It is important that you as a parent set rules and limits as your child grows.
However, in the very beginning, when your baby has just entered the world and when she wakes up every few hours of the night, she is doing exactly what she is supposed to do. She is not yet ready to sleep through the entire night. Some babies do, but they are an exception, not a rule.
During the first few weeks of your child’s life, the baby is growing extremely quickly and she needs calories. In addition to that, her sleep and activity cycles are not mature yet. For these reasons, during the first few weeks, your baby is in charge and your role is to serve.
Disappointment is not the same as damage
Many parents keep submitting to the demands of their children because they do not understand that there’s a big difference between damage or trauma and disappointment. A disappointment is a little event that quickly passes. Damage is a big terrible event that will really shake up your child and challenge the belief that the world is a safe and friendly place. When your 7-month-old is crying at 3 a.m. and you know that he is fed and in good health, not staying with him for a few hours will not lead to a psychological trauma. Most likely, he is crying because he wants to enjoy a bit of snuggling. You need to realize that preventing all disappointments is simply not possible. Even if you do try to accomplish that, you’ll become exhausted and irritated very quickly.
Wants are not needs
The key to raising a healthy child is to remember that wants are very different from needs. As a parent, you have a responsibility to provide your child with what she needs. However, you are not responsible for satisfying all the wants of your child. One of the reasons for that is that satisfying all the wants of a human being, even a little one, is simply impossible.
Somewhere between four and six months mark, your baby will not need you as much as you think. The fact that she is used to having you run to her 24/7 doesn’t mean that she still needs that.
You will need to set the limits
The fact that needs are different from wants doesn’t mean that you should never give to your child what she wants. It means that she can’t get what she wants all the time and every single time. One of the reasons for this is that some of the demands are simply going to be unreasonable. You can be sure to expect a 5-year-old boy to want a toy that is extremely expensive and that he will break right away. At 11, he may be asking you for junk food every day. At 16, he may be asking you to buy him a sports car. When you set the limits, you actually give your child a gift. This gift is a gift of guidance and experience.
Sleep is important for everyone
Every human being needs sleep to maintain a healthy lifestyle, adults and babies included. Once you realize that you need some quality sleep, too, and stop popping out of bed at all hours of the night to entertain your baby, your entire family will be better off. When your baby is a few months old, you need to teach her that she will not get a lot of attention when she wakes up in the middle of the night and demands entertainment.
Giving in has a lot of downsides
When you give in and give your baby what he wants and not what he needs, his next action would be to try and get more. For example, if you give a bottle when your baby doesn’t need it, expect the baby to try and get a bottle twice in one night. If you try and fulfill even the most unreasonable demands, don’t think that your baby will be happy. Instead, she is likely to start feeling insecure because she can’t sense any limits.
The better you negotiate, the better you will do
One of the great frameworks to use when looking at your interactions with your baby is a framework of negotiations. If you do, you will realize that even the youngest babies negotiate and drive hard bargains. As a negotiator, you need to learn to distinguish between wants and needs. You also need to learn to make deals in which both sides, you and the baby, get something.
In the beginning of your child’s life, she is winning all the time and getting everything she wants because she has a negotiating tool also known as screaming. However, if you think about it, you’ll realize that it’s the only tool your baby has. As long as you give in every time your baby screams, you lose in the negotiation game. A few months in, start setting limits and introducing your rules. Both your baby and you will be better off when you do.
Personality and health of your baby do play a role in what and how you do
Your actions as a parent need to take into consideration age, developmental stage, health, and personality of your baby. For example, a 5-month-old that was born prematurely will not be able to sleep through the night. If your toddler has asthma, he or she will not be able to fall asleep peacefully while wheezing at the same time. When potty-training your child, you will need a strategy that will lead to a sound sleep and a dry bed at the same time.