The Peaceful Baby in March: Sleep (Part Two)

AN URGENT NEED FOR SLEEP: 

What if sleep for the family is really an emergency situation though?  There can be a darker side to all of this  if a mother is truly sleep deprived! 

I just have to say a brief word about  letting a baby “cry-it-out.”    First of all, there are  NO scientific studies that back up “crying it out”.  I have a wonderful article written by Macall Gordon that was published in Attachment Parenting International’s newsletter some years ago called, “The Dark Side of Sleeping Through the Night:  Four Big Reasons Why Crying-It-Out Doesn’t Make Sense.” This article is really fabulous, but I could not find it on-line at all, maybe someone else will be able to locate this article and post the link in the comment box.  At any rate, the first reason in this article is that “crying-it-out” is that it is  not supported by research at all.  In fact, as a pediatric physical therapist, I know that crying causes immune function to go down and cortisol (a stress hormone) to rise.  Why doesn’t anyone bother to  mention that in connection with “crying-it-out”?  The other issue I have with this, this time with my IBCLC hat on, is that mothers are biologically programmed through hormones and  through lactation to pick their babies up!  Why doesn’t anyone talk about that and the biological impulses we try to make mothers override by not validating their own biology?   From an attachment stand-point, and for future psychological health, for the future of the entire process of discipline and guiding child,  the entire first year is about an infant building up trust in a caregiver.   How does “crying-it-out” not harm this?   There are a multitude of other reasons that “crying-it-out” is just plain harmful! 

People who talk about an infant “playing you” or “manipulating you” at an early age over sleep have absolutely NO understanding of the biological or emotional  development of the child.  It is unfortunate. 

If you need someone to talk to, vent to, or ask about realistic sleep expectations,  please, please pick up the phone and call your local La Leche League Leader or Attachment Parenting Leader.  La Leche League even has a hotline now!  Call and talk to someone!

If you have an urgent need for sleep, the families I have worked with in the past have treated this as REAL.  It is urgent, it is as real as being sick!   We cannot be the mother we want to be when we are completely sleep-deprived!   Vacation time may need to be used so one can sleep and have another person at home to care for the infant.  A family member may need to come visit, or friends may need to come and help.  Our society can be such a disconnected one, and it can be so challenging to reach out to people and ask for help.  Yet, people are typically so willing to help. Other mothers have been there, and  they really do understand!

Make a plan for how you can figure this out.  Can  you sleep when the infant does?  What are doing that is more important than sleep?  Can someone help you with your other children so you can take your infant to bed and rest?  Can you all lay down together and rest?  Can you strip a room of dangerous-to-toddler items, lock the door with all of you in this room and rest? 

What can you do to help your child enter sleep more easily and rhythmically?  The first post in this two-part series had some suggestions for babies who really don’t sleep well, but I suppose the suggestions could be useful for anyone.

Children need a rhythm leading up to sleep or rest to help them wind-down.  How you do this in your family is up to you.  Some families have used a warm, calm bath.  Some have used reading books in that special nighttime/resting reading voice (which is different than the dramatic daytime voice!!).  Some families have used rocking, nursing, massage, foot massages, holding as parts of the bedtime routine.  How about singing lullabies?

Infants and children DO need to be parented to sleep.  Even an eight year old or nine year old likes being read to or to have a conversation before they go to sleep!  So, how you parent your child to sleep in your family is up to you as you are the expert on your own family!  All I would say is that if you are waiting to the point where your children fight through the bedtime routine or are completely wound-up, you may be starting too late.  Try earlier and see if that makes a difference.  

People ask me about co-sleeping and when their child will go into their own bed/sleeping surface. …. I remember one especially sweet nurse (an adult, obviously!)  I worked with and we were talking about this subject years ago and she said, “You know what?  When I go home and visit my mamma, I LOVE to jump into her bed.  It smells like her, and I miss seeing her!”  I loved that, the association of comfort and wanting to be near our mothers, even when we are adults.  I have seen some children take happily to their own bedrooms around two and a half or three and I have seen others do it more around the seven-year-change…Some children will still want to co-sleep when they have a nightmare, when they are getting teeth, when they don’t feel well, on special nights when they are so excited for the next day.  Warmth and love at its finest!

FROM A WALDORF POINT OF VIEW:

http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/07/13/a-waldorf-inspired-view-of-sleep/

http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/07/14/part-two-of-a-waldorf-inspired-view-of-sleep/

People ask me about sleep from an anthroposophic point of view, and the above posts are a great place to start.  The one thing I would like to add is that from an anthroposophic viewpoint, the small child is developing a relationship to time.  Modern medical studies confirm this in many regards; some studies I have read state that it can take up to 40 weeks in order to for an infant to have days/nights straightened out well.

Please do think of rhythm and routines leading up to nap/rest times and bedtimes as your friend.  I think it is important to guide our children in this regard, and to just not wait until they fall over from sheer exhaustion after they have been completely wound up!

All food for thought; as usual take what resonates with you for you and your family!

Many blessings,

Carrie

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9 thoughts on “The Peaceful Baby in March: Sleep (Part Two)

  1. My daughter def. has a nap window. If I can’t get her fed and read to by 12:30, I can basically kiss the afternoon nap goodbye.

    anything later than that and she either will not sleep, or won’t sleep as long.

    This is a recent realization I came to after we left our at home day care (where nap was at 1, and went fine) when suddenly napping at home and even bedtime was becoming a HUGE issue.

    The at home daycare sort of switched (or evolved haha) from a waldorf inspired to a more “unschooling” type of environment…and I believe this just didn’t really work for Emerson (thought it may work just fine for others).

    There are two things I don’t wiggle on…sleep (we’ve always had a schedule) and eating home made food/organic. As a result, she eats everything and goes to bed without problem (so long as I don’t miss the window) LOL

  2. oh and I’ll selfishly admit that I’m NOT looking forward to night parenting my new baby LOL

    I’ve grown accustomed to sleep hahaha

    but of course, I will do it… :)

  3. I gave birth in Montreal, Canada and there they send a nurse to visit you at home after the birth. This sounds like a nice idea, but the nurse that came to me was the director of post-natal home visits program and she had two things to say to me during her visit: 1. the breast is only for food and should not be offered more than once in a 3 hour period, and 2. the infant should be left to cry itself to sleep. I was totally appalled. I could not believe that this nurse was counseling new mothers and that she was in charge of the whole program. It broke my heart to think that women overwhelmed by having a new baby would be confronted with these directions.

    I actually had a baby who only slept for 45 minutes at a time and then took 20 minutes to fall back asleep. I was in a really desperate state for months, far from family and friends and with a partner who didn’t help. What got me through when I thought I would just collapse or go totally crazy was the constant reminder that “this is what my child needs right now,” “he will grow out of this,” and really holding in my heart *all the time* how my infant was feeling, his difficulty in adjusting to this new world, and how intensely I wanted him to come to experience it as a good, loving, nurturing place. This helped me through. As much as I suffered at that time, a couple years later I have no regrets or heartache over my parenting choices.

    I’m glad that you are talking about this very important subject, Carrie. It feels very close to my heart. When I hear of parents letting their baby cry her/himself to sleep, it really does tear me up inside. I am glad you are supporting mothers through this challenging time.

  4. My husband developed a great bedtime routine, and then one for nap too!
    First, the milk.
    Second, the bathroom.
    Third, the fan on.
    Four, sing 2 songs
    Five, pretend to be asleep.

    The last one is the hardest b/c sometimes he does or says the most hilarious things and I have to try not to laugh!

    It took about a couple weeks of trying to get it right, but it helped to alternate between mama and papa, or have one day out and make it a big day with a long car nap.

    The solution is simple, it’s the retraining of ourselves that is challenging. Today, I’m breathing.

  5. I recently discovered your blog and it has been such a blessing to me! Thank you for all that you share…you are truly inspiring. I have been reading many of your previous posts and have given each of them much thought and pondering. I have previously been homeschooling using Montessori materials and methods, but I feel like I am being drawn to Waldorf. I was wondering, would it be possible for you to tell me which Waldorf books you use to homeschool? I just have no idea where to start. My oldest child would be in Waldorf 2nd grade. Any advice on where I could find the needed resources would be so appreciated! Thank you so much!

  6. Hi Carrie
    It is so good feeling connected to a goup of like minded friends from all over the world. I have had many negative comments from people who think my 3-year old is old enough not to need his nap anymore – Seriously. I even have had friends told me, almost proudly that their child has dropped their nap when they were between 2-2.5 years old.

    I have always been consistent with our sleep and nap routine and creating a peaceful time before sleep and my two normally don’t resist sleep.

    Also thanks for the reminder how hard live can be with a newborn. I have a friend with a 3-week old and reading your post I decided to be there for her more. To pick up the toddler for visits to our house, so she can have some nap time and to drop of some meals (one thing i really appreciated) and maybe get someting special as a treat for her now and again. I remember when I was so tired with the second baby, my husband insisted every night that I take the time for a nice, long warm bath. I always felt so refreshes afterwards, and it felt good to have had a bit of time for myself.

  7. Pingback: Struggling At Bedtime « The Parenting Passageway

  8. Pingback: Sleep and Rest: Eight Facets Of A Healthy Family Culture | The Parenting Passageway

  9. I remember that my MIL (mostly her and probably only her) told me my son was playing me. Even though my husband and I (still do) truly LOVE to have a family bed shared with our 10 month old son, she still was insistent on it. I always have nursed on demand and he’s been in our bed since birth. He just seemed to fall into his own little schedule and he has slept through the night (I don’t consider him nursing during the night to be awake b/c we sleep through it) … since he was 2 months old. I never had to make him cry or do anything … it happened naturally for him. Maybe because he sees my husband and I in bed and knows “that’s what we do”????

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