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I recently heard Rachel Waddilove, an experienced maternity nurse, speak here at King's Hall about the importance of sleep for babies and young children and offer her ideas from many years’ experience of how best to achieve. Whilst I sometimes find ‘theories’ hard to digest, as I am passionate about each child being unique and do not believe the ‘average’ baby (as referred to in most parenting handbooks) actually exists, I was heartened to hear her very strongly make the point that babies and young children need boundaries, consistency and, perhaps most importantly, to be taught to do things for themselves. It made me think that teaching your child to settle himself to sleep is the first opportunity we have as parents to support their independence and in turn, their happiness and wellbeing. We all know rested children are happy children and happy children are receptive to all the learning that surrounds them each and every day. We also know that children love routine and thrive when they are secure in their behaviour boundaries; both of these are grown from consistency. In the same way, children love to hear the same story read over and over, so they like to know that the routines we put in place for them will remain the same over and over and how we respond to their behaviour will be the same over and over. In a busy world where the pressure to be seen as a ‘perfect parent’ is stronger than ever and parenting advice is plentiful (and contradictory) it is refreshing to strip it all back to basics and consider the fundamentals that will lead our children to achieving success and happiness.

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