My name is Kavitha Nair, mother to a spirited toddler and a qualified Gentle Sleep Coach.
As a first time mother, raising a baby was the toughest day job I had ever done, but the nights became tougher than the days. I wasn’t getting any sleep and was perpetually tired and anxious.
As days morphed into months, my baby and I struggled with that most basic of human requirements, sleep. I sought help from books, the Internet and the collective wisdom of friends and family but nothing worked. My quest for a good night’s sleep led e to Kim West of the Gentle Sleep Coach fame.
I found that the Gentle Sleep method formulated by Kim West, one of the most renowned sleep specialists in the world, was perfect for my baby. The method is based on step-by-step changes in bedtime, napping, and overnight routine so that babies develop sleep independence, go to sleep on their own, and sleep more soundly and longer while feeling confident that mum and dad will be nearby and responsive.
Sleep training a baby is not just about getting your baby to sleep so you can get a good night’s rest. Sleep is essential for your baby’s development. According to Harvard Women’s Health sleep helps the brain commit new information to memory through a process called memory consolidation. In studies, people who had slept after learning a task did better on tests later. The same rule is true of baby sleep, our children are learning at an incredible rate. However, the big difference is that for you and I sleep is a biological function that we take for granted but for the baby it is a learned skill.
A baby needs to be trained to sleep. A baby needs to discover sleep independence rather than dependence on rocking, cooing, shushing or any of the other methods that most of us sleep-deprived parents try. Nobody puts you to sleep at night, so your baby needs to learn to do it too.
Babies are creatures of habit. They can develop good sleeping habits or bad sleeping habits. I discovered that breaking the bad sleeping habits that my baby had developed was going to be challenging. It’s important for me to point out here that I was not one of those mums who were tough enough to try the “cry it out” method. I couldn’t deal with the unpleasant prospect of leaving my baby alone and let him cry himself to sleep. When babies cry, they are essentially communicating their needs. You need to find a consistent and gentle response to these cries to help them feel loved, safe and protected.
Consistency is key. I have seen my baby and the other babies I have worked with thrive on scheduled sleep ie napping at right time and going to bed at the right time. Consistent meal, nap, snack and a good solid bedtime routine all add up to a well-rested child. All my mums including me are dedicated to a good consistent bedtime routine and extremely protective about our children’s sleep.
Having been a sleep-deprived mum in the recent past helps me understand the desperate need for mothers to sleep train their babies. Sleep is restorative. And this is not just for our children. When we get adequate sleep, we are well rested, we are able to think clearly and our mood is elevated.
I discovered sleep again and a new passion. To help other sleepless moms and dads get through one of the toughest challenges of parenthood.