Let The Feelings Be

Many parents believe that a Sleep coach teaches your baby how to sleep by passing through some highly misunderstood techniques. I am not here to SOLVE your baby’s sleep problems. Science does not agree with some of the more popular sleep training methods that can suggest a baby has a ‘problem’ sleeping in the first place. The Ferber or “Cry-it-Out” method is often seen by parents as the only way to give a baby the gift of sleep. This method requires parents to somewhat put instincts to the side & rather focuses on watching the clock with strict timed intervals allowed for visiting your baby in their room at bed or nap time.  

This method causes me to have sleepless nights truth be told!

Research has shown that little humans a.k.a babies, know how to sleep & they’re actually very good at it if given the chance. It is parents not knowing how babies sleep that is the trigger that makes them very good at not sleeping. 

This was an Ah – HA! moment for me before I went on to be professionally trained.

The sooner these triggers are identified the better of course but due to the elusive and complex nature of infant sleep, most parents find themselves in a whirlwind of no sleep cycles that become more and more apparent by the 3rd or 4th month of their infant’s life when everyone is lacking sleep. These no sleep cycles seem to sneak up on parents & by the time they feel something needs to change, the baby has already had many months (sometimes years) of being taught how not to sleep.

This is where the Ferber method gains popularity, as it is quick acting, when parents are out of patience and energy.

Most sleep trainer certification courses teach the Ferber method along side other available techniques. I am also fully versed in the method but chose to leave this technique behind for a more holistic approach, focussing on everything in baby’s day and night that may be having a negative impact on healthy sleep habits.

My personal style has been honed over the years, having gained essential hands on knowledge from working with so many families. The personal support that I provide for you as a family will help guide you on how to listen to your baby’s language, respect it rather than interrupt them when they are trying to find a new way, nature’s way, of falling asleep &. I teach you what that sounds like. I will also always encourage you to visit them if they need it.

Along side this holistic approach to listening and letting the feelings be, I also practice some core no-cry or low cry sleep training methods such as Fading and Substitution that serve to help minimise frantic crying as much as possible. Determining which method or combination of methods is best suited to you & your family depends on your family’s sleep history prior to working with me.

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Some Ferber basics & how to practice it responsibly:

The Ferber method is based on the Extinction Method but with some subtle additions. However the ultimate result is still ‘Extinction’.

What is Extinction some of you may wonder? It means that the child falls asleep with elevated cortisone levels in their brains (the stress hormone) from feeling scared or in panic mode yet hopelessly abandoned by their caregivers. This method does not respect a baby’s needs as the cries are not decoded. The baby is simply put down and left.

There is too much strong evidence that the Ferber method is unacceptable for 

babies under 6 months old, but more so, it was never designed to treat most of the sleep challenges parents feel they may have in relation to bedtime battles & night waking *d (France and Blampied 1999; Owens et al 1999).

As such, I do not believe in this method as being effective or a safe choice at any age.

Researchers agree that the risk of worsening a child’s psychological difficulties is too high using Ferber if certain concerns are already present *d (France and Blampied 1999; Owens et al 1999) such as:  

Nighttime fears

Separation anxiety

Daytime stress

Nightmares

Circadian rhythm sleep disorders

Sleep schedule problems that are caused by nap & bedtimes that are either too early or too late.

This is where I LET THE FEELINGS BE. These reactions are created by feelings, feelings that were not addressed during the day or when they occur night after night. I embrace these feelings and I work with you on any of these areas including feeding for optimal sleep to help you and your little one effectively work through them together.

On top of all this the Ferber method does not teach a child how to fall asleep. (*e Ferber 2006.)

My sleepless nights come with knowing that parents so desperate for sleep use it on babies as young as 3.5 months of age, unaware that it was never tested on that age group nor that it was not meant to solve the above mentioned, most classic daytime challenges that create imbalances in baby sleep.

The little research that does exist already tells us that this kind of miss-use causes psychological trauma that shows up later on in life as more aggressive adults and poor emotional regulation abilities*****f? but most parents don’t dig deep enough yet dive in none the less.

I believe that a parent must always listen to their instincts but above all, to their baby’s language. I teach you how to understand your baby’s needs not wants. I do not practice Ferber. I do not practice Extinction. I practice “learn from your baby, learn to trust they’ve got this!”

“If you take the time to observe your baby and to learn what she is trying to say to you, you’re going to have a baby who is content and a family that isn’t dominated by a distressed baby.” Tracy Hogg, Secrets of The Baby Whisperer, 2001.

I love LOVE that Tracy Hogg quote from her book The baby Whisperer because as she emphasises throughout her teachings, ‘start as you mean to go on’. Listening to our baby, (toddler, child and teenager!) and decoding, trouble shooting together is relevant at every age right through to teens and lets face it, adulthood. If we feel understood, we feel heard & it calms us down immediately to move onto the next step of figuring out how to make it better.  As parents, most of us have been taught the opposite of “let the feelings be”, the opposite of what is helpful in a emotionally charged moment. Most parents have been taught to stop a baby from crying. We do not listen to what they have to say as Tracy Hogg highlights. Our goal is to make that sharp, high-pitched sound we call crying stop quickly. A parent’s first go to method in this situation is to pick the baby up & tell them to shhhhhh shhhhh, rocking them or bouncing them or sing at the same time to create a distraction.  We become in that moment, desperate to fix and help without ever knowing why our baby is upset. Crying is a language that I am currently learning all about in my certification course with DBL Australia. All babies are born with a language & I place great importance in my teachings with parents about stopping, listening & observing before deciding on what is the appropriate solution. (*g Tracy Hogg, Secrets of A Baby Whisperer, 2001)

It is however not only what we are taught that leads us as parents to try to stop a baby or child from being upset without understanding the reasons. It is also instinct rooted in the motivation required to always be the best parent we can be which keeps up striving to always try to care for our little one who needs us more than we can know. This double alert makes us very uncomfortable and sometimes panicked when we hear our baby cry since we are often at a loss as to knowing the reason for the upset, which sends us messages of being inadequate as a parent.

This discomfort however can backfire on your child sending mixed messages about your emotional support for them. When our baby cries for what appears an inconsolable eternity because she wants something, not because she actually needs something, our patience can often run short and we can snap. Words such as “stop crying!” can escape us. Not because we want to be mean but our subconscious is sending us a message of  “I am failing as a parent, I must be doing something wrong, why can’t I make it better?”

Research demonstrates that all babies have a language http://www.dunstanbaby.com/

that I listen for & crying does not mean one thing. I believe emotions are communication & I also teach what needs sound like vs. wants. There will still be crying during training with me but I ensure that your baby learns with consistent demonstrations of you understanding their language as long as you follow me through the learning journey. This, as you have probably guessed by now, does not mean stopping your baby from expressing their feelings. It simply means you learn from them, allowing you to better attend to their needs; I teach you to truly listen to them. This in turn allows them to un-learn what they have been previously taught & to re-learn to fall asleep on their own & to stay asleep.

You will learn how to transition from helping your baby fall asleep to helping them learn to fall asleep with me using a combination of gentle approach methods that are never Ferber (Cry It Out) or worse, Extinction (Ferber method foundation) methods. I also urge you to never try either of these on your baby or other versions of it. The research is either missing or flawed no matter how comfortable other sleep consultants are with it to get you as a client.  There are other methods that can be just as successful. I personally use my own mixed bag of healthy sleep habit foundations, mama secrets, letting the feelings be & what my extensive experience of having worked with close to 50 families has taught me. I will never advise you to not help your baby calm down (chair method) or not check on them if it’s not ‘time’ yet (Ferber, SleepSense) or advise the Pick Up Put Down method if I deem it to be upsetting your baby.  There will be crying (as there is no such thing as ‘zero cry’ or silent acceptance when changes are introduced), but the crying will be kept to a minimum ensuring that your little one feels safe and secure. Your baby may be angry & frustrated with the changes but that doesn’t mean they can’t find their way, just like learning to ride a bike, sometimes a fall here and there is needed for the new skill to be learned. Baby sleep is no different. My comprehensive, parenting approach teaches you about sleeping, feeding, scheduling shifts setting you up all the way through to how to handle toddler meals, behavioural developments & picky eaters when relevant. Working with me gives you so much more than your baby’s sleep.

Your baby is my priority, as if it were my own during the course. This is why I prefer to call myself your BABY SLEEP ANGEL. I train YOU, as you will be far more stressed than your little trooper but my priority is to keep your baby happy throughout the transition & for you to learn what sleep scientists deem as a great need & that is for you as a parent to understand your baby’s capabilities & limits & respect them. *b. (*Dr. Monique LeBourgeois, sleep scientist, University of Colorado at Boulder.)