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Let's get down to business

I'm often approached by exhausted parents who are battling away and feeling defeated and overwhelmed with what they thought was a "big issue" and a "bad habit". After discussing their child's sleep and feeding needs and deep diving into where their child is at in their social, physical and mental development you can almost hear in their voice the sense of relief because we have put to rest their concern that what their little one was doing wasn't normal.

For each family, their goals around feeding, settling and sleep differs. For some they want to work towards dropping feeds overnight, for others they would love to reach that 2 hour midday snooze more consistently. Whatever their goals are we must always be mindful that they are appropriate, realistic and achievable.

So how can we reach our goals, whilst still having realistic expectations?

Firstly, reaching goals needs to be achievable and actually do-able for your little one. This will depend on their age, weight, how well feeding and eating is going, where they are at developmentally and if they have any medical issues etc

Parenting little one's is a rollercoaster and no two days are alike. Before you work towards changing something and expecting your little love to do XYZ let’s break it down - what does the term ‘realistic’ actually mean?

Realistic means 'having or showing a sensible and practical idea of what can be achieved or expected'. With this in mind, whatever your goals are make them achievable and sustainable. To expect a 4 month old baby to sleep through the night without a feed is not a) physically a realistic expectation because their stomachs are so small and most babies this age still need feeding overnight and b) developmentally they may still need your support to link sleep cycles and resettle them if they wake between feeds. Does it happen for some 4 month olds? Absolutely! But, in my experience, it isn’t usually an achievable expectation for most 4 month old babies.

The key to achieving our goals for our little ones (and the family as a whole!) is to understand where they are at and supporting them through their changes. If they haven’t started solid food, how can we realistically expect them to gain enough calories during the day to sustain them overnight without a feed? If they are going through a period of separation anxiety, how can we expect them to resettle themselves when they need reassurance and connection from a responsive parent? If they have recently learned how to roll from their back to their stomach but not the other way, how can we realistically expect them to just be fine with being stuck on their stomach when they need some help to roll back or be reassured it’s okay?

Our little people grow and develop at different times, just like we do. While some 8 week old babies are sleeping through the night other 18 month old toddlers are still waking once or twice. For each family their “norm” and their goals are different. Respect that some families are quite happy to continuing feeding overnight, co-sleeping or offering contact naps during the day. Do what’s right for your family and don’t spend time dwelling on what your friends baby is doing. Focus on what you can control and support your littlest love as they need you, however that looks for your family.

It’s important to understand also, that once your little one masters their goals that there will be times when they need you again. Our babies aren’t robots. They don’t sleep through the night without a peep for the rest of their lives once they do it once. They won’t never need you again overnight or during a lunch nap to offer support and reassurance. There will be inevitable speedbumps along the way as your child goes through periods of developmental change, are unwell, you’re travelling, they start daycare and find a new norm etc. Be kind, be patient and be supportive. You cannot offer them too much connection.

Whatever your goals, whatever areas of sleep and settling you would like to work on Little Dreamers is here for you. Reach out, book a discovery call and let's chat about how we can best support your family.

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