Attachment Parenting and Sleep Training: Can They Really Go Together?

Attachment Parenting and Sleep Coaching

You know a myth we hear often, that really gets us riled up? It’s the myth that attachment parents can’t, or shouldn’t, sleep train. We’ve worked with many attachment parents over the years who’ve told us that initially, they were very, VERY hesitant to sleep coach, because they felt that it would surely mean they had to comprise all their AP values and principles. Some of these parents struggled with chronic exhaustion and sleeplessness for years before finally reaching out to us for help.

Well, we’re ready to set the record straight: attachment parents CAN sleep train in a way that is both effective and that prioritizes their parenting philosophy.

Miriam Chickering, one of our expert sleep consultants, can vouch for that – she spends her days helping other families sleep coach in a way that aligns with their philosophies, and believes wholeheartedly in the value of sleep coaching — and she practices attachment parenting principles in her own home, with her 5 kiddos! So she’s the perfect person to discuss this topic.

Keep reading, and hear Miriam’s thoughts on how attachment parents can sleep coach effectively and gently, as well as her tips for helping attachment parents get more sleep, and build healthy sleep habits in their little ones.

How Attachment Parents Can Sleep Train WITHOUT Compromising Their Values and Beliefs – Tips From Miriam Chickering, Sleep and Lactation Consultant

You may be thinking that attachment parenting and sleep coaching won’t mix, but they really can go together very well at The Baby Sleep Site®. How is that possible? Because we use a holistic approach to sleep – one that accounts for all elements of a child’s emotional, mental, and physical development. This holistic approach allows us to minimize crying, which is crucial to attachment parents who are embarking on sleep coaching.

One of our first steps in working with attachment parents on sleep coaching is to do what we call “setting the stage for sleep”. Here are a few things we look at to make sure we’ve properly set the stage:

  • Is the schedule right? (We look at the timing of naps and feedings in relation to morning wake time and bedtime, and we see how overall nap amounts match up with nighttime sleep amounts.)
  • Do we have a solid routine? (Nap time and bedtime routines are key for signaling to you kiddo that it’s time to settle in and sleep.)
  • Any medical concerns? (We address these right away, before we begin sleep coaching, to ensure that your little one is in excellent health before we start working on sleep.)
  • How is feeding going? (If you’re nursing, we’ll take a careful look at how breastfeeding is going, and address any concerns you may have about milk supply, etc. Similarly, if you’re formula-feeding, or if your little one is on solids, we’ll examine feeding amounts and timing to ensure that your little one is properly nourished.)
  • Often, making small changes in one or more of these areas goes a long way towards improving sleep, and it ensures that we aren’t overlooking anything when we begin working on sleep habits. It also means we have less work to do in sleep training, and that in turn means we will likely have more success using gentle methods with minimal crying.

    Additionally, I always like to point out that working on these elements is a great way to increase your communication and bonding with your baby. And who doesn’t love that? ;-)

    Once we’ve properly set the stage for sleep, we want to move on to resolving unwanted sleep associations. This is really the “sleep coaching” part of what we do – and this is what tends to scare attachment parents away, honestly. But here’s what I want to emphasize: there are very gentle ways to resolve unwanted sleep associations. I know that many attachment parents hear “sleep training” and immediately think crying baby, who screams for hours, but that absolutely does not have to happen…there are so many options between ‘sleepless nights’ and ‘screaming baby’!

    Now, speaking of resolving unwanted sleep associations – let’s first define ‘unwanted sleep associations’. An unwanted sleep association is something that your baby relies on to go to sleep that ALSO causes sleep problems throughout the night. If your baby is rocked to sleep and then sleeps for 5 hours, you probably do not have an unwanted sleep association; however if your baby is rocked to sleep and wakes the moment you stop providing the movement, that’s when you have an unwanted sleep association, since you’ll likely have to spend your nights rocking instead of sleeping!

    Similarly, if you’re co-sleeping, and your baby wakes periodically through the night needing to nurse, but then falls right back to sleep, this may not be a problem for you at all. But if your baby is waking every hour needing to nurse, and then wants to stay awake and hang out with you for awhile, that is almost certainly an unwanted sleep associations!

    For some parents, a sleep association will become unwanted only when it causes 5 or more sleep interruptions, or when it keeps them awake virtually all night. For other parents, a sleep association becomes unwanted when it causes just 1 or 2 unnecessary sleep interruptions. Really, the line between ‘okay’ and ‘unwanted’ is really personal, and varies from family to family.

    Once you’ve identified the sleep association that’s causing a problem – be it nursing or holding or rocking, or perhaps another association – we focus on gently fading out that sleep association and providing comfort in other ways, while also gradually helping your baby to learn to fall asleep without any help from you. It’s amazing how well this can work when all the groundwork has been laid in a very methodical and comprehensive way and then each step is broken down into easily attainable goals.

    Advice From Miriam For CoSleeping Parents Who Want To Sleep Coach

    Obviously, as attachment parents, we have the goal of limited crying and plenty of soothing and comfort for our babies during the sleep coaching process. But if you are currently sleep coaching, and want to continue to co-sleep while sleep coaching, you’ll need to follow a few unique tips to ensure you see progress.

    For starters, end your “hands-on” soothing about 5 minutes before you want your child to fall asleep. This ensures that you aren’t inadvertently putting your baby to sleep; remember, the goal of sleep coaching is that your child learns to fall asleep on his own.

    I also urge parents to choose a 4 to 5 hour sleep stretch that belongs to them. For some parents this will occur at the parent’s bedtime, after a final Fill-Up feed (if your baby is still young enough/needs to receive a fill-up feed before you go to bed). For others, it may be from midnight to 5 am. The important things is not to feed your baby in this one time slot. Let your spouse or partner give comfort if your baby wakes, but do not offer a feeding. Within a few weeks of beginning this “sacred slot of sleep”, your baby will most likely stop waking during this time, and everyone will get at least one lengthy stretch of sleep at night. Remember that you may have to offer an extra feeding at another time of the day or night to make up for a missed feeding at this time, but you NEED your “Sacred Slot of Sleep”. It will help you become a better parent during the other 19 hours of the day!

    4 Tips All Attachment Parents Can Use To Gently Build Healthy Sleep Habits

    I wanted to end by sharing some really easy, basic tips that any parent can do to help promote better sleep and healthier sleep habits. Use these in conjunction with sleep coaching, or – if you’re not quite ready to sleep coach yet – use them on their own.

  • Start your day in the same 30 minute time window each day, even if you and baby had a rough night. Utilizing a fixed point like this keeps your schedule from getting too far off track.
  • Mind your child’s “nap gaps” (the time between daytime naps) and be sure to use the schedule that’s appropriate for your child’s age
  • Many attachment parents us the ‘Pantley Pull-Off’ to gently transition their baby away from the breast. It works like this – you allow your baby to keep sucking at the breast until he’s drowsy, then you gently break the seal with your finger and pull your breast away. It works for many moms, but if the Pantley Pull-Off isn’t working, I recommend you stop using it and try a different method. Consider fading, or pick-up put down.
  • If you are co-sleeping, at bedtime, stop a feeding at least 15 minutes before your child falls to sleep, and – as mentioned earlier – stop your hands-on soothing 5 minutes before your child is due to fall asleep.
  • Still Not Sure If You Can Mix Attachment Parenting And Sleep Coaching?

    Meet Rebecca, a lovely mom from Massachusetts who follows attachment parenting principles, but was drowning in exhaustion from her son’s frequent night waking. Rebecca wanted her son to sleep better, but she was absolutely not willing to resort to crying methods. Read Rebecca’s story below, and learn how Nicole and the team at The Baby Sleep Site® were able to help Rebecca and her son get the sleep they needed, in a way that matched Rebecca’s parenting philosophy…

    “When I came across The Baby Sleep Site, it was quite by accident. I wasn’t looking for it, but I stumbled across it while searching for websites that addressed sleep issues. At the time, I had a 10-month old son who was sleeping in a sidecar arrangement (crib up against my bed with one side missing) and waking 4-6 times every night. He went through a bad time early on: he had reflux for the first 9 months of his life, plus around month 5-6 he had a bad reaction to an antibiotic treatment and wound up with serious gastrointestinal issues (waking every 2-3 hours with diarrhea). Nursing was always a method of deep relaxation leading to sleep and had now become a necessity to get my son to sleep even after all the physical issues were over. His napping was always very poor and then around 7 months of age the only time he slept for naps was in the car. If I tried to put him in his crib or even lay with him in bed, he’d only sleep for 30-45 minutes once a day, twice only if I was very lucky. While I had done a ton of reading on the subject of sleep issues and Attachment Parenting (the methodology I had followed since birth) and tried to believe that someday my son would “grow up” and would grow out of this stage he was in, I was feeling a tremendous uneasiness about how things were going. Deep down I felt like he was missing out on precious sleep, even though his attitude was positive most of the time. Something in his eyes told me he was more tired than he let on.

    When I first entered the site, I was more skeptical than I can ever express in words. The first thing I did was download the “5 Ways To Help Your Baby Sleep Through The Night” and “7 Common Napping Mistakes” figuring they’re free and maybe they would help. No dice – not for my situation. I started receiving the newsletter and reading Nicole’s in-depth commentaries. At the end of each newsletter is the invitation to visit the services page and/or to contact Nicole with questions. For weeks I saved these newsletters and kept mulling over and over whether I wanted to spend the money to start emailing Nicole. Although everything sounded legitimate, I thought there had to be something I was missing and that it would be a mere waste of money. Another online scam. Finally I couldn’t take it any longer – I decided simply to start by taking Nicole up on her continuous offer to “email with questions.” I gave her a very brief synopsis of the situation and asked if she felt it was something she could indeed help me with. Her email back to me was quick and left me feeling very positive. I decided to purchase an email package and get to work trying to help my son, and myself for that matter.

    What transpired from that point on (we started our work together at the beginning of August) was nothing short of miraculous. Granted, the first day or two was the most difficult but in retrospect, there were close to no tears from either my son or me. Being a Christian woman I’d been praying for something to happen to bring the needed rest for my son. I would pray daily, before every nap and before every bedtime, to “please let Ben get the sleep he needs.” Enter Nicole and The Baby Sleep Site. I can honestly say that “meeting” Nicole and taking the financial and emotional risk that it felt like at the time, was the answer to prayer that I’d been looking for. Nicole had given me a multi-step approach to getting my son to disassociate the breast with falling asleep at nap time (we worked on that first, which incidentally is opposite to what Nicole would normally do) and from there another step-by-step approach to get him disassociating the breast with falling asleep at night, and then to get him into his crib completely away from my bed. From there we were going to work on getting him into his own room and getting him to allow being put to bed by other people (his own father included). I am grateful to report that within 3-4 weeks, my son was taking two 1.5-2 hour naps in his own crib (with all 4 sides up) and being put down with NO breastfeeding at all and completely awake/sitting up. NO TEARS. Not only that, but the bedtime issues were resolved almost on their own, just utilizing some of the same methods we’d come up with to fix the napping issues. Something I expected to take months, took mere weeks, days even. My son is now, and has been for quite some time, sleeping 12 hours a night and two 1.5-2 hours naps a day. No more night waking or nursing to sleep. All 98% tear-free. Any change as major as the one my son experienced is most likely going to cause some degree of sadness, and invoke tears, depending on the sensitivity of the child. For the changes and benefits I see now in my son’s sleeping habits, the 10 minutes he cried for a couple of days is so worth it – and I was completely against ANY amount of crying around “sleep training.” With Nicole’s help and understanding, something you’ll never find in a book, I was able to truly “train” my son in the most gentle and personalized manner I could ever find.

    God bless you, Nicole, for the help you have provided to me and countless other families. You were the answer I was seeking. I wish you continued success in your endeavor to bring peace in the form of needed sleep to many, many more babies and parents to come!

    Westfield, MA

    Personalized Sleep Help For All Parenting Styles

    You don’t have to sacrifice your parenting philosophy in order to sleep train – there is a sleep training style to suite every parenting style! 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 to give up your unique parenting style. 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.

    Sleep Resources That WORK

    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.

    So, what do you think? Can you mix attachment parenting with sleep training?


    Taking the Cry Out of Cry It Out

    No Cry SleepAll of us are looking for ways to help our babies sleep with as little crying as possible. No crying would be ideal and surprisingly (when I look back at our long and difficult journey), the first few nights I actually helped my challenging sleeper of a son learn to fall asleep with virtually NO tears. It took TWO LONG HOURS for TWO LONG NIGHTS, but by the third night he did it in just 20 minutes and then on the 4th night with no tears into his crib (we were trying to stop cosleeping because it wasn’t working for us). It was a test of my patience when I knew nursing him to sleep would have made him fall asleep in less than two minutes. It was frustrating for both of us, but I was able to keep him from crying by using many of my mommy “tools” and doing anything but nursing him (I had already nursed him for a feeding before we started, so he was not hungry) but not until he was all the way asleep.

    Learning about sleep associations was the single-most important thing that helped me start getting better sleep for my son (which was and still is very important for his happiness and behavior) and therefore for the rest of the family. It seems so obvious now, but back then I surely did not “get it” why he would wake up the minute I put him down. Didn’t he “need” to nurse to fall asleep because of the sucking reflexes of a baby being so strong that I read so much about and because he never used a pacifier? Once I understood that nursing to sleep and rocking to sleep became the things he thought he needed to fall asleep and the thing he needed recreated all night, the next step was to figure out a way to help him learn to do that without feeling like I was taking away an emotional attachment that nursing was and feeling like I was damaging him, without replacing the nursing or rocking with something else I’d have to recreate and with no tears, if possible.

    Keeping your eye on the long-term goal is the #1 key to successfully helping your baby from no crying to sleep. It will always be easier right this minute to go ahead and nurse, give her a bottle, give her the pacifier, rock her to sleep, bounce on a ball, put her in a carseat on the dryer, put her in the car and drive around, walk her around, dance and sing than to take the time to teach her a new skill. Just like it’s easier to feed your baby than to let her learn to feed herself or put on your toddler’s shoes rather than let him try by himself, it will be easier to do it for them. But, for long-term progress and to let her learn how to do something herself, you have to let her try and you have to avoid doing it for her. Take it as slow as you want, but it is a learning process that you need to get out of the way of for it to work. Sure, you can wait to see when she might learn it on her own, after all no one goes to college not knowing how to put on their shoes, but is a month, six months, 16 months, 2 1/2 years, or 4 years of sleep deprivation worth it to wait?

    Who knew when you were pregnant that you’d have to TEACH your baby to sleep? Teach your baby to read, teach your baby sign language, or teach your baby to write, but teach them to sleep? Such a foreign concept, but it’s true. To teach a baby how to sleep without much YOU need to recreate all day and night is a challenge and depending on the baby’s temperament and tendency to “fight sleep” or not will be the deciding factor on how difficult it is to teach your baby. Some don’t have much learning to do while others will struggle on and off for so long that you don’t know even know when you’re done teaching them.

    Unfortunately, my no cry sleep results were short-lived in our house and we struggled a lot around sleep, but it has made me so happy that the things I’ve learned since then has helped me help other parents with no cry sleep methods. I’ve helped a mom stop sleeping in a glider with her 8 month old baby and a 16 month old transition to the crib, just to name two, with no cry sleep methods. Those were a couple of really tough cases, too!

    Cry it out is certainly not easy and certainly not the first thing we try as parents, but it makes me wonder if I had someone like ME when I was in need of sleep support whether I would have avoided our tears or not. I never regret it, I know it did not change my baby’s personality, and I guess we will never know, but I’m fortunate to be able to use my knowledge in my quest to help others.

    No cry sleep methods are not for the faint of heart if you have a challenging sleeper and they take more time, but with a strong support system, they are possible to put into practice.

    Is Co-Sleeping a Solution for Baby Sleep Problems?

    Co sleeping solutionWhen I was pregnant with my first, I was adamantly against co-sleeping. The reason was that I saw how difficult it was for other parents to get their child out of their bed, months and years later. Although I knew it was right for some, it wasn’t for me. Before you have kids you have all these ideas about how you will do things, but after the baby comes it’s a whole new ball game. I did end up co-sleeping with my first baby for about 2 months and with my second for just 3 nights. This article will talk about whether co-sleeping is a viable solution for you and your baby’s sleep problems or not.

    My first son was a challenging sleeper from basically the beginning. Once the newborn sleep-all-day stuff wore off, he was difficult to soothe to sleep for every nap and especially at bedtime. I had to rock him for 2-3 hours (I’m not exaggerating) only for him to sleep for an hour or two before needing to be rocked again. It wasn’t that he wasn’t tired. He’d fall asleep just fine, but would wake up whenever we’d put him down. I know many of you relate.

    Once my son was 2 months old, out of necessity, co-sleeping was the only solution. I had gone back to work and just couldn’t hack it anymore. Getting up every 2 hours was not even a possibility anymore. Co-sleeping was just a temporary solution for us, though. The main difficulty for me was that I was getting depressed going to bed every night at 7 p.m. and missing out on time with my husband. More than that, he was still waking every 2 hours to breastfeed for 30 seconds to go back to sleep and although he went right back to sleep, I didn’t always. I was getting more sleep, at least, but it still wasn’t the best and I was petrified I was going to roll on top of him or my husband would cover him with blankets. So, we did transition back to the crib at 4 months when I learned about 4 month sleep and sleep associations. Once he was gone, I did miss him. :( But, it was the best thing for me and my family. We were all happier after that, mostly because he was getting way more sleep than ever, since he was so cranky without it (still is!).

    Although co-sleeping wasn’t a long-term solution for us, I do believe that it can be for others. We only did it 2 months, but it doesn’t mean others can’t do it longer and still be successful at helping your baby sleep better. Knowing what I know now, I know that you can co-sleep, you can break sleep associations if you must, and you don’t have to let your child sleep with you until they are 8 if you don’t want to. I have personally helped many parents transition from co-sleeping to crib at a variety of ages.

    Co-sleeping Solution

    If your baby is having sleep problems, co-sleeping might be a good solution for you. Whether you are breast feeding or bottle feeding, if numerous night wakings are doing more harm than good for either of you and you feel your baby is too young to learn to self-soothe, you may find simply sleeping together is the best option. This is a personal decision for each family. The main thing is that you do co-sleep SAFELY. There have been several recent news articles about the risks of bed sharing and the increase of suffocations. The thing to keep in mind is sleeping on a couch, sofa or other unsafe place is included in these statistics and there are safe ways to co-sleep.

    For co-sleeping to be a solution for you and your family, it is best when both parents are on board as a first step. In my case, my husband did support my decision. He did want a sane wife. :D In some cases, a partner will take up temporary residence in a guest room to get more sleep. Here are some guidelines for safe co-sleeping:

    • Do not co-sleep if you’ve been drinking, on drugs or on medication that makes you too drowsy

    • Do not smoke in the room you are co-sleeping as it’s an increased risk to SIDS

    • Do not co-sleep if you have a too-soft mattress or waterbed

    • Do not co-sleep where baby can get stuck in a hole or crevice (such as between you and the back of the couch)

    • Do not place a baby to sleep next to an older child

    • Do sleep on a firm mattress with not too much adult bedding (too much bedding in a crib is just as dangerous!)

    • If your baby is young, consider a sleep positioner or Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper

    • If your baby is older or a toddler, and moving around, consider a bed rail. I have had parents come to me when their child crawls right off the bed and falls.

    If you think co-sleeping might be the right solution for your family I encourage you to read more detailed co-sleeping safety tips and the benefits of co-sleeping. We also have more information here about the differences between bed-sharing and co-sleeping.

    Co-sleeping is not a solution for everyone and my philosophy is that we all must find our own way to parent our children and find the right solution to our baby’s sleep problems. Hopefully this article has helped you determine whether co-sleeping is the right solution for you and your family. Keep in mind that even co-sleeping, you may need manage sleep associations in order for all of you to sleep well. And, when you are ready to transition to crib, I typically recommend a slower approach the longer you’ve been co-sleeping. I don’t typically recommend jumping to cry it out for long-term co-sleepers. If you’d like to discuss options, I’m always here.

    Was co-sleeping a solution for you? Share your story.

    Sleep Associations – Is Rocking Your Baby Harmful?

    Is it a bad idea to rock your baby? It depends. It is never a bad idea to cuddle your baby and give him/her lots of love and affection! It’s only when rocking your baby becomes something you can’t keep up with is it a problem. Let’s take a step back and let me explain what a sleep association is.

    What is your sleep association? How do you fall asleep?

    What kind of routine do you do before you go to sleep each night? Do you watch TV? Talk to your partner? Do you read a book? Do you sleep on a pillow? These are the types of things you associate with going to sleep each night. What would happen if your power was out and you couldn’t watch the news or read your book? Would you have trouble falling asleep? Perhaps. Or, perhaps not. Would you have trouble going to sleep without your pillow? That might be more likely to give you trouble. Some sleep associations are stronger than others. What if you went to sleep with your pillow and covers and 2 hours later woke up and they were gone? Would you be able to go back to sleep without looking for the pillow? Now let’s look at how this concept might affect your baby/child.

    What is your child’s sleep association? How does your child fall asleep?

    Let’s look at how many babies fall asleep. They might fall asleep while their mother or father is rocking them in a rocking chair, bundled up and very cozy in their parent’s arms. Or, they may fall asleep sucking on a bottle of breastmilk/formula. Or, perhaps they doze off with the simple use of a pacifier. Minus the teeth issue with breastmilk/formula later on, there isn’t a problem with any of these methods of falling asleep until it is a problem.

    From the time my son was an itty bitty baby, he loved to be walked, rocked and nursed to sleep. He also loved napping in the moving swing. At first this was not a problem. He would fall asleep quickly and we’d put him down. But, several weeks later, I found myself rocking him for 2-3 hours each night to put him to bed. He’d fall asleep easily, but then when I put him down he’d wake up! Ah! And, then I’d need to repeat it every 1-2 hours when he woke up. It was exhausting and I was at the end of my rope! So, we took to co-sleeping, which got us both more sleep, yet I was so nervous I’d roll on top of him or my husband or I would cover him with blankets. I’m not the best sleeper, so every time he’d want to nurse, I’d have trouble going back to sleep (and I never got good and switching sides without actually switching sides either). Co-sleeping works for many and I’m not knocking it. It just didn’t work for us and it is important for every family to learn what works for them best. After learning about sleep associations I was able to transfer him back to his crib at 4 months old and we both got a LOT more sleep then!

    The problem with sleep associations lies in the fact that your baby needs YOU to recreate the environment in which they fell asleep. YOU become their “pillow” and when they wake up through sleep transitions (that we ALL have!) and their pillow is gone, they don’t know how to go back to sleep. So, the key is to allow them to go to sleep the same way they will wake up periodically throughout the night. If they wake up briefly and find you gone or the movement has stopped (as with my son) or their pacifier is gone or…they will wake up more and have to call out to you so you can “help” them once again. The beauty of this is that after they get to be about 3-4 months, they really don’t “need” you as much as you might think and they can actually learn to fall asleep on their own, if they haven’t learned already up to this point.

    One final thought. I want to reiterate that rocking your baby, using a pacifier, nursing or drinking a bottle before bed, etc. are not bad things to do. If you don’t mind rocking your baby for 10 minutes and (s)he falls asleep, you transfer him/her to his/her bed and (s)he sleeps all night, then there is no problem. It’s only when you can’t keep up with the (insert sleep association) that it becomes a problem. Keep in mind that your sleep fragmentation that makes you exhausted is no better for your baby than it is for you. If you are cranky, don’t you think (s)he will be too over time? I would have LOVED to rock my son and boy did I try (unintentionally — just in my nature). We slipped back into bad habits more times than I wanted to count, but it just became a hitch for him EVERY time. In the end, I was able to continue to nurse him to sleep once he learned the necessary skills to go BACK to sleep throughout the rest of the night. With opportunity and practice we can all learn a new way to sleep, even without a pillow!

    If 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 40 sample sleep schedules and planning worksheets, Mastering Naps and Schedules is a hands-on tool ideal for any parenting style. For 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. Or, join our Members Area packed with premium content and resources: e-Books, assessments, detailed case studies, peer support, and more. It actually costs less to join than buying products separately! For those looking for a more customized solution for your unique situation with support along the way, please consider one-on-one baby and toddler sleep consultations.

    What kind of sleep associations do you have? What about your child?