Neema Patel Discusses Evolving Pediatric Sleep Trends in Southeast Asian Families

Infant Sleep · Toddler Sleep

Sleep Culture Rooted in Ancestry

Southeast Asian cultures have a unique perspective on baby sleep habits that is deeply rooted in tradition and family values. Generationally and culturally, the way of raising a baby is often centered on the concept of co-sleeping.

Co-sleeping is believed to promote bonding between the parents and the baby, as well as provide a sense of security and comfort for the child. It is also thought to be beneficial for breastfeeding; allowing the mother to easily feed the baby during the night without having to get out of bed or fully wake up.

Additionally, close-knit family structures often result in multi-generational households. Traditional sleep practices are so rooted in culture and family systems that, subsequently, many family’s face feelings of guilt or shame when making changes to their child’s sleep.

“What we know to be true now is that parents need to be okay for babies to be okay.” says Pediatric Sleep Consultant Neema Patel. “When parents are exhausted from lack of sleep, relationships and connections suffer.”

Traditional Sleep Practices Can Be Hard to Change

Senior Pediatric Sleep Consultant, Neema Patel & Family

While co-sleeping has been a prevalent practice for generations, there is also a growing interest in understanding the benefits of sleep training and the risks associated with bed sharing.

“We know that co-sleeping increases a baby’s chances of dying from SIDS. Many of my family’s know this to be true and yet don’t know what the safe, gentle, alternatives are.” explains Neema Patel.

One prominent reason for a reluctance to change sleep habits is the fear of separation anxiety. Many parents worry that allowing a baby to be frustrated and cry, might lead to emotional distress. The concept of “attachment parenting,’’ where the baby’s needs are immediately attended to, is often prioritized in Southeast Asian families out of concern the parent-child bond may be lost.

Finding the Balance

Despite family pressures and long-standing sleep traditions, Neema has seen a huge influx of Indian families who know that something is not working and needs to change. She strives to help Southeast Asian families understand that there is another way to support that loving bond – a gentle and safe approach to sleep, that won’t compromise the parent-child relationship, but will instead improve it. A recent client shared that sleep training “improved the quality of our lives in an unmeasurable way.”

Southeast Asian cultures view baby sleep habits as an important aspect of child-rearing, with a focus on promoting bonding and security. Now, parents are increasingly seeking information on sleep training techniques that align with these values while promoting better sleep patterns for their children. “It’s essential to strike a balance between honoring cultural practices and incorporating modern insights, and research, into parenting. If what families are doing is working for them when it comes to sleep, that is great, but if a family is desperate for a change, I am happy to help.”

By Katie Pitts, Founder & CEO of Sleep Wise Consulting

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