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YOU DESERVE A GOOD NIGHT'S SLEEP

By Annemarie Sansom
March 23, 2006

Your relationship with the world grows distant, and you struggle to cope with mundane tasks like housework or even getting yourself out of bed and dressed in the morning. You might find yourself snapping at your husband or your other children and are unable to function for a day at work.

This is the world that exists daily for many Mothers and Fathers after having a baby. Some families are lucky and their baby is a good sleeper right away but for the rest of us we end up living in fuzzy sleep deprived world day in day out. I will never forget in my early twenties going into the office and complaining about how tired I was and my colleagues with children looking at me and saying, "you will never know tiredness until you have a child." I look back now and finally understand what they meant by those comments.

Of course the joys and amazement of having created such a beautiful little baby outweighs those tired days and nights. At the same time we smile with joy and amazement, we also hope that there must be some other way to get through these first years of our new baby's lack of sleep and ours.

As soon as you become pregnant you have people from every walk of life telling you what you should be eating and if the baby will be a boy or a girl. Strangers touching your tummy and telling you have put on too much weight or too little weight. Once the baby arrives, it gets worse. There are all types of strangers and family members popping out of the woodwork to give you advice from baby's food to sleep methods. Reality is, there are three tried and tested methods you can use that come under various names, involving similar techniques. All have distinct advantages and disadvantages.

One of the methods you will inevitably hear about is "Controlled crying". This method happens when a parent leaves their child to cry for increasing periods of time, so that the baby learns to fall asleep by themselves. Instead of being rocked to sleep or fed to sleep, the baby gets a chance to fall asleep on their own. The Macquarie Dictionary defines control as: to exercise restraint or direction over; dominate; command; to hold in check; to curb. Although some families swear by this method it can be extremely distressing for others. Watching their little helpless baby screaming desperately for a cuddle and to know they are safe. Some babies even get so upset they vomit. The Australian Breastfeeding Association states on their website http://www.breastfeeding.asn.au/bfinfo/crying.html, "The basic tenet of most childcare books written last century has been that parents need to control their children right from birth."

This method is still taught through Tresillian and Karitane Baby sleep Centres. Albeit in a controlled environment with trained Nurses guiding parents on how to recognise and differentiate between cries. The "Controlled Crying" method is also only taught after the child has had a full health assessment and is over 3 months old. The concern is now that "Controlled crying" is being used as a "normal" tool for new parents with newborns under 3 months old. The Australian Association of Infant Mental Health is concerned that the widely practiced technique of controlled crying is not consistent with what infants need for their optimal and emotional psychological health, and may have unintended consequences. http://www.aaimhi.org/documents/position%20papers/controlled_crying.pdf

Controlled comforting is a similar technique to controlled crying, although the parent or caregiver is able to pick up the child or pat the child and give affection during the training process. Finally you have the "wait and see" method where you just hope the child grows out of it.

Surprisingly, as a qualified childcare worker with years of experience I had used the controlled crying method over the years in Child Care Centres at parents requests. As a Childcare Worker I did not like using controlled crying because I found it distressing for the child and myself, but as it was my job I continued on at the parents request until the child had been trained or the parents had decided to discontinue the training.

When I became a Mother for the first time, I had a lot of outside pressure from friends and family to use "Controlled crying". When I decided I could not face even just one hour of seeing my baby shaking and screaming in terror and fear. He could not understand why I would not stay with him or cuddle him. I decided that I would have to sacrifice my sleep and hope that he would eventually grow out of this non-sleeping pattern. My son and I stayed on our age and developmentally appropriate routines, but the sleep never seemed to get better. Finally after much research and many books later I was able to find a combination of the final two choices available to parents with babies who do not sleep well.

This method is called The No Cry sleep Solution discovered by Author Elizabeth Pantley. Elizabeth uses a combination of helping parents to understand the difference between expectations conditioned into us by society and reality of the needs and developmental abilities of their baby. The "No cry sleep solution" helps families to assess the sleeping patterns of their baby and then put a more structured routine in place that encourages sleep. As a Mother and Director of Night Nannies the agency, that helps parents with overnight sleep routine guidance and sleep workshops, I have utilised these methods and techniques and put them into place to help our clients with their children. At the end of the day as a parent, you still have to be disciplined enough to put the routines in place and maintain them before your baby will finally start to settle into a proper sleeping routine. This is why Night Nannies was established to help families who are looking for a better way to help their child sleep and because we understand "you deserve a good night's sleep."

As Parents we want the best for our children and we need to have options that will work without creating stress for all involved especially our little ones. As parents, it is up to us to ask questions and find better ways so our children can live happy and fulfilled lives with as little stress as possible while still allowing us to enjoy our time with them in the day and night.



 
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