Monitor Obsession

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The video monitor can be the amazing invention that has allowed us to go from simply hearing our children cry through a static-filled speaker to watching them sleep. Except we mostly watch them be awake, roll around babble, complain, and cry.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of the video monitor, but I believe they severely impede many parents’ sleep training efforts.

Simply put, video monitors allow custodians to see and know too much during the sleep coaching process. Sure, some people are able to work on sleep and not sit and watch the monitor for every little peep, movement or simply to obsess about how long it is taking their child to soothe him/her to sleep, but most are far too invested in the outcome of every sleep. Their anxiety doesn’t allow them to look or walk away; I can admit has happened to me.

The challenge emerges when the anxiety that causes a parent or caretaker to stare at the monitor also results in over responding or having a “rescue response” to every little peep or movement. Too often, well-meaning parents see their baby have a brief awakening during naps at around 40 to 45 minutes and it results in the parent jumping up and going in to get their child.

The issue here is that a partial arousal at 40 to 45 minutes, after one sleep cycle, is completely normal. Without a super high quality speaker or video monitor, most parents wouldn’t even realize their baby is waking up and the baby would very likely put him/herself back to sleep in a few moments. By responding to the arousal, parents are unwittingly preventing sleep consolidation.

So what can you do if you find yourself watching the video monitor obsessively or jumping up at every peep coming from the speaker? First, work on putting our baby down drowsy but awake. Babies that put themselves to sleep to start are far more successful at putting themselves back to sleep between cycles.

When your baby has an arousal tries to take a breath and wait a few minutes before going to your child. Babies often wake up briefly between sleep cycles. They also make a LOT of sleep noises. These noises range from grunting to whining to crying. This doesn’t mean they are fully or even ready to be awake.

Many babies experience something called sleep cries. These cries can be intense and some parents assume their child is in pain or in distress and immediately attend to their child. However, the child is often still asleep! The crying usually passes in about five minutes then reduces to whining and fussing. By minute 10 the child is often sleeping soundly again. If your child experiences these sleep cries he/she is likely over tired.

It’s important to allow babies to work through sleep cries as rescue responding will result in fully awakening the child, causing inadequate naps or creating a night waking scenario. When parents repeatedly rescue respond to partial stimulation or sleep cries they inadvertently create habitual waking.

Just remember that partial  stimulation in sleep are to be expected and allowing your child the time to practice the skill of self-soothing will go a long way in your effort toward healthy, consolidated sleep.

So if you’re sitting in front of your video monitor instead of taking a shower, calling your best friend or taking your own nap, please consider an audio monitor during sleep training periods. You may find that you see better, faster results with far less energy and anxiety expended.

Original post from Sleepy Bye Family
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