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Sleeping Like a Baby - Pinky McKay

Sleeping Like a Baby

eBook Published: 3rd July 2006
ISBN: 9781742283364
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Are you obsessed about your baby's sleep? Do you feel 'weak' because you can't leave him to cry himself to sleep? Do you need to relax more and enjoy being a parent?

Parenting expert Pinky McKay offers a natural, intuitive approach to solving your little ones' sleep problems and gives practical tips on how to:

  • understand your baby's tired cues
  • create a safe sleeping environment
  • gently settle babies and toddlers
  • feed infants to encourage sleep
Sleeping Like A Baby is a must read for stress-free, guilt-free parenting and offers down-to-earth and heartening advice on helping babies (and their parents!) to sleep better.

About the Author

An International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), certified infant massage instructor and sought-after keynote speaker at conferences for parents and health professionals internationally, Pinky McKay is the author of Toddler Tactics, Sleeping Like a Baby and 100 Ways to Calm the Crying. Her books are approved and recommended by respected bodies such as the Australian Breastfeeding Association, the Australian Association of Infant Mental Health, La Leche League International and the Centre for Attachment (NZ).

Pinky writes and blogs for Practical Parenting magazine (Australia) and contributes to various national and international publications and websites including Littlies magazine (New Zealand), Attachment Parenting International (US), Pathways to Family Wellness (US) and Opposing Views (US). She runs a busy private practice in Melbourne and, thanks to modern technology, also supports clients around the world with gentle baby care, breastfeeding, settling and sleep solutions through her e-newsletter, website, blog, teleseminars, workshops and private consultations.

The mother of four adult 'children' and a now-teenage 'bonus baby' (the baby you have when your other kids can run their own baths, tie their own shoelaces and even drive their own cars!), Pinky's greatest pleasure is enjoying the precious giggles and cuddles of her delightful grandchildren.

There never was a child so lovely, but his mother was glad to get him to sleep.' Ralph Waldo Emerson

There is perhaps nothing more delicious than gazing at a sleeping baby, watching her tiny rosebud lips curl into an involuntary grin, or listening to her gentle sighs. Sadly though, in our culture the standards bar for infant sleep has become so high that, for many parents, the words 'sleeping like a baby' are fraught with anxiety that is spilling into every aspect of their lives.

A recent sleep survey, commissioned by Mother & Baby magazine (Australia), revealed that 70 per cent of mothers have less than five hours' sleep a night in their baby's first three months, and nearly two-thirds are bad-tempered, irritated with their baby, despairing or tearful due to lack of sleep. In a similar survey in the UK, 71 per cent of mothers questioned said a lack of sleep had 'spoilt their sex-life'. According to this survey, new mothers were too tired for sex: one in ten couples felt so 'frazzled' by the lack of sleep that they felt on the verge of splitting up and 3 per cent had already done so, with mothers getting an average of four hours' sleep a night.

There is no shortage of advice for the parents of wakeful babies. However, as many so-called 'sleep experts' are cashing in on parental fear they are, in fact, perpetuating the belief that if parents don't 'teach' their baby to sleep using cruel and inappropriate regimes, their lives (the parents, that is – the baby's experience is rarely acknowledged) will be ruined. Yet, if these magazine surveys are any indicator of sleep success, the regimes currently being offered are not helping babies and their parents get more sleep.

Each day, I receive more emails than I can respond to from parents asking for advice on gently helping their babies sleep. Many parents feel pressured that they are spoiling their child or creating dependency. There also seems to be increasing pressure to make even happy babies sleep more often and for longer.

Instead of having the confidence to accept that even though my son, who is now eighteen weeks old, isn't a 'textbook' baby, I was ignoring how happy he is and how well he is thriving. I kept wanting him to nap longer by day even though he was sleeping pretty well at night. I was so confused I didn't know which way was up. I was feeling guilty that I was 'accidental parenting' and ultimately harming him – robbing him of learning the skills he needed.


Although it is helpful to have practical strategies to settle your baby so he (and you!) can sleep better within the realm of what is normal and healthy, the most commonly offered 'one size fits all' approaches to baby sleep management are really no more than the 'economic rationalism' of parenting. Often, such regimes set parents up for failure. As they strive to achieve the mythical 'good baby' who settles herself and sleeps all night without stirring, many parents silently wonder, are we doing something wrong? Or do we have a particularly difficult baby?

I bought a book by a well-known British 'expert' when my son was about two weeks old that subsequently caused me to feel inadequate as a mother. I wasn't doing exactly what the book said, and my son was not doing everything the book said he would do!


Your baby is not a cardboard cut-out who can be expected to fit a feeding and sleeping template according to his approximate age. When you struggle to impose imprecise strategies onto your unique baby, you risk severing the connection between yourself and your child (or never really making it). You may even start to feel resentment and ambivalence towards your baby as your instincts to comfort him are tom against advice not to 'give in'.

Simplistic, 'one size fits all' sleep training approaches don't take into account that as well as the more obvious needs to be kept clean and fed, babies and children have legitimate emotional needs for comfort and security or that optimum infant brain development depends on responsive interactions between infants and their carers. In our eagerness to achieve the solitary-sleeping, self-soothing infant, we have lost sight of the most basic baby need: to develop trust and form loving relationships. This process – attachment – is a behavioural system that operates twenty-four hours a day, even when your baby is asleep, which could be (with luck) up to 60 per cent of the time. It isn't justifiable to respond to a baby during daylight hours and then neglect his needs when the sun goes down.

Each baby is a unique and very special little person and you are the 'expert' about your individual child. Therefore, I would like to introduce you to a stress-free approach to infant sleep that will encourage confidence in your parenting skills and a strong connection with your baby.

I believe that one of the best skills any parent can learn is how to read your baby's non-verbal cues so you know not only when is the best time to encourage sleep, but when your baby will be most receptive to playing and learning, when she is hungry and when she simply wants some quiet time. This way, you can organise your day to fit your baby's needs as well as your own, without the frustration of power struggles over sleep. You can also give your baby cues so that learning to sleep becomes a two-way process of communication between you both. By learning your baby's language as well as simple ways to encourage sleep that will not result in tears (for you or your baby), you will be able to solve your baby's sleep puzzle. This is both efficient and effective: you will be more skilled and your baby will be more adaptable – she will not depend on being in her own bed in a darkened room at certain predetermined times every single day, and your life won't revolve entirely around your baby's sleep.

Sleeping Like a Baby will help you understand infant sleep at each stage of development and how your baby's development can affect his behaviour, including sleep. I will also show you how to create a safe sleeping environment, how to read your baby's cues so that you can enhance bonding and development as you help him learn to sleep, how infant feeding patterns and nutritional needs can influence sleep, how you can elicit a relaxation response by using non-invasive aids such as music, massage (for infants and toddlers) and meditation (for toddlers), how to encourage sleep that is appropriate to your child's stage of development and how to make changes gradually with love, when you and your baby feel ready.

One of the biggest issues around infant sleep is creating 'bad habits'. Parents ask, 'If we take our baby into our bed, or give him a dummy, or allow him to settle in a sling or on the breast, how will we ever get him to settle and sleep alone?' Sleeping Like a Baby addresses these issues and shows you how to change any 'habit' at any stage gradually, with love, not tears, and how to gently introduce new sleep arrangements as your baby grows.

Sleeping Like a Baby includes stories from parents because I believe that when we feel safe to share how our babies and toddlers really behave and how we honestly feel, we can learn from each other: hearing about others' experiences can validate our own feelings and 'failings', as it demonstrates the uniqueness of each baby and family without making anybody 'wrong'.

I dislike labels because they can set parents up for failure or feelings of exclusion when their parenting styles don't fit neatly within precise definitions. I would argue that attachment, for example, is not a parenting style, but a basic need of every child, regardless of how it is fed or where it sleeps, and all parents need support whatever their lifestyle choices. Sleeping Like a Baby therefore, embraces a range of gentle, responsive baby-care techniques that don't necessarily fit labels. However, I do offer support and information to parents who choose options such as 'extended' breastfeeding (another label I dislike since it implies a deviation from what is natural and normal, depending on your interpretation) and a baby-led approach to sleeping.

I also unapologetically acknowledge breastfeeding as optimum infant nutrition and the biological norm. In my experience, much confusion arises for parents when infant sleep expectations are based on what may indeed be 'normal' for a bottle-fed baby, but have little relevance to a breastfed baby. In fact, most sleep requirement charts were compiled at a time when breastfeeding rates were low, so they are not appropriate guides for a breastfed baby.

Sleeping Like a Baby will help you relax and enjoy your baby without being obsessed about sleep – hers or yours! It will help you to understand the association between infant sleep and optimum development, in particular infant brain development and emotional development and how, by creating a healthy sleep environment that affirms the whole child, you will be creating a healthy attitude to sleep that will last beyond infancy.

You will gain much more than just a good night's sleep in the process: your confidence will develop as you learn valuable skills and your connection with your child will be strengthened. You will be making a long-term investment in your child's development as well as his or her attitude to sleep and you will feel empowered.

ISBN: 9781742283364
ISBN-10: 1742283365
Format: ePUB
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 336
Published: 3rd July 2006
Publisher: Penguin Australia

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