I’m not a neurologist and I’m not fluent on the science behind the necessity and benefits of sleep, especially for young children and early childhood development. But my mothering instincts are pretty loud and clear that sleep is vital to my children’s developing brains and bodies. So it’s not surprising that the one non-negotiable is sleep: that it happens and when it happens.
No two babies are alike. My first child, Noah, slept through the night at four months – 12 hours straight. Looking back, I believe it was the combination of breastmilk and formula that helped fill his little tummy. But he was a 20-minute napper, and I found myself chasing naps and working to sleep-train naps while he was still an infant. After months of commitment and discipline to hold our routine (diaper, sleep sack, book, bed), he learned the cues and learned that bed equals sleep, and that mama always comes back when he wakes. Today at two-and-a-half years old, the routine has not changed, and neither have the expectations. He’s still a good sleeper both for nap and at night.
On the other hand, my second son, Thomas, is still waking at night at 9 months, but is a great napper. His nap and bedtime routines are much shorter than his brother’s and he doesn’t need as much help to go to bed. In fact, sometimes he’s fussy that I haven’t put him down in his crib yet. I know it’s just a matter of time before he starts to sleep through the night with some consistency and once that happens, he can move in with his brother.
Looking to the years ahead, I know that I will continue to hold sleep sacred. I will teach my boys that rest is just as important as work and play. We are constantly developing, even when we sleep. We process what we learn during the day in our sleep. Our brain is busy growing while our body is at rest. For a young baby and child in which development is happening at warp speed, sleep is even more vital!
Jenyng Wu is a mother of two young boys. After a career in the corporate world, she found her calling as a mother. Now her days are filled holding a rhythm, providing a nurturing environment, making home cooked meals, and lying on the floor with her boys and doing whatever they are doing. She took the LifeWays Training in the San Francisco Bay Area.