I have mentioned in an earlier blog post (I really am busy, honestly I am) that although it might seem I just go out and about on strolls and for afternoon cake in town, looking after H is in fact a lot of work. As H matures and her life takes on more necessary structure, life isn’t just busy, it is really quite regimented.
In her earlier days, H would sleep almost anywhere if she were tired. Similarly if I offered her a feed, within reason, she would also always eat. However, as she’s grown she’s become more curious and inquisitive so won’t nap if there is something else to be doing. She also will only feed now when she wants to feed and that is often not on a predictable schedule. Attempting to feed her too soon could result in her just laying there staring at me, or worse screeching her head off. But not feeding her when she decides she’s ready results in an equally vocal response!
A few weeks ago Sam and I suffered when we forgot to respect the well known fact “an overtired baby won’t sleep”. What we had done was not adapt to H’s needs and keep to her schedule regardless of what it meant for us. I read an article online recently (I forget what though) about the infamous ‘four month sleep regression’. This article stated that babies do not suddenly regress their sleep. Rather they are developing such a lot at four months that their sleep requirements change and the apparent regression comes from parents failing to adapt to their child’s changed needs. This made complete sense to me after the overtired incident and is something I am now actively watching out for, not just with sleep but all aspects of her life and development. Now I have embraced the fact that at this stage life must be tied to her routine. So my day is structured around when she next needs to nap, next needs to sleep and when I can fit in all of the various activities that need to take place. Of course needs must and we do have to deviate at times, but it’s done consciously and with attempts to manage the impact.
What this does mean is that we cannot always do everything we want when we want. A recent example is Buggycise, a class I really enjoyed but have abandoned for now. It clashes with H’s morning nap and since she doesn’t reliably sleep in her buggy and it’s the nap that sets her up for the day, I now just exercise at home. Sure I’m disappointed about it and I don’t get to do such an intense session at home. But it’s not going to be this way forever and it’s ultimately in my benefit to keep her well rested.
It also means that visitors, as much as they want to see and cuddle H, have to respect her routine. She takes her naps when she takes her naps and if that means people hardly see her then that’s how it is. Adults can tolerate some fatigue but babies certainly cannot!
So if you have dealings with the parent of a young child, be kind if they don’t appear flexible. If you are visiting a friend or relative with a young baby, be mindful of their schedule; Don’t look dismayed if you can’t get the cuddles you want and don’t hype up the little one just before a nap. As repetitive and as regimented as the routine may appear, it’s the best thing for the baby and also helps to keep the parents sane!