I talk to babies. Especially the babies I get to care for overnight. I talked all day long with 11 babies every day when I ran a baby unit and I still do it now. I do it because I like to put myself in the shoes of the baby i’m caring for and treat them how I would like to be treated.
When I'm working with a group of mums I often say to them “tell your baby what's going on let them know what's up!! Wouldn't you want someone to grant you the same courtesy?”
When working with mums and their babies, helping them become better sleepers. I explains the benefits of having a predictable daily routine for their little ones and how it can help your little one feel more secure, another way to add a layer to that predictablity, is to talk to them., you can reinforce your baby’s understanding of the day ahead not just by going about your daily business but also through language and communication.
Think about it, your baby has been hearing your voice since before they were born. Your voice is the most calming soothing voice they could hear, the voice of their favourite person in the world. You, their mummy. That voice that calms them and soothes them and tells them what's happening now and what's happening next. And then like magic what the voice told them would happen next, does!!
I say this to mums all the time and I'm sure a few of them side eye me in their minds. “Why would/should I be talking, she's a baby like, really?” No one actually says this to my face but it's what I would say if I didn't know what I know.
I talk to the babies I care for, I tell them what I'm going to next, if they are crying I reassure them that I'm there with them. If I'm sleep training them and they're freaking out I imagine how they feel and talk to them based on that “ I know your so tired and just want me to cuddle you to sleep and I will but today I'm going to cuddle you like this”
Babies and toddlers are people. Persons in their own right, miniature versions people all the same.Wouldnt you want someone who is taking care of you to tell you what they're doing now and what's going to happen next, and even ask if you’re ok with it?
I found this post by one of my favourite child development/parenting writers and she shared an experience a mum had with sleep training and talking to her baby about it. The results she saw from communicating with her baby are what i experience & would love the mums i work with to experience too.
" I’d gotten into the habit of nursing and rocking her to sleep. Low and behold, it would take 25+ minutes in order to get her down. Just when I thought she was ready to be put down in her crib, she would cry. Time for a reset!
The last few times for nap and bedtime, I started nursing her as the first step in our sleep routine, and while doing that, I’d tell her step by step what we would do once she was done nursing: “We will close the door, and then we will turn on the noise machine. Next, we will close the blinds and make the room dark. Lastly, I will give you a cuddle, and then I’ll lay you in the crib and you’ll take a nice rest.
Today, I repeated this to her three times while nursing. And then when it came time to do these things, she was totally engaged in each step — looking at the door, reaching toward the sound machine, and lastly, not crying when I closed the blinds like she usually does. And the most amazing part: when I stood by her crib and gave her a last hug, she put her head on my shoulder and we cuddled for a few moments. Then I set her down and she turned over and went right to sleep. No crying or tossing and turning! It was amazing. My heart is bursting with how smart and attuned and capable these babies are.”
Read the full blog post here http://www.janetlansbury.com/2016/10/essential-elements-of-a-baby-bedtime-routine/
Give it a try. Talk to your baby about what you're doing now and will do next, give them a commentary. Have a conversation with your baby. They can't talk back but they definitely understand you. Try it out today. How do they respond to you?
Charmaine Walters is a mum, night nanny, sleep coach & mentor for sleep deprived mums with many many years of experience sleep training babies and coaching parents. She is also The creator of The Soundly Sleeping Club & this blog. To find out more about Charmaine and her work click here