Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Wait-And-See Parenting

Ezra is napping in his cot at the moment. This is a bit of a breakthrough.


He only started napping in his cot a few weeks ago. Before then he'd often fall asleep in the carrier on the school run in the morning, then I'd hold him for his afternoon nap.

I'd tried putting him down a couple of times but, in all honesty, I didn't try very hard. There was always something - an illness, a looming change of routine, a short morning nap meaning I needed to ensure he got a good sleep later. To be honest, I was just happy to keep cuddling him and to wait and see.

With Eleanor we tied ourselves in knots trying to get her to nap in her cot. We tried all sorts, even pick-up-put-down which was stressful and upsetting to all three of us. We tried it once, she cried herself to sleep then woke up distressed after a few minutes. We never tried it again.

We then started setting a nap routine by taking her out for walks at the same time every day so she was used to sleeping at those times, then gradually transitioned to letting her suck our fingers for comfort (I know, eww) then rocking her until she was asleep enough to set down. At 9 months she finally napped in her cot.

Contrast that to this time. We just waited, and then one day I could put Ezra down after a feed. At 10 months.

All that stress first time round just to gain an extra month of cot-napping!

The thing we often forget as parents, particularly first time parents, is that babies change. They can't not. They will inevitably grow from babies to toddlers to preschoolers to school-age kids to teenagers without us doing a darn thing other than keeping them fed and clothed.

And so many parenting books and products trade on this parental amnesia. They convince us that we have to Do Something to make babies sleep otherwise they'll never learn, as if we'll all be rocking our 14-year-olds to sleep in years to come. They tell us we need to bombard our kids with flashcards and specially-designed DVDs otherwise they'll never learn to read, as if just reading to them isn't enough. As if we aren't enough.

Years ago I wrote about how we need to trust our toddlers to learn in their own time. I still believe that, in fact I believe it's true of most things at most stages of parenting. If we just wait and see, trust ourselves to guide our little ones and trust them to get the hang of things in their own sweet time, it takes so much stress and effort out of parenting. Yes, some things need more guidance than others, but even then they'll often be easier if we just wait until our child is ready. As I learnt the hard way with potty training.

Wouldn't it be easier if we stepped away from the parenting books that tell us what our child 'should' be doing, and just let our child develop at our own pace? Personally, I'm going to stick with Wait-And-See Parenting a bit more, and try to worry a bit less.

2 comments:

  1. I'm with you when it comes to letting them develop at their own pace for most things, but if there was a good way to get Sophie sleeping in a half decent way at night I want to know.

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    1. That I can't help you with, Ezra's rubbish at that too.

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