I remember the early days – everyone tells you about the sleep deprivation, and how hard it will be. But they were my favourite times…sleep, eat, nappy change, repeat. Sure, there were 3am tears and even times I wished the newborn stage away, but then I had a toddler!
Even though babies only sleep for few hours at a time…sometimes minutes… on average they need about 16 hours every day in the first three months. This is their time to do lots of growing and get those big cheeks and gorgeous leg rolls that only a newborn can pull off.
I loved my babies night time routines. It helped so much as they got older. Bath time, a dark room and some white noise. They learnt to associate this with sleep.
It all sounds so easy right? You feel like you have finally got this parenting thing down pat and then they start to teeth, or have a growth spurt and all your routines go up in flames.
Letting them learn to self soothe is what really saved my sleep, it won’t hurt them to cry. If you know they’re fed and changed, go to them and place a hand on them until they’re soothed and leave the room again. Eventually they’ll learn to settle themselves.
A baby’s sleep is so much more important than ours…and they definitely let us know that in the early stages.
Our sleep and even our sanity come second best to our beautiful mini humans. Meeting their sleep needs supports their learning, growth and development.
Sleep plays such an important role in their everyday lives and influences their lifelong development and health.
Of course, these needs become less and less as they get older. The naps get shorter, then they skip a nap and they fight sleep like it’s the worst thing in the world. Babies show us when they’re tired, some days their needs are more than others – it’s all about knowing what to look for. Just like a newborn has feeding cues, our babies and toddlers have sleeping cues. Cues I noticed were eye rubbing, yawning and an increasing need for cuddles.
No two babies are ever going to be the same.
You go back for baby number two thinking you have some idea what you’re doing and they throw a spanner in the works. They might have different sleeping cues, or sleep associations. There’s not one “how-to” book on parenting that is going to work for everyone, and that’s okay. Every parent does what works for them and there’s no judgement in that. With social media everywhere we turn, showing us the “perfect” parenting styles; the clean house, the happy babies. When really, we just need to strive to be “good” parents; a fed, changed and loved baby is a happy one.