Tuesday, October 16, 2012

In Praise of the Pause

Let me just preface this with acknowledging that a lot of people out there are having French Parents Are Awesome Fatigue, and I respect that.


According to Pamela Druckerman, French parents don't sleep train - despite having children who sleep through the night early on (2 months, she says.) What they do, is pause. They just take a moment, when their child stirs, to make sure that awakening is what's happening and not just restlessness.

And I cannot stress enough how much I want to kiss her for sharing that little tidbit. It seems like such a small thing - and something that SURELY everyone knows. Well, you know what happens when you assume, right?

With Baz, the minute I heard noise I rocketed to him like he'd turned on a tractor beam. The result was a baby who never learned how to settle back down between REM cycles and parents who didn't sleep through the night for close to two years.

With Walter, the only thing that's changed is that we Pause now. The crib is still side-carred. He still winds up with his head in my armpit the second half of the night. He nurses on demand, he nurses to sleep, he sleeps on me if he's having a rough time of it (Baz hasn't figured out Quiet Time just yet) but ultimately...he's sleeping through the night and napping like a champ to boot.

Let me clarify that sleeping through the night is a 4-6 hour stretch. And it is AMAZING. The not-so-amazing part is that he goes down between 6:30 and 7:30 and then sleeps until between 11 and 1 and is then up every two is hours after that. 6:30-8:30 seems to be his I'm AWAKE time, and then we get a morning nap and - if Baz cooperates, 2 afternoon naps.

And all I do is Pause. I listen to the quality of his noises and can now (at almost 3 months) tell the difference between the Between Dreams shifting and the Awake and Rooting for Boob shifting. I am always right there and if he starts crying there is definite tractor-beam-like action, but I don't interfere. I trust him to follow the cues his body is giving him, just like he trusts me to provide milk, snuggles, a fresh diaper, or a pat on the back when he needs it.

It's some of that advice that you hear from older generations and tend to blow off until you put it into practice:

Don't Read Books - Read your Child
Don't Watch the Clock - Watch Your Child
Don't Listen to "Experts" - Listen to Your Child.

Well, I did. And everyone benefits.

Also - Husband was right: everyone should have their second child first. This baby thing is a breeze the second time around ;-)


  1. I remember reading that somewhere with my second baby... maybe Elizabeth Pantley. It was like a light went on. OH! I can breathe for a moment and just LISTEN.

  2. Such excellent advice - it's definitely worked with Ailia (although she and Kieran are also two totally different children).


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