Whether they want to be held, cuddled, rocked or simply to lay on you, there is a very good reason why babies will only sleep with you…..
That’s what they are meant to do!
Human babies are biologically programmed to sleep with their parents, the closer the better. It is where they feel safe, secure, and protected. And from a survival point of view those things are absolutely crucial. They will find the place that it most likely to ensure their survival and they will want to stay there like the clever little people they are.
However, I know it’s tough when you feel like you just can’t get a break, you are touched out and everything is too much. This is why it is so important to schedule time for yourself and your own self care. Whether that be enjoying a relaxing bath, meditating or doing some exercise, it’s crucial to look after you. Most babies are happiest and most relaxed when the people around them are happy and relaxed. So, while taking time out to look after yourself may go against what you feel you should be doing, it really is the best thing for your baby.
And having your baby with you while they sleep doesn’t mean that they won’t ever sleep independently. The more available you are to your babies, the more relaxed and independent they will become as they know their needs will be met 🥰
So if your little one will only sleep with you then congratulations, they are completely normal 😴
However, if you want to find ways to gently support independent sleep there are several things you can do….
Firstly and most importantly be responsive. We aren’t the same every day in our wants and needs and it is crazy to expect our babies to be. So if your baby is a bit more fractious and needs to be held for longer and needs that little bit of extra support from you, give it to them. If they are happy and content playing alone or laying in their crib alone while you make the bed, for example, then let them be. Meeting their needs will not lead to a clingy baby.
Secondly, remember that learning independence is not an instant thing. It’s a bit like riding a bike. You need to feel safe, secure and confident that you will be okay before you are ready to ride without stabilisers. The same goes for sleep. One really useful step to create an independent sleeper is to have a regular, consistent bedtime and nap routine. When going through the steps of a bedtime routine babies find the predictability reassuring and they feel confident in knowing what is coming next.
And thirdly, don’t rush things. You might feel pressured by your Auntie Sue that “are you still holding them to sleep?”, or Karen from down the road may have a two day old that sleeps soundly alone in their crib for 12 hours at a time. But pushing your babies to be independent too quickly can often backfire and can lead to them needing even more reassurance that you are there for them.
So just enjoy your babies, they won’t need you to hold them or cuddle them forever. Soak up the cuddles and be reassured that they are completely normal and you are doing an amazing job meeting their needs 💖
Paediatric Sleep Coach
MSc & BSc hons