…well kind of. Definitely cuter!
People tend to think of wee ones as completely separate types of beings with totally unique and different needs. But if we start thinking of them as similar to us when it comes to sleep habits, it will all make so much more sense!
They Wake Up
When babies reach about four months of age, their sleep patterns adjust to mimic adult sleep patterns. Meaning they wake more frequently even from a sound sleep. Just like you wake up, roll over and adjust to get comfortable, our wee ones do much the same. If your baby is a strong sleeper who has learned healthy sleep habits, you’ll barely hear him or her as (s)he “ohhs” and “goos” and settles back to sleep. If your baby is not able to self-soothe, then you’ll no doubt hear much more!
They Don’t Necessarily Need to Eat at Night
At some point, we all had to adjust to not getting up in the middle of the night to eat. Imagine if we still woke up to create a culinary masterpiece at 2 a.m.? Assuming your baby is a healthy weight, they will learn to shift their eating to the daylight hours. And while it may seem like they’re eating non-stop during the day (especially during growth spurts!) you’ll know that they’re getting all the calories they need to grow and develop.
Consistency is Key
Much like in real estate, when it comes to quality sleep it’s all about location, location, location. Think about it. Chances are you and your partner each have a bedtime routine. You get off the couch, walk upstairs, brush your teeth, wash your face, put on your pyjamas, turn down the covers and climb on into your side.
So, if one night, all of a sudden, your partner climbed into your side, ripped open a bag of chips and fired up the game on his laptop that would be weird, right? Right. Because you’ve learned to expect and assume that your partner will be on their proper side. With their specific pillows and duvet, tucked in and ready to sleep in darkness.
Babies are much the same. Put your babe down to sleep in the same place as much as possible. Whether your child has their own room or shares, putting them to bed in a familiar place lets them know that they are safe and in a place where sleep – not play or awake time – is expected. They learn to love their crib – swear it!
Beds & Cribs are For Sleeping
You know how “they” say that bedrooms should only be for sleeping? Ideally, no eating, television watching or laptop trolling happens in bed. Beds are for sleeping. Somehow in modern society we have forgotten this age-old mantra and allowed other activities to creep into our most precious of spaces. For children, it should be the same. Save the sanctity of their crib for sleep. No toys, books, or stuffed animals (other than their go-to snuggly buddy) should join them in their crib. With consistency kiddos learn that sleep is expected of them in their crib (or toddler bed or whatever). And remember, bare is best – absolutely no bumpers, Dock-A-Tots or bulky blankets in the crib.
Falling Asleep Takes Some Time
Few adults can claim that when their head hits the pillow they consistently fall asleep instantly. You shift, and toss and turn. Adjust the pillows. Put on some more hand cream, sigh and pull the blankets up as you slowly drift off to sleep. Our wee ones are much the same. While they don’t have the same things to fidget about with, very few babies will instantly fall asleep when placed in their safe-sleeping space. They may talk, or whimper or shed a few tears as they drift off to sleep. And that is A-OK! It is their way of adjusting to sleep time and soothing themselves to sleep. Whether putting them to bed or waiting for them to fall back asleep for a longer nap, it’s okay to give your wee one the chance to fall asleep on his or her own before you come in and distract them. Like I explained to my husband, when I’m napping sometimes I open one eye and take a look around. That doesn’t mean I’m ready to get up, I’m just checking things out and then will roll over and continue my much-deserved slumber.
So, the next time you want to set baby down in the crib while you put away the laundry, or the next time you hear him or her chatting about in his or her crib, think twice. You are a huge influence in your baby’s life and the main defining factor (assuming babe is healthy!) in how they will sleep. Babies are not so different from us – it’s time we give them a little more credit!