What babies need the most |
It is true that during the first 3 months of life or the so-called 4th trimester, babies do not have wishes but just basic needs for love, safety, feeding, washing, moving, sleeping and so on.
By the time they reach the 4-month milestone and as their brain forms new synapses and develops, babies instinctively begin to express preferences in terms of how they want to be handled and supported by their care-takers.
From this moment on, we can start to follow a flexible routine, an age appropriate schedule, adapted to our baby’s natural biorhythm. This means being more aware of what the baby needs – e.g. milk, sleep, diaper change, playing etc., watching their clues and tired signs as well as listening and interpreting their baby language. Although this might not be that obvious, especially if parents are terribly sleep deprived, a flexible routine could be very helpful giving the parents the guidance they need to go forward with confidence.
It is absolutely normal for a baby to prefer sleeping in its mom’s arms while being rocked or breastfed to sleep. However, if this type of support can work well for many moms for a while, it cannot last forever because it overwhelms them. Mothers need their time and sleep back or at least a part of it, in order to be a responsive parent and function well.
This is the moment when we can gradually start to give our babies the space and time they need to develop their own skills, including learning how to fall asleep with less assistance from their parents.
This does not mean we are not responding to our baby’s needs or cry for help, on the contrary. We give constant reassuring we are there for them, but trusting them at the same tine, that they can do something they are truly capable of: falling asleep!
Things to consider
In this context, we need to remember that not every baby cry is a cry for hunger or a sign of pain.
Then, we should make a pause before we react and ask ourselves what is the real need of the baby in that particular moment: are they hungry/ when was the baby last fed, are they cold, do they need a diaper change or help to go back to sleep, do they need some comfort to calm down or reassurance they are not alone?
In this context, it is important to remember that what a baby needs the most at night is sleep, not excessive feeding or chatting. We can do all the rest (including hugging and connecting with our baby) during the day, but the right message for the night is SLEEP!
The same way we would not give our kids chocolate all day, we should not keep them awake too long in the evening, just because they want it. Sleep is as important as food and exercise for everybody and if we want them to be healthy and develop well, we should not deprive our babies and kids from healthy, restorative sleep. This means being aware of when they need sleep and organise it, despite protests and bedtime struggles. This means tenderly showing our children that we are the adults and they are in good hands, that we know what we are doing and what they need (at least for now 😉 thus giving them the love & security they require before going to bed.
So, let’s consider that too – try to think more about what your baby needs than what it wants!
If you want to find out more how you can help your baby improve its sleep by listening to its needs more than to its wishes, you can book a free Discovery Call and we can chat.