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The Importance of Setting Healthy Sleep Boundaries for Secure Attachments

Updated: Feb 1

One question I get asked often from anxious parents - is "If I start making changes to my baby's sleep - will it affect their secure attachment?"

And I get it! We want to be as responsive as possible to their needs, it's engrained in us as parents. And promoting a secure attachment is important. It supports our little ones in how they feel around sleep, the trust they build in us as their parents too.

What if I told you though - that without healthy sleep boundaries and rhythms, this can often impact building a secure and steady sleep rhythm?

We've all been there - where we try everything in our power to get our little ones to sleep! And we change the settles often, in hope something eventually works and they are calmed by it. Quite often, the frustration builds up more in our little ones because they just don't know what is going to happen next.

And when they hit the Toddler years - this is often seen differently. Have you ever been cornered with the "please one more story!" and each time we say "nope, it's time for sleep!" to then eventually give in anyway? Our toddlers are great at pushing those boundaries - and yes they will be happy to get that extra story. But the reason little ones and toddlers often push the boundaries in the first place (apart from the fact that sleep is boring!) - is that they are also pushing that security and want knowledge that we are true to our word, building trust.

So yes, it's a short term win with our toddlers but then the next night when we try to hold the boundary again then the frustration and persistence kicks in even more! And there goes the boundary....

When we are true to our healthy sleep boundaries - it becomes Predictable! And little ones really do thrive on predictability - and it's this that builds the trust, calm and secure attachment!

When they know exactly what happens every single time - this is where the strong and secure attachments are formed.

So by changing the goal posts often, this brings frustration. And we want to build strong and steady rhythms.

Father holding small baby, white clothing and background.
Baby Cuddles

So here are my top tips -

  • Confidently decide on which part of the settle you want to focus on, and it can still be completely responsive to their needs but the rhythm needs to be consistent!

  • Remember there is a difference in their needs - and wants! We need to meet their needs, but it's often changing the hold out that is the hardest part.

  • For the younger ones - work on new rhythms slowly and consistently. Once the predictability starts to show, their adaptability will too because they know what happens next.

  • Create a routine chart with your toddler - for both you and them as a reminder to stick to it! Exactly what happens every night, and how many stories etc! You can get them involved in creating this too with their pens and glitter!

I hope this helps comfort you that by making changes you aren't affecting the secure attachment - but strengthening it. You don't need to implement anything scary or anything that doesn't align with you - you can still respond to them but differently and consistently!

If you are seeking support on what the settles may look like or unsure where to start - you can head to my guide, or look at the corresponding online programs & Membership too!

And of course, please feel free to reach out anytime!

Jade Sleep Nanny

If you're finding it hard to navigate changes in your child's sleep, I'd recommend my support system

here to fully bring consistently great sleep.

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