Have you never said or heard phrases like:
“My baby doesn’t sleep through the night.”
“My baby is confusing day and night.”
But what do we mean by sleeping through the night? What do we, adults, expect from our children? Your baby does not sleep through your nights but maybe does his own … You will have to focus on understanding what it is consistent to do depending on age …
Why is my baby having trouble finding a rhythm?
Newborns at birth have a biological clock that is still immature and their rhythm is based on a day of almost 25 hours and not 24. It will take a little time for them to settle on the same clock as us and to be able to start learning a rhythm that we adults can understand.
Some parameters are innate such as the number of hours of sleep required (species gene) with a small difference depending on age and individual needs. Others have been acquired: geographic and family culture, the rhythm of our life as a hardworking city dweller, which forces us to impose a rhythm on our child.
When can I start to intervene?
Around 3-4 months we can start to help them in this learning, by giving them landmarks, by accompanying them step by step.
Knowing what we are entitled to expect from our child, what they are able to do according to their age and brain maturity is fundamental to rationalize, to free us from guilt.
What are the different times to be vigilant?
I can help my baby to mature his own body clock by giving him a rhythm, I can also help him by observing him, understanding his needs, his signs and giving him a framework for falling asleep.
Learn or relearn to observe your child, his signs of fatigue of course but also his appetite, the way he plays, his awakening.
Understand the rhythm of sleep, physiology, cycles that change with age.
All this is fundamental to know what is coherent or not, to de-dramatize, to appease certain situations which can be so difficult to go through.
Your child’s environment as he falls asleep is critical, the age at which bedtime rituals can begin to be introduced. All this is part of a learning process because our toddler is born with a still immature biological clock which does not begin to mature until around 3 months of life (for a full term baby).
How to solve these problems?
Often an outside look allows the necessary distance for parents to very simply become aware of their child’s rhythm and find together tools, keys, play down, appease, normalize certain situations, find consistency.
To parents who said that their 10-month-old baby girl went to bed late like her father, that she was very excited at night but tired during the day, we were able to understand together by explaining the cycles, the sleep of a child of this age that by wanting quite naturally to see her in the evening when returning from the nursery, her parents unwittingly missed certain signs of fatigue and therefore the doors to sleep which led to great excitement and a child unable to go back to sleep before the next door, she missed her sleep train each time and had to wait for the next one. By slowly modifying the rhythm of the evening, by bringing forward dinner time and then bedtime, things quietly returned to their own accord. The fear of putting children to bed too early so that the wake-up time is not changed, the desire to put them at our pace to see them and enjoy time with them. Very slowly and simply we can find solutions together.