Confessions of a Sleep Consultant; The Jett Diaries – Ten (and Eleven) Months

After 11 long months, the dust has finally settled. We have achieved what I refer to as 80/20, or the best chance of balance you will find when it comes to baby sleep. As I recently blogged about, there are soooo many variables to baby sleep; a thousand (or more) reasons why they won’t sleep as well as we expect they will. Perhaps partly (or mostly) to blame is society’s expectations and unrealistic ideals that treat babies more like robots than people; preying on the vulnerability of new parents, selling us every product, routine, and sleep training technique with the “magic” promise of a quick fix, or obtaining the holy grail of a 7-7 routine, and sleeping through the night.

I don’t want to be the one to bust your bubble, but the majority of babies don’t sleep (well). If they did, I would be out of a job. If you want to know what you can really expect in the first year with baby sleep, read on here.

If your baby is going to sleep through the night, then they are probably going to sleep through the night regardless of what you do; sleep school, sleep consultant, waiting it out… some babies are just wired to sleep better. We don’t need to “train” our babies to sleep anymore than we need to train them to breathe. Sleep is biological. In any case, what we can do as parents is provide them with the best opportunity to do so; an age appropriate routine, sleep environment, emotional well-being, and consistency with our responses to them. By doing this, then we may be able to ensure that our children sleep as best they can 80% of the time, with the 20% accomodating for teething, illness, developmental progressions (sleep regressions), leaps, being out of routine/missing the sleep window, and so on. But. You can’t change temperament, or genetics… and this, my friend, is more influential than you know when it comes to sleeping ability.

Jett is sleeping well, or at least well to my standards and expectations; he sleeps 11-12 hours overnight, 2-3 hours during the day, and overnight wakes once, sometimes twice for a feed and back to sleep. I am happy, and feeling more rested than I have in months. So what changed for us? The two main things have been 1) my commitment to honouring his need for a solid morning nap (and staying home for this rather than insisting he always sleep in transit) and 2) my consistency with my responses to him when he wakes overnight; i.e. not feeding him every time he wakes and/or ensuring night feeds are spaced out at least 4 hourly.

The exception to this? We seem to gravitate toward wrap naps, and a 3 hourly feeding schedule during times of illness and teething (breastmilk is a natural pain relief, and if babies are “off” their food, they may rely more heavily on milk for nutrition). When Jett is teething or sick, it’s almost impossible to get him to nap in his cot, and when he does, I am lucky if it’s 30 minutes at a time. To save my sanity (and time), I find it easier to wrap him up and get on with our day.  As a mum of two boys (and having a husband), I’ve discovered that man flu (or hypersensitivity to the slightest pain or discomfort) is definitely not ageist. My boys’ sleep suffers so much more at times of illness (and teething) when compared to my daughter. Consequently, Jett will almost always regress to 1-2 hourly overnight wakings at these times **yawn**

I can honestly say, the struggle for most parents (myself included), is that just when we feel we have all of our ducks lined up, something comes along to put us right back in our box; teeth, leaps, illness, and developmental changes. Then you spend the best part of the next two weeks (or more) clutching at any sleep you can manage, whilst trying to make sense of why your life feels as though it is falling to bits; analysing every minute of every day, and trying to decipher where you went wrong. It’s literally torture. STOP! Since our babies are constantly growing, developing, changing, and evolving, we can’t expect to be able to keep things the same, nor maintain equilibrium consistently. We have this unhealthy attachment to sleep; getting enough, not getting enough, wanting more, seeking the reasons as to why it is less than perfect. Basic law of attraction suggests that what we resist persists; the more we accept the fluid nature of parenthood (particularly with young babies), the less it consumes or upsets us. And besides; better to laugh than cry… right?

Like many others, motherhood unleashed my inner control freak. It’s in our nature to want answers, to try to make sense of our babies, their behaviour and their sleep. We feel helpless, uncomfortable, out of control when we don’t know what we can expect from one day to the next, when things don’t go to plan, or we can’t anticipate their every move.  The thing is, no matter how hard we try, other people is one thing we can’t control. We can however, control our perspective, our attitude, our expectations…

So… What can you expect at 10-11 months?

  • Awake window of 3-4 hours 
  • 3-5 breastfeeds or bottles per 24 hours
  • 2 naps
  • Mental leap 7
  • Standing unassisted, Cruising, walking or taking first steps.
  • Separation anxiety (peaks between 10-18 months) – usually playing out in increased clinginess, shyness around strangers (or people in general) becoming distressed when separated from mum, bedtime resistance and/or increased overnight wakings (crying/fussing/upset)
  • Ongoing teething…
  • May say some words
  • Can throw/play ball
  • Tantrums due to increased desire for independence – back arching is a favourite of ours
  • Can understand some simple instructions 
  • Fine motor control develops further and they are capable of feeding themselves with their fingers
  • Most babies are eating the same foods as their family
  • Capable of sleeping 10-12 hours overnight but may still wake during the night (one feed overnight is still perfectly normal if you are happy to do it!)

Tomorrow is a new day, and I realise that everything can come undone in a heart beat, but for now; onward and upward….

Until next time, with love…
Sophie & Jett xoxox

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