There’s been some great conversation in my continuing client group about sleeping arrangements. It’s an ongoing conversation as little ones grow and change.
Our modern lives
It’s helpful to remember that we’re trying to fit baby mammal instincts into a modernized lifestyle, which includes options for sleeping spaces, working parents, living in boxes (houses), work-arounds for less nutrient dense food and the effects of pesticides, constant EMF exposure, and more…
When families come to me, we work to improve the challenging sleep situation then and there. At the same time, it’s an ever-evolving process because babies are people, and people grow and change. Sleep is a state, and their ‘state of being’ can change day to day or stage by stage. Sleeping arrangements can shift both according to developmental stages and what’s going on in their lives, such as a move, a new sibling, or new fears.
From a baby’s or toddler’s perspective, your child wants to be with you. It’s a survival instinct for safety, but it’s also what they ‘know.’ You’re the water they swim in, so to speak—not just literally when they’re in your womb!
First things first—crying in arms
What can we do about sleeping arrangements? What I share below applies after implementing the ‘crying in arms’ (CIA) process.
CIA is the first place we want to look, because helping a baby or toddler work through some pent up big feelings or stress can automatically makes sleeping arrangements fall into place naturally in a way that works for the whole family. If you’re not familiar yet with CIA, be sure to check out this article >.
Values, choices, and the clash
Taking into account the nature of our modernized lifestyle, your child’s drive to know where you are at all times, and assuming basic CIA needs are met, we’re in the territory of choices. It’s about balancing how close you can remain to what everyone’s biology seeks—such as your kiddos’ programming to be close to you, your own health, and genetic sensitivity levels for child/parent—with what choices you need to make as a family.
You need both the information about what keeps babies from being able to relax, which may be new to you (including Aware Parenting and processing the birth story), and you need to look at what’s important to you.
- What are your values?
- Did your values change with new information?
- What’s your baby communicating that s/he needs?
- Is what you thought you needed still actually true?
- Are there creative solutions you hadn’t thought of?
I don’t mean bypass any presenting underlying needs. It doesn’t mean making particular choices in place of a stress release process (through crying in arms or attachment play). I don’t mean forcing a sleeping arrangement or overriding what your child is communicating.
But there is somewhat of a clash between Baby’s programming and our modern lifestyle. To me, this means there’s not “one and only one” solution for what sleeping arrangements should look like.
So if you’ve been feeling confused about what to do, or that you’re failing on being an “aware parent” if you don’t make a certain choice, this might be why! It’s okay that some things about raising your child are messy.
We’re used to sleep consultants and sleep plans presenting a picture of perfect sleep if only you do x, y, and z.
But if we take into consideration the underlying reasons behind sleep troubles, why big feelings bubble up around sleep, and how babies and toddlers understand their world and work through their stresses, it’s an invitation to open up to windows into your child’s mind and to ebb and flow with authenticity of life.
What does ‘aware’ mean?
There’s an unusual twist in Aware Parenting. AwP can be interpreted as a rigid way to parent, with a particular set of shoulds and shouldn’t’s. I find that some parents end up feeling there’s a way to do it correctly, or else they’re doing it wrong.
There’s legit reasoning behind how AwP can be interpreted, because there are some things that really matter—like crying in arms versus cry it out. The basic foundation is somewhat black-and-white, in that humans feel emotions, and babies attempt to communicate this with us. But my message here is that we need to be aware of the whole picture and take several factors into consideration.
After working with elements that may be affecting your child’s sleep, such as pent up stress, birth story, and motor development, it doesn’t have to be black and white all the time, as long as there’s an awareness of underlying needs. In other words, yes there’s some common ground we need to establish, yet we also need to open up to possibilities.
Solving sleep challenges
Contrary to popular “sleep training” approaches, there’s more than one person involved in a kiddo sleep scenario. Even though you’re trying to get your child to sleep, you both exist in relationship.
This is why solving sleep challenges and arrangements can actually take some detective work, idea sharing, and soul-searching! Keep at it, mama, and reach out when you want support.