Shush little baby, if only it was that easy!
This post was requested by my wonderful sister how has just recently become the Mumma to two amazingly perfect little bubbas. I would like to point out before I start that what follows is purely my option based on my experience and conversations with friends.
I have been lucky enough to have three relatively good sleepers, touch wood that continues. The first was fabulous from day dot, sleeping for hours at a time during the day and sleeping through the night from 3months. She was and still is the best sleeper of them all. The middle child was fabulous until 4months (and slept through at 4weeks!!) and then she decided to become a little more difficult and number three is the best at putting herself to sleep but is only occasionally sleeping through at 4months old. She has had some terrible days lately and has taken up cat napping, grr.
I really think whether or not a baby is a good sleeper is mostly to do with the individual child as well as the mothers stress levels both during pregnancy and after birth. I am often told that I am a relaxed Mum but I am really quite a Drill Sergent when it comes to child/baby sleep, sometimes I get quite stressed about it all and have to just remember that it is only really an issue for a few years while they are tiny.
However, these are some of the things that we have done, maybe they have made a difference?
Routine. This is terribly important in all aspects of a child’s life. It is reassuring and helps them feel secure and safe. It also seems to really help with the whole bedtime thing. For as long as I can remember we have had a 5pm tea time, 6pm bath and 6.30 bedtime for the littlies. This changes here and there and varies as new family members come along but generally that’s it and I think it helps. Josie our littlest one has been the best evening sleeper (why do babies hate evenings?!) of the lot and I’m sure this is mostly because she had had this routine since birth.
White noise. How many times have you just got the baby to sleep only for the phone to ring or someone to knock unbelievably loud at the door (like our Postie does!) I discovered white noise when our first baby was a few weeks old, I spent about $60 on a CD after some desperate googling. Radio static does the same thing and is much cheaper 😉 It’s also reassuring and calming for small babies, can you imagine how noisy it is before they are born?
Tired signs. I had never heard of this before our first Child Health led Mothers Group meeting. If you can read your babies tired signs it can save your sanity. Generally, loosing eye contact, flapping arms and legs around and searching for something to suck on seem to be what I notice in our bubs, but they are all different and there many many other signs (google!). If you get to the crying stage you may have almost missed it, and then you’re in for…
Over tired baby. It can be remarkably hard to pick an over tired baby. They can almost seem not tired at all. They will look wide awake, not sleepy at all, but don’t be fooled! They may be restless, seem uncomfortable, be generally grumpy and not want to be put down…or picked up. Or, they may be quite happy…until you try to get them to sleep. Vigorous rocking combined with patting, bouncing and feeding for at least half an hour seems to work. Fun! An over tired baby will also have trouble re-settling when they stir so may only sleep for a short burst.
Sleep makes sleep. I have very much noticed this with Josie recently. If her first nap of the day is put off too long she will only have a short nap and then be grumpy and not sleep well for the rest of the day.
Beds are for sleeping. As I said earlier, Drill Sergent here. My girls know what their beds are for and generally go to sleep well when they get there. Although they haven’t been great at sleeping in the car or out and about, but hey, you can’t win them all!
Thinking about it there are many many other things that seem to affect sleep in babies and children. I think overall, being consistent, being aware of your babies cues and needs and looking for patterns is the best thing you can do to help your baby’s sleep.
So at the end of the day, when baby won’t go to sleep, try and remember it isn’t for ever and you are doing a fabulous job!