Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
Lisa Upton, Melbourne, Australia
Nighttime parenting is probably one of the most talked about aspects of motherhood. When scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed as I breastfeed my two-year-old to sleep, I see numerous cries for help from tired mothers.
“How do I get my eight-week-old to sleep through the night?”
“How do I get Mr. 18 Months to stay in bed?”
“Why is my six-month-old waking twice a night for feeds?”
“Shall I give my baby formula to make him sleep through the night?”
It is only now that I realize how blessed I am in our approach to nighttimes. As a new mother I worried, got upset and stressed about the fact that my baby wasn’t sleeping from seven to seven as recommended. I read books, paid experts to give me advice and, more than anything, I cried and moaned to my fiancé and mother. Why was Leiana waking so often through the night? Why did she stay up so late? What was I doing wrong?
As it turns out NOTHING!
As soon as I accepted my daughter’s personality, sleep needs, and need to breastfeed regularly throughout the night, my life changed.
Nighttime Parenting: Baths, Boobies, & Bedsharing
Our nighttime routine is similar to that of many families. We eat together as a family, Leiana’s dad bathes her, and we play and read books until bedtime. Leiana has never gone to bed at 7 pm and no matter what I’ve tried she will not go down earlier than 9.30 pm. Her father is quite happy with this as he gets the evening to spend time with her. When Leiana is tired, she tells me “bed” and off we go. She loves going to bed because she gets to cuddle with me and have “boobie.”
Leiana has always slept with us. Once I discovered how to breastfeed lying down, the night feeds became a whole lot easier. I could stay in my warm bed, roll over, and pop my breast in her mouth without much effort at all. She wakes a few times in the night for a quick feed and then goes back to sleep. It is comforting to know that my nighttime milk is nourishing my fussy eater, that my nighttime milk is soothing sore gums and helping fight colds and illnesses.
The best part of all is waking up together. Leiana breastfeeds herself out of sleep and then we lie in bed for a while chatting. It is such a nice and relaxed way to start the morning. Am I tired? Yes, but that is because I have a two-year-old! I know it’s not forever and that once all of her teeth are through and when she is ready, she will sleep longer.
I believe that something is not a problem until it becomes a problem for you. If I decide it becomes too much then we will try some gentle night weaning.
A lot of people think I am crazy in the way I choose to parent but this approach works for my family. My daughter is a happy and intelligent girl. Parents often focus too much time and energy trying to make babies sleep through the night. There is too much pressure to conform to what is popularly conceived as ‘normal’ in relation to infant sleep. While in reality it is in fact normal for your infant and toddler to wake at night.
I think following my daughter’s lead rather than trying to force any strict routine has led to a much happier household. Before I know it, I will be missing my nighttime snuggles with my beautiful baby.
A lot of people think I am crazy in the way I choose to parent but this approach works for my family.