Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Early Literacy Tip from Nursery Rhyme Time

This morning was Nursery Rhyme Time, a program for pre-walking babies and their caregivers that we do each Tuesday at 10:30 am and 12:00 noon.  Throughout the program we share a variety of quick early literacy tips as we do rhymes, sing songs, and read stories.  Periodically, we provide small handouts with extra tidbits, and on this blog we'll give more in-depth information about those tips.

This morning's tip was:

Why is it that some babies sleep through the night right away, while others take what feels like years?  One possibility is the speed at which parents attend to their child when he or she cries.  In her new book BringingUp Bébé, Pamela Druckerman explores French parenting and found that French parents wait up to five minutes before picking up a baby who’s crying in the night, and that their children tend to start sleeping through the night between two and six months.

I just started reading this book, and so far it's fascinating.  On the topic of sleep, Druckerman discusses the issue with both French and American doctors, and cites a few useful studies.  As stated above, she discovers that French parents practice what Druckerman dubs "La Pause" or "The Pause."  When their babies start crying in the night, they don't immediately pick them up.  Rather they spend a few minutes observing them.

Babies, just like adults, need to develop their own circadian rhythms.  They go through sleep cycles, and they usually lightly wake up in between these sleep cycles.  Adults do it to - approximately every 90 minutes - but easily fall back asleep and usually don't even know they've woken.  When babies are between cycles, they often move or make small noises, and sometimes they even cry.  But if parents let them, they usually enter right into another cycle pretty quickly.  If parents pick them up, they wake up fully and get used to fully waking up between sleep cycles.

So when your baby starts crying during the night, first just observe.  Give your baby a few minutes to see if he or she really needs you to do something, or if this is just a break between sleep cycles.  Perhaps your baby can go back to sleep independently, and perhaps he or she will begin sleeping through the night much sooner if you practice "La Pause."

No comments: