Updated: Oct 2, 2020
When assessing how an individual baby falls to sleep, we often see a pattern or association that has developed over time.
In many cases, the parent does not recognize that there is an association or they have not made the connection yet.
Part of our role is to recognize the association in an effort to see the bigger picture when making changes to a baby's sleep.
In a lot of cases a baby will fall to sleep sucking
As a result, a baby may begin to associate falling asleep with the need to suck.
Consequently, the baby will continually need to suck back to sleep as she wakes throughout the night.
Similarly, if a child has breastfed to sleep, they have also sucked to sleep. Throughout the night, that same baby may be given a bottle or soother to go back to sleep.
The bottle, breast, and soother are examples of props. Although the prop varies throughout the night, the overall association is still sucking.
The two types of sleep associations
We often discuss sleep associations with our clients as it is one of the biggest issues that we come across when it comes to making changes to children's sleep. There are many props that can be used to support an association.
However, when it comes to types of associations, they fall into two categories:
Sucking and Motion
A sucking association is a much stronger association than a motion association and is usually much harder to eliminate.
Sucking props come in many forms such as, sucking on the breast, sucking on the bottle, and sucking on the soother.
In other cases, some children may suck on a thumb or a lovie to fall back to sleep.