Babies Stay Woke
Nobody gets FOMO harder than a baby.
The author with his wife and baby
Right after the baby pops out it takes hella naps, cause being in the real world with actual gravity is wild tiring compared to floating around in amniotic fluid. But once the baby gets the swing of that post-utero life and starts seeing all the fun to be had in the waking world it's like "fuck sleep."
As we all know, sleep is the cousin of death. And nobody knows this more than a baby. It's brand new at life and has a lot to take in, hella stimuli. There's too much going on and they don't want to miss anything. Nobody gets FOMO harder than a baby. They were cooped up in a uterus for nine months and now that they're out they're trying to turn the fuck up. It'll be last call and the baby will be texting its baby friends like "Slide thru it's lit."
And you know what? I hella feel that. I've spent large amounts of time I could have spent sleeping working on becoming the world famous D-list indie rapper/male model/parenting columnist/"pop artist"/commercial illustrator/perhaps forever unpublished novelist you see glistening and fully formed before you today. So at first I was like, "Yeah, f'sho. Just sleep whenever you're tired. Do whatever, it's your world." I was digging the whole Leonardo da Vinci sleep theory: no real sleep, just naps, burning the midnight oil, moving through the world in a trippy dreamstate inventing the helicopter 500 years before it's built and making great strides in perspective, chiaroscuro, and other aspects of realistic oil painting. I felt like the baby was really onto something. There's only so many hours in the day, what are we waiting for, carpe diem/noctem, etc.
But there are a lot of problems with keeping that reality tethered to a more objective sidereal one, where fools wake up in the morning and go to bed at night and hold regular jobs. I guess it makes sense that my baby, containing much of the genetic make-up that makes me me, shares my feelings that the so-called objective reality where people have schedules and real jobs is kinda wack, so I can't fault her for not wanting to go to bed at 8 PM. I know I don't. And I mean, aren't we at the precipice of an age where robots do all our work for us? But hey, I ain't the ref, just a player. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it. And I guess scientists insist that without enough sleep you don't function well, and babies in particular need hellof sleep to grow, and who am I to tell scientists they're wrong? Scientists have fragile egos. You gotta let them win a couple battles while they catch up to you spiritually.
So yeah, we started enforcing a set bedtime. If we had just done that from the get-go we probably would have had a way easier time, but we were sad to see her stuffed away in the crib and even more sad to hear her cry. We wanted to kick it with her just as much as she wanted to kick it with us.
There's a book called the Continuum Concept by this chick Jean Liedloff who chilled in the jungles of Venezuela with some indigenous types living in a society that relied on technology from the Stone Age. The babies in those communities pretty much stay attached to the parents at all times, breastfeed and sleep in the same beds as the parents until they're like three or four years old. Being close to the baby is a totally natural inclination, very much a part of our biological makeup and worth paying attention to and thinking about. I definitely agree with the breastfeeding as long as possible aspect. We even shared the bed with our baby in the early months and we snuggle and nap with her when she's tired enough to let us, but that "All Day" baby theory doesn't really take into account that your boy needs some private time with his wife to "do thangs." We also found the baby wakes up less when she sleeps alone so we didn't end up going full Amazon. Still, I wouldn't discourage the use of any of the advice in that book, it's just a matter of personal preference and doing what works best for you and your environment and whatnot.
As far as tactics go, you got your stand up rocking and shushing; your sit down rock 'n' shush; your lean-over-into-the-crib R&S (not a good look for your back, tbh); your white noise machines; soft music ( Sketches of Spain and Trois Gymnopedies go hard); no music; night lights; no night lights; "cluster feeding" (hella milk leading up to bedtime); "twilight feeding" (waking the baby up to feed it before you go to sleep so it doesn't wake up hungry like an hour later); bedtime baths, bedtime stories, the supposedly controversial but very effective "Cry-It-Out" method (leaving the baby in the crib and letting it cry until it gets tired and falls asleep); and the hella effective, but not totally sustainable "Throw 'em-in-the-Car-and-Drive-Around" method.
We've tried them all in various combinations with mixed success, and while there's no one right way to do it, here's the regimen we landed on: Around 7 or 7:30 PM the baby takes a bath with her mom and breastfeeds in the bath. After that, pajamas, read a book or two or three, let her roll around on the bed or the rug with the lights down low until her eyes get droopy, no music or maybe low mellow music in the other room. Then put her in the crib, maybe rock and shush a bit if she whines. More often than not, though, lingering in there keeps her up so we usually just turn the light off and close the door.
Sometimes she yelps a couple times and falls asleep. Sometimes she cries for a couple minutes. Sometimes she cries for longer. At first it was hard to let her cry, but we found through experience it really is the quickest way to get her to sleep. The more you stick to your guns, the less they think there's a chance you're coming back and the quicker they give up on crying. That said, if she's been crying for like 30 minutes or more we might go back in there, take her out the crib, let her kick it a little longer, maybe give her some more milk. That usually does the trick. If she wakes up whining late at night, sometimes we just let her whine a bit and she falls back asleep. If the whining goes on hella long and turns into full on urgent crying we go in and make sure it's not like a diaper leak or whatever, give her some water or milk.
If the baby's still wilding out after all that, I've found that sometimes just stepping outside and looking at the moon and stars and such will calm her down. The moon is a powerful cosmic force not to be underestimated. Babies are hella in tune with that. On that last crazy big Super Blood Moon the baby was flipping out, absolutely refused to go to sleep till we took her out to see it. Then when she saw the moon she was like "Daaamn!" So yeah, keep that in mind. Babies love the moon.
But probably the most important thing is just making sure the baby's days are super active, filled with movement and thinking, stimuli, new stuff, learning, etc. I find if we just take the baby somewhere she's never been before, or if she hangs out with somebody new, that the amount of processing she does is so much that she sleeps hella well. If she's bored kicking it at the house all day she'll have a harder time falling asleep.
Like literally all aspects of raising a kid, there's no one right way to put a baby to sleep. Sometimes you apply learned tactics from books or whatever, sometimes you freeball it. Or some combination of those things. Always try to do what comes naturally to you. Don't overthink it. Consistency and sticking to schedules are good, but sometimes the baby wants to stay up past its bed time and see what the grown folk are up to and sometimes if you let them do that they're like "Oh, just the same old boring shit, OK," and they get tired and want to go to bed. Sometimes they sleep easy and sometimes they don't. When they don't it's a matter of paying attention to the baby and its wants and needs, learning how to distinguish when it simply and honestly needs more time with you from when it's just being a baby.
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