My Two Cents Truthful Comment (1 of 2): Not So Sleeping Baby

I responded to a fellow commenter here at namastemommy re getting a co-sleeping baby to take a pacifier at night because she wakes very frequently for a quick snack before settling back down to sleep. She asked for gentle suggestions, this is mainly what I said, though I’ve emphasized some points and worded it a little gentler than I did the other night as I was quite sleepy and my response may have come off a little differently than I intended.

“Maybe your dd is sensing your worry and is trying to reach out to you. It’s a funny thing, but I EC (elimination communication) my dd 11 months now, and she’ll stir and fuss sometimes if I have to pee or if I am having a hard time sleeping.

What’s most likely is that it’s just a phase/teething thing/milestone related like when my dd was learning to do big things-crawling-standing etc…she’d sleep either more or less, feed more or less and especially so at night, or change daily routines and rituals.

You can wait it out, I know it’s tough, but respecting her changing glory is something we attached parents do to create that beautiful being. By being present to her needs and supporting what she’s doing, listening for maybe a reason why she’s doing things, we can relate and relax and truly enjoy it even if it keeps us awake (but if you follow this guidance you’ll hopefully be able to sleep more soundly, and her too).

I would gently recommend not using a pacifier, or a miracle blanket (?) (mentioned on the other comments). It’s not what she needs. What baby’s need, and what she might benefit from is human contact. For her to know that she is in a safe and loving environment with mama will be your best bet. If you aren’t too chilly, sleeping nude helps too when we’re going through these times. Or, like with my dd for her first 4-5 months (and still now at times), she literally slept nestled in the elbow/crook of my arm and it helps for a quick snack to sleep because she’s literally right there, easy to find, and she won’t stir for you if she’s already with you. If you do this for a while she’ll hopefully learn that you are always there and then on her own time gradually sleep next to you peacefully and soundly like my dd has been lately.

If none of this appeases, just know that we as mothers are made to wake at night, it won’t last forever. Most importantly, if you listen to your intuition you’ll more than likely figure it out on your own what’s going on and how to approach it. Because it sounds like you don’t feel that this continuous waking is right (as in instinctively, not the opposite of wrong) for you guys right now, and you of all people would know if something is up, I would recommend trying any of these: just spend some time the two of you: watching her, looking at her cues for basic needs, really seeing how she just IS, even just spend 24 hours naked to reconnect. But truthfully, she’s your daughter, your beautiful bond is what’s holding you together, not what everyone else thinks.”

I would add to try just cuddling or gently rubbing her back to sleep, or some other simple option like this. I have heard many success stories with this and it could be because maybe baby needs to know someone is there, but isn’t hungry or doesn’t want the breast, just wants some other form of comfort, and not un-reasonably so. The same goes for this as it does for any other option along these lines, that it may be a temporary solution to something that either is temporary, and thus the waiting game is played and mama wakes to do one of those things anyway, or it’s something deeper rooted and it would be best for both if they really look at what’s going and what might change for the joy and peace of both mama and babe.

Thinking about it, if this happened to us, I would look at what’s going on during the day first. Looking at the simple but sometimes not so obvious things (we get caught up thinking that everything is about what we did or didn’t do as parents so we sometimes pass these by)like: have there been any changes lately? visitors, pets, trips, moving or getting ready to move? Have we made any noticeable changes in our lifestyle? They may not seem big to you, but baby’s are very sensitive. Have you stopped, slowed or increased TV, music, car rides, hiking/walking or other activities, indoor/outdoor time?

Then I would look at things that would have a direct and obvious affect on baby like changes in: child care, toys & activities (inactivity or climbing and crawling urges not allowed by someone?) diet related (maybe she’s getting too much/little of something especially right before bed)
It could be anything really, that’s why communicating with your baby is so important, so we can understand what’s going on with them. This can be daunting and tiring and joyful and exciting all at once, and we won’t understand everything that is our baby, but we can try our best.

I would then take a hard, long, and honest look at my relationship with baby. Are we getting enough time together? Is that what she’s after? Is she feeling and participating in enough real life every day stuff? or in some baby’s cases the question might be is she sitting in some kind of a chair, pen or in front of the tv, or not really interacting with people who aren’t simply playing with toys? Is she really gettjng the breast whenever she wants it? or might we be weaning her intentionally or unintentionally? Perhaps she is not ready and is expressing that she needs mama and/or the breast more and knows that at night is the only time she can truly have this? This could also be a phase.

Is she welcome and encouraged to take out her stress in a healthy and productive way? Or is she protected against or prevented from expressing herself and releasing emotions by crying and the like when she needs to? (find some great info, resources and articles like this one here at kindredcommunity.com on Aware Parenting and Non-Violent Communication especially)

Oh the possiblities! It’s almost as though babies are human…oh wait!

More to come on co-sleeping and the joys and challenges that accompany it. Also: the use-or rather my personal choice to not use- a pacifier, ECing at night, motherly intuition, baby milestones, extended breastfeeding on demand and baby-led weaning, and more!

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