At “Adelaide Mums and Babies Clinic” we see many, many families with low sleep needs babies and toddlers. These babies are normal, they just don’t need much sleep. This not only contributes to frequent night wakings if not recognised; but also means parents do not get to enjoy long day time naps and the benefit of time without looking after baby – time to do house work, spend time alone as a couple, or even go to the toilet on their own!
I think everyone can appreciate the benefits of a high sleep needs baby. But low sleep needs babies have a lot of benefits too – it just requires some reframing. Here is a list of benefits of a low sleep needs baby:
- You can just get on with your day. No needing to plan to be home for baby’s naps. You can say yes to any coffee-date, mums and babies exercise class or rhyme time at the library. They just take little cat naps on the run, while you go about doing things that you need to get done outside of the house. They may not tolerate being at home for long periods of time as it is very boring to them – so intersperse your day with jobs around the house, and activities out and about.
- You can always accept that late afternoon or evening catch up with your family or friends. Your baby doesn’t go to sleep til 9 pm, and thrives on seeing other people and places. Not only will catch ups for dinner provide baby with a rich sensory change, there is also no rush to get home to get baby into bed.
- Similarly – the evenings can be enjoyed as a whole family, even after the other parent (o both!) comes home from work. An evening walk; dinner at a cafe; time spent in the garden during day-light savings; going to watch a sports match together…. Rather than longing for time without baby, see if you can find an enjoyable activity you can all do as a family in the evening.
- You can all eat together! Baby might be having its second dinner for the evening, but by sharing a meal together, baby starts to learn the behaviour of a shared meal. This is a perfect opportunity to embrace baby-led weaning and offer baby what you are eating.
- Long, relaxed and enjoyable evening routines. No need to rush the day-care pick up, dinner and bath in a flood of tears (by everyone!). Your low sleep needs baby is not too tired to enjoy the bath, lots of cuddles and books, or even some rough and tumble play.
- If your low sleep needs baby has older siblings – it makes things so much more enjoyable and easy for the older kids (and the parents). No long naps spent at home trying to entertain high-energy toddlers; lots of shared sibling time; baby easily comes along to watch the older child doing their activities (or school drop offs and pick ups etc). and is entertained along the way.
- Low sleep needs babies tend to also be very active and thrive on activities outside of the house. They will make you head out and explore your neighbourhood, city and beyond. Keeping them stimulated and dialled-down will bring many hours of shared, enjoyable experiences and possibly push you out of your comfort zone.
So – next time you find yourself longing for a high sleep needs baby – have a read over this list of benefits and I hope they make you smile.
-Dr Briony Andrew
(credit goes to other Medical Mums who are also blessed with low sleep needs babies and helped compile this list)