Will Sleep Teaching Hurt Secure Attachment?

Happy Mother with Baby

Now let’s talk about attachment.

When children vocally protest sleep, many parents get uncomfortable – they worry about their baby’s attachment, which is the bond that forms between an infant and her caregiver in order for her to feel safe in the world and set the stage for her to form happy and healthy adult relationships. So, let’s explore this touchy subject for a minute.

You may have felt, or currently feel, that sleep training your child would damage your relationship with them.

You can absolutely teach your child independent sleep skills without negatively impacting their attachment! Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation floating around, especially on social media, that leads parents to feel like sleep training is an awful thing to do

Crying and protesting may happen during the sleep teaching process because, well, change is hard.

There are always going to be times when our children will have to adapt to change and opportunities to tolerate when something isn’t available or they have to do things that they aren’t thrilled about. One of our goals as parents is to teach our children how to navigate these life situations.

Secure attachment comes from consistently meeting your baby’s needs and engaging with her in a loving, responsive way. You’ll have times that you totally blow it, when you didn’t pick up on a cue, and you will feel awful. But remember that secure attachments are resilient, and they develop just like every relationship over time and over thousands of encounters. 

If you are responsive to your child throughout the day and you meet their need for sleep, letting them cry during sleep teaching will not damage your attachment with them. They’ll already know that when they need you, you’re there. And they’ll come to realise they don’t need you to fall asleep.

Sleep teaching also doesn’t mean you are going to leave your child to work through these feelings on their own. There are a range of response-based sleep teaching approaches that you can use to help your child learn their new independent sleep skills while minimising those big feelings from your little one.

You can set boundaries around sleep and maintain a secure attachment with your child. Nothing in parenting is black and white. Being a responsive, loving (and wonderfully imperfect) caregiver to your child, teaches that your child can trust and depend on you to meet their needs. And remember, sleep is a need – for your child, and for you too.

When it comes to sleep, we have to remember that your baby’s needs and her wants are different. She does actually need to sleep, she just doesn’t really want to right now.

I want you to know that you can be loving, attached, and well rested. You can have all of those things with a little bit of sleep teaching. And if you’re looking for step-by-step help,  I can help you with my 1:1 Support.

Please book a free consultation here- https://calendly.com/gentlesleepnanny/15min so we can get you and your baby better sleep.

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