Nighttime parenting: What you can do instead of sleep training

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What is nighttime parenting and why is it a good alternative to sleep training?

Babies are notorious for waking frequently during the night—it’s just part of the package. But once their sleep patterns become more regular (at around 4 months), some parents opt to start sleep training their child, or teaching their child how to sleep independently.

However, sleep training does not work for everyone. Other parents, especially advocates of attachment parenting, address their baby’s nighttime fussing with what’s known as “nighttime parenting.”

What is nighttime parenting?

nighttime parenting

While sleep training is focused on training your child on how to sleep through the night by themselves, with nighttime parenting, parents continue to respond to their babies when they cry and lull them back to sleep by nursing, rocking, singing, etc. While this does mean that it’ll take a while before you get enough rest at night, nighttime parenting does have many benefits, as enumerated by The Huffington Post:

1. Your baby’s sense of security

Your baby will feel more secure knowing that his parents will come when he needs them. This sense of security will create a positive view on sleep.

2. It’s natural

When your baby cries, your body responds by releasing a hormone called prolactin, which sends a biological response for you to pick up and nurse your baby.

3. It’s a great way to bond

This is just a phase in your child’s development—it won’t be long before these nighttime awakenings will be but a memory. Parenting your child throughout the night allows you to enjoy your child in quiet, precious moments.

Go to the next page to read more about nighttime parenting.

There are different techniques and styles of nighttime parenting, but here are some guidelines from Dr. Sears to help you get on track.

Have realistic expectations

You can’t force your baby to sleep—the most parents can do is make their baby’s environment as conducive to sleep as possible. Your goal should be to help your baby develop a positive and healthy attitude towards sleep.

Beware of promises that sound too good to be true

There are so many different schools of thought on getting your child to sleep. While they probably work for some children, you must keep in mind that each child is unique, and so it might not necessarily work for your child. Before trying a technique, ask yourself if it sounds right for you and your baby.

nighttime parenting

Photo: Shutterstock

Be flexible

If your current setup isn’t working for you, don’t be afraid to make some changes to your sleep program until you find something that’s compatible with both your baby’s temperament and your lifestyle.

Find where baby sleeps best

Some babies sleep better in their own room, in their own crib, while others prefer sleeping in their own bassinet in their parents’ room. Others sleep best with a co-sleeping arrangement. Most parents mix it up during their baby’s first two years to find what works for them.

READ: Why some parents don’t believe the Cry-it-Out method is effective in sleep training

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