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How to nurture an infant into a self-regulated adult that you have a connected relationship with

Updated: Mar 17

There's a myth that goes around... promoted by people charging you money to give you this damaging "service", and that myth is that you can teach a baby to self-soothe. Whoops - this doesn't square with the infant's lack of brain capacity to self-regulate.

Sadly... sleep training it's often also promoted by government health workers who are not recommending evidence based approaches to baby care, but, rather, are recommending a bandaid approach to make the baby's "sleep problem" go away in a way that will most benefit the economy in the short-term...

I.e. baby is forced to give up crying (cries are extinguished by tapping into the survival mechanism "freeze" of fight/flight/freeze... also known as "learned helplessness"), so baby remains stressed, flooded with cortisol and unregulated while no longer crying/signalling about its need for co-regulation, baby is now forced to sleep in a solitary environment (see my other blogs on this topic for some of the long term implications of this)

... and now mum has more time and freedom to contribute to the economy, and, also, no additional resources need to be provided by the government or anyone else to support the health of both mum and baby. Another saving for the economy. All of this, having damaging consequences on infant mental health outcomes, and the future mental health of our next generation.

As an FYI, the Australian Association of Infant Mental Health has released a position paper on controlled crying, and it is definitely not in support of it:

The thing is, abandoning or ignoring a baby does the opposite of teaching them self-regulation. It fails to give them the co-regulation they need for their brain to develop self-regulation.

There is nothing kind about sleep training.

It is neglecting to co-regulate and connect to a vulnerable baby who is dependent on the soothing from an adult.

Sleep training is attempting to extinguish the only form of communication a baby has to signal that they need your help - crying.

That vulnerable baby is dependent on your love and response.

It is a tragedy to fail to respond to baby’s cry for connection… not just in that moment, but in terms of what it means for their developing brain and long term outcomes.

Always respond to your babies and help to soothe them.

Dr Howard Chilton @drhowardchilton , neonatologist and baby paediatrician, once said in a talk I saw him give, that if you want lovely teenagers, cuddle your babies now.

The way you love your babies in infancy, is laying the brain foundations for their future.