Books and experts everywhere will tell you all the things you have done wrong, how many bad habits you have allowed, what your baby should have been doing ages ago… and you end up feeling like a complete loser and the worst parent. You think you’ve done EVERYTHING wrong and this makes you feel so despondent that you don’t even want to think about it anymore.
My approach to sleep is very different. My philosophy is to focus on what parents are doing right and all the normal milestones that their baby has already reached, rather than on what is wrong. We look at what the average, NORMAL garden variety baby does – not what we think he should be doing! We must consider the behaviour of the majority of babies, and not be tempted to compare ours to the exceptional babies out there who do sleep through from an early age.
We need to UNDERSTAND sleep behaviour, how it can be expected to change over time, and to have realistic expectations, rather than try desperately to change the baby’s behaviour. Trying to train babies to “sleep through” can lead to all sorts of frustrations and feelings of guilt, sadness, regret, stress, failure… not to mention what the babies go through in the process.
I find that most parents already KNOW, deep down, what is right for their baby and their family, but they have started doubting their instincts due to reading certain books on sleep, or having heard comments/criticism from others regarding their choices. My role is to reconnect parents with their gut feel, to work on changing perceptions rather than changing babies’ behaviour, and to give perspective and a sense of hope on this bumpy and winding road.
Babies don’t need perfect parenting. They need parents who are real, who make mistakes and apologise and try again, and above all, parents who LOVE them. The rest is detail.