Written by Jess Raubenheimer-Free
Before I had my daughter I never really knew much about what babies do when. When they'll start rolling over, when they start sitting up, when they should start solids. It quickly became somewhat of an obsession for me, with a whole lot of googling.
Now that she's reached 5 months, I've had somewhat of an epiphany. It seems so obvious in hindsight, but when you're a first time mum in the haze of the first 6 months it's easy to fall victim to the advice of sleep consultants, Plunket and well-meaning friends and family.
According to everything I've read, my daughter should currently be able to handle a 2h15m awake time. Ummmm no. At the 1h45m mark she starts getting cranky, and by 2h15m I have a full-on overtired baby on my hands who won't go to sleep. This throws any kind of "sleep schedule" to the wind, because they are all built around the idea that babies are all the same. Which they just aren't.
Almost all the sleep advice you'll read advises strongly against the use of a "sleep prop". Sleep props are things your baby needs in order to fall asleep. The idea is to wean them off any sleep props that require your intervention such as a dummy (which may fall out of their mouth), rocking or bouncing, patting or shushing etc etc. But babies aren't born knowing how to sleep - these sleep props are really important for helping them learn to do so.
Let's take a look at it from another perspective. I am an adult and I cannot sleep if my sleep environment is not right. I need a cool temperature (so I can snuggle under the covers with pyjamas on), some kind of white noise (our dehumidifier runs on fan mode ALL night), to not be thirsty and to not have hot feet (they're usually poking out of the covers). See all those "sleep props" I have? Why do we allow ourselves to have these things but try and wean our babies off anything that helps them fall asleep?
I'm not going to go too much into this as I'm no expert. I'm just a mum who has observed things and has opinions on it. If you want to use a sleep schedule or a sleep consultant, do it. You do what is right for you and your baby!
Ahhhh yes. The topic of almost all my google searches. "When will my baby..." I'm constantly wondering if my baby is developing "right". Should she be sitting up by now? Surely she should be able to roll from her front to her back? My daughter CAN roll from front to back but she CHOOSES not to. Instead she prefers to whinge and moan until mummy comes swooping in to pick her up. I strongly believe this is just her personality - she knows what she wants and how to get it!
The thing is that of course there are milestones that if missed are a red flag. BUT, and this is a very big but, almost every milestone has a four month variation. Four months! That might as well be a year for a baby. Take tummy time for example, during one of my googling sessions I found this super interesting website about the journey from tummy to crawling. For each of the milestones it shows an age range in months - usually it is 3-4 months variation!
So don't measure your child against some website or app, or against other children. Let your medical professional assess whether your baby is meeting their developmental milestones, but of course report anything you find strange or if your baby does seem to be incredibly behind in meeting a particular milestone.
These are, of course, all just my opinions. But as a mum who has been mildly obsessing over these things, I've found some peace in realising that my baby will do things in her own time, in the way she wants to do them.
The truth is, your child is a human being. Not a robot. They have their own likes, dislikes, quirks and oddities. They will do things in their own time. And to their own rules.
What are some milestones/expectations you've found didn't fit your baby?