Sleep is a topic that is sure to come up within minutes among parents of infants and toddlers. The first few months of having a new baby can be rough which may be surprising to a non-parent considering babies sleep for 14- 17 hours. However, they sleep for such short duration that makes it impossible for their adult carer to get any real rest between the feed-burp-diaper change-soothe to sleep cycle.
Having enjoyed the rocking motions in pregnancy for so long, babies naturally they expect this to continue after they make their entrance into the world. As newborns, we fall for their cute, adorable faces and cater to their rocking needs. At some point (post 3-months old) we realize how heavily dependent they have become on rocking and/or patting, and how unsustainable a broken sleep cycle is for everyone involved.
However, if you find yourself experiencing any of these with your neurotypical child who is four months or older, it's most likely time to empower them with the ability to sleep independently
1. You still drive around the block....or several miles
If your infant or toddler will not sleep unless you use any kind of rocking motions including driving, rocking, swinging, pushing the stroller, it is time to help them sleep on their own. They depend on these associations to sleep and worse, return to sleep when they wake up at night
2. They sleep off anywhere around the house (that is not their bed)
Some people often mistake this as a sign that the child is in fact a good sleeper. "Oh, once she's tired, she sleeps anywhere." If your child will only sleep off after playing to the point of exhaustion it's a sign that you may have missed their sleep cue and the opportunity to put them in their bed to sleep
3.They have super spidey senses and wake up crying the second you leave the room
If your child is very sensitive to your presence in a room while they sleep or is constantly reaching out to feel your presence, it is time to teach them to self soothe when they wake up at night
4. They wake up to be "fed" multiple times at night
On average, kids over nine months are old enough to get most of their calories during the day, such that they do not need to be fed at night. If at all they do need to be fed, it should be after sleeping for a stretch of 8 hours. If your child is not sleeping for this long before needing to be fed, they need to be sleep trained
5. They need to be woken up in the morning
If your child often needs to be woken up in the morning, that's a sign that they are not getting the adequate number of sleep which is most likely due to sleep interruptions
Teaching your child to go to sleep on their own may seem difficult especially after trying once and listening to them cry. However, there are various sleep training methods, and not all of them have to involve extensive crying