Many are called “sleep training” and involve different ways of getting children to fall asleep and stay asleep on their own, therefore allowing parents to sync their own night-time rituals with their kids.
However, for parents who don’t like the idea of sleep training, there is an alternative method called the Possums sleep programme that emphasises the baby’s natural rhythms.
According to the programme’s website, Possums & Co, the method “helps you re-set your little one’s sleep patterns so that sleep is easy and the nights manageable”.
Here’s everything you need to know about the Possums sleep programme:
What is the Possums sleep programme?
The Possums sleep programme is a method developed by Dr Pamela Douglas, founder and medical director of Possums & Co.
It is also known as “neuroprotective developmental care” that claims to have a “ground-breaking approach to your child’s environmental and sensory needs, based on the latest neuroscience”.
Whilst some other techniques, like the Ferber method, encourage parents to let their children “cry it out” and learn how to fall asleep at night without too much parental soothing, the Possums method follows biological sleep regulators.
These are the circadian rhythm – the body’s natural response to the 24-hour cycle and changes in light throughout the day – and the “sleep/wake homeostat”, which refers to the body’s increasing need for sleep the longer it stays awake.
How does the Possums sleep programme work?
Dr Douglas explains that the programme focuses on ensuring babies “get enough rich sensory input” throughout the day.
“When there is plenty of activity and social engagement, sleep looks after itself,” she told Australian parenting website Mama Mia. “Sleep can happen flexibly and on the go in a satisfying way for the parent.”
This involves making sure you fill your child’s day with plenty of sensory stimulation, such as taking them out on errands, playing or visiting other people, or just having a change of scenery to keep their brains ticking.
Using this method, parents are encouraged to only let their children nap during the daytime if they really need it. If the baby does need to sleep during the day, they should be allowed to do so while regular daytime sounds continue around them, instead of trying to keep things dark and quiet.
When it comes to bedtime, the Possums method actually recommends a later bedtime to avoid frequent waking up at night and to fit in better with parents’ own sleep patterns.
Dr Douglas said: “Don’t worry about overstimulation, a feed of milk can dial them down, allow them to settle and allow sleep to be a really relaxed and enjoyable time.”
Does the Possums sleep programme work?
Some studies have shown that the Possums method is associated with longer sleep durations at night and fewer wake-ups at night.
However, like all methods to introduce babies to a sleep schedule, it depends on the individual infant.
All babies are different and have different needs, but parents can experiment or consult an expert about what would work best for them.