My Sleep Mantra and BabyM’s Sleep Story
BabyM is almost 14 months old already. It’s crazy how quickly the first year of his life flew by, and I know the subsequent years will be no different.
The upside of that passage of time is that we’re all sleeping pretty well now, and that is a wonderful thing. To be honest, though, I actually enjoyed watching my baby’s sleep develop this time around. I know that time softens my memories, but I already miss those quiet middle-of-the-night feedings with my baby.
Long-time readers of this blog know that I wrote a lot about sleep when Cee was a baby, in the early days of the blog. I also wrote about evidence-based sleep strategies for my book. I’ve read hundreds of papers on sleep since Cee was a baby, and that changed so much about my approach to M’s sleep. Lots of readers have asked me about how M’s sleep went, so I finally wanted to share his sleep story.
One thing that was different with M was that I was just super curious to observe him and watch how his sleep developed. After all of my reading on this topic, I’ve sort of become an infant sleep nerd. Would I see a strong day-night circadian rhythm emerge when the literature said it would? How would his nighttime sleep consolidate over those first few months? Most especially, would the information and recommendations in my book still feel true and relevant to me as I went through parenting an infant again? (Happily, yes!)
That sense of curiosity, paired with having gone through this before and knowing that it wouldn’t last forever, really helped me relax about M’s sleep. I also knew from the science that there was a wide range of normal for sleep development, and it isn’t always a linear, predictable process. Still, it was humbling to go through those early months again. No matter what we know or do, we all still have rough nights and tired babies who can’t nap and moments of uncertainty. That’s part of the landscape of newborn parenting.
One small thing that helped me with sleep this time around was the adoption of my new sleep mantra. I whispered it to M as I helped soothe him to sleep or when I put him down to rest on his own. I started making it part of my goodnight routine with Cee. I even say it to myself when it’s time to turn off my computer and phone and go to bed:
“It’s going to feel so good to rest.”
Right? It does feel good to rest. I want my children to appreciate the comfort of settling your body into that familiar nest of your bed and letting go of the day. I want them to recognize how much better we feel after having a good rest. In our family, I want to have a culture of valuing sleep for our health, well being, and just because it feels good. If my kids are protesting going to bed, it’s a reminder to them and to me why it’s important. Their bedtime isn’t just about staying on schedule or giving me my coveted quiet time in the evening (although I certainly appreciate this). It’s really about getting them the rest they need so that they can thrive in each coming day.
The other thing that made a big difference to M’s sleep development was giving him opportunities to fall asleep on his own from an early age. This was totally different from our strategy with Cee. With M, we gave him space to practice the process of falling to sleep in a supported way. I think that having this skill allowed his sleep to develop organically over the first year.
I have written more about how science shaped my infant sleep philosophy and how I put that into practice with M in two guest posts on Janet Lansbury’s site, Elevating Childcare, this week. The first post is about the science. 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 feel free to leave your comments here or on Janet’s site.