Day Six, Part One: Twenty Days Towards More Mindful Mothering

Sleep and rest are extremely important cornerstones of Waldorf parenting and education, Today we are looking at the areas of sleep and rest.  Waldorf Education is the only educational method I know that takes that old adage, “Sleep on it, “  and moves it into the realm of learning as a true aid and help.  But outside of its educational value, sleep and rest seems to be one area that many parents seem to struggle with, especially attachment parents.  If one goes to any of the attachment parenting groups and forums on the web, inevitably sleep disturbances come up as topics.  I do think that parents who have young children, especially those children under the age of six, are often just tired no matter what way they parent!  So, let’s take a closer look at sleep today and see if we can improve things for all members of the household!


First of all, what a very Waldorf perspective gives us (and I think reading biological studies of sleep in infants, children and those in primitive societies back this up as well!) is that a small child may be born without much rhythm to their sleep and wake cycles. We have to remember first of all, that there is a certain amount of wisdom of nature seen in the wakefulness of the small infant up through a year.  Studies have shown that breastfeeding babies at 10 months are receiving ONE-QUARTER of their calories at night! Many people say their babies who were less than a year old “self-weaned” in many cases did not truly self-wean, but were more at a developmental stage of being completely wrapped up in gross motor movement during the day and not as interested in nursing – and if they are sleeping through the night, that really cuts down on their calories! Remember, human milk is the number one source of calories throughout the entire first year if not LONGER! So I don’t want to shortchange that. I also don’t want to have a 2 to 5 month old baby who sleeps through the whole night when the risk of SIDS is highest.


However, there is something to be said regarding gently helping your child to establish sleep and wake cycles. A child who is very irregular and has no rhythm may really need your help in this area!  Rhythm and routine can be such a strong aid in sleep and rest.  Even after a nap is “gone” (and I daresay in the olden days children did nap for longer than they seem to today!), we can and should replace this  with quiet time for the children and ourselves. Especially with homeschooling, one needs this break! And children need to learn the value of being quiet without someone or something electronic entertaining them!


Here are some posts regarding sleep from an attachment parenting perspective: parameters for safe co-sleeping and includes an interesting dialogue about what happens if co-sleeping doesn’t work for you!


And here are some posts from a Waldorf perspective:

and here:

And about quiet time:  (lots of comments here to read!)


This is my personal favorite post about sleep:


I would love to see a lot of dialogue on this topic; sleep becomes a crucial part of teaching with the Waldorf educational process within the two or three-day rhythm, it is important for homeschooling mothers and mothers of small children to have rest times….so these are important issues to think about early on!



6 thoughts on “Day Six, Part One: Twenty Days Towards More Mindful Mothering

  1. This is really interesting as my little one at 3 still has a sleep/rest at lunch time for about 1 – 2 hours whereas most of his friends don’t. I still feel he needs it as he is so active the rest of the time, he very rarely stays still. He doesn’t always sleep but I still put him up to bed and if he is not asleep after an hour I go and get him but it does mean he has had a rest – he usually just sits and talks to his ducky (his comforter). I also feel refreshed after this hour or so as it can be full on looking after someone who is so active and wanting to do things all the time.

  2. Thanks so much for your writing, Carrie. I seldom comment, but I do read everything you write, search and reread from your blog often when facing issues or new development, and consider you a real resource in my life. I find myself recommending your blog often… so thanks again!

    Bedtime has been SUCH (SUCH, SUCH, SUCH) a struggle for us, along with nighttime. My kids are extremely frequent nightwakers and wake up screaming bloody murder (as in 5-20 times a night… even as one-year-olds). We have a consistent routine, on reflux medication, early bedtime, have ruled out allergens as best we can, spend lots of time outside, etc, but boy is it tough! I do tend to nurse when my youngest wakes, but only because she screams for such a long time when i don’t! At least my four year old has outgrown her bedtime battles… but she used to scream, kick, fight, jump around like crazy… up until about 6 months ago. They tend to “self-stimulate” to stay awake. For example, they’ll be almost asleep and then sit up, make noise, or kick to stay awake.

    And they tend to be extremely inconsistent, despite my persistence, often waking at 4:30/5 in the morning… it’s like they wake themselves up just as soon their bodies will possibly let them. I do sleep with them, and try to lay there and encourage them to rest until 6 ish, but it doesn’t seem to develop into a predictable pattern.

    It’s my biggest frustration as a parent, affects everything else in our lives (since we’re all so stinkin’ tired), and truly makes me feel paralyzed (which your “rant” helped me realize… I need to take action), because we tried SO much with our first (and tried to give it time to “take”).

    I know you can’t address people’s issues individually, and I don’t expect you to, but I’m just wondering if you have any thoughts or impressions as to what I might be missing!

  3. Hi Carrie, I have been lurking for ages – I love your blog. However I just wanted to raise a point regarding this article. The reason that the SIDS risk is highest in young babies is not at all related to sleeping through the night; disturbingly, there is a proven link between SIDS and the high number of vaccines that babies receive at that age. Unvaccinated babies do not die from SIDS – fact. I realise this is an emotive topic but please think about researching this very important subject
    Best regards,
    Sam (UK)

  4. Hi there. I love your blog. I do not homeschool, but think it has wonderful things to bring to all families. I find your blog with many things to offer even those who do not homeschool for follow a true “Waldorf” lifestyle. However, I have to say I don’t agree with the comment regarding babies sleeping through the night at 2-5 months of age and SIDS. I exclusively breastfed my 2nd child. She slept through the night at 5 weeks of age, from about 10 at night to 5-6 in the morning. HEAVEN!!! She slept right beside me in her bassinet. She was a great eater, we had marathon nursing sessions (40 minutes or more sometimes, and feeding often during the “witching hours”) in the evening. My 1st child slept through the night at 10 weeks. He was breast and formula fed. My kids were just good sleepers, and developed their own natural rhythm very early on. In my case, I think consistent feeding times and lengthy feeding times if baby was up for it really helped them stock up for the night. Everyone’s experience is different, but if baby is happy and full and a good sleeper even very early on, more power (and peace – and sleep- and health) to everyone!!

    • HI Jessica!
      Congratulations on your great sleeping babies! I was stating a generality in a sense, that breastfeeding babies have a lower risk of SIDS – not that breastfeeding babies cannot sleep through the night. They certainly can, but breastfeeding often sets babies up for success in terms of weight gain and reduced incidence of SIDS through the things you did with your daughter proximity (your daughter was in your room, now endorsed by The American Academy of Pediatrics), breastfeeding, positioning on her back. We do know that infants who sleep on their stomachs far away from their parents and are formula – fed are at the highest risk. And those in the homes where parents smoke.
      We don’t know all the reasons SIDS occurs, and sometimes SIDS happens even to breastfed babies where everything is done “right”. It is tragic.

      In the meantime, we do know that there could be a link to frequent night waking and SIDS protection:

      And, if you like medical journal reading like me, here is a study from Pediatrics:

      Many blesings, thank you for comment and for reading,
      PS, ANd I doubt there have ever been studies done regarding the sleep patterns of breastfeeding babies who sleep “well” versus those breastfeeding babies who are frequent night wakers to see if the biology is any different. That would be an interesting study! We should contact Dr. McKenna,sleep researcher at Notre Dame about that one! He wrote “Sleeping With YOur Baby: A Parent’s Guide to Cosleeping” which talks quite a bit about SIDS, breastfeeding and cosleeping.

    • Thanks Carrie. Very good info – and very interesting! And thank you for all the info you pass along 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.