Normal Infant Sleep

Dear mama,

I know you’re tired. I know you’re worried about your baby developing properly. I know you would do anything and everything you could to make sure your child succeeds.

You’ve read all about drowsy but awake, all about linking sleep cycles, and all about sleeping through the night. You’ve read that you need a dark room and a sound machine and that will help baby sleep. You’ve read about all the different feeding schedules and that you shouldn’t feed your child to sleep.

You’ve read that your marriage will suffer if your baby doesn’t sleep in their own room alone. You’ve heard other moms using formula to help their babies sleep longer stretches. You see all the different toys and devices used to help babies sleep. You’ve read about swaddles and sleep suits wondering which one is the best.

You’re confused. What is right? What is wrong? Am I doing the best for my child? Will I ever sleep again? Will they ever sleep through the night if I don’t do these things and spend ALL.THIS.MONEY. ?

Over the generations, parenting has changed tremendously. We’ve gone from villages to care for a baby for the first few years to 6 weeks of maternity leave and getting rushed back to work. We’ve gone from formula being the number one accepted feeding method to a push back of breastfeeding throughout the world. Times have changed, babies have not.

In utero, babies are sleeping. They’re linking sleep cycles, they’re getting nutrients, they’re developing properly. So what happens when they are born? Well, yikes, what a harsh, cold, bright, loud world. Where is that comfortable womb? Where is that warmth? Where is MY MOM?

Your baby just spent 9 months inside of you, so yes, they are going to want YOU still to help them transition to this brand new world. They will want to nap on you, they will want you to carry them frequently, they will wake up searching for you. This is completely normal.

All humans wake at night during sleep. We briefly rouse between sleep cycles and then fall back asleep. The only difference between adults and babies is that they need some parental support to get back to sleep. After all, they had you 24/7 when they were in the womb, it’s hard to expect a baby to go from 24/7 to only needing you here and there in a few days, or even a few months (yes you read that right).

Deep dependence fosters independence- there are actually studies regarding this. Parenting with an attachment perspective helps keep your child close so that when they are developmentally ready to be independent, they can separate more easily, knowing you will be there if they need you.

Each child develops differently, whether we’re talking about crawling, talking, or sleeping. We cannot push our 3 week old to begin walking and assume they will because they are not yet developmentally ready for that. The same goes for sleep.

So how do we help? We model how to calm down. We help support our baby in the way they need it in order for them to calmly fall asleep. Does that mean rocking? Maybe. Walking? Maybe. Feeding? Maybe. Your baby needs you and will have his/her own unique needs that you will find.

Our culture has become so obsessed with pushing babies to become independent so soon, making moms fear that their baby will “need them” too much or too often. This is normal, our societal expectations are not.

So forget the fancy machines, the crazy swaddles and sleep suits, the expensive white noise machine. Watch your baby, observe what he/she needs, and respond appropriately.

Listen to your gut, follow your instincts. When your baby is ready, they won’t need you anymore. And trust me, you’re going to miss it.

Sincerely,

A mom of a 15 month old who has never been a great sleeper. A tired mom who has suddenly seen her child sleep longer stretches. A mom who misses the cuddles already.

Have questions about your infant’s sleep? Questions about breastfeeding? Check out my Sleep and Parenting Help tab or feel free to check out my Instagram account @thesleepdpt. I offer free 15 minute discovery calls as well if you’re searching for further sleep help (no sleep training and completely focused on developing a secure attachment).

Published by Jennifer Palmer PT, DPT

Instagram: @thesleepdpt Twitter: @thesleepdpt Facebook: The Sleep DPT Facebook Group: The Sleep DPT & Friends

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