Saturday, March 31, 2012

What I'm Reading: And The Pause

Bringing Up Bebe - The Pause

So, I’m going to attempt to summarize a few of Pamela Druckerman’s findings as she researched parenting in France, specifically Paris, in her book Bringing Up Bebe. The first of which she named, The Pause.

A few weeks after she and her husband brought their daughter “Bean” home, neighbors on her courtyard began asking if Bean was “doing her nights?” What they meant was, is she sleeping through the night? She felt quite irritated by this question, and then she realized that culturally it’s a hot topic.

A lot of parents she knew in the US don’t get a good nights sleep until their child is about a year old. This idea is absurd to French parents. They realize that allowing a child to learn to sleep is doing the child a favor. So she looks into how they go about this. Many of the mothers she talks with say they just listen to their child. It’s a natural rhythm. They speak of being very observant with their children. She later finds that they have certain “unspoken rules” that are just a given to them. She terms it “La Pause.” When your baby is born, don’t just go to them at their every move. Even from birth, give them a moment to self-soothe. A mother isn’t strictly “observing” if she jumps up and holds the baby the moment he cries. Young babies make a lot of movements and noise while they’re sleeping. This is normal and fine.

Another reason for pausing is that babies wake up between their sleep cycles, which lasts about two hours. It’s normal for them to cry a bit when they’re first learning to connect these cycles. If a parent interprets this cry as a demand for food or a sign of distress and rushes in to soothe the baby, the baby will have a hard time learning to connect the cycles on his own.

Alexandra, whose daughters slept through the night while they were still in the hospital, says that of course she didn’t rush over to them the second they cried. She sometimes waited five or ten minutes before picking them up. She wanted to see whether they needed to fall back to sleep between sleep cycles or whether something else was bothering them: hunger, a dirty diaper, or just anxiety.

Alexandra--who wears her curly blond hair in a ponytail--looks like a cross between an earth mother and a high school cheerleader. She’s extremely warm. She wasn’t ignoring her newborn babies. To the contrary, she was carefully observing them. She trusted that when they cried, they were telling her something. During The Pause, she watched and listened. (She adds that there’s another reason for The Pause: “to teach them patience.”)

Most of the French babies sleep through the night by 4 months, and if not, at that point the pediatrician recommends some version of crying it out.

French parents don’t have a name for The Pause, they just consider it common sense. They all seem to do it and to remind each other that it’s critical. It’s such a simple thing. It’s clearing out the clutter of competing ideas and focusing on one thing that truly makes a difference.

(book, photo.)

Hi, it's me again. I hesitated to "summarize" The Pause because there are more examples and further explanation in her book. I share it anyway because I love the simplicity in keeping the "sleeping baby topic" so basic. Happy sleep to you and your family!



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