My wife and I are in the process of adopting a baby girl, known affectionately as ‘Squish’ here at the Daily Dad until her adoption is finalised.
This is my weekly column — a place where I am sharing the ins and outs of parenting a newborn and the joys and challenges of adoption.
Enjoy this week’s edition of ‘The Adventures of Squish’.
By far, the biggest adjustment my wife and I have had to make as new parents is our sleeping routines.
As I mentioned last week, Angie has been very selfless in taking the graveyard shift, while I am on late-night ‘dream feed’ duty, and then get to sleep until morning.
It sounds simple enough, but the reality is that we are both still battling sleep deprivation, various coughs and sniffles, and Squish’s ever-changing sleep patterns.
What we have learned is that the one to benefit most from enough sleep is Squish.
See, when we first brought our baby home from the hospital, basically all she did was sleep. But as the weeks have ticked on, Squish has become more wakeful, more curious about the world, more smiley (and of course, much cuter).
A couple of weeks ago, we entered what some people call “sleep regression”. Our once bleary-eyed baby just started looking around the room at nap time with wide, inquisitive eyes.
She was still sleeping like a dream at night. But from sun-up til sundown, Squish had apparently decided naps were no longer needed.
Let me tell you: they were necessary.
If her “awake window” stretched much beyond an hour, Squish became grumpy, and quick.
A grumpy, overtired baby is hard to soothe — it’s a problem that even milk will sometimes not solve.
After a week or so like this, Angie and I felt defeated.
We decided on a change in tactic. Rather than letting Squish decide when she was tired, we decided that an hour was enough time for her to be awake before her next nap.
Yes, it takes effort to get a not-so-tired baby to sleep.
Our current trick is for one of us to put her in a carrier on our chest. The heartbeat and the warmth in there are her kryptonite. Then, when she is fast asleep, we can usually transfer her to her cot.
Getting Squish to nap regularly is a conscious choice, a discipline. It has me wondering how many parents let their newborns decide their own sleeping patterns and, if so, how much misery it could cause!
As a brand-new parent, I am reticent to offer too much advice. But if someone asked me about naps, my advice would be this: for a baby, sleep begets more sleep, and tiredness begets more tiredness.
If Squish sleeps most of the day and has short awake windows, she is happy and we are happy. If she is awake most of the day, it is a spell that becomes harder and harder to break, and we all end up grumpy.
In short, we are all better people when we get enough sleep.
And that’s most true of the tiny human in your life.
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash.