One of the first things I tell parents when they come to me for help with their little ones: trust yourself. Remember that YOU know your baby better than anyone else. Better than me, better than all the books and better than Mrs So-and-So down the road. When it comes to your baby, and whatever issue you may be having- be it sleep, potty training, weaning or feeding- your instincts are pretty powerful. By all means, read what you can and take all the advice that is offered, but always remember that you and your baby are individuals. What works for one may not work for another. This is why I like to chat to parents before I make any promises to be able to help. I like to get to know the family as a whole so that I can make a plan that will suit the individual. So this week’s #BabySleep A-Z is I for instinctive parenting. A little reminder that YOU are doing a great job.
What is instinctive parenting?
As with anything else in life, and in particular parenting, it’s all about balance. Finding your balance. Finding a way that suits YOUR family, a routine that you can work with. Don’t worry about what the book says, or what well meaning friends and family say you should be doing. Use your instincts to carve your own path.
Instinctive parenting means getting to know your baby and what makes her tick. And once you know that, the sleeping issues you’re having tend to become a little lighter. The solutions start to seem more obvious. And you can start to relax a little more.
How does instinctive parenting affect sleep training?
When you seek out help and support for your baby’s sleeping habits, chances are that you have reached a point where tiredness has started to cloud your judgements a little. This is the point at which we decided we will try anything to get some sleep. But wait! Remember that your baby is an individual, and what might work for your friend’s baby might not work for yours.
When I meet with families, I ask a series of questions that will help me to better understand baby’s personality and temperament. I also talk to parents about their baby, and about their feelings towards sleep training and parenting in general. There’s no point telling a family to take on a schedule that they don’t believe in!
When you sleep train your baby, there is no need to leave them to cry. There is no need to go against your instincts at all. Your instincts are to pick up your baby and soothe her when she calls for you- and that is exactly what you must do. Your instincts might be to co-sleep with your baby, and you can do this safely. Your instincts might be none of the above at all, and that’s ok too!
Your own style of parenting
Instinctive parenting is as unique as you and your baby. It’s YOUR style of parenting, and there really is no right or wrong. If you want to pick up your baby, then do it. If a strict routine doesn’t feel right to you, then ditch it. If bedtime works out better a little later, then go for it. As long as your family is happy, then all is good.