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"Negative" Sleep Associations

Updated: Jan 1, 2023

I really dislike the term negative sleep associations.


As a Sensitive Sleep Consultant, I believe there are NO negative sleep associations. How can something that comforts and supports your child to sleep be negative?


Can some of these associations delay children from falling asleep independently? Sure! But that doesn't mean that have to be a negative.


Will your child fall asleep independently as some stage? Absolutely! Do you know any 30 year olds that still need their mum or dad to pat them to sleep or hold their hand? I didn't think so.

The following are regarded as positive sleep associations:

  • Comforters

  • Humming (by the child)

  • Singing (by the child)

  • Sucking on their thumb or fingers

  • Blackout blinds

  • White noise

Other sleep consultants and research may tell you that the following things can be a negative sleep association:

  • Feeding to sleep

  • Hands on settling (rocking, patting, holding)

  • Dummies

  • Co-sleeping

  • Assisted sleeps (car, pram carrier)

The only time a sleep association becomes "negative" is when it is no longer sustainable for you and/or your child. If you are happy, and enjoy feeding your child to sleep, then don't change that for anyone.


Do not let anyone tell you that feeding, holding, rocking, patting your baby to sleep is you "creating a rod for your back" and a bad habit. Baby's need to feel safe, secure, supported and loved. None of these are bad habits. You can't spoil a newborn baby.


Nothing is a problem unless it is a problem for you.



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