Parents can now rest easy
FEW parents are strangers to bleary-eyed days and nights of constantly interrupted slumber when raising a baby.
But according to The Gift of Sleep author and sleep consultant Elizabeth Sloane, instilling good sleeping behaviour in young children might not be as difficult as parents think.
Mrs Sloane said parents would often resort to what she termed "sleep props" to calm their bubs - methods such as dummies, rocking, patting, feeding, music or even driving babies in the car.
The sleep consultant said these aids often led to troubled sleeping patterns and babies who would wake through the night.
"All those tools have to be removed," she said.
"If they're well and healthy and over six months old, they should be sleeping through."
Mrs Sloane said parents, especially mums, were often suffering from feelings that could easily be mistaken for post-natal depression, but were actually symptoms of sleep deficiency.
"(Lack of sleep) affects how we love one another, it affects how we parent and it affects work productivity," Mrs Sloane said.
A former mothercraft nurse, Mrs Sloane said women would often come to her at their wits' end because of restless babies.
"They were not enjoying motherhood, they were depressed because they were not sleeping," she said.
Mrs Sloane said with so many new mums returning to work, sleep was more important than ever.
"I think the world has changed. Now girls are really flying solo with limited support," she said.
"Twenty to 30 years ago, most girls didn't work and the dynamics of life have changed."
With that in mind, Mrs Sloane penned her ebook based on a three-day program to settle babies through what she terms controlled comforting.
Mrs Sloane said the most important thing for parents to teach their children was to self-settle - that is, to learn to sleep without associating props with slumber.
She said the key for parents was to be committed, calm and consistent in getting babies to sleep without the use of props.
Mrs Sloane said she was inspired to write her ebook The Gift of Sleep after encountering so many families who had been troubled by extreme tiredness and through her own experiences as a mother.
"I had three boys and one was not a great sleeper, so that was an inspiration," she said.
"The most important gift you can give your child is to help them to self-settle."