How to get my baby to sleep

Author and therapist Julie Wright, MFT offers suggestions for getting a baby to sleep
First Year Parenting Advice | How do I get my baby to sleep?
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How to get my baby to sleep

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Well, the first question to ask always is how old is your baby? We want to make sure that we are connecting with what your baby is capable of in that developmental stage. We don't want to push a baby, and force them, and train them. Train is a word that I would never use around sleep because we're naturally geared to sleep. At the same time, we don't want to continue helping a child sleep beyond the point where they don't need that help anymore. That's where most of the trouble comes in where parents are given alot of support during those early months for how to soothe their baby, but they're not given alot of instruction for how to gradually back off from that soothing, but that their child can show them their unfolding capacities. So one of the things we outline in great detail is how to do that. We call it the curious stance and what it looks like is being attuned to what your baby may be able to do tonight that she wasn't able to do the night before. And if I can teach this to parents early enough, I never need to do anything more sort of dramatic. So what this might look like is say your baby wakes in the middle of the night at a time when they're not used to feeding, so maybe it's midnight and they're not used to having their first feed until 2:00 a.m., w hat the curious stance would look like that you go into the room and instead of swooping in and picking them up, and, you know, bouncing them or feeding them right away, you'd start with the very least intrusive thing you could think of, which might just be your presence. It might be the sound of your voice. You might then move on to a little pat, or a jiggle, or a shush and we call this the soothing ladder. So you're going to start at the bottom of the ladder and see how far you need to go. You might put the pacifier back in. At the very top of the ladder is picking up your baby and at the very top of the ladder is feeding your baby. What this soothing hierarchy does is it gives you the ability to find out what your baby's capable of because babies grow and change so fast. So these are some ways to think about how your baby grows into sleep.


Author and therapist Julie Wright, MFT offers suggestions for getting a baby to sleep

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Julie Wright, MFT

Psychotherapist & Author

Julie Wright, MFT is a marriage and family therapist with an extensive background in infant mental health and early childhood development.  She trained at Cedars Sinai Early Childhood Center and co-developed a program for parents and babies from 0-3 at LA Child Guidance Clinic. Julie specializes in mindful parenting, sleep issues and attachment theory.  She also works in private practice with infants, children, parents and adults.  Julie lives in Los Angeles with her son and often visits family on the east coast.

Julie has written the book, "The Happy Sleeper," Penguin 2014 with her colleague, Heather Turgeon, MFT. The Happy Sleeper gives the topic of baby sleep a fresh perspective. Their approach moves beyond old school ideas like “sleep training”—it’s grounded in research and shaped by new thinking. The Happy Sleeper gives you a clear, easy-to-follow system for transferring the role of independent sleep to your capable child, as they have done for thousands of families in their clinical practice.

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