Sleep Sense

Weaned from night-time soother use,
children learn to sleep through the night

( The soother. It’s one of those devices many parents turn to when their toddler won’t sleep. But according to one internationally renowned child sleep expert, using soothers at night can actually make it harder for toddlers to learn the skills needed for sleeping through the night.

Dana Obleman, author of The Sleep Sense™ Program, says soothers can easily become “sleep props” — items a child relies on to go to sleep. While it may seem harmless to help a child sleep by using these sorts of tools, Obleman says reliance on props prevents a child from learning how to self-soothe — a skill required to fall back to sleep without a parent’s intervention.

“Like adults, children naturally have brief awakenings several times a night,” Obleman says. “When a child starts to surface and the soother is no longer in his or her mouth, that child will have to awaken fully — either to search out the soother or to cry for a parent to fix the problem, which interrupts everyone’s sleep. Suddenly, the awakening is not so brief.”

A recent facebook survey of moms showed that 76% of respondents thought soothers should be phased out by age two, and almost all thought kids should stop using them by age three. Several moms said they kept using soothers during their children’s naps and night-time sleep long after they stopped using soothers during the day. According to Obleman, that’s a mistake.

“A child over the age of one who no longer uses a soother during the day should not be relying on one at night,” Obleman says. “A well-rested child is curious, energetic, happy, playful, and eager to learn. That all starts with a good, uninterrupted, night’s sleep, which means learning how to self-soothe.”

Obleman says most parents resist taking away the soother because they fear their child’s reaction, but the fear is usually much worse than the actual experience. She says most toddlers forget about the soother two to three days after it is taken away.

About Dana Obleman and The Sleep Sense™ Program

Dana Obleman, mother of three and a professional child sleep consultant since 2003, has made numerous television appearances, been featured in national and local newspapers, spoken at multiple parenting trade shows and baby conventions, and co-hosted the popular radio program “Parenting Today.” She has degrees in Psychology and Elementary Education and is a professional member of the National Sleep Foundation.

Since 2003, more than 109,000 parents have successfully used The Sleep Sense™ Program to improve their children’s sleep. Unlike sleep training programs based on a philosophical stand on the issue of “crying it out,” The Sleep Sense™ Program; accommodates different parenting styles. Parents get an easy-to-follow, step-by-step plan that allows them to make choices to determine the right approach for each child, and specific guidance on how to measure success.

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