Worried that sleep training might harm your bond with your baby? It's a common concern, and I felt the same way. But the truth is, it's unlikely to harm your bond. Let's break down why many parents successfully teach their babies to sleep without compromising their close relationship.
First, it's important to differentiate between Attachment Parenting and Secure Attachment. Attachment Parenting involves constant closeness with your child—like co-sleeping and baby-wearing. Secure Attachment, based on psychological research, focuses on building trust and understanding between caregivers and children.
Secure attachment develops through daily interactions, both verbal and non-verbal. Now, does sleep training disrupt secure attachment?
Let's consider what sleep training really means. I prefer the term "sleep teaching" because we're teaching, not training. It involves stopping familiar sleep habits, like nursing or rocking, so your child can learn to sleep independently. This approach, particularly using the Gentle sleep method, relies on five key pillars:
1. Understanding Sleep Habits: Recognising that the urge to sleep is biological, but how we sleep is learned.
2. Timely Sleep: Understanding that the timing of sleep, based on the child's age, affects their ability to fall asleep.
3. Intentional Feeding:Using food for fuel rather than soothing, and strategically placing calories during the day for better sleep.
4. Consistent Messaging: Providing a consistent message about sleep methods so your child knows what to expect.
5. Responsive Parenting: Addressing your child's cries during sleep teaching with gentle methods that prioritise reassurance.
Gentle sleep teaching methods include sitting beside your child for reassurance or interval checks, acknowledging their needs without being physically present.
Crying during sleep training comes from frustration, not abandonment. In my experience, teaching your baby to sleep often strengthens your bond. A well-rested and less fussy child makes you more attuned to their needs, deepening your bond.