Opinion: Shhhh You’ll Wake The Baby!


Do babies need silence to sleep properly? Probably not, says Evelyn Lewin, but that doesn’t stop her from trying to keep the house quiet anyway…

I like to think of myself as a calm, earth-type mother who can handle anything in her stride. (That may be far from the truth, but we can all dream, right?) That said, I have to admit the time I’m not the most Zen of mums is when it comes time for my baby to sleep. To say I’m fiercely protective of her sleeps is a bit of an understatement.

It’s not like she’s a terrible sleeper or anything. She also doesn’t seem to mind too much if she misses a sleep. She does end up swaying around the house, giggling at the sight of her hands while hiccupping, but at least she doesn’t get angry or irrational when sleep-deprived (unlike, ahem, yours truly). Anyhoo, I remain protective of my baby’s sleeps because she’s my cub, and I know she needs sleep to function and help that little brain of hers develop (plus, if I’m being honest, mama could do with some quiet time every now and then).

Protecting my baby’s sleep starts with me walking around the house reminding her big siblings and father that I’m about to put her to sleep and that they need to be quiet. And by ‘quiet’, I mean silent. As I take my baby to bed I start shushing extra loudly, like a lioness marking her territory, letting all predators (read: potentially noisy people) know that they better stay out of my way or else…

Once I’ve placed my baby in her bed I touch her soft little cheeks and wish her sweet dreams. I then slowly start closing my eyes, hoping she’ll mimic me by then closing her own eyes. (Thankfully no one else has ever witnessed this routine). After I shut her door I like the house to be completely silent until sufficient time has passed for me to be sure that any noise won’t wake her.

This can be rather tricky, considering she has two boisterous older siblings and a father who quite frankly acts like a big kid most of the time (point in hand: he excels at loom bands, building blocks, Guess Who and charades. I swear, if it weren’t for the fact that he’s six foot tall with facial hair to rival a grizzly bear, I’d sometimes mistake him for my four year old.)

Once my baby’s in her cot, it’s all about keeping the big kids quiet. Oh, and by ‘big kids’, I mean, of course, my husband. You see, he doesn’t share my enthusiasm for keeping the house quiet while the baby sleeps and it’s pretty easy to understand why.

As someone who falls asleep at the drop of a hat, he obviously assumes sleep is just as easy for anyone else. You could literally bring a circus through our room and he’d just roll over and continue snoozing. I, on the other hand, hear everything at night. It’s like with the lights off, my sense of hearing is extra heightened. Hence I assume I must make the conditions perfect if I expect my baby to sleep.

The truth is, I know my baby doesn’t really need my hyper-alert shushing mechanisms to help her sleep. As she’s getting older she’s working out this whole sleeping thing like a superstar. But I like having a baby cub to protect. I love the ritual of touching her cheek as I put her down and keeping the house quiet for a few minutes a day. Besides, if I didn’t enforce some quiet time every once in a while, my big kids would run at their preferred maximum volume all day. Oh and by ‘big kids’, I mean, of course, my husband…

Image: Heidi Boardman

 


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