As a nurse working in a development centre, I’ve come across many young children and babies in the last 15 years. It still astonishes me to see how many children have difficulty sleeping the whole night through and the effects it can have on them, their parents and on the family as a whole.
Around 20–30% of children have some kind of trouble sleeping, which often results in parents making appointments with pediatricians. These same parents have to fight through and keep trudging along with their usual routines, even through the long, sleepless nights.
Sleep deprivation in kids can have serious long-term effects, which can manifest in the form of health problems, behavioral disorders and, in the long run, even learning disabilities.
The endless number of articles on the subject can become mind-boggling for parents, but the bottom line is that, in order for parents to have even a decent shot at maintaining a good quality of life, they must sleep.
Crying may be necessary sometimes
Many parents are told to ignore their children crying and let time sort it out. In most cases, this statement is true—however, nowadays, parents are becoming more reluctant to let their babies cry for fear of the scarring effects it may have on them later on in life.
Your child’s tears are a way of communicating his or her emotions to you (in this instance, frustration), so you need to help him or her find a way to go to sleep without you. Think of it as the very first step towards autonomy.
Learning to sleep is an important milestone in your baby’s life, just like learning to walk. Your baby might fall every now and then, but you’ll be there to help him or her up and keep trying over and over until the goal is reached.
After so many years of clinical experience with babies, I’m convinced that letting them cry isn’t so bad for them. It all depends on the way you do it—and there’s plenty of literature out there about the right way to do it.
I’ve taught many methods to different parents and families on their journeys to a good night’s sleep. The 5-10-15 method, in particular, will help your child fall asleep without you needing to wait by his or her side all night long.
Some babies spontaneously sleep entire nights at two or three months old, indicating that they’re ready to sleep for longer periods of times and that their biological clocks are functioning better and better. However, I recommend applying this method when your child is approximately four months old.