Saturday, November 5, 2011

Crashing... It's Not All It's Cracked Up To Be

I've got to be honest because for some reason this bothers me too much to keep quiet.  Before I go tearing into the advice of other much more experienced moms and grandmas, I do recognize that I'm not any kind of expert on this subject.  I have read and discussed it a lot and experimented with my own child to find what works for us, but that's it.

OK, here we go.  I want to get on my soapbox every time I hear someone advise new parents to "keep a baby up" in order to get them to sleep at night.  How many times have you heard that?  And how many times have you then heard that person admit through humorous recollection how their baby DIDN'T sleep well? 

I just want to ask the parents of babies to consider this idea: sleep begets sleep.  Do you want your child to be rested, or do you want him/her to be "easy" to get to sleep?  Because if you keep a baby up, you may find it is easier to get them to sleep because they are crashing.  Americans know what crashing is, don't we?  Many of us are crawling into bed wayyyy too late, swearing to go to bed earlier next time.  We wake up with difficulty and function poorly in our tired state.

Imagine how your baby feels when you force him to crash every night for your own convenience?  Because you don't want to take the time to soothe him when he is just beginning to get drowsy. 

Imagine the toll this takes on his or her brain and learning capabilities.  And they don't have coffee to help!

Consider how difficult it has been for you to get your baby to sleep even when you know he's overtired.  I know I have wondered that many nights while rocking or trying to calm him down, "I know he's tired, why won't be sleep??"  When babies become overtired, they get a second wind, just like we do.  Fight or flight.  They physically get a second release of hormones that make them return to a wakeful state.  This is what happens if you keep a baby up past his natural time to fall asleep.

Do you ever find it hard to fall asleep even when you know you're overtired?  Put yourself in your baby's socks!

Instead, if we as parents watch our babies and strive to find that time when they are becoming a little less wakeful, a little more tired, and start soothing them then - we help them fall asleep peacefully and get the rest their little brains need.

More on this, I need to put Declan down for a nap.  Haha.

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