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VM Voices: Why sleeplessness is not a parental badge of honour

VM Voices: Why sleeplessness is not a parental badge of honour

By Adela Chiu, Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant 

Having a baby doesn’t mean motherhood needs to be filled with anxiety or feelings of defeat when a child is not sleeping well. The natural fluctuations of motherhood have its highs and lows, but normalizing sleep deprivation and exhaustion should be a time of the past. 

Sleeplessness has become a motherhood badge of honour or a right of passage. Although there  is some level of truth during the very early stages of infancy, conceding to sleep deprivation for  months and in anticipation the baby will “grow out of it” can reduce the real joys of  motherhood.  

The focus is not to discuss the differences in parenting style and sleep ideologies for raising  children, but to just normalize the concept that in order for parents to be their best, it often means resolving one of the largest barriers we face: infant and toddler sleep challenges. Teaching children to sleep better and independently shouldn’t be a guilt-inducing process.  

Common sleep concerns for parents

Sleeping baby

Consider the following:

  • If you co-sleep with your child and your body suffers because: a) you cannot shift  positions without causing your baby to wake, or b) your partner is tired of being pushed  off to the edge of the bed, give yourself permission to find a gentle method that teaches  your child to sleep in the crib, while putting to rest the fears that your parent-child  relationship will be compromised.  
  • If peacefully rocking your baby to sleep at bedtime and every waking is becoming a  nightmare of unsettled sleep and you are at wits end, then give yourself the go-ahead to  find a parent-present approach to teach your child to independently sleep without  feeling like a bad mom.  
  • If cuddling your child to sleep for every nap is beginning to feel like you cannot escape  their little fingers, allow yourself to find a sleep solution that focuses on healthy sleep  habits to give you some “me time” without feeling like you’re abandoning your child.  

Children that sleep independently and through the night can be a big game changer that ultimately improves the whole family dynamic.

  • If your child’s sleep situation is making you feel the need and desire for an improved  disposition, that change is fully possible regardless of your parenting ideology. Having better sleep for your child and the family shouldn’t feel like you’re cheating or being selfish. Children that sleep independently and through the night can be a big game changer that ultimately improves the whole family dynamic. With better rest comes enhanced efficiency and superior  productivity resulting in better quality time spent as a family. Not to mention, consolidated  sleep comes with a slew of health-benefiting results for all involved, especially infants and  toddlers. To delay or “wait it out” seems counterintuitive to all our other advancements and the go get ‘em lifestyle we as a society strive for.

There is no easy path to finding a sleep routine that works for you and your baby. Often moms admit that they’ve tried  every tip and trick, but have found little success. Despite the need for experienced sleep  experts to step up their game, there still remains a certain discomfort or stigma in seeking professional when it comes to sleep. 

Simply put, a trained sleep consultant is no different from seeking a more efficient way to teach your child to ride a bike via learn-to-bike camps. Society has welcomed the relief of paying for efficiency and convenience while not sacrificing quality, so why is that teaching children how to sleep is not embraced like all other services that aim to improve efficiency? Why is it still a touchy subject among moms? 

Having access to expert sleep support drastically reduces the amount of stress and time spent trying to troubleshoot the mystery of infant and toddler sleep, while substantially increasing the likelihood of success. It is the fastest way to give parents the confidence and tools to make the best decisions as their child discovers they have the capacity to sleep independently.  

Adela and her two sons

Here’s something we can all do, let’s cut everyone some slack when they choose to make changes to improve their child’s sleep or if they reach out for sleep help from a trained professional. I have had so many moms tell me they wish the wealth of knowledge and accessibility to sleep consultants was available when their kids were young. Let’s not back step in time anymore but  move forward and embrace the convenience, personalized support parents can get to have a child sleeping through the night, without all the stigma and shame. Like all aspects of our busy  lives, we are all just trying to make our lives a little easier. 

Adela Chiu is a Vancouver Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant and mom to 2 little boys ages 3  and 18 months. She is an advocate for improving maternal and infant health through nurturing healthy sleep habits for children from an early age by using gentle, parent present approaches in her 1-1 private consultations and her Instagram content.

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