MARY ATTENDED ONE OF OUR SLEEP CLINICS AND LOOKED EXHAUSTED. “MY BABY HATES HER COT. SHE’S SCARED OF HER ROOM AND CRIES EVERY TIME WE GO INTO THE ROOM FOR SLEEP.”
One of the most common concerns raised by parents is that they feel like their child is scared of their room or cot.
Mary told us that her baby often cries as soon as they approach the room, let alone get to the cot. Lets picture this…Mary is sleep deprived, she’s been watching her baby for the sleep cues…as soon as the baby yawns she scoops her up and heads to the bedroom. Now Mary knows that she really needs her baby to sleep and she really has lots of washing to do and she really needs a cup of tea. Mary is no longer relaxed. She’s as tense as if she’s entering the hardest test in the world ( which she is !) .
The reality is that babies under six months do not have the brain development to be scared of their bedroom as they asses their safety through their parents’s emotional state and body language. As you can imagine most sleep deprived parents become incredibly tense when entering the bedroom to settle their baby to sleep. Of cause any sensible baby is going to become tense and distressed when they feel their parents tension and sleep is pretty impossible when you are tense and stressed out !”
It’s worst when the parent has slowly rocked their baby in the bedroom until the eyelids are just about to shut and they slowly put the baby into the cot, holding their breath, tensing their muscles when bang ! The baby’s eyes pop open again and the baby starts to wail !
SO WHAT CAN YOU DO ?
Below are some really effective tips that parents have found helps with getting their babies to sleep:
- When you start to enter the room start to sing . Seriously ! Singing triggers the relaxation responses and disengages your amygdala which is the part of the brain responsible for the flight / fight/ freeze response. Obviously we are not talking about a rock in roll song but a lullaby. What helps further is if you sing “I can do this , we can do this…you are going to sleep etc” Try and stay positive .
- Do some progressive relaxation. Every magazine these days talk about mindfulness, breathing and relaxation. The facts are that when you do big deep belly breaths you actually ask your flight response to disengage. It truly does work and it helps if you can tense your muscles and then relax them .
- Its really important you look at each sleep as an opportunity for the baby to practice going to sleep, rather then a its now or never situation. If you are attempting to settle your baby for 15 -20 minutes and nothing is working then abandon ship and just cuddle on the couch. Once your baby has released a large amount of cortisol then sleep is far away.
It can honestly feel like your baby hates their room but the reality is its actually usually our desperation for sleep that can trigger their response. Practice these tips and see how you go….don’t forget we are here to help.