My approach to sleep has an emphasis on the parent-child relationship, and comes from the perspective that we need to first understand the family dynamics to then see sleep as part of a big puzzle that we need put together carefully.
I believe sleep is not a behavioral problem, as traditional sleep training techniques suggest, but rather a combination of many factors including the understanding that sleep is a biological function and human babies are born knowing how to fall asleep - the same exact way they did in the womb.
We can recreate environments that help babies feel safe and nourished in order to induce sleep, but our brains already know how to sleep way before birth. Think about what an external womb would be like: lots of touching, carrying, rocking and feeding responsively. The sensation of feeling safe and loved builds the positive relationship a baby needs to trust the process of being asleep, that someone watches them when they are not alert to perceive danger.
And for this reason I opted by working in a way that supports every stage of child development, because I don’t think babies can be taught to be independent before they are ready for independence. We can see this clearly while they play and check on us frequently to make sure they are safe. This is a primitive defensive skill we are all equipped with in order to survive, meaning that we are born counting on a caregiver to protect our survival instincts. This is healthy and necessary for one of the most important skills a human can have to dwell our world: emotional intelligence.
"Because they are born so immature (18 months early compared to other animals) they need nearly constant touch and physical presence of caregivers (Montagu, 1968; Trevathan, 2011).” Darcia Narvaez, PhD
Over the last 5 years, I have helped hundreds of families from different parts of the world and I can tell you from my experience that your child’s sleep issues may actually be normal from a developmental perspective.
I believe we need to first explore all aspects that build trust and secure attachment, any medical aspects that could be possibly be interfering, understand your family as whole, to then move forward with gradual “parent-led” changes, if that’s your goal. We will keep the focus on strengthening the relationship, moving forward in your child’s pace and yours, without using any kind of separation-based or unresponsive techniques. When changes are in the process of being put in place, tears will happen. Changing and adapting is not easy, we know how hard it is, and that’s when you will always be next to your little one offering comfort the way that feels right to you. I will teach you everything you need to know about emotions, changes and adaptations so you can feel confident supporting your child’s emotions throughout the years.
I work this way because if you understand your role in the relationship with your child, and have a range of suggestions to implement, you will likely feel confident to navigate sleep knowing what to expect and how to adapt things as you child develops and situations present themselves. You will be able to parent in a way that you don’t force changes today, because you know there’s no need to fear the future.
This is what I mean by not placing the focus on the behavior but instead, looking closely to the relationship. That’s what will make changes sustainable for many years to come.
Are you ready to embark on this journey with me?