Many generations of moms and dads have taken advice from paediatrician T. Berry Brazelton. Over six decades of practising medicine, he’s written dozens of books about children and infants, including one about sleep.
Sleepless nights and crying babies are universal issues for new parents. In 2003, the pediatrician T. Berry Brazelton wrote a book that compiles various techniques used by parents and professionals even today.
However, some questions are common and can haunt sleep-deprived couples who are often at each other’s throats. “Should they let the baby cry it out alone? Take him on 2 a.m.?”
THE BRAZELTHON METHOD
Brazelton says children can be taught to soothe themselves to sleep at an early age and that is a sign of independence. “No baby is likely to achieve a mature 12-hour sleep unless it is allowed to develop independent patterns of getting into deep sleep again after each REM (rapid eye movement) light sleep cycle,” he writes on his book “Working and Caring”.
In his book on sleep, “Sleep: The Brazelton Way”, Brazelton tells parents to show children as young as 4 months old that they can sleep on their own by sitting beside them and softly telling them so. “Each time, you gradually teach them they can manage for themselves.”
DID YOU KNOW?
Brazelton was a Texas-born. He graduated in 1940 from Princeton and in 1943 from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City, where he accepted a medical internship at the Roosevelt Hospital. In 1945, after completing the war service he finished his medical residency in Boston Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and started his pediatric training at the Children’s Hospital of Boston.
Dr. T. Berry Brazelton also recommends that parents resist jumping at the first sound of a baby’s whimper. Sometimes, those are the sounds of the baby trying to get comfortable enough for sleep. Interrupting them prematurely merely wakes the infant up. In his book Touchpoints, he says he believes that babies don’t ever need to cry it out over anything. “Being left to cry it out doesn’t teach a baby anything except that their parents can desert them when they need them.”
SLEEP REGRESSIONS: WHAT, WHERE, HOW?
Sleep regressions usually last between 2-6 weeks. According to Dr. T. Brazelton, sleep regressions are a normal phase of disorganization in a baby’s body and brain that happen right before or in the midst of exciting developmental growth.
You can think of it this way: learning how to sit up or stand or to see an object and know its name are such hard tasks that your baby’s body and brain can’t stay on top of their other jobs. So sleeping, eating, and even their mood kind of go off the rails!
When their new skill becomes more familiar, your baby will be able to keep all of it together better and sleep will settle down again. The good news is that most babies don’t experience sleep regression between birth and 3 years old.
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