There is nothing quite as blissful and fulfilling as parenting. But it would be hard to argue that it isn’t challenging at times. Our all-encompassing love for our child can bring with it worry that we’re making the right choices and doing the right things to nurture and raise our kids to be the best they can be.
Many of us opt for an attachment style of parenting because we believe it will strengthen our bond with our child and create healthy development. The principles of attachment parenting are based on theories in development psychology that point to lifelong feelings of security if children are raised in an environment of love and nurturing and aren’t left to their own devices to create “independence” before they are ready for it.
One of the biggest issues for some parents is sleep. And it’s a big one. The attachment style gravitates toward comforting a child in the night, breastfeeding at will and co-sleeping. There are other camps that believe this only creates a dependence in the child and that kids really need to just learn to sleep on their own. Exhausted parents of kids with chronic night-waking can become confused and start to question whether the attachment style is working, or if it’s worth all the sleepless nights.
But it’s not an either/or. You can absolutely be an attachment parent and a co-sleeping parent and still help your child find ways to have a healthier sleep. Sleep is vital to our sense of well-being and health. If you have a child who is waking all through the night and you can’t get any sleep, it’s not good for either of you.
Here are some gentle ways you can help your child sleep better…so you can sleep better too.
Consistency is key with most aspects of parenting. Kids respond well when they know what to expect from their day to day life. Trying to get them to sleep at the same time every night, whenever possible, can really help their internal clocks adjust and make them more likely to be sleepy at the same times. Make sure you aim for a reasonable time that’s not too late; when kids are overtired it’s a lot harder for them to get to sleep and stay asleep.
Having a simple routine every night can help too. This will be slightly different for every family, but it could look something like: snack, brush teeth (for older kids), put pyjamas on, cuddle time, story and then time to sleep. This helps remind your child’s body that it’s time for bed.
A healthy diet
Sugary treats can wreak havoc on good sleep, causing spikes in blood sugar that can keep your child waking all through the night. Even a glass of fruit juice can cause some night waking. Try high-protein snacks before bed, like whole-wheat toast with cheese or nut butter.
If you don’t already sleep with your child, but you find that she keeps waking in the night, try letting her bunk in with you and see if it makes a difference. She might just need some added comfort when she wakes up, and this will eliminate you having to wake up fully and get out of bed every time she calls.
Sleep when your child sleeps
This is a big one, especially for new moms with infants. If you had a rough night but your baby finally goes down for a long nap in the afternoon, don’t use that time to clean out the fridge or vacuum the stairs. Your sleep is more important that a sparkly clean house. Just lie down with your child and get the rest you need.
Like all phases of parenting, this too shall pass. Before you know it, your child will be sleeping through the night. Just remind yourself that one day you will be the mother of a teenager that you will need to drag out of bed every morning. But that’s a whole other story☺