Thursday, July 2, 2009

Sleep with your baby!

Ok! So how often have you heard this:

"Is your baby sleeping through the night yet?"

It is often (and unfortunately) the first question people ask a new parent.

The truth is that most babies do not sleep through the night, yet it is a myth that is perpetuated from generation to generation.

Ladies! It is ok! There is no reason for your baby to be sleeping through the night! The fact that they are not, shows that they are developing just as they should. They are bonding. They are attaching. They need you at night, just like they need you during the day.

Parents who are frustrated with frequent waking or who are sleep deprived may be tempted to try sleep training techniques that recommend letting a baby cry in an effort to "teach" him to "self-soothe". New research suggests that these techniques can have detrimental physiological effects on the baby by increasing the stress hormone cortisol in the brain, with potential long term effects to emotional regulation, sleep patterns and behavior. An infant is not neurologically or developmentally capable of calming or soothing himself to sleep in a way that is healthy. The part of the brain that helps with self-soothing isn't well developed until the child is two and a half to three years of age. Until that time, a child depends on his parents to help him calm down and learn to regulate his intense feelings.

Notice the bold that I added. Bet you didn't think about the neurological aspects of sleeping through the night!

The Case Against Solitary Sleep

It's important to note that infant solitary sleep is a relatively new practice that has evolved in the western world only within the last 100 years. Recently, there have been efforts by various medical and professional organizations to discourage parents from sleeping with their children for fear that it contributes to an increase in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). However, new research demonstrates that co-sleeping, when practiced by informed parents, can be safe and beneficial. In fact, many cultures where parents routinely sleep with their children report some of the lowest SIDS rates. In some of these cultures SIDS is non-existent.

In closing! Sleep with your baby! If you aren't comfortable with the baby in your bed, try a side-car arrangement or a bassinet next to your bed. If nothing else, keep the baby in your room! It will help your baby, and it will help you. If you have to get up in the middle of the night with your little one, at least you don't have to walk across the house in a haze.

Happy sleeping!