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9:16 AM EDT, March 27, 2014
Two words, especially new parents, will utter all the time.
But what happens when your little one has the ability to get themselves to sleep, but can't, or won't anymore?
"By four months old, your baby has the ability to get themselves to sleep", says Noelle Mcelaney, a Birth to Three counselor. Noelle was the guest speaker at this months Parent Talk at "The Bright Spot" in Vernon. Dawne Morison, who is the director there says: "parents, your needs matter" and sleep is one of those basic needs. Noelle says, the "tendency is sleep at any cost" because parents are making the decision about how to comfort their children when they're exhausted, in the middle of the night. She adds "it's important that mom and dad agree on their approach."
One of the most talked about methods is the Ferber Method, or as it's commonly known, crying it out. Noelle says it's "an individual family decision" and there are "so many variables" that determine what works for your child. If you do try this method, Noelle says "put them to sleep when they're drowsy" and "not sick." Both women agreed that if you try to let your child cry it out, and it's not working, wait a week, and try again, or try a different method.
S.A.N.E. is another one of those methods. It stands for sleep, activities, nutrition and environment. Make sure your child gets at least one hour of exercise during the day so they're tired. Equally important is nutrition, mainly protein. And, Noelle suggests a bedtime routine. Consider eliminating the TV around 6pm because although it looks like kids are relaxed watching a program, the "residual effects make it more difficult to get themselves to sleep because it stimulates their minds." The S.A.N.E. approach also suggests keeping technology out of the bedroom, including computers and TV's. According to a handout from "Birth to Three", a quick bath can also help because it helps their body temperature drop, which needs to happen before falling asleep. Noelle adds the "temperature in their room should be cool." After the bath, Noelle says, "pjs, one story and lights out."
Dawne hosts Parent Talks generally on the last Wednesday of every month. Dawne says she typically uses a "facebook poll to determine the topics based on the feedback she gets from families."
Both Noelle and Dawne talked about the importance of a face to face conversation with parents to create a community of resources. If you'd like more information on this past session, including how to get in touch with Noelle Mcelaney, or if you're interested in what The Bright Spot is offering next month, just click here.