Can you believe it…my little man is about to turn one?! I know certainly cannot believe it!
The past twelve months have been an incredible rollercoaster ride, filled with magical first moments, appointments left right and centre, not one uninterrupted night’s sleep, but most of all, learning so many important life lessons.
One of my biggest challenges this year has been to try and improve Hudson’s day and night time sleeps. Unfortunately we set up some less than ideal habits in the early days as a result of him having severe reflux, which meant that we soothed him to sleep every sleep, rather than allowing him to learn to self-settle. As he got older, and his reflux was well managed, our attention turned to trying to improve his sleeps to make life a little bit easier for all! And this is where the fun began!
Trying to teach a child a new skill, whatever the age, can be incredibly tricky for all involved. And I think to make matters worse, we can often over complicate…I know I did! When it comes to parenting, nothing is clear cut and there are no magical formulas solve all the problems, but we can learn along the way.
For example, I thought it would be best to start our ‘sleep training’ efforts when Hudson was well and healthy. But many of you will know yourself, that the first year of life is often a whirlwind of minor illnesses and teething! So if I was going to wait for the perfect time to start I would be waiting a very long time! I also thought I’d wait until the weather was just right, and we had a quieter period at home…again, I would still be waiting now.
My other big challenge was consistency. As an Occupational Therapist this is something that we encourage every day to our client families, but it can be incredibly hard to be consistent with strategies when life gets in the way! All you can do is try your best given the current situation you are in.
And then there are the waves of invited and un-invited advice that you receive from every man and his dog around you which only complicates the situation further. Have you tried this? Have you read this book? Maybe you should do it this way… And sure, everyone means well, but it can make the whole process that little bit more confusing!
This is where you need to hit the ‘pause button’, and remember that you are the expert of your child, no one knows them better than you and to listen to your gut instincts, they are incredibly powerful!
No there will never be a ‘perfect time’ to teach your child a new skill, but if you watch them closely, and take stock of your gut instinct, you are more likely to be able to pick the appropriate timing.
Consistency is likely to always be a challenge, so try to commit to small obtainable goals or steps that you are more likely to be able to manage. Rather than struggle alone, make sure you chat to your child’s therapist so they can help to modify the goals or strategies for your child to make it work for you.
And last but not least, always try to be gracious in accepting advice…but it doesn’t mean you need to follow it! I found choosing one person’s advice to follow (our Paediatrician’s in this instance) was the way to go. I stuck with one strategy and blocked out everything else I’d read/watched/been told, and believe me, simplifying it like this made the greatest difference. Try to avoid online parent forums, or if you do seek advice from there, you’re best to take everything with a grain of salt. Go back to the people or professionals that know you and your child, and have the knowledge and skills to best support you.
So is Hudson sleeping through the nights you may now be wondering? No…but he has made some other great improvements in his sleep… its baby steps after all!