What attachment-based sleep training looks like and how to put it into practice

In this post, I’ll cover attachment-based sleep training approaches. However, first, we need to go over the difference between healthy and unhealthy attachment. How can you get better discerning your child’s wants vs. their needs?

Healthy Attachment With Baby

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So, what exactly does healthy mother-baby attachment look like? 

Healthy attachment can look different for every parent and child. So, it is vital to stay attuned to what YOUR child needs. Doing everything for your child does not build a healthy and secure attachment. 

Always think: How can I meet my child’s needs without doing more than that?

Healthy attachment has these two basic components:

  1. Your child is secure and confident that their needs are going to be met.
  2. They know mom is there and will meet their needs.

What Baby Wants vs. What Baby Needs

Now let’s look at how we can discern between our child’s wants and needs. 

There’s so much research out there. It’s overwhelming! Plus, there are so many competing and opposing ideas on how to raise kids. To help counteract the confusion and overwhelm, you can:

  1. Be as well-informed as possible
  2. Be conscientious and make informed decisions based on what YOU think is right
  3. Move forward in your plan with confidence

Close up on baby holding parent's finger. Healthy attachment sets the stage for sleep training by boosting your baby's ability to self soothe. Sleep training with the Peaceful Sleeper will help
Healthy attachment sets the stage for sleep training by fostering
your baby’s ability to self-soothe

If the baby starts crying and you start panicking about what your baby needs, all hope is not lost. First, take a deep breath. Remember, crying does not always signal an unmet need. If your baby is fed, dry, and safe, then it is OK to let your baby cry and self-soothe.

Attached Babies Learning Self-Soothing

Your baby will start to learn that mom is there when I NEED her. When you leave them to work things out on their own and self-soothe, they will build on this independence all their lives. 

The amount of intervention that our kids actually need from us is way lower than we give to them sometimes.

Attachment is founded on the millions of interactions we have with our kids every day, not just one or two events. 

Being in tune with what your child needs is interconnected with their ability to self-soothe and work things out. If you know your child can do those things and yet, they’re still crying or not acting “normal”, you can immediately tell something is wrong. 

Keep Your Role As a Parent in Mind

It’s so important to remember that it’s not our duty as parents to prevent our children from experiencing discomfort. Our job is to:

  1. Keep them in a loving and safe environment
  2. Meet their needs
  3. Help them learn that they can rely on themselves

When you implement these important job duties, sleep training your child can run a lot smoother. 

How to Sleep Train a Baby

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Now that we have an understanding of what healthy attachment looks like, let’s dive into how to use healthy attachment to sleep train your baby. 

The most important aspect to remember during this whole experience and what I will constantly tell other mamas is: overtired babies protest more.

Christine Lawler, The Peaceful Sleeper

Keeping your baby from getting overtired is key through this whole process. To do this, you don’t want to go more than 90 minutes of an awake time stretch. Don’t overstimulate baby during their awake times because this will also make the baby overtired. 

The Golden Rule: Bedtimes and Feedings

Baby laying on a plush white blanket, yawning with fist in the air. By 4 months old, a baby is looking for structure in their daily routine. This is the optimal time to start sleep training with an in-home baby sleep expert.
By 4 months old, a baby is looking for structure in their daily routine. This is the optimal time to start.

We also want to start making bedtimes nice and early and feeding your babies when they are hungry, not just to help them fall asleep. You are the best at knowing what your baby needs, and if you don’t want to let them cry it out, you don’t have to! Do whatever feels right for you and your baby.

Why Is My Baby Crying?

Helping your kids learn how to sleep independently will help you know if they are crying because they are hungry, wet, hurting, or just being fussy. You can help them learn to clearly communicate their needs by getting them on a predictable sleep schedule and being in tune with their needs.

A Note About Naps For Babies

Overall, your nap schedule will change as your babies grow. In general, you want to keep them on a nap schedule until they’re about 2 ½ years old. In terms of when to stop swaddling, I recommend that you stop swaddling your baby when they can roll over on their own. 

Get More Help With Baby Sleep

Do you feel better about sleep already? There is hope, momma. I’ve just scratched the surface of attachment-based sleep training in this blog! There is so much more to learn about sleep training an infant, correcting sleep issues with a toddler and even improving adult sleep or chronic insomnia!

If you still have questions or want a more tailored sleep training guide, I have a sleep training book you can find on my education and sleep products page or you can purchase a sleep training consultation by yours truly, The Peaceful Sleeper! ~Christine