When Sarah Ong decided to breastfeed her second daughter, she encountered firsthand the gruelling, miserable sleepless nights only parents of a baby who wouldn’t sleep throughout the night would understand.
Her daughter became accustomed to latching onto her breast for comfort, and Sarah ended up breastfeeding her every 1-2 hours all through the night. This went on for 16 months, until she decided to seek help.
Along the way, she discovered that she was just one of the many parents whose crying or fussy baby that kept them awake all night. Moved by her own experience as well as her peers, Sarah Ong went on to train becoming a certified baby sleep coach.
Babies feel the blues, too
“In my experience, when dealing with sleepless nights, most parents do whatever it takes to let the baby go to sleep while patiently hoping for the phase to past, or they try to ‘sleep train’ the baby,” says Sarah. She personally prefers an approach called Aware Parenting.
Aware Parenting does not just deal with restless babies during naptime. It is a holistic approach that encourages parents to understand their children’s cues and feelings, and respond accordingly to comfort, cheer up, and nurture these children. While Sarah uses the principles of Aware Parenting to help her clients enjoy better sleep, these principles can be applied to all areas of parenting.
When it comes to naptime blues with the baby, Sarah says that there are many reasons why a baby would cry or make a fuss, and parents should understand these reasons. By familiarizing themselves to their baby’s cues (usually conveyed through actions or tears), parents can figure out why their baby is in tears or experiencing restlessness. Once they have a good idea why their baby is unhappy, they are in a better position to calm and comfort the little darling.
“Most parents underestimate a baby’s ability to feel stress,” Sarah explains.
The world is a strange and new place to a baby, and many things considered by adults to be normal may appear frightening to them. Even important developmental milestones can be frustrating. “For example, a baby may try to play with an attractive toy, but he may not have enough control to grab the toy properly,” Sarah says as an example. “This will frustrate the baby, and may leave him cranky even during bedtime.”
Crying can be therapeutic for the baby. Remember how we feel much better after crying our hearts out during a difficult time? It’s the same for babies. Therefore, instead of trying to stop the baby from crying, Sarah encourages parents to comfort their baby instead, to let him know that he is safe and loved in his parent’s arms.
Bringing back the zzz’s
Sarah says that every baby is unique and different, so there is no single solution for parents. She offers the following tips to help parents come up with a workable solution to help their baby sleep:
- Have a routine. Try to have feeding time, play time, bath time and such at about the same time every day.
- Foster a closer connection. Establish a close and loving bond with the baby through practices such as breastfeeding and co-sleeping with baby. The baby would feel safe and less stressed as he learns just how much his parents love him, and thus may sleep easier at night.
If nothing seems to work
There is always the baby coach to turn to if the parents run out of ideas to help their baby sleep. Sarah is currently the only licensed baby coach in Malaysia, although there are many baby coaches in our neighbouring country down south.
She explains that baby coaches offer strategies, tips and solutions tailored to the needs of every parent and their babies. Consultation can be done in person or even through Skype. Parents can also connect with the baby coach through email or mobile chat for advice. “We even offer a listening ear if the parents just want someone to talk or even rant away to!” says Sarah.
For more information on baby coaching, visit Sarah Ong’s website www.sleepchampbaby.com. She also practises at Baby & Beyond Publika.