The host of Dr. Carey’s Baby Care and well-regarded practicing pediatrician, Dr. Carey Chronis, joins the podcast today to discuss infants, sleep, and how to make sure they—and their parents—get enough of it. “A lot of it stems from how the parents sleep,” says Dr. Chronis, as he goes on to explain that most parents make the mistake of tending to an infant every time they cry or wake in the night. The question comes down to determining at what point it’s okay, and actually beneficial, to stop responding every time their infant cries, and to simply let them work through it on their own. According to Dr. Chronis, there is a straightforward answer: four months. What’s special about the four-month mark?
Dr. Chronis explains that at four months of age, an infant has yet to develop the concept of object permanence, which means that when you, as their parent, walk away from their crib, they don’t know that you’re just one room over; they don’t understand that you continue to exist—in fact, they don’t conceptualize your existence at all unless they’re looking right at you. Once an infant is able to conceptualize that you’re in the next room over, it is harder for them to accept the discomfort that may accompany your absence during what should be the sleeping hours of the night. If good sleep patterns have already been established when an infant begins to understand object permanence, it will be much easier to maintain those patterns in the long-term.
For more resources on this topic, check out Dr. Carey’s Baby Care show on CAPS-TV in Ventura, CA, and visit https://drcareys.com/.