Relatively speaking, sleep hasn’t been the biggest issue with Alya. In the beginning, if anything, she slept too much and nursed too little (though that may have also been due to not enough milk). We still sometimes get 5 or 6 hour stretches at night, and very often 3 hours or more. However, we also often get the “up 4 times” nights, and the “bedtime isn’t until 11!” evenings. That, plus my belief in helping children develop good habits, is getting me thinking about sleep routines.
Please note: I’m not talking about scheduling, and I’m not talking about training. Neither of these approaches jives with me philosophically or from a research perspective. Children get hungry and tired on their own timetables, much like adults, and need those needs to be met when they arise. Not feeding, or trying to force sleep when it is clearly not what a child needs at that point seems to me to send the wrong message: that a child needs to ignore/deny her instincts, and that trying to communicate them to those who should help is ineffective. And training doesn’t seem to me to be the right approach either: at least half of parenting is learning to know your child and develop approaches that meet her where she’s at, while training implies a set standard you want to hold your child to, even though it might not work for her individually.
However, I do know that children like predictability and routines. They learn, in fact, from regular repetition as it’s what makes certain sounds, behaviours, cause & effect relationships stand out in their absorbent minds. And a stable, repetitive, predictable environment provides the emotional security and stability that best enhance learning. So with that preamble: I would like to develop bedtime routines and nighttime habits that will provide a predictable, cozy environment for Alya and help her learn how to meet her need for sleep most effectively. And yes: the better this works, the happier all members of the family will be. And that’s okay 🙂
My dream bedtime routine involves a bath, massage, prayers, cuddles, and then rubbing her back/ rocking her to sleep – and being able to put her down in the cosleeper beside the bed that we finally installed. All starting between 7 and 8 p.m. Last night went almost by the plan: bath at around 7:30, a bit of massage (though after she was dressed), cuddling and back rubbing and then she fell asleep on me. Mick put her in the cosleeper (I’d fallen asleep with her) and she slept for 4 or 5 hours – not really sure how long.
I think the two main things I need to do to make it work are plan my evenings to start at the right time; and just be consistent. This means continuing with meal planning so we’re done eating by 7, and taking care of other work before then. And then we’ll see from there what works and what needs tweaking. The main challenge I can see is I think she’s used to a later bedtime than 8 or 9.