Learning to Parent – 3 Steps

Posted by in Newborn Sleep

Print Friendly

Many things can wait. The child cannot. Now is the time. His blood is being formed, his bones are being made, his mind is being developed. To him, we cannot say tomorrow. His name is today.” -Gabriela Mistral


Parenting doesn’t come with a manual, what’s more is that every baby is unique. That’s the difficult part of being a parent. There truly isn’t a raising-kids-manual, a how-to, a one-size-fits-all solution, and if there were, it wouldn’t be anything you’d find at your local bookstore, or online for download. That’s because the only so called “manual” worth anything is one you already possess. We like to call it Mama Intuition. Gut instincts. Your best judgement.

So, what does the parental learning curve look like? Learning to parent – 3 steps;

Step 1:
TRUST YOURSELF Be proud of your parenting. Be proud of the loving connection you share with your child.

Learning to Parent 3 steps

Trusting yourself means that no matter who gives you their opinion, or offers their advice, regardless of whether you asked for help or not or if it’s from a book or an ‘expert’, your mom, grandma, or your mother-in-law, if what they’re telling you doesn’t feel good to your heart, DO NOT do it.

Feel free to seek out thoughts and opinions, because let’s face it, parenting is seriously the most challenging experience on the planet and as a result we ALL need support, help, sounding boards, opinions, and advice. However, and again, if what you’re being told doesn’t feel good to your heart, DO NOT do it. Learn to take what you need and discard the rest. Smile, say thank you and move on.

Tracy Cassels from Evolutionary Parenting sums it up perfectly when she says “When you pick up a book by a baby “expert”telling you that their wonderful method will get you all the sleep you desire while having a happy baby, be skeptical. Look through and see how flexible the plan is. If you see schedules and things for you to time, put the book down and walk away. If you’re in need of help, look for the books that speak about child temperament, that acknowledge the uniqueness of all babies, and that offer flexibility in their approach (such as those suggested in the gentle sleep solutions links). Your baby wasn’t made with a cookie cutter and any advice you take shouldn’t assume as much.”¹

Step 2:

BE MINDFUL WHO YOU ALLOW INTO YOUR INNER CIRCLE – This is generally just a good life plan.

There are people who fill us up, who are supportive, and who are a positive, calming energy in our lives. Then there are people who are addicted to drama. Who feed on negativity, doubt, disconnection and fear. Stay away from those people, especially during your 4th trimester when you’ll be extremely sensitive and will need as many soft landing places as you can get while you adjust to motherhood.

Learning to Parent 3 steps

Postpartum can be euphoric. It be hell. It can be everything in-between. One thing though is certain, and that is that going through the 4th trimester, and tending to a newborn specifically, is like climbing Mt. Everest and then running the Boston Marathon (both mentally & physically) every.single.day.

Your main focus needs be healing from birth, getting to know your new little one, adjusting to nursing, new sleep patterns, and moving forward with your partner in your new journey of raising a family. Anyone who adds to that is IN, anyone who distracts from that is OUT. It can be temporary. It can be announced. It can be permanent. It can ebb and flow as you need it to. Put your needs, and your newborn’s needs first, protecting yourselves from the distractors.

Step 3:

PAY ATTENTION TO BABY’S CUES  It may feel all consuming, but the reality is that your baby wants very little.





Remember the trick you learned during the TRUST YOURSELF section? “If it doesn’t feel good to your heart, DO NOT do it. Learn to take what you need and discard the rest. Smile, say thank you and move on”. Same principal applies here. If great-grandma is holding baby and you notice him starting to root, or fidget, or flutter those sweet eyelashes, and you know that means he’s cueing to nurse, go ahead and take care of your baby. Sure, it goes without saying that you might need to practice your “Learn to take what you need and discard the rest. Smile, say thank you and move on” moves, but that’s ok. One of our jobs during our life’s journey is to grow as a person. This is one of those opportunities.

Also, it’s important to say at this point, because it’s part of the same circle, humans do not sleep through the night. Let’s sit with that for a minute. … … … I’ll say it again because it’s that important. Humans do not sleep through the night. Adults don’t. Teenagers definitely don’t. Kids don’t. Babies, especially newborns most certainly do not. As a matter of fact, did you know that the term “sleep through the night” actually only means sleeping for a few hours at a time. It absolutely does not mean anything longer than a 5 hour stretch² which would actually be just about unheard of in the baby world of breastfed newborns. Also, another fact to consider when judging your child’s sleeping ability, is that as a mom you actually WANT your newborn to wake during the night, it’s how they’re biologically wired. It’s part of our evolutionary adaptation. It’s in our DNA. It could be a protection against SIDS.³ We aren’t going to change it, and quite honestly, I don’t think we should.

According to Dr James McKenna, & Dr. Sarah Mosko, “{after}
studying the physiological effects of mothers and infants sleeping apart and together (same bed) over consecutive nights in a sleep lab, our two pilot studies conducted at the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine, showed that the sleep, breathing, and arousal patterns of co-sleeping mothers and infants are entwined in potentially important ways. Solitary sleeping infants have a very different experience than social sleeping infants – although we do not know yet what our data mean. Funded by the National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development, this research will help us to evaluate the idea that infant-parent co-sleeping may change the physiological status of the infant in ways that, theoretically, could help some (but not all) SIDS-prone infants resist a SIDS event (McKenna 1986; McKenna et al. 1991; McKenna et al., in press). One of the suspected deficits involved in some SIDS deaths is the apparent inability of the infant to arouse to reinitiate breathing during a prolonged breathing pause. Our preliminary studies show that mothers induce small transient arousals in their co-sleeping infants at times in their sleep when, had the infant been sleeping alone, arousal might not have occurred. We have suggested that perhaps co-sleeping provides the infant with practice in arousing.”4

For all of us, having a baby is life changing. It expands our horizons and challenges our ideas. We find ourselves, almost by default, being thrust into uncomfortable situations on a regular basis. But – as luck would have it – it’s exactly what we need, when we need it. Trust your intuition Mama. Believe in your abilities. Seek out support, sounding boards, and help from people who you trust to fill you up and respect your choices. Listen to what your baby is telling you for they will be your best teacher.

Learning to Parent 3 steps


In closing, I’ll leave you with these gentle words of wisdom and guidance;

“When people ask me what to do, I tell them to just give the child all the love that they can. Don’t worry so much about anything else. ~ Ashley Montagu”


1. Evolutionary Parenting | Tracy Cassels | The Problem With The One Size All Fits Solution

2. Parent Infant Sleep Lab | Dr. Helen Ball | https://www.dur.ac.uk/sleep.lab/

3. NeuroAnthropology | Why Human Babies Do Not & Should Not Sleep Alone | Dr. James McKenna and Edmund Joyce C.S.C

4. La Leche League | Rethinking Healthy Infant Sleep | Dr. James McKenna


Related Post

Brains Biology and Sleep | ISIS ORIGINAL SOURCE: Infant Sleep Information Center Brains Biology and Sleep: Vulnerable human babies and their large brains Humans fit in to the...
Normal Infant Sleep Development | ISIS SOURCE: Infant Sleep Information Source SLEEP IS A DEVELOPMENTAL PROCESS, and our sleep needs change throughout our lifetimes. Newborn babies ...