The Art of Sleep

My husband and I have been lucky so far, in that Sophie is a great sleeper. Sometimes. She caught on to the whole ‘night time, day time’ situation really quickly and we had very few issues with the night time sleeps. However recently her daytime sleeps have gotten to a point where she will only nap when being held, usually by me. So now we’re in training and it’s a lot harder than I imagined it would be.

It was always going to take a bit of adjustment to get the hang of self-soothing, but Sophie is doing so, so well, much better than I expected from a little girl who has only ever been rocked to sleep. The hardest part has actually been controlling my own responses to her becoming unsettled. My first instinct is to swoop in and pick her up to rock her back to sleep or offer her a feed. Even when I’m dead asleep, as soon as I hear the tiniest noise coming from her crib, I’m wide awake and ready to interfere. And that’s what I need to remember – it is interfering. If I don’t let her find her own way to calm herself now, I’m setting her up for a world of trouble in the future.

It hurts my heart to see her get worked up, and so far I haven’t been able to let her get to the point where she’s crying (although all the literature says that a little bit of crying is alright), but I think at the moment we’re in a good place where I’m giving her enough space to learn.

Today I was planning to start using some of those same techniques for Sophie’s daytime naps, but circumstances haven’t allowed it. Her grandma came to visit and we went on a lovely walk to the library before the weather heated up too much. When we got home I took the opportunity to have a shower and wash my hair, which gave Sophie time to bond with her gran. However as soon as I stepped into the shower I could hear her crying, and before long it became clear that nothing my poor mother in law did to soothe Sophie was working. Even so, I knew she was safe and it was important for me to learn to trust other people with Soph and to dampen my ‘grab her and make it better’ instinct. So while I didn’t linger overly-long in the shower, I took the time to wash my hair and exfoliate (although I forgot to moisturise), before coming to the rescue.

My poor little darling was beside herself, but once I picked her up out of her pram where gran had decided to put her, she didn’t take long to settle. She even fell asleep after a little bit of rocking. I know I should have put her down to nap before she fell asleep, but after hearing her cry for so long I couldn’t bear to leave her alone in her cot, and I think she needed the contact too. I hope breaking the rules this once won’t derail our journey to self-soothing, but I think in this case the comfort we both get from her sleeping in my arms is more important.

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