BabyM is almost 14 months old. It’s crazy how quickly the first year of his life has passed, and I know that the years that follow will be no different.
The advantage of this timing is that we all sleep pretty well now, and that’s a wonderful thing. To be honest, I really enjoyed watching my baby’s sleep develop this time. I know that time softens my memories, but I already miss those quiet nightly feedings with my baby.
Long-time readers of this blog know that I wrote a lot about sleep in the early days of the blog when Cee was a baby. I also wrote about evidence-based sleep strategies for my book. I have read hundreds of newspapers about sleep since Cee was a baby, and that has changed so much in my approach to M’s sleep. Many readers asked me how Ms sleep went, so I finally wanted to share his sleep story.
One thing that was different about M was that I was just super curious to watch him and see how his sleep developed. After all my reading on the subject, I’ve become something of a sleep nerd. Would I see a strong day-night-day rhythm if the literature dictated this? How would his nighttime sleep tighten in the first few months? Would the information and recommendations in my book still feel true and relevant to me if I raised a child again? (Fortunately, yes!)
This feeling of curiosity, paired with the previous iteration and knowing that it wouldn’t take forever, really helped me relax about M’s sleep. I also knew from science that there is a wide range of norms for sleep development, and it’s not always a linear, predictable process. Still, it was humble to go through those early months again. No matter what we know or do, we all still have hard nights and tired babies who can’t sleep and moments of insecurity. It is part of the landscape of newborn parenting.
One small thing that helped me sleep this time was to accept my new sleep mantra. I whispered to M when I helped him fall asleep or when I put him to rest alone. I started making it part of my bedtime routine with Cee. I even tell myself when it’s time to turn off my computer and phone and go to bed:
“It will feel so good to rest.”
Correct? It does feel good to rest. I want my children to appreciate the comfort of putting your body in the familiar nest of your bed and letting go of the day. I want them to realize how much better we feel after we have had a good rest. In our family I want to have a culture where sleep is valued for our health, wellbeing and just because it feels good. When my children protest that they go to bed, it reminds them and me of why it matters. Her bedtime is not just about staying on schedule or giving me my coveted quiet time in the evening (although I definitely appreciate that). It’s really about getting them the rest they need so they can thrive every day to come.
The other thing that made a big difference to M’s sleep development was to give him the opportunity to fall asleep alone at a young age. This was completely different from our strategy with Cee. With M we gave him space to practice the process of falling asleep in a supported manner. I think this ability enabled his sleep to develop organically in the first year.
In two guest articles I wrote more about how science shaped my sleep philosophy for infants and how I put it into practice with M. Janet Lansbury’s website “Elevating Childcare”, this week. The The first article is about science. The The second post is about how we put it into practice to help M gradually learn some independent sleep skills. Please check them out if you want to read more and leave your comments here or on the Janet website.
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