Montessori and "Sleep Learning"
Do you have a newborn?
I'm sure you love your baby dearly.
I'm also sure that you're now suffering from sleep deprivation. I'm experiencing the same thing too, especially because I breastfeed on demand.
Before I start sharing our experience, let me point out that Dr. Maria Montessori never discussed about sleep in any of her writings. Montessori Educators and parents also have no single advice on how to help babies learn to sleep through the night.
Nonetheless, we embrace Montessori Principles in our home and it is very important for us to "follow the child".
We didn't do any "sleep-training", instead we encouraged Andi to sleep long stretches at night.
At 4 weeks old, he was able to sleep for 4-5 hours long. And at 7 weeks, he sleeps for 6-8 hours at night.
HOW WE DID IT
1. Establishing a Routine
Children thrive on routine. It helps them have a sense of security when they can more or less, know what happens next.
From the very first day, we noted down the following:
How long he breastfeeds & how often (including the time slot)
How many times he pees and poos (including the time slot)
How long he stays awake (including the time slot)
How long he naps and how often (including the time slot)
I used a Mobile App to track all these (called Sprout Baby). It is one awesome app and it even tracks whether I breastfeed from my left or right side, and the other activities we do.
After 2 weeks, I looked at the data I gathered (yes, it even has an analytics tool in it!) and checked the average times for each of the activities. This helped us schedule our activities around it too. We try as much as possible, not to disrupt his routine.
Likewise, Andi also gets to learn about our routine and the concept of day and night. When it's day time, we make sure the room is well lit then at night, we just use a night lamp.
OUR BED TIME ROUTINE: An hour before HIS bed time, we dim the lights in the bed room and just do light massages while he's awake. We also put on his sleepsack. Then, I'd nurse him (he probably gets 4-6 oz per side so I just nurse him from one side, or he'll vomit). If he is still awake after nursing, I gently lie him down on the bed and hum till he falls asleep.
FEEDING & SLEEP GUIDE AT 2 MONTHS OLD:
Aside from having a routine, another big factor that encouraged him to sleep longer is co-sleeping.
FEEDING AND SLEEP GUIDE AT 3 MONTHS OLD:
2. Co-Sleeping and Wearable Blankets
We sleep in the same room with our kids. Again, I believe this helps the child have that sense of security (plus, I'm paranoid with all the earthquakes here in the Philippines - I want my children to be near me).
Sometimes at night, Andi would stir and almost wake up when he needs to nurse, but since his co-sleeper is near me, I can breastfeed ("dreamfeed" as I would call it) or soothe him back to sleep before he fully wakes up.
This really helped him become a good sleeper!
The significance of co-sleeping is even reiterated in the latest American Academy of Pediatrics Guidelines.
For reference, here are the Rules for Safe Sleep:
Make sure that you place the baby on his or her back on a firm sleep surface with no loose sheets.
Avoid use of soft bedding, including crib bumpers, blankets, pillows and soft toys. The sleeping area should be bare.
Share a bedroom with parents, preferably until the baby turns 1 but at least for the first six months. Room-sharing decreases the risk of SIDS by as much as 50%.
Use sleep sacks instead of loose blankets whenever it's cold. I highly recommend Halo Sleepsack swaddle for newborns. It also doesn't restrict movement unlike other swaddles (in Montessori, we let the child have the freedom to move and most babies happen to self-soothe with their hands; Andi even likes to sleep with his arms up, just like his big sister Kara). Kara also has her own wearable blanket with holes for her feet so she can walk around (she looks so cute in it).
Breastfeed for as long as you can.
Even if Andi sleeps through the night, I still don't because I always wake up in the middle of the night to make sure Andi and Kara are comfortable. I don't know, maybe it's just me or it's a mom thing. My mom was the same. Up to now, she would call to check if we arrived safely at home whenever we go out. :)
Anyway, I'm sure that there will be challenges later on when it comes to sleeping since children change their routine over time. Plus, there will be instances when we won't be able to stick to the routine (like, when we travel back home to US or do long road trips here). The important part is we respected our child, and we didn't force him to sleep.
Hope you enjoyed reading!
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