Child Sleepeasy Solution Book
Most parents wanting to make changes with their Child Sleepeasy Solution Book have heard all the debates about allowing a child to cry. This has led to a lot of confusion. Some of the methods that promise “no-cry” solutions suggest to parents that their child wonÆt ever cry. The idea is that being ôgentler and more responsiveöùcontinuing to soothe your child by patting, picking her up, holding her hand, and the likeùmeans that she is less traumatized.
Ironically, though, parents often report that the child still cries even while they continue to attend to her; all children protest the change, and the way they let us know they don’t like the change is to cry. As important as it is for parents to express love to children through physical touch, and as illogical as it may seem that doing so while helping a child learn to sleep is counterproductive, it is indeed the parent’s touch that can exacerbate a child’s frustration in this scenario. The result? The child often continues to struggle with sleep, usually for weeks or even months, because she is not being allowed to learn how to soothe herself.
cerpts from The Sleepeasy Solution
No-Cry Versus Crying It Out
With older children, using touch can be especially detrimental, as it tempts them to continue testing limits with you, to keep pressing until you cave in and help them to sleep. WeÆve found that when using these kinds of “hands-on” methods, parents often give up on sleep learning because it takes so long to actually get better sleep that the process itself becomes exhausting.
On the other end of the spectrum are the experts who suggest that the fastest way to help a child to sleep is to allow him to “cry it out” in other words, shutting the door and leaving your child completely alone, crying, for as long as it takes him to fall asleep. Also known as full extinction, this method actually does work, and sometimes quite quickly, although we have heard stories of children who have cried for as long as several hours at a stretch on the first night or two, perhaps bewildered and frightened because the usual helpers (namely, you) have disappeared. The idea of a child alone in the dark, crying inconsolably, doesnÆt sit right with most parents, and it doesn’t sit right with us, either. It seems unnecessarily hard on both parents and child.
We think experts on both ends of the spectrum are well intentioned, but we also believe that the so-called no-cry solutions focus too much on the parent’s and child’s emotions and not enough on the necessary conditions for learning, and that the extinction methods focus too much on the child’s learning and not enough on the emotional side of sleep learning. This is how we arrived at what we call the “least-cry” approach.
The “Least-Cry” Approach
So if giving your child too much help makes her cry harder and longer, and giving her too little help makes parents (and possibly the child) feel uneasy and overwhelmed, what’s left? Finding a balance between allowing your child to learn how to sleep, while lovingly supporting her in the process. Our recipe for successful sleep learning –meaning that children learn to sleep quickly with a minimum of crying–contains two important ingredients:
1. A simple, customized sleep plan that includes step-by-step instructions for scheduling, environmental changes, and helping children change their sleep behavior, and
2. Plenty of support around the emotional aspects of teaching a child to sleep (and some inevitable frustration), to help children continue to feel loved, and to help parents remain consistent as their child learns. Parents who use our methods usually report that their child begins to sleep through the night in less than five nights, because the child receives clear, consistent responses that shape behavior quickly, and because she feels your loving encouragement while she learns. In a matter of days, children learn that they don’t need assistance from their parentsùwith a bit of practice they become expert sleepers, and the whole family finally begins to get the rest they need.
Although there are other methods designed to offer parents a “middle-of-the-road” option, we haven’t found any that help a child learn as quickly and minimize the crying as effectively as the techniques we use. We believe this is because we offer an equal balance of opportunities for behavioral learning and loving support that doesn’t interfere with that learning. In this book, our aim is to give you exactly what a family would get if they were sitting in our office: our expertise, proper tools, and all the emotional support you need.
We’ll help you create an organized, fail-proof plan that ensures success–usually in less than five nights. At Sleepy Planet, we’ve met thousands of parents who are in exactly the same exhausted, barely functioning boat that you’re in right now. Happily, your child’s (and thus you and your spouse’s) sleepless nights will soon feel like a quickly fading bad dream. So hang in there; help has finally arrived! (That would be us, and we’re not leaving your side till your child’s sleep is much improved. Promise.)
There are seven main “sleep stealers” or reasons your child isn’t sleeping well; she may be affected by one of them, by a combination of several, or if you’ve hit the jackpot, by all seven.
- SLEEP STEALER #1: No Consistent Bedtime Routine Though most parents know that a bedtime routine is a good idea, it can be hard to be consistent about doing it, either because there’s too much to do before bed or because your child has so much energy that it’s hard to slow her down. Nonetheless, a predictable wind-down routine is one of the most important tools your child needs to sleep well.
- There are several important components of a good bedtime routine:
- Physical activity should come before the routine. If Daddy likes to toss the baby in the air, or your toddler likes to streak naked through the living room, go for it! Just make sure you do these activities before the bath or bedtime routine, when you’ll want to start slowing things down.
- The routine should last 15 to 60 minutes at nighttime, and about 10 to 15 minutes before a nap. The length of your routine will depend partly on the age of your child; a 5-month-old might gum a few pages of a board book, whereas an 18-month-old will enjoy at least one full story.
- Do your bedtime routine in the same room where your child will be sleeping. It’s important that your child spend some time in this space with you, feeling comfortable and relaxed, so the transition into sleep will go smoothly. If you give your child a bath and help him change into PJs in his room, and then return to another part of the house with him for more play or activity, you’ll lose the momentum of the wind-down process and will likely find that your child gets a “second wind.”
- Do approximately the same activities each night or at nap time, in the same order.
- This is what will help your child develop sleep cues, so that over time just doing the routine makes your child sleepy. Wind-down activities can include:A bathA massageDimming the lightsPlaying soft music
Diaper change and putting on pjÆs
Nursing, a bottle, or a cup of milk
A book or song (or several of each)
Playing quietly on the floor (no toys that beep or blink)
With an older child, talking about your day together
You get the idea. Have fun and be creative; just remember to keep it low-key. Once you’ve established a consistent routine, anyoneùsitter, grandparents, other familyùshould be able to do exactly what you do to put your child to sleep and have exactly the same results. Mom and Dad are then freed up for a night on the town.
©2007. Jennifer Waldburger, LCSW, and Jill Spivak, LMSW. All rights reserved. Reprinted from The Sleepeasy Solution: The Exhausted Parent’s Guide to Getting Your Child to Sleep from Birth to Age 5. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street , Deerfield Beach , FL 33442.