How do you find ways to rest and recharge while caring for your baby?
Updated: Mar 17, 2019
I recently read an article that talked about the benefits of holding a baby while they sleep for a nap. I agree that it can be sweet to rest with your baby, but I found myself questioning the articles premise that holding a baby for every nap is the best way to go.
I have loved holding my own children, and my client’s babies while they sleep. Feeling their bodies heavy and relaxed and their breathing rhythmic and full is a lovely experience. Laying curled up next to a sleeping infant can be bliss
But I also think that there’s a point when it’s nice to be able to get up and go do something else for a little while. To know your child is resting in a safe, cozy place while you eat, or take a shower, or answer correspondence is also needed. If a baby needs to sleep on you for every nap then it can be tough to find a balance.
Now, I’m not saying everyone needs to sleep separately from their babies. If you love it, then by all means, do it!Lots of families sleep in close proximity and it works for them. As long as everyone is getting enough rest, and the sleeping place is safe, there’s nothing wrong with napping or sleeping together. I truly don’t think there is a right way. But I do think that if you are not enjoying having to lay down or sit with a baby for every nap and bedtime, and your baby wakes whenever you sneak away after they are asleep it may be time to find another way. I do think there is a point when it’s time to give a baby a chance to find ways to soothe and settle that they can develop gradually over time so they know how to find their own way in to sleep. It doesn’t mean you abandon them to intense screaming, but allowing a baby to work on and even struggle with what to do when they are tired is an important part of growing. There’s no right age for this. If you follow your own sense of what feels right for you as well as pay attention to your baby’s cues, then you can begin this process anytime you are ready.
So, how do you respond to and meet your babies needs while still getting yours met as well? It’s a tricky dance and one that takes patience and practice. I think everyone needs to find what will work best for them.
Here’s my suggestions for finding ways to rest and recharge while parenting a baby in the first year:
Find time every day to:
· Go outside. Fresh air is good for you and for baby. Natural light can help set a baby’s circadian rhythms, which will help them settle in to a more regular sleep pattern.
· Eat nourishing food and drink plenty of water. Notice when you are craving sugar and caffeine and go for protein instead.
· Take a shower or a bath . You can take it with baby or on your own, but getting in to water everyday is a good way to recharge.
· Lay down and rest. You don’t have to sleep, but laying down and closing your eyes helps your muscles relax and deepens your breathing. Even if it’s for 10 minutes find time each day to lay down.
· Listen to music and stretch your body. You can dance with your baby or on your own, or you can just lay on the floor and do some simple exercises. Music and stretching both can lift your spirits.
· Go to bed early. It’s tempting to want to stay up to watch your favorite show, or get some work done, but on some nights it’s best to shut down the screens and go to bed early so you can catch up on much needed sleep.
· Watch for cues your baby is getting tired. An over tired baby has a harder time getting to sleep. Try for a nap every 1.5 -2 hours while your baby in under 6 months old.
· Give baby plenty of time to lay on a blanket on a carpeted floor so they get used to moving their bodies.
· Around 3 months try and do less to get a baby to sleep and let them do more. You don’t have to leave baby alone, but giving a baby time to try and find ways to settle with you right there can help them learn what to do when they are tired.
· Don’t be sneaky with your baby. If you are planning on leaving your baby once they are asleep let them know ahead of time. Even if they are too young to understand your words you want to be up front so they know what’s coming next.
Finding ways to meet your needs as well as your baby’s needs to no small feat! It’s worth the effort though. And do reach out if you are struggling. I’m here to help.