may have more than you can cope with on your own! That’s where our team of consultants can help. Our consultants at The Baby Sleep Site® specialize in creating Personalized Sleep Plans™ that are customized to your own parenting philosophy, and that will NEVER make you feel guilty or pressured. Your plan will include everything you need to know about how to help you baby sleep through the night, and how to wean your baby from night feeding. Even better, once you have your Personalized Sleep Plan™, your consultant will walk you through each step of implementing it at home.

Browse our list of consultation package options here.

Once you make your choice and purchase, you will immediately receive an e-mail with your Helpdesk login information. You’ll be able to login and start your Family Sleep History form right away – it’s that simple!

Want more information about how personalized help works? Check out our FAQ page here, and get answers. You can also take a tour of the Helpdesk.

Questions about sleep training and night weaning? Ask below! Tips or suggestions for other parents about how to night wean or sleep train? Share them with us!

 
bss_email_featprod_memberspic-CROPPEDOur Members Area is packed with exclusive content and resources: e-Books, assessments, detailed case studies, expert advice, peer support, and more. It actually costs less to join than buying products separately! As a member, you’ll also enjoy a weekly chat with an expert sleep consultant. And the best part – members receive 20% off all sleep consultation services!
 
Essential Keys to Newborn Sleep Essential Keys to Your Newborn’s Sleep is THE newborn sleep book that will help you to not only improve your newborn’s sleep using gentle, sleep-inducing routines – it will also answer your feeding and newborn care questions. You can even buy a bundle package that includes the e-book AND a Personalized Sleep Plan™ PLUS a follow-up email to use for further support!
 
bss_ebook_3stepsystem_leftFor those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3 Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep. Using the same unique approach and practical tools for success, this e-book helps you and your baby sleep through the night.
 
 
bss_ebook_masteringnaps_leftIf you’re looking for ways to get your baby or toddler into a healthy sleeping routine during the day, I encourage you to explore Mastering Naps and Schedules, a comprehensive guide to napping routines, nap transitions, and all the other important “how-tos” of good baby sleep. With over 45 sample sleep schedules and planning worksheets, Mastering Naps and Schedules is a hands-on tool ideal for any parenting style.
 
bss_ebook_5steptoddler_smalFor those persistent toddler sleep struggles, check out The 5 Step System to Help Your Toddler Sleep. Using the same unique approach and practical tools for success, this e-book helps you and your toddler sleep through the night and enjoy a better daytime schedule.
 

Need help knowing where to start? Visit our Help Me Choose page for helping choosing the Baby Sleep Site® resources that are right for you.

Why Do Babies Fight Sleep?

Baby Fighting Sleep

Have you ever experienced this, parents? You’re in the midst of your bedtime routine, but your baby – who would ideally be getting drowsy and relaxed right about now – is instead arching her back, pulling away from you, crying, and generally doing fighting sleep in every way she can.

Based on the number of questions we’ve gotten recently in our Helpdesk, this is a problem that many of you have faced. That’s why we’re devoting an article to it today: we’ll lay out the three most common reasons your baby is fighting sleep, as well as 5 solutions that can help!

Baby Fighting Sleep? Here Are 3 Reasons Why

There are 3 primary reasons why most babies fight sleep at bedtime and nap time:

  1. Baby is overtired
  2. This is hands-down the most common reason why your baby is fighting sleep. Simply put, a baby becomes overtired when you miss his “sleep window” (that moment when he’s drowsy enough to fall asleep fairly quickly, but not so tired that he’s begun crying) and put him down for a nap or for bed too late. It sounds odd, I know, but babies really can become too tired to fall asleep easily.

  3. Baby isn’t tired enough for sleep
  4. This is less common, but still a reality in some cases – especially for toddlers. If your baby is fighting sleep, rewind and think about how much wake time your child has had. While younger babies definitely need short wake times throughout the day, most toddlers are capable of much longer wake time. In our experience, a toddler who’s fighting sleep may very well not be tired enough to sleep.

  5. Baby is going through separation anxiety
  6. Separation anxiety doesn’t strike for most parents until around 9 or 10 months – it tends to be part of the 8/9/10 month sleep regression. But when it strikes, it can definitely lead to your baby fighting sleep! Separation anxiety tends to really peak around 18 months, and can also re-surface again around the 2 year mark.

**Bonus** So, this can be considered a 4th reason, but we’re treating it at a “bonus” cause of sleep-fighting, because it’s important to rule out the previous reasons before settling on this one. Another reason why your baby fights sleep may simply be related to your baby’s personality and temperament. Simply put, perceptive, social babies are more likely to fight sleep, simply because they don’t want to miss a minute of fun, and they have learned that being awake is so much more stimulating and interesting than being asleep!

Baby Fighting Sleep? Here Are 5 Tips That’ll Help

Wile the “why is my baby fighting sleep” question can be incredibly stressful and frustrating, rest assured that it can be solved fairly easily.

  1. Move bedtime to either an earlier or a later time in the evening.
  2. If your baby fights sleep because he’s overtired, then moving bedtime up to an earlier point in the evening can really help. You may also want to try shortening your bedtime routine a bit – shorter routines can help your baby feel relaxed and drowsy, but also ensure that you’re not keeping your baby up too long before bedtime.

    However, if you suspect that your baby is fighting sleep because she isn’t tired enough to fall asleep, then try moving bedtime later. Again, this is particularly true for toddlers – if your toddler is still taking two naps a day, for example, then your bedtime may need to bumped back fairly late in order to make sure your toddler is tired enough for sleep. And in theses cases, you may need to extend your bedtime routine, to give your toddler plenty of time to wind down.

  3. Institute a nap routine, if you haven’t already.
  4. Many of you no doubt have a solid bedtime routine in place – but lots of parents overlook the nap routine! But in our experience, a nap time routine can really help a baby or toddler go from full-on playing and fun to falling asleep. If your baby is fighting sleep at nap time, and you suspect it’s because she’s having trouble transitioning from playtime to nap time, then try a calming nap routine. Just be sure to keep it on the short side – 1 story and a quick lullaby is great.

  5. Adjust your baby’s feeding and sleeping schedule to allow for more or less wake time.
  6. If you’re asking yourself, “Why is my baby fighting sleep?”, odds are you need to make some schedule adjustments. A baby who is overtired may be taking too few naps, or taking short naps. Conversely, a baby who isn’t tired enough at nap time and bedtime may be ready to drop a nap, or to have a later bedtime.

    For help in determining the best, most sleep-inducing schedule for your child, check out our sample sleep and feeding schedules by age, or use our custom schedule maker.

  7. Give your child a little space.
  8. Now, this won’t work for every situation, and it’s mainly intended for toddlers. That said, here’s what I mean: if your baby or toddler is pushing away from you during the nap time or bedtime routine, there is no harm in putting your child down, scooting away a little, and just giving your little one a break. If your toddler is older, you may want to try leaving the room for a few minutes, and then returning to try again later. It’s not a punishment or a consequence – it’s just you respecting your toddler’s emotions, and giving him the space that he seems to be requesting.

  9. For separation anxiety, check in and provide comfort, but work not to create new sleep problems.
  10. As I said earlier, separation anxiety is a less common cause of a baby fighting sleep. However, if that’s the cause of your baby fighting sleep, then you’ll want to take a look at this article on separation anxiety and sleep for tips about how to manage this problem without creating additional sleep problems.

Baby Fighting Sleep? We Have The Help You Need!

Good nighttime sleep and restorative, consistent naps are hard enough to accomplish – but if your baby is fighting sleep? They can feel downright impossible! Fortunately, we can help. Our consultants at The Baby Sleep Site® specialize in creating Personalized Sleep Plans™ that are customized to your own parenting philosophy, and that will NEVER make you feel guilty or pressured. Even better, once you have your Personalized Sleep Plan™, your consultant will walk you through each step of implementing it at home.

Browse our list of consultation package options here.

Once you make your choice and purchase, you will immediately receive an e-mail with your Helpdesk login information. You’ll be able to login and start your Family Sleep History form right away – it’s that simple!

Want more information about how personalized help works? Check out our FAQ page here, and get answers. You can also take a tour of the Helpdesk.

Why does your baby fight sleep? Share your experiences and tips with us!

 
bss_email_featprod_memberspic-CROPPEDOur Members Area is packed with exclusive content and resources: e-Books, assessments, detailed case studies, expert advice, peer support, and more. It actually costs less to join than buying products separately! As a member, you’ll also enjoy a weekly chat with an expert sleep consultant. And the best part – members receive 20% off all sleep consultation services!
 
Essential Keys to Newborn Sleep Essential Keys to Your Newborn’s Sleep is THE newborn sleep book that will help you to not only improve your newborn’s sleep using gentle, sleep-inducing routines – it will also answer your feeding and newborn care questions. You can even buy a bundle package that includes the e-book AND a Personalized Sleep Plan™ PLUS a follow-up email to use for further support!
 
bss_ebook_3stepsystem_leftFor those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3 Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep. Using the same unique approach and practical tools for success, this e-book helps you and your baby sleep through the night.
 
 
bss_ebook_masteringnaps_leftIf you’re looking for ways to get your baby or toddler into a healthy sleeping routine during the day, I encourage you to explore Mastering Naps and Schedules, a comprehensive guide to napping routines, nap transitions, and all the other important “how-tos” of good baby sleep. With over 45 sample sleep schedules and planning worksheets, Mastering Naps and Schedules is a hands-on tool ideal for any parenting style.
 
bss_ebook_5steptoddler_smalFor those persistent toddler sleep struggles, check out The 5 Step System to Help Your Toddler Sleep. Using the same unique approach and practical tools for success, this e-book helps you and your toddler sleep through the night and enjoy a better daytime schedule.
 

Need help knowing where to start? Visit our Help Me Choose page for helping choosing the Baby Sleep Site® resources that are right for you.

Parenting Styles and Sleep: How Your Parenting Style Affects Sleep Training

Parenting Styles

We’ve said this before: your child’s temperament and personality will heavily influence how you approach sleep coaching, what kinds of sleep coaching methods you use, and how quickly or slowly you move through the process.

But YOUR parenting philosophy and personality is equally important! After all, sleep coaching isn’t just dependent on your baby…your sleep coaching plan’s success or failure also depends on your ability to stick with it, and see sleep coaching through to the end. And as our team of consultants has seen over the years, the plan that you can stick with is the plan that matches your parenting philosophy and goals. We have seen parents try to sleep coach in ways that fundamentally contradict their nature as parents, and it just doesn’t work.

So, what kind of philosophy of parenting do you have? And how will that philosophy impact sleep coaching? Read on to find out!

7 Parenting Styles, and How They Affect Sleep Training

A quick note – there are historically three different types of parenting styles, as developed by Dr. Diana Baumrind. However, since Baumrind’s research has been published, a few more notable parenting styles have appeared; I’ve included three of those in the article.

1. Attachment Parenting

Attachment Parenting Basics:

  • Dr. William Sears credited with creating the attachment parenting philosophy
  • Generally, focused on sustaining and nurturing the deep bond between parent and child
  • Emphasis on respecting the child, and on loving and gentle guidance
  • Many attachment parents practice bed-sharing, prioritize breastfeeding, and are proponents of baby-wearing

Effect on Sleep Training:
When it comes to sleep, many attachment parents are reluctant to sleep coach, as sleep coaching is viewed as cruel or cold. We’ve worked with a number of attachment parents who tell us that they were incredibly reluctant to contact The Baby Sleep Site® for help, and who are anxious about how sleep coaching will impact sleep coaching. But here’s what we tell every family with whom I work: you CAN sleep coach in a way that aligns with your attachment values. For example, you can focus on gradually weaning your child away from falling asleep at the breast, while still sharing a bed with him; you can also focus on helping your child fall back to sleep independently after night feedings, but without the goal of moving on to night weaning. Attachment parents also benefit many times from a looser, more relaxed schedule. In general, attachment parents do best with very gentle, minimal-crying techniques.

2. Authoritarian Parenting*

Authoritarian Parenting Basics:

  • Considered a more “old school” style of parenting 😉
  • Value immediate and unconditional obedience to authority
  • Believe that key to raising happy, productive children is to break their strong will
  • Disobedience is immediately punished
  • Authoritarian parents believe in strict code of moral absolutes that children must follow to the letter
  • Disobedience is often corrected with corporal punishment

*Authoritarian parenting is controversial – while some people see it as “good, old-fashioned” parenting that produces obedient children, research indicates that this heavy-handed approach to raising children can produce problems as the child grows.

Effect on Sleep Training:
In our experience, the struggle for authoritarian parents who sleep coach tends to be that they jump straight to cry it out methods too early, and that they generally try to force a rigid schedule too early. This particular parenting philosophy emphasizes that the child is expected to adapt to the family’s needs, and to the parent’s guidance, so authoritarian parents may jump too quickly to extreme methods and harsh schedules that, while they may work for the parents, are not age-appropriate for the child.

3. Authoritative Parenting

Authoritative Parenting Basics:

  • Like authoritarian parenting, authoritative parenting puts parents firmly in the “driver’s seat” (but similarities end there!)
  • Focus on setting limits on behavior, rather than on requiring children to conform to specific set of rigid rules
  • Pragmatic approach to limit-setting
  • Emphasis on reasoning with their children, and explaining the reasons behind limits and expectations
  • Authoritative parents are just as likely to explain and reason with a child as they are to punish with consequences
  • Focus on reminding the child of her responsibility to abide by the limits, while at the same time respecting the child’s own rights and emotional needs

Effect on Sleep Training:
Authoritative parents are generally pretty well prepared for sleep coaching – they recognize the double truth that it’s up to them to teach their children to sleep well, but at the same time, they are fully aware that they have to respect their child’s needs and temperament throughout the process. The main issue we see for authoritative parents who are sleep coaching is that, in general, they tend to second-guess themselves, and their plan. If sleep coaching isn’t going well for the first few days, authoritative parents may get concerned that they’re trying the wrong method, and may be temped to change their plan too early and try a new method, since their child’s emotional needs are important to them. But then again, these same parents may get fed-up when the new plan doesn’t work either, and decide to “get serious” and resort to a harsher sleep coaching method, because they know that it’s up to them to set limits for their child.

4. Holistic Parenting

Holistic Parenting Basics:

  • Rooted in ancient eastern philosophy, holistic parenting has a strong focus on inner awareness (for both parents and child), and on respecting the individual.
  • Tendency to avoid pharmaceuticals and elements of modern medicine, and preference for natural, alternative remedies, as well as diet and lifestyle changes as approaches to disease prevention
  • Advocates for positive, gentle discipline and embrace co-sleeping, baby-wearing, and extended breastfeeding
  • Holistic parenting is essentially attachment parenting with an emphasis on alternative medicine, environmentally-conscious living, and the importance of spiritual awareness

Effect on Sleep Training:
Holistic parents generally have the same concerns about and objections to sleep coaching as attachment parents, and may be more inclined to see sleep coaching as something negative that is damaging to the parent-child bond. However, like attachment parents, holistic parents can sleep coach very gently and slowly, in a way that allows co-sleeping and night feeding to continue.

5. Permissive/Indulgent Parenting*

Permissive/Indulgent Parenting Basics:

  • Permissive parents are responsive and loving to their children, but make very few (if any) demands on their children
  • Generally, no rules or set limits
  • No insistence that children’s behavior conforms to any set standards
  • Permissive parents are incredibly lenient, and generally avoid confrontation with their children
  • Any rules that do exist are enforced inconsistently, and rarely with consequences
  • Tendency to use coaxing and bribery to change child’s behavior

*I should point out that while The Baby Sleep Site® never judges parents for their philosophy and approach to parenting, it is widely accepted that permissive parenting is unhealthy, and produces significant discipline problems in children.

Effect on Sleep Training:
Sleep coaching can be incredibly tough for permissive parents, simply because they are not accustomed to setting limits, and may balk at the idea of setting them in the first place. Additionally, many permissive parents have a tough time staying consistent in the face of their child’s frustration or unhappiness, and may tend to give in quickly if sleep coaching doesn’t go smoothly right from the start. In our experience, permissive parents understand the rationale behind sleep coaching, and truly want their children to sleep well, but find it difficult to enforce the sleep-time limits and to deal with the “fallout” of an unhappy child. Generally, unless permissive parents are willing to step outside their comfort zones and stay consistent with their sleep coaching plan, the sleep coaching will stall out and not produce meaningful changes.

6. Positive Parenting

Positive Parenting Basics:

  • Prioritizes the parent-child bond, and emphasizes total respect for the child
  • Views misbehavior not as a willful act of defiance, but as an expression of a child’s needs (as well as a result of the child’s relatively immature brain development)
  • Focus on gentle, positive (obviously!) and empathetic guidance as opposed to punishments (including time out) for misbehavior
  • Emphasis on guiding the child through modeling good behavior, teaching through play, and talking to and empathizing with the child
  • Discipline techniques may also include things like sticker charts, and rewards for good behavior

Effect on Sleep Training:
Positive parents can generally sleep coach without much issue. We’ve found that many positive parents prefer to start with gentle sleep coaching methods, but really, positive parents can also do well with Ferberizing techniques, too. And when it comes to toddler sleep training, positive parents really tend to shine, as they are already well-versed in positive reinforcement and sticker charts – both of which are excellent tools for toddlers!

7. Slow / Simplicity Parenting

Slow / Simplicity Parenting Basics:

  • Fairly recent parenting trend that developed in large part thanks to author Carl Honore’s book Under Pressure: Rescuing Our Children from the Culture of Hyper-Parenting
  • Advocates for lots of unstructured play time using simple, non-mechanical toys
  • Avoids use of television and electronic media for children; focus is instead on family time spent reading, playing board games, taking walks, etc.
  • Opposes over-scheduling children’s days with lots of after-school activities, like clubs and organized sports
  • Focus on giving a child lots of space in which to develop their own interests and abilities, and are completely opposed to any form of “helicopter” parenting
  • Many also consider themselves free-range parents, and believe that modern-day families overly-shelter children
  • Free-range parents intentionally allow children to experience risks and challenging situations, and encourage their children to deal with those risks and challenges on their (the children’s) own, with little to no parental help

Effect on Sleep Training:
The unstructured nature of slow parenting can make it challenging for parents to implement a daily sleep and feeding schedule; for that reason, we recommend that slow parents stick with more of a schedule “shell” that has built-in flexibility (at least at first – eventually, your child may really need more structure schedule). Additionally, while we commend slow parenting’s focus on allowing a child to grow and develop at her own pace, this can cause problems with sleep, as mom and dad feel they are “supposed to” let their baby figure out sleep on her own, even if this means lots of missed sleep for the whole family. I’ve found that slow parents sometimes struggle with the concept of sleep coaching, and that even when they decide to sleep coach and create a plan, they struggle initially with concerns that they are pushing their children to learn to sleep too soon.

Parenting Styles: A Sliding and Changing Scale

Now, I want to emphasize something: the list of parenting styles above is by no means an exhaustive one. Rather, it’s a list of the most common parenting styles and philosophies that we encounter in our work with parents, and that we believe tend to have a big impact on how sleep and sleep coaching are handled.

Additionally, we urge you to keep in mind that very few of us live out just ONE of these parenting philosophies. Most parents identify with a few different parenting philosophies, and pick and choose what they see as the best of each of those philosophies. For example, I’ve personally met several families who believe in attachment parenting, but who have adopted a lot of slow parenting philosophies as well. What’s more, many parents will shift and tweak their parenting styles as their children grow, to accommodate the child’s (and, by extension, the entire family’s) changing needs. For instance, we’ve seen many parents who practice attachment parenting when their children are young tweak that philosophy as their child grows, and may adopt a mix of attachment and positive parenting philosophies when their children are older.

So remember that this list is meant to be informative, not prescriptive. You are most likely not ONE of these things only. And the parenting philosophy with which you most closely identify now, at this stage in your child’s development, may change as your child grows. Be sure, therefore, to keep an open mind, to stay tuned in to the shifts in your parenting style over the years, and to always trust your gut instincts as to what’s best for your family.

Sleep Training Help That Fits Your Parenting Style

Struggling with sleepless nights and non-existing naps? Let The Baby Sleep Site help! Our consultants at The Baby Sleep Site® specialize in creating Personalized Sleep Plans™ that are customized to fit well with parenting philosophy, and that will NEVER make you feel guilty or pressured. Even better, once you have your Personalized Sleep Plan™, your consultant will walk you through each step of implementing it at home, in a way and at a pace that you’re comfortable with.

Browse our list of consultation package options here.

Once you make your choice and purchase, you will immediately receive an e-mail with your Helpdesk login information. You’ll be able to login and start your Family Sleep History form right away – it’s that simple!

Want more information about how personalized help works? Check out our FAQ page here, and get answers. You can also take a tour of the Helpdesk.

Your turn: What’s YOUR parenting style, and how has it affected your child’s sleep?

 
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