Imagine if we, as a society accepted normal infant and toddler sleep.
I mean really accepted it, in all its glory.
Every part of society, from every generation, every family, every profession, every community, every culture, every religion.
What if we knew and accepted it as expected and respected elements of a child’s development?
What if everybody knew well before having their own children that their child would need night time parenting for the first few years of life?
If everybody knew that waking frequently to nurse was the biologically normal way for an infant/ toddler human to sleep?
If everybody knew that we are in fact ‘carry mammals’ and that our young require near constant contact with a caregiver for the first few months to continue their growth and development outside of the womb?
If everybody knew that a baby’s and toddler’s sleep can fluctuate a lot over the first couple of years as they grow and develop at a phenomenal rate?
If everybody recognised that a baby’s and toddler’s need for comfort, closeness and nurturing at night is just as valid and important as their need for these things during the day?
What if nobody doubted the value of night time parenting and wouldn’t even for a moment consider that they could trade it off so they could be a ‘better’ parent by day?
We, as a society, would come at infant and toddler sleep from a whole other place than we do right now.
There’d be no sleep training and therefore no sleep training industry.
There would be less focus on the baby and their behavior and more focus on the dyad as a dynamic pair and nurture the nurturer.
There would be a focus on all levels from family right through to the political sphere on the kinds of support families need to navigate this time in their lives.
Antenatal classes and Mums and Bubs groups would be all about helping mothers to build their support network and discovering options that will allow them to meet their baby’s needs while also meeting their own.
For mothers who are struggling with intense high needs babies, the support would recognize the extra level of challenge these mother face as they run the Ultra Marathon of her life and help put the supports in place that mother needs and deserves.
Mothers with mental health concerns would be nurtured and treated in ways that respect her child’s legitimate needs day and night.
Families making decisions about paid employment would do so with the full knowledge that their baby will still require night time parenting.
Wouldn’t the world look so different to the way it does right now.?
This post first appeared on Grubby Mummy