This is the Real Reason Your Baby Won’t Sleep
Baby sleep troubles are confusing. Every baby seems to have a different sleep issue, which is often why talking to friends about their sleep solutions doesn’t help. Your bestie’s baby needed to have a bottle every 3 hours to get through the night at 11 months old, while your 6 month old isn’t eating at night anymore but wakes up every 45 minutes for the pacifier. And even when it comes to your own baby, the sleep issues can change from week to week, leaving you feeling helpless.
It’s no wonder so many mothers are confused and overwhelmed, even after reading lots of advice online or sleep training books.
The truth is, all sleep problems in healthy babies share the same root. They’re called Sleep Dependencies.
A sleep dependency is anything that a baby depends to fall asleep. Rocking, feeding, bouncing, patting, swaying, replacing the pacifier and being held by mommy are all examples of common sleep dependencies.
Every sleep problem, no matter how confusing or difficult it seems, comes down to this: your baby doesn’t know how to fall asleep unassisted. Some babies depend on breastfeeding or a bottle, others bouncing or rocking, and others on the pacifier – but every sleep problem stems from the baby depending on something external to fall asleep.
How do sleep dependencies negatively affect your baby’s sleep?
Your baby needs to be rocked in your arms to fall asleep – that’s his sleep dependancy. At bedtime, you dutifully rock him in your arms for 15-20 minutes until he falls asleep and then you gently, ever-so-quietly slip him into his crib and tip-toe out of her room.
When your baby wakes up in middle of the night, he wants to go back to sleep – desperately! But he can’t. Hhe doesn’t know how to fall asleep unless he has his sleep dependency- and that is why you have to go back into his room 3 times each night to rock him back to sleep in your arms. In his brain, sleep and rocking are intertwined: he can’t have one without the other.
Babies have a very hard time falling asleep without their sleep dependencies. That’s why you want your baby’s sleep dependency to be something that doesn’t involve you- a thumb, a blanket, or stroking his crib sheets.
This is what we call falling asleep independently – that is, without your help. It’s ok if your baby needs something specific to fall asleep, such as white noise or sucking her thumb. The key is that you aren’t involved. Your baby should be able to fall asleep at bedtime, on her own. This way, when she wakes up in middle of the night, she can put herself back to sleep without your help as well.
It’s pretty simple: Babies that can fall asleep on their own at bedtime can fall back asleep in middle of the night.
How Can I Teach My Baby to Fall Asleep Independently?
The way to teach your baby how to fall asleep independently is to eliminate the sleep dependancy she relies on.
And the first step in doing so is to identify what your baby’s sleep dependency is. Here are some common examples:
- breastfeeding or bottle
- Being pushed in their stroller
- swing or vibrating baby chair
- car drives
- Rocking in your arms or rocking chair
- Bed sharing
Once you’ve done the work of figuring out what your baby’s sleep dependancy is, you can take the next steps towards a better night’s sleep.