One of my biggest challenges in the first year of motherhood was slowing down to my son’s pace. Oh my goodness was it sloooooow when he was in the first few months. Really, most of the first year crawled by at a snail’s pace.
The pace gave me the opportunity to listen deeply to his needs and develop my mother’s intuition from tuning into the subtle communications.
Me, him, the dogs, in the quiet, around the house most of the day. My husband working 50+ hours so I could be at home. I have a slower pace than many people, though not a baby’s pace, and I felt like molasses for that year. Despite the challenges, I believe a slow pace was one of the best gift’s I could give my son.
He was on a wonderful rhythm of wake, eat, play, nap. He would eat for about 30-40 min. It was long because I nursed him with a Lactaid nurse support. Those are tricky to get right and feed slowly. He also ate A LOT. After eating he’d be awake about 50-60 minutes, then sleep again.
Pretty consistently he was awake for 90 min total, give or take (see my post 90 min sleep solution). I’d read his sleepy cues, then put him down to sleep drowsy but awake, so he learned to go to sleep on his own. He’s an amazing sleeper- full nights of sleep 10-11 hrs every night!!
We stayed home a lot because I know how overstimulating the world can be for a new baby. My experience with the over stimulation of the world was after coming out of a month long meditation retreat (I did two of these).
Each time I left the mountain retreat and went to a grocery store, I would start crying. It was so much for my system. People moving so fast, crazy bright lights…ahhh. Most people I know had the same experience after leaving the mountain retreat- overwhelm! My senses had opened up and my pace had slowed down, so it was just shocking to my system.
I wanted our son to remain in the peace and calm as long as possible. I wanted to be able to let him guide the days and sleep when he was tired. Sleep for as long as he needed each time, not just a 15 min nap between errands. I wanted his body to be allowed to be regulated with a similar rhythm to each day. I am so grateful to have been able to allow much of his first year to be quiet and slow.
Note: the consistent daily rhythm was not on a time clock, but came from my listening to his needs and changed as he changed through the months. The changes were gradual and his days were on the nap, wake, eat, play, nap schedule at home. He thrived with this predictability, as do most babies I’ve known who’ve been on this rhythm.
Many expect children to adapt to adult life. This is very difficult for children to do. Children *can* adapt to anything, but it isn’t in their best interest.
~ Magda Gerber, Your Self-Confident Baby
Many people commented that first year how he seemed so happy. Note: we had lots of people over to our house, instead of going out to them, so Ferran could stay on his rhythm. Yes, he was such a happy guy generally, unless we were traveling.
He went with us on four out of state trips to see family. Each time he was very fussy for a day or two. I could tell he needed to cry to let out the over stimulation and dis-regulation of travel. His fussiness the first days of traveling, helped me know he wasn’t always happy, but happy because of our slow paced, peaceful, rhythm to each day.
It was worth the dis-regulation for those trips to see family. And yes, I know many second and third kids have busy, busy moms who cannot stop life for the new baby. Going a little slower for a while, for the new baby, would be a gift for everyone in the adjustment time.
So, if your child is fussy and seems out of sorts, often a cure is a few days of time at home where you can listen to him, read his cues, give him time to look up at the ceiling or sky, time to just be without interruption from our schedules or from our entertaining/shuttling him.
Yes, it was challenging to be at his pace. The boredom almost got the best of me at times. But, if you can give your baby the gift of quiet peaceful days on a consistent rhythm, it’s a wonderful foundation for his whole life. In my many years with children, those who seemed the most peaceful, had the most consistent rhythm to their days. Knowing this before he arrived, helped me stay committed to our routine.