What’s your advice on getting rid of the dummy for a 7-month old? My daughter…
If you are a parent struggling with baby sleep issues, you’ll be well aware of just how many voices are out there competing for your attention. Everyone has their opinion, their “unique approach” or “magic formula” for finally getting baby to drift off to sleep.
The first thing you should know is that You. Are. Not. Alone.
Struggling with baby sleep issues is a challenge faced by parents all over the world, in all walks of life.
The second thing to know is that baby sleep issues are not your fault. If your baby is struggling to develop sound sleep habits, it’s not because you are a bad parent or the environment is wrong or because you listened to the wrong music while bub was in the womb.
It’s the result of a sensitive and brand-new being trying to navigate a brand-new world while at the same time learning millions of new things and developing new neural pathways at a speed that you and I can’t even conceive of! Is it any wonder that sleep is difficult for a little baby?
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, the next question is who the hell do you turn to for baby sleep advice?
Before we go into who to consult for baby sleep advice – and for that matter, advice on all infant wellness matters – I wanted to empower you with this wisdom, Mama.
When it comes to your baby, you know best. He or she is just like an extension of your own body.
In the modern world, we are trained to trust experts. We are led to believe that only a person with several qualifications and years of experience will know what’s best for our babies.
I’d like to challenge that idea right now. Just as no medical professional can know your body better than you, the same is true for your baby. Not to discredit fathers, but there really is a special connection between mother and child, partly because they shared the same physical body for 9 months.
Having a baby is the ultimate motivation for getting to know your instincts and your gut feelings, and trusting what they are telling you. Don’t shut them out.
If your doctor tells you that your baby’s crying is normal, it’s just teething or it’s just wind, but you feel that it’s more than that, trust your gut and insist on further investigation. Ask for a referral.
If you are getting a strong feeling that your baby needs to be sung to, or needs a night light, or needs to be held, then go ahead and provide those things, even if there is an “expert” out there telling you otherwise.
Even if the expert is me! That’s how much faith I want you to have in your instincts as a mother.
Many parents take the word of their General Practitioner as gospel. As I touched on above though, you may wish to look further than a GP when something is worrying you.
Please, please do not take what I am about to say as advice to ignore your doctor. That is not at all what I am getting at.
What I do want to say is that while GPs are an excellent starting point for referrals to specialists, they are not always best placed to give advice on baby sleep or wellness.
They are called General Practitioners for a reason. They are not specialists. They study infant development in a very limited way throughout their degree and have not chosen to specialise in infant health and wellness.
My general rule of thumb? Your GP is a great landing place when everything is fine, just for general health checks. When things are not fine, consult a specialist.
The kind of baby sleep advice you will get from medically trained infant specialists will be more considered than what you get from a GP.
People in these professions are often well-placed to give you personalised, in-depth baby sleep advice, as well as general health and wellness advice for your baby:
Aside from medical qualifications, the best qualification for issuing baby sleep advice is experience.
Here’s the key though: the baby sleep advice you are going to feel comfortable taking on board must also fit with your deepest values as a mother. This comes back to using your mother’s instinct. Re-read the beginning of this article.
Like I said, there are so many competing voices out there that if you tried every piece of advice you encountered, your baby would become a lab rat for sleep remedies. Trying dozens of different approaches on constant rotation is unlikely to get you anywhere.
For example. my 20+ years of experience as a maternity nanny has led me to form some strong philosophies for baby sleep.
I do not advocate leaving a child to cry for an extended period.
I recommend weaning off the dummy as soon as possible.
I believe in talking in a normal conversational voice to your baby.
And I heartily endorse the RIE approach to infant care.
You might decide that some of these approaches don’t fit with your concept of healthy parenting. I’m not here to tell you who is right or wrong. What I want to emphasise is that you trust your gut, and choose the approach that sits right with you as a mother.
Now that you have some recommendations for the best way to find the baby sleep advice that’s right for you, I want to end with a cautionary tale.
Whether it’s comparisonitis or confusionitis, the illnesses you can “catch” online can be as destructive to your health as any virus.
Please take what you read in online parent groups with a grain of salt. There is a lot of projection that goes on when people are insecure and frankly, a lot of what you’re reading may not be true.
Even if it is true for that parent, it may not be right for you or your child.
There can also be a bit of showing off when talking about developmental milestones. I’ve said this before – babies develop at wildly different rates. 99% of the time, they all catch up.
If you are worried about a milestone, seek the advice of a professional. Get out of the online social groups. They will only cause you more worry, not solve your problems.
As always, I am here for you. I offer individualised baby sleep support online. Read my baby sleep success stories here, and check out my baby sleep support packages. Making a booking today can mean getting a real night’s sleep tomorrow!