For as long as I can remember, I longed to be a mother. I was the little girl who carried her baby dolls around, dressed them and pushed them in a stroller. I've always loved children for how they see the world – with no biases or prejudices and with the purest intentions.
That's me at about 12 months old co-sleeping with my babies.
When I first became a parent in 2016, I felt well-prepared for the transition to motherhood. I had read the books, taken the prenatal classes and thought: how hard can this be?
After all, millions have done it before.
When my son was born in July in the middle of a Montreal heatwave, I was so surprised by the actual toll the postpartum recovery took on my body! It was HOT and skin on skin left us both in puddles of sweat, nursing was HARD and I was just generally uncomfortable. Healing the postpartum body while constantly “using” this body to sustain another human is not for the faint of heart. I’m so thankful for the midwives and many practitioners that followed me during my pregnancy and postpartum for their help and support as I navigated these new waters.
My mother always boasted how “good” of a sleeper I was; that I was sleeping all night by 8 weeks (with no sleep training) and that she was always shocked when other babies didn’t. I was hopeful my son would inherit this love of sleep trait from me - but alas, he did not. His general dislike for naps and disdain for bedtime were beginning to take a toll on me.
I did what any other millennial mom would: I went to the internet to compare my son with others of the same age.
I was SHOCKED to find out that babies at his age (3 months) should be sleeping 16-20 hours per 24 hours. I checked my trusty app (which had a detailed account of everything he did) and I realized he was only sleeping about 8 hours per 24 hours.
I couldn’t believe it and immediately began to spiral.
How would this lack of sleep impact him? Would he be behind all his peers? How did I miss this?! How do I get him to sleep more, especially when all my efforts were futile at this point?
I was tired and in “solve mode” and nothing I would do would help him sleep. I tried nursing, rocking, babywearing, walking with a stroller, driving, putting him in a swing… you name it. He would sometimes be awake for hours at a time and he was always happy. I was so focused on trying to get him to sleep that I really don’t remember much else of those days. At one point, I remembered during an 8th nap attempt that a friend told me when I was pregnant that she had worked with a sleep consultant for her baby… so I thought I’d reach out and give it a try.
The guidance and support I received during the coaching process was wonderful. My consultant’s suggestions in making changes to his sleeping environment, day rhythm and ensuring adequate nutrition were key in supporting the changes I was going to make in how he would settle and then fall asleep. We used a very gentle technique and after 2-3 weeks of implementing, he would fall asleep on his own in his bed. I remember standing outside his room thinking “now what?”
The road wasn’t “perfect”. [Spoiler alert: it never is!] You’re working with a tiny human after all, who has their own personality, temperament & preferences. But the one-on-one coaching gave me the confidence to navigate the many ups and downs of sleep during his first couple of years. And since he was so young, I was with him every step of the way, never leaving him alone in the room and not letting him cry. In all transparency, I did try a method that involved crying when he had a sleep “regression” at one point, but I probably cried just as much as he did.
When my second son was born at the beginning of the pandemic, I decided to leave my very corporate job of 10 years and jump into the world of baby sleep coaching. I began to work with the consultant I used and it was so great to see how my help changed these families' lives. Over the course of the year I was working, I began to become more and more conflicted with the idea of using separation-based and behavioural-changing techniques to help babies sleep more. These methods are efficient for many babies (which is why they’re so widely suggested). Parents often achieved their goals of more sleep and were happy with the results. The road to get “there” is where I felt the most conflicted. To be honest, when I became a consultant, I genuinely didn’t think about using any types of separation-based tactics and was surprised to realize that that’s what this role entailed as it wasn’t my personal experience. A lot of parents needed constant encouragement and support to “keep going” to see “more results”. Sometimes it felt like I was out of touch with the fact that I was ultimately working with a baby, who by nature and circumstance got accustomed to a certain way of falling asleep and was very content in that.
Once this all came to a head for me, I decided to stop doing “traditional” sleep consulting using separation-based techniques and to become a Baby-Led Sleep™ and Well-Being Specialist through training with Lauren and team at Isla-Grace. It might sound cliché, but this training has changed my life. It’s altered my perspective on babies and sleep, and has profoundly impacted the way I parent my children.
Baby-Led Sleep™ is not about “letting your baby dictate your life” – of course not, they’re babies! But it’s about allowing your little one the space to be who they are, in all of their ways. It’s about trying to figure out your little one’s rhythm and not trying to squeeze them into a cute schedule from the internet. It’s about learning who your baby is and respecting this little human enough to give them the latitude to develop at their own rhythm, not by forcing them to be where we think they should be. After all, no two children are exactly alike. It’s about removing comparisons and “should do this” or “needs to do that” to slowing down and accepting what your baby and child actually does and wants to do.
It’s about completely revisiting the way we look at how we parent, not just changing how (and where) your baby sleeps.
It’s not for everyone and I respect that. If you’re looking to improve your little one’s sleep without ANY separation based techniques at a slower rhythm, book a free introductory call so we can talk and see if Mama Floreo is a good fit for your family.
Talk to you soon!