Make the most of your sleep and your baby’s sleep with these three tips that are based on human evolution and anthropological research. We are primates and we are evolved, after all.
Tip #1: Give your baby unhindered access to your body. This applies to mothers and fathers. Breastfeed when the baby wants and needs. Want and need are the same for any infant. Babies don’t follow the sleep cycles of an adult. Babies expect to be held in a womb like environment for 18 months after being born. So carry your babies as much as you can. Wear your baby as much as you can. You cannot spoil a baby ever.
Tip # 2: Breastsleeping aka sleeping with your baby on or alongside the same surface. Provided you have a smokeless gestation and you are sober. Breastfeeding is better when lying on your side, because you get more rest while feeding your baby. There are safe ways to share the bed with your baby and they do not involve buying expensive gadgets.
Tip # 3: Know what is normal. “Babies are never supposed to sleep outside the context of a responsible adult.” as told by Dr. Sarah Blaffer Hrdy.
Solitary sleep is not normative for babies and it is a threat to the right of democratic choices of both the parent and the child.
Babies who sleep separately from their mothers have high levels of stress hormone, the main one being Cortisol. Sleeping away and crying for long periods of time releases cortisol.
Cortisol floods their little brains and kills the synapses that were made in the baby’s brain that promote pro-social development and behavior. This can lead to change in baby’s physiology and gene expression.
Dr. McKenna has very aptly said this, ” Ask not what your genes do for you, but what you do for your genes.”
The mother is the baby’s physiology, because a human baby is the least neurologically mature primate. To expect a baby to sleep alone is destroying a human infant’s habitat because it is the mother’s breast that is the optimal environment for a baby to be well and grow well. Even the babies who are not breastfed need to have their mother as their environment.
Follow your baby’s lead, listen to your instincts and do not give in to the fear mongering messages thrown out at every new parent before they even begin their new journey as parents. You know your baby more than any of the experts.