I'm the first to admit I spend far too much time scrolling through snippets of other people's children on Instagram when I should be paying attention to my own. But I can't look away. Sweet scenes from the kitchen table, brothers holding hands, expectant moms showing off their bare bellies, adorable babies grinning. And newborns! Newborns get me every time. Staged as much of it may be, it's captivating, mesmerizing even, to see how other families live, especially when it's perfectly curated for Instagram.
Lately, my feed has been overflowing with tiny babies and toddlers sleeping soundly in serene settings. There are 4-month-olds curled up next to their big brother with their arms slightly intertwined and the sheets artfully unkempt. There are toddler twins passed out peacefully with perfectly messy bed heads while an adorable dog snoozes nearby. There are even tiny siblings in matching tees striking the exact same pose with their heads resting neatly on a shared pillow. These things are all adorable, there's no question about that. But I can't help but wonder, how the hell are these mothers getting their little ones to fall asleep under such photo-worthy circumstances?
My 5-month-old won't succumb to his sleepiness unless he's tightly wrapped in a car-printed Swaddle Me blanket. Not Instagram worthy. My nearly-3-year-old barely naps anymore, and if he does, it's in his car seat. Or in his bed while lying on top of his stuffed Mickey Mouse, clutching his favorite truck, and wearing a paint-stained shirt. Definitely not Instagram worthy. And if I even dared attempt to put the two in the same bed, I imagine the older one would smack the baby in the face during one of his midsleep flailing assaults and the whole thing would be over within seconds. But that would never happen, because my kids don't actually ever nap at the same time. And I imagine I'm not alone — just look at what this dad goes through to get his daughter down for the night.
So I have to ask: what kind of magic are these Instagram moms brewing to make naptime look so camera-ready? Are they quietly unswaddling their babies after they've fallen asleep using ninja-like skills and white-noise machines to drown out the sounds of the Velcro unfastening? Are they rocking their babes to sleep in their arms, waiting exactly 26 minutes for them to reach a deep enough slumber, and then gently placing them in sweetly posed positions?
Does the planning of these photos begin so far in advance that they select the perfect outfit to put their little ones in well before naptime in the event that they do fall asleep and have the opportunity to stage their next #sleepingbaby post?
What am I missing here? Perhaps the toddler is being lulled to sleep by a drive around the block and then expertly transferred to the top of the fluffy white, slightly messed-up comforter, his limp limbs being moved just so to create the ideal frame for a colorful knit doll? Or maybe their kids are just way more cooperative than mine?
Whatever it is, keep doing it, Instagram mamas, because those are some of the best square images I see all day, even if I have zero chance of ever pulling one off myself.