Sleep..it’s been on my mind a lot recently because Gus has not yet slept through the night, whilst his older brother was dutifully snoozing through from about four months.
This meant I was getting hung up on what I was doing wrong with Gus to try and explain why he was different.
Then I decided I was wasting far too much energy trying to get Gus to fit into what I thought he should be doing, and I starting trying to fit more around him.
I bought The Gentle Sleep Book by Sarah Ockwell-Smith, which is helping me to understand more about how we can push our own ideals about sleep onto babies and young children because of the way modern society is structured, and that often they are not biologically ready to fit into this.
Gus isn’t the worst sleeper by any means – he goes to bed calmly and will sleep for about 3-4 hours in the evening until he wakes for a feed about 10pm. He’ll then usually goes back down easily, but recently has been waking up every couple of hours after that.
He’s in his own room now but, because he’s waking more, I’m sleeping in the same room with him and have found that he often settles much better when he sleeps in the bed with me, and it is much easier as I am still feeding him in the night.
I’m then conflicted about whether this is a good idea – is it safe, will he get used to the idea and never be able to sleep on his own? But then I thought, it’s only natural that he depends on being close to me at the minute. He’s a baby – they need comfort and reassurance – as do adults in their own ways!
I spoke to a colleague recently whose sister-in-law is Chinese and the norm in that culture is to co-sleep with your children. In Japan, there is a special phrase for it: ‘kawa no ji mitai, which means that when a family is sleeping together, they mimic the sign for river – three vertical lines – with the parents the outer lines (like the banks of a river) and the child in the middle.
Of course, everyone should be able to choose what works best for their child, family and situation. Herbie is nearly five now and has always been a ‘good’ sleeper in his own room, but has been waking up in the night recently and sleeping in the bed with my husband. And who can blame him if he sees his younger brother receiving the same comfort.
This time goes very quickly and I’ve come round to the thinking that if Gus is more settled sleeping with me sometimes, then that is the best thing for his needs at this time. If I can let go of trying to force him into a routine that doesn’t suit him, and go with his own flow, both our needs will be better met. And both boys will learn that they can always come to us when they need us, which will hopefully foster confidence and independence in the long run.
Image from Pixabay