17 Jan Do not fear the put down…
I work with a variety of ages and families. With each family comes new challenges, exceptions to “rules”, and truly a learning experience for me each and every time. Some situations are harder then others. Lets be honest, some children have dispositions that are more challenging then others. This is what makes my job fun, makes parenting exhausting, and keeps me on my toes.
Even though so often, many families I see have their own unique way of working, there are certain things I say often and to many. Certain principles that apply to the masses. Certain “rules”, tips, or tricks that can help the majority. These tricks I use myself and I also remind myself of them weekly. A lot of what I teach other families has become second nature to me, but the really good advice, the really good tips and tricks, well I have to also remind myself of these too. One of my favorite reminders is, “one bad nap does not equal a bad sleeper”.
Now, I know I am not the only one out there that does this. And I know better! I know babies are human, not everyday will look the same, and sometimes there will be bad naps. However, one bad nap can make me feel bonkers and drive me down a spiraling path of thinking of every single way I have turned my good sleeper into a bad one. How did I set her up to fail? What went wrong? How can I fix this? Ugh, I am so annoyed right now! And so on and so forth. There begins the spiral of doom. Okay, maybe not doom but you get the picture.
I am lucky to have a husband who reminds me often of the things I tell others. Helps bring me back to reality. “Chelsea, we have a great kid and sleeper, she is just off today!” My perfectionism gets the best of me sometimes. Makes the whole parenting humans instead of robots really hard. So do not beat yourself up when you have one bad nap or sleep situation. It happens. I know better and I still do this and have to remind myself of this little saying often.
Another principle or phase I use often is… “Do not fear the put down”. What does this mean? Exactly as it sounds. When you lay your baby or toddler down for any sleeping situation do not fear it. 1. Because kids smell fear. Be brave, act confident (even if you are not), it can help. 2. Because what is the worst that is going to happen? You lay them down and they may cry. That is okay, I have tools to help with that!!
I have watched so many families come up with really creative ways to lay their kids down because of this “fear of the put down”. I am talking sneaky moves and tricks to lay that baby down, sneak out of the room making minimal to zero noise, barely breathing, and exhausted. I have even seen people army crawl out of the room. I think there is a You Tube video on this (it is actually pretty funny but only because I am not the one having to do that nightly). Do not fear the put down, don’t let this be you. And if this is you, do not worry, you can always change it.
But I get it. I really do. Survival mode. You are tired. You just want to lay that baby down and hear silence. So I really do get it but I am here to tell you this snowballs and fast. What starts out as a few minutes a night of rocking to sleep with that sneaky drop off to the crib turns into an hour plus of rocking and then slowly putting that baby down with the fear they will wake up and you have to start that rocking all over again. The horror! And the reality to so many. I really do get it, that would be exhausting!
So, lets change that. But how? First, do not fear the put down. Be confident. Second, lay that baby down awake. Yes, awake!! Drowsy is okay but awake is key. Tell them good night. It is nice for them to know what is happening. Think about this, if you fell asleep in someone’s arms rocking or feeding, then were put down in a bed alone, and woke up later on alone, out of that persons arms, you may be quite freaked out. You may even cry or scream. “Help!!! I need that rocking stat and by the way, where am I???”
Do not fear the put down. Start this right away. One of the biggest indicators a baby can sleep through the night is when they have the skill of being able to put themselves to sleep. How do they achieve this? By falling asleep on their own, by not fearing the put down, by laying that baby down awake.
Practice. At any age you can practice this. It is okay if they cry when you lay them down. They are learning. Learning can be frustrating. We are learning too. Allow them to fuss a little and then you can keep doing check ins. Let them know they are okay but it is time to sleep. Do not fear that put down. Putting a baby in the sleep space they are sleeping in is a good thing. It is a skill you want them to learn. We do not need to be fearful of this learning curve. Take the fear out of it. Reframe the way you look at this learning experience. In time, baby will learn to fall asleep on their own, lay down happily, and sleep time will be a joyous experience not one driven by fear.