Sleeping like a baby
Why do we use that phrase? As any new mum knows babies don’t really sleep all that often or even that soundly! My darling Selene is certainly messing with my head and my sleep patterns. First she gets me all excited by sleeping for 8hrs. It was from 7pm til 3am, but hey I figured I could live with that…of course that night I woke every hour or so past 3hrs to check she was still breathing. She did that for 3 nights and I thought – Wow if I go to bed at 8pm I can get a good chunk of sleep, so the next night I went to bed early….whereby she chose to feed 3hourly and wake up screaming in between – Aaaaargh!
This is however, fairly normal newborn behaviour, so how do we cope? By week 13 of my darling’s life with us I am now beginning to feel just a LITTLE sleep deprived. There is an absolute abundance of information out there on establishing sleep routines and everyone you know will have a different opinion and piece of advice to offer. I think the main thing is to do what seems best for you & your family & your beliefs about child rearing.
Here’s what works for me:
- Don’t sweat it! Ok you are awake and it is the 4th time you’ve been up since midnight and it’s only 2.30a.m. It’s easy to get stressed at this point, but by baby number three I have learned that the baby will either sleep or not and chances are if you relax baby will go back down quicker.
- Get comfortable. If you are going to be awake for a while you might as well be comfy – I have a rocking chair set up next to the bed with the ipod speaker dock. If my girl isn’t sleeping, I grab a blanky, put on some soft music & rock a little…this is often enough to tip the balance into sleep. I have also been known to lie down with baby on my chest…this worked really well for baby number 2 – Conor. If I can’t sleep at least I can be horizontal & doze a little. Also babies seem to like this position because they can hear your heart (just like in the womb). Some of my friends also swear by drowsing in front of TV – whatever gets you through it!
- Remember that this phase will pass and take each day as it comes. Tomorrow might be another 8 hour day! One of the great books I read was the No Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley. According to her “…a baby is considered to be sleeping through the night when she sleeps five consecutive hours” This one statement had a huge impact on my attitude to sleep…I began to consider every minute longer than 5 hours a bonus! Click here for more information on newborn sleep patterns.
- I have my kids in my room with me. When I had my eldest son 10 years ago, we put him in his own room at the end of the hall. I remember long nights of trudging back and forth up and down the hallway in the winter cold. To be honest by the time I heard him he was screaming blue murder and then when I got there I felt grumpy about being cold & awake, so neither of us was very happy or relaxed, which was hardly conducive to sleep. When I had my second son Conor it was a different story, firstly he was 6 weeks premature so we were worried about him, and also my husband had his eldest son in the room with him as a baby and therefore was totally for the idea. Wow! What a difference. I found I tended to wake just before he cried, so he was calmer. I would then feed him straight away and put him into the cot next to our bed, where he would go straight to sleep. As he got older he often co-slept with us in our bed, which was even easier as I was breastfeeding. He still does, which works for me as I only have to get up to him once & he will then sleep through the rest of the night in our bed (a good thing as he usually wakes up about an hour after I have fed Selene). For more information on co-sleeping click here and here. The main thing to remember is to be safe. Children should NEVER be in bed if there is an adult who smokes, has been drinking or using drugs.
- Sleep when the baby sleeps. You have probably heard this before and thought “if I do that I will never get anything done!” At this point in the game the sleep is more important than the cleaning!
- Exercise! Wierd as it may sound exercising actually seems to give you more energy. I try to walk every day, but find on the days I don’t I have much more trouble focussing. The fresh air works really well to wake you up after a LONG night. My kids also tended to be lulled to sleep by action of the pram, so if I am lucky Selene will sleep for an hour or two in the pram and I can doze on the couch!
Hope these tips are helpful. I have also included some links below to help you out.
Please feel free to add your comments on what works well for you.
Til next week Larissa
Links – I have included a range so you can find the one that suits you and your child
What is Co-sleeping?
Co-sleeping is a practice in which babies and young children sleep close to one or both parents, as opposed to in a separate room. It is standard practice in many parts of the world, and is practiced by a significant minority in countries where cribs are also used. Bed-sharing, a practice in which babies and young children sleep in the same bed with one or both parents, is a subset of co-sleeping. Co-bedding refers to infants (typically twins or higher-order multiples) sharing the same bed. There are conflicting views on bed-sharing safety and health compared to using a separate infant bed. The conflicts surrounding infant sleep are exacerbated by the misuse of the term co-sleeping interchangeably with bed-sharing.