A sleep association is something that your child associates with falling asleep. These are usually purposefully used to create a positive association with sleep, for example, white noise, or a sleeping bag, allowing your child to learn that sleep is approaching when these are turned on, or they are placed into their sleeping bag. There are also sleep associations that can become accidental and then can turn into a troublesome association, such as being rocked to sleep, needing to be patted to sleep or breast/bottle fed back to sleep at each waking. What Could Be A Positive Association? 'A Simple & Sustainable Way To Aid Your Baby's Sleep' Associations which are positive are ones we plan and develop as they assist our children on their journey to self settle, and expect sleep. This is also what we look to replace or substitute a negative association with. These include: ✖️A Sleeping Bag or Swaddle ✖️A Lovey Comforter ✖️White Noise ✖️A Short Sleep time Ritual/Winding Down Routine Before Each Sleep ✖️A Dummy that can be plugged independently by your child
✖️ A Dark Room What Could Be A Negative Association? ‘An Unsustainable Way To Aid Your Baby's Sleep'
Associations which are negative are ones usually develop from around 4-5 months of age, and end up being the main reasons parents reach out for help, or are required to intervene with your child's sleep! They are the one's that are causing you as the parent additional time, or stress, as your child will not settle/sleep without them, or wake shortly after they stop. The common one's we find are:
✖️Rocking or Swinging To Sleep At Each Waking Interval ✖️A Dummy That Needs to be Replugged by The Parent -> which can be turned into a positive association!! ✖️A Feed From Bottle Or Breast At Each Waking Interval [That is not Genuine Hunger, or is 'Snacking'] ✖️ Reactive co-sleeping, or needing to lay down next to your child to help them fall asleep, and stay asleep. Before looking at helping to improve, implement or remove sleep associations, we look into timing, age appropriate sleep needs, your child’s neurological development for their age, and other holistic factors which can make the transition easier wherever possible. ✖️ The longer a habit or association has been used, typically the longer and more difficult it will be to change.
✖️ Feeding and rocking/motion to sleep are the two most common sleep associations, and are typically the hardest to change. ✖️ There are many ways you can work towards changing the way your baby associations falling asleep. We use a gradual process for many breast to sleep associations, where the breast is removed gradually. Or for those wanting a quicker fix, we can work on implementing or changing out one negative with a couple of positives and using a sleep training method. ✖️ Try not to swap and change out your sleep associations frequently! If something doesn’t seem to be working, stop and look at how you’re implementing it.
➕Have you been consistent?
➕Is your baby old enough to understand what it is you’re trying to teach them?
➕Are they at an age where they can self settle?
➕Keep it simple - having more than 1 comfort item can especially become confusing!
If you’d like more information on how to create some positive sleep associations for your baby, and help them to settle and sleep easier, check out our successful sleep guides here .