PostWhat is The Nudge?

baby with light bulb A Neuroscientific Approach to Baby’s Transitions

A Nudge is a mild stress or change – the smallest step possible in the direction of your goal and a optional step in the Smart Baby Sleep system. Research has shown that parent education is just as effective as sleep training, so no, you don’t have to CIO! This is the alternative, making “parent education” a science.

The Nudge concept is based on the psychological principle of Soviet psychologist Lev Vygotsky’s “Zone of Proximal Development.” This theory has been applied in a variety of ways for nearly a century, but Smart Baby Sleep is the first to apply it to sleep training a baby by taking him into his “challenge zone.”

With this vital qualifier, The Nudge takes the guesswork out of the agonizing decisions you face over sleep training your baby. For an older baby or toddler, you can delay your response or take a small step toward your goal but not let your baby reach The Teach Versus Break Tipping Point. This is the point at which a mild distress or protest is experienced. In this case, the stress-response system does not flip into high gear; self-soothing has either been practiced, until you intervene with comfort, or your “nudge” has been successful and baby’s “comfort baseline” has moved to include that step. This is how you teach your baby to regulate over time, as he is able without distress.  True self soothing ability as age-appropriate, is the final result.

This approach is new in terms of all the modified versions of controlled crying, as originally popularized by Richard Ferber, M.D., one of the bestsellers on the subject. The Nudge looks to the baby’s tolerance—not the clock—to calibrate the level of help the baby needs to manage its stress. This component is essential with regards to the neuropsychological effects of extreme distress discussed in other blog posts. Intensity matters.

Knowing when and if your baby or toddler is ready for a “nudge” sets you up for success. Your goal and your steps will depend mostly on your baby’s age and security level, history, and temperament. After you’ve established the goal that’s right for your baby, use this checklist to make sure it’s the right time to start nudging toward it:

My baby’s sleep environment has been optimized:

Simple enhancements in the sleep environment can help move baby toward that tipping point where she will accept the nudge. Get your baby as comfortable as possible, so she’ll be finessed into accepting the next rung on the ladder toward your goal! These are organized and detail in the online course.

Here’s an excerpt pulled straight out of the course:

Is Your Baby Ready for Nudging? Checklist:
1. My baby is not experiencing an overtired state during the day or at bedtime.

Working with wake times and consistently hitting your baby’s sleep window comes first, before nudging. If your baby is getting overtired and experiences the stress chemicals associated with an overtired state prior to your nudge, your nudging attempts will be less successful because baby is unlikely to accept a nudge. Conserve your energy (mental & physical) and set everything up for nudging success!

2. My baby is not suffering from gastrointestinal or other physical discomfort.

Wait until acute teething pain has past, for example, or if your baby is experiencing other physical discomfort, deal with that first, before nudging.

3. My baby has closed her sleep deficit.

To be reasonably sure your baby has closed her sleep deficit from the night before, allow the first nap to go as long as baby will sleep, then if she wakes happy and alert, you’ve probably closed it. If your baby has not been getting enough sleep for many weeks, because sleep deficits are cumulative, work with wake times, sleep environment, etc. until baby is consistently getting enough sleep, as judged by total hour norms for your baby’s age, how she looks typically upon waking (irritability), and having consistently hit the “sleep windows” for at least a week (longer if cumulative sleep deficit is bigger). The online course teaches you how.

4. My baby is not hungry at the specific waking I’m nudging to eliminate (if that is your goal).

When nudging to eliminate a night waking, chose the one when you are most sure you baby is not hungry. Nudging will never work if baby is truly hungry, because he’ll always signal to feed, and this is a good thing.
5. My baby is not experiencing other major life changes such as new caregiver or loss of any kind.

When your baby is experiencing major life changes, his security may be a bit shaken. This is a time to go back to step one – The Security Solution, and reinforce a solid foundation for nudging later. Think of it like this, your baby is already in a challenge zone adapting to the change or coping with the loss.
6. My sleep goal is age-appropriate.

Consider the “expectations” section of the Smart Baby Sleep System video course. If you have any doubt, please take the temperature of the Science Mommy Facebook Group or post to Angela directly. For example, breastfed babies need to wake to feed frequently in the night at first, then at least once, typically for the first year or two.
7. My baby’s security is well-established.

Security is job one. When you’re tuned into your baby, you can feel it when you’ve established security. Now use that investment in your relationship to gently nudge for the changes you need to thrive with your baby!

If you can check all these, you’re ready to Nudge!

For more details, join the Smart Baby Sleep System online Course and you’ll be automatically invited to my private Science Mommy Secureline Facebook group for ongoing support and individualized advice. I look forward to helping you!