A baby's sleep pattern can impact hugely on your well being...
I’ve said it before.
I always thought that the idea of some babies being good sleepers and other babies not so good was a bit bizarre. It wasn’t long before I started to realise that it was in fact true.
When my son was about four months old we started to introduce a very gentle bed-time routine, just to encourage the idea a little bit. We focused on a wind down period, putting his baby grow on him at the same time, a nice bath, that type of thing. I would feed him and put him down to sleep at roughly the same time every evening. It was going quite well for a short period of time and then began the rollercoaster that comes with having a baby who is not a “sleeper”.
I never obsessed over my baby “sleeping through the night”.
I think there is far too much pressure put on parents when it comes to this. Not to mention the pressure on the babies. I just wanted to ensure my baby was having good quality sleep at night and I was very happy to breastfeed him on demand night and day when he woke and looked for a feed.
When he hit the one mark I envisaged a dramatic change in his sleep pattern. However things had gone backwards and he was now worse than ever. A new skill, a developmental leap, the snuffles, teething – there was always something. We were getting very little sleep and we were exhausted. It’s the same story for so many parents and it is just a fact of life. It is amazing how we grow to become used to it. It becomes our normal life and most of the time it isn’t as bad as you might think.
When it came to naps and routine I was becoming totally and utterly obsessed with every day being the exact same.
Any change or spanner in the works would fill me with anxiety. I was a woman possessed. It was then that I had a bit of an epiphany. I wondered why I was being my own worst enemy. I was going on as if I had a toddler who actually slept well at night, as if a change to his daytime routine would affect his good night of sleeping. The penny dropped. On the one hand I was dealing with the usual exhaustion that comes with not getting much sleep and being up half the night with a toddler, and then on the other hand I was spending my days obsessing over his naps and strict routine when in reality it made absolutely no difference to how he slept at night. I know that a baby who does sleep well generally thrives on a good routine of naps and meal times at similar intervals etc, but no matter what I did my son always slept the same way. Intermittently with many wake-ups.
I decided to cut myself some slack.
Life gets in the way sometimes and it is not always possible to stick to the same routine every day. Particularly due to the fact that I work three days a week and my son is minded by a family member. Those days are different to the days where we are at home. My son does not sleep any better than before, but I feel as though a weight has now been lifted off my shoulders. I no longer sigh when he falls asleep in the car if he is tired, I don’t turn down play dates or events because they clash with a nap-time. If they made a difference I absolute would but it had come to my attention that I was only adding more stress and worry to my life.
So I am doing the unthinkable (for me) and I am going with the flow.
We are encouraging routine as much as possible but trying not to obsess about it anymore. He will sleep when he’s good and ready.
But if you are reading this son, we’re ready whenever you are!