Last night as I was settling my daughter down to sleep, she asked:
“Why do I have to sleep alone? You get to sleep with Daddy, I don’t want to sleep by myself, Can I sleep with you?”
I pondered on this one for a moment, and couldn’t give her a reasonable answer “You’re a big girl” didn’t seem to cut it, and nor did “Because it’s what we do”.
Eventually she was satisfied with her usual kisses and cuddles and snuggled down with her menagerie of cuddly animals and went to sleep.
But, it gave me food for thought.
Historically, when families were large and bed numbers were small, siblings shared beds and loneliness at night wasn’t an issue. For many having a room to yourself or even a bed of your own wasn’t up for discussion because it wasn’t a possibility. Those were only for the very wealthy. It certainly wasn’t used as a procrastination tool along with “I need a wee, can I have a drink, I haven’t said goodnight to all 63 teddies…”
When you think about new born babies and the transition they go through when they are born and the differences between being in the uterus and earth-side, they have a lot to adapt to! It’s no wonder they don’t adapt immediately.
The period of adjustment your baby goes through is often referred to as the Fourth Trimester, and this highlights why, as humans, we don’t like sleeping alone,
Babies go from being constantly held when they’re in the Uterus. It has a constant temperature, they can hear your heartbeat, voice and the blood flow to and from the placenta (as well as everything going on around you!), it’s dark and they get a constant flow of oxygen and food and it’s lovely, soft and floaty.
Compare it to being born and the temperature change, the change in the sounds around them, the sudden open space, being dressed and on harder surfaces. They’re no longer being fed constantly and suddenly they can smell things they’ve not been able to smell before, not to mention the bright lights! It’s no wonder being held where they can hear your voice, feel your warmth and hear your heart beat sooths them it it?
Soothing voices and cuddles release oxytocin, that love hormone I talk about so much, it relaxes you both, whether it’s you or your partner holding the baby.
And long after your baby settles into a routine and adjusts to the world around them, they will sooth in your arms, head on your chest, even when they are 6 months, 6 years and possibly 16.