Whew- it’s been a loooong couple of weeks, hasn’t it?! Like most people, we’ve had some time to sit and think about things, and we realized that our foundations of sleep training apply to just about anything, including coping and finding a way to thrive during social distancing. Whether you’re a new parent, expecting parent, or making changes to your baby’s sleep, our Four Pillars of Sleep Training give you a solid foundation on just making it through the day.
The TL;DR of this is: There are 4 elements we believe must be present while sleep training; we call these the “4 Pillars of Sleep Training” or the “4 C’s”: Communication, Consistency, Commitment, and Confidence. I actually like to add a “5th C” which is Celebrations. I’ll get into that later. Essentially, if you commit to a plan and approach it confidently and have confidence in your baby’s abilities you’re setting your baby (and you) up for success. Confidence also communicates to your baby that you believe in them. Staying consistent with the plan is really just clearly communicating so your baby doesn’t get confused. In fact, consistency is what babies need to thrive.
And the celebration? This is so important: celebration is acknowledging how well your baby is doing. It’s noticing even the littlest bits of the day that went well. This! This is what gives us perspective and keeps us from being consumed by the challenges and ups and downs of sleep training.
if you commit to a plan and approach it confidently and have confidence in your baby’s abilities you’re setting your baby (and you) up for success. Confidence also communicates to your baby that you believe in them. Staying consistent with the plan is really just clearly communicating so your baby doesn’t get confused. In fact, consistency is what babies need to thrive.
So how does this apply to you right now?
The world is topsy turvy- some days normal, some days wonky and confusing, some days everything in-between. What we’re missing is consistency, clear communication, ability to commit, confidence in what’s happening in the world, and certainly seeking ways to celebrate.
Our challenge to you is to find ways to incorporate all of these elements into your day. If you do, you’ll find a daily rhythm that strengthens relationships, drives positive interactions and trust and helps you find even the smallest flecks of gold in your day.
Keep on reading if you want some specific examples of each of these elements in play for both baby sleep training and for how to incorporate into your day.
The Four C’s of Baby Sleep Training
Commit to putting important steps into place. Just like our workouts, attempt to learn languages or “finish that project”, nothing happens unless we make a commitment and stick to it. So, if you want to make changes to your little one’s sleep, only start if you know you can commit to the plan. Most sleep training plans need a minimum of 5 days before you will see enough of a pattern to decide if you should keep going wor change your tactics.
Hint: It’s hard to commit to much right now, so keep it simple. Maybe just commit to 5 minutes each day to do something for yourself (drink your coffee while it’s hot, get fresh air, slow your shower down and actually enjoy it.)
IT’S ALSO 100% OK to COMMIT TO DOING NOTHING BUT GETTING THROUGH THE DAY!
Communicating with your baby, with your partner(s), support people- everyone helping with your baby’s sleep is imperative. Communication is the heart of sleep training- learning your baby’s cues, communicating the new routines, working together to make changes.
Talk with your baby about the changes you’ll be making. Really try to understand what their body language is saying, what they’re vocally trying to communicate.
Discuss the new plan and changes with all your baby’s caretakers so they can commit (see what we’re doing here) to supporting your baby the same way.
Hint: Communicating clearly with others in your life is important too! Whether that be about your needs, or hearing theirs, keeping committing to communicating will limit unnecessary tension and stress.
Check below for a link to a great article about “asking vs guessing” culture and how that relates to getting our needs met.
Babies (and us) thrive off regularity and consistency. Lack of consistency is the number one reason parents do not see the changes in sleep that they want.
A predictable schedule is a way of communicating to your baby. They understand what to expect when the sleep sack is put on when books are read and the white noise goes on. The guesswork is taken away for them, making it easier for them to wind-down and fall asleep.
Consistent wake and sleep times also help regulate your baby’s circadian rhythm and melatonin production.
Hint: this is true for you; irregular sleep schedules affect our moods and health. Try to set a fairly regular bed and wake time for yourself!
Whether you feel confident or not, communicating confidence to your baby about their skills and abilities is important. Let them know you believe in their abilities to make changes.
As you learn about their incredible capabilities, this will come more easily. Trust us!
Hint: You’re doing a great job. We don’t even know you and we can tell you that. Really, you are.
Change is hard. There’s no way around that. And sleep training can be challenging for you and your baby. Both you and your baby deserve acknowledgment of the strides taken to make a change. Your baby has incredible abilities that you’re guiding them to achieve, it’s only fair to celebrate your baby and these achievements.
You deserve the celebration too- for sticking to the plan, guiding your baby, trusting your baby innately knows how to sleep, and taking steps that help your family.
VERY IMPORTANT RULE: Leave the “but” out of celebrating. Need an example? My baby took a nap- ‘but it was short.’ Nope- leave that but out because it undermines what your baby accomplished. Would you say that to your child “you did great, but it could have been better”? Instead, celebrate and set the next goal.
Hint: Looking for the good in your day helps you keep perspective of the WHOLE picture, not just the parts that feel the heaviest. Taking time to see the big things is easy! But some days the celebrations might be “I got through the day”.
Remember, even though we’re all social distancing, You Are NOT Alone. We’re here to help!