The Gentle-to-Sleep Approach - Interview with Dr. William Sears


Another PS member asked about this situation: Her child will lie in bed contentedly singing or talking to herself and not crying, but she doesn't fall asleep right away. Should this mother be concerned or try to make her daughter go to sleep?

This behavior is okay. Her child is learning to sing herself to sleep. She might also be independent; a natural self-server is what we call them. As long as she seems well rested the next day and not sleep deprived, this is just her own way of transitioning from a busy day to a quiet night's sleep.

Many PS families have adopted children from the U.S. and other countries. Any special advice for them?

Any major change in a child's life will always be manifested with sleep problems. A sudden move from an orphanage to a home is a major, major transition in a child's life. Just like an adult, babies have sleep problems during transitions. Some adopted children may not be used to a lot of nighttime touch. They have probably already been "sleep trained." An older adopted baby may already come sleep trained, having learned that "nobody is going to respond to me when I cry out in the middle of the night, so I might as well go to sleep."

Parents who adopt an older infant or child may have a bit of attachment training to do. There is a trust factor here. If a child cried out and believed no one was listening, the world may not feel like a trusting place. Adoptive parents will want to change that. If you are adopting a child, you should make a special effort to be responsive, because you are teaching the child that the world is a warm, comfortable, trusting place. Your nighttime goals should be to create a healthy sleep attitude and teach your child that sleep is a pleasant state to enter.

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