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Watch your little star from afar

Published:Monday | May 4, 2015 | 12:00 AMJody-Anne Lawrence

The crib is a few steps away from the bed, so you lie down watching your child sleep one tiny breath at a time, peaceful, but not necessarily the best idea.

A sleeping baby a stone's throw away is every mother's joy. However, this could be working to the child's disadvantage according to child psychologist Gemma Gibbon. Having the child sleeping in the parents' room will make them grow accustomed to being comforted in order to go to sleep.

Needing this comfort may cause the child to have trouble sleeping if for some reason, the child's routine might have to change.

Let us say that after feeding, the mother used to leave it to 'dad' to put the child to sleep and he would allow him or her to sleep on his chest or next to him. Then there is an important business trip and the father has to go away for awhile. The child's cries will be something that the mother might not be able to fix because she is not dad.

Gibbon suggests that the child be put in his or her room as early as possible. She understands that many parents watch their child through the night to ensure that he or she does not get hungry during the initial stages.

"Once the baby starts to sleep through the night, it is time to put them in their own room," she noted. In fact, once the baby can hold the bottle by himself or herself, he can be left alone. She noted that a parent should also be careful about how often he or she runs to the child in the night when he or she hears them tossing. Moving around in bed or waking and falling back to sleep could be the child's pattern and not a 'cry' for hunger.

"You also do not want the child to be reliant on the bottle," she told Flair.

Gibbon admitted that due to economic setbacks, not every new parent can ensure that the baby has his or her own room, but his or her own bed or cot is crucial.

"Having them sleeping in your room, especially in your bed, will make them dependent on the comfort. There are grown children who climb into mom and dad's bed because they cannot fall asleep on their own," said Gibbon.

Parents should allow the child to sleep on his or her own. Put him or her in his or her bed and leave him or her so that he or she is able to settle down.

"Being overly protective teaches them reliance rather than independence and does not necessarily work in his or her favour," GIbbon said.

So, before you whisper the words of a soothing song in his or her ear for him or her to sleep, ensure you are not forming a habit that he or she might not be able to break.

Note that it is OK to comfort your child when he or she has a cold or the 'sniffles'. Comfort your little bundle as much as you want during those times that they will need you the most.