SLEEP BABY SLEEP
Each month our bump club partners will be bringing you some hints and tips on all things baby, toddler and pre-schoolers.
I feel its important to note that I am by no means, nor am I claiming to be an ‘expert’ in baby sleep. But I do have two children who are both very good sleepers (although I often wish they wouldn’t get up so early). This blog aims to provide you with some hints and tips and tell you about a few things that worked for me when my children were babies.
GO TO SLEEP MY BABY
I wonder how many times in the first year of a baby’s life parents ask Google ‘’how can I get my baby to sleep?’ ‘When will my baby sleep through the night?’ ‘Tips for getting baby to sleep.’ ‘Will my baby ever sleep?’ It’s an issue that I remember being obsessed with when my first born was a tiny baby.
In short, there is no magic answer or cure for getting a baby to sleep through the night because they’re really not meant to sleep for long stretches when they’re so young.
Babies, like all humans, are individuals. Some of us require more sleep than others and some of us manage to live on very little sleep. We also all have our own little quirks and ways we like to get to sleep. So, my first piece of advice to new parents is. Don’t stress about it. Your baby will sleep through the night eventually when he or she is ready. It could be when they’re a few weeks old or a few years old. I truly believe that you have a sleepy baby or a non-sleeper (sorry about that if it’s the latter).
It’s important for babies to feel safe and secure when they’re sleeping. From the moment a baby is born, it goes from being in a warm watery dark bubble where all it can hear is the sound of mama’s heartbeat and the muffled sound of her voice to being in a cold, bright, wide open space with lots of new voices and smells and things to touch. Is it any wonder that in the first few days and weeks of life, they don’t want to be anywhere else than snuggled in somebody’s arms where they have the familiar sense of still being in the womb?
RECREATE THE WOMB
When my littlest baby was born, I literally could not put her down from the moment she was placed on my chest. For the first 48 hours she would cry if she was moved even a foot away from me. I remember thinking (through the delirium of exhaustion) oh my god, I’ve got a non-sleeper on my hands here! But as the days progressed, we managed to get her settling more. One of the things we did was invest in a baby nest and a co-sleeping crib.
There are many brands out there Sleepyhead of Sweden and Poddle Pod are two that spring to mind and SnuzPod and Bednest both make co-sleeping cribs which can adjust to the same height as your own bed to create a safe co-sleeping place for your baby.
I found both to be invaluable, mainly because they made our daughter feel safe and secure. She was right next to me in bed but safe. She could see me, and I could easily touch and pat her if she stirred. We had a Moses basket for my son and I spent the first three months of his life hanging my arm over the side of the basket, so he knew I was there or inevitably taking him out a million times a night to give him a cuddle. Now, when any of my friends have their first babies, the main thing I recommend is a co-sleeper crib. Both of my children progressed from co-sleeping to being in a big cot without any problems and I really do believe that it was because they had always felt secure and never had any anxieties about going to sleep because they knew we were there if they needed us.
SIGHT AND SOUND
It also helps to keep the environment your baby is sleeping in dark (we have blackout blinds in our room and the kids rooms), quiet i.e. no TV and minimal noise and a regular temperature. I remember obsessing about the temperature and whether it was too hot or too cold in our room.
Part of the bedtime routine I had for both my children did also involve sound. As I was drying them after their baths I would dim the lights and put a song on, it was the wind-down song from our sessions at Kalma Baby Yoga when all the babies and mammies would lie down and relax after our energetic stretching sessions. I like to think they remembered the song and associated it with chill out time. The song actually makes me weep when I hear it now. Oh, to be on maternity leave again *sniff*.
Once they had finished their feed (and if they were still awake) I would sing Twinkle Twinkle and either cuddle them to sleep and as they got older, it was EVEN possible to put them into the cot and moonwalk out of the room!
SMELL & TOUCH
Smell can also play a part in creating a restful sleeping environment. We all know babies love the smell of their own parents and lavender is also known to promote restful sleep. The Mia & Dom Sleep Baby Sleep remedy roll has the perfect combination of Roman Chamomile and Lavender to help aid restful sleep. It can be used for baby and for mammy.
I also think it helps if you don’t place a sleepy baby onto a cold cot sheet as usually the change in temperature from being nestled in warm arms to a cold sheet is enough to wake them.
This is another reason why I think co-sleeping cribs help. I used to lie on my bed with my daughter in her co-sleeper with my arm around her and then gently shuffle away. Or I would get my husband to put a hot water bottle on the cot and take it away before we put the baby in. It goes without saying that you should never ever leave a hot water bottle in a cot with a baby. It was merely used to gently warm the sheet and then removed.
ROUTINE & CONSISTENCY
Of course, all of these tips didn’t always work well or go according to plan. The one thing that is consistent about babies is their inconsistency. Inevitably, hunger, teething, illness, developmental leaps all send even the best sleepers off track and leave mams and dads tearing their hair out. I still have nights when either one or both of our kids have us up and down or end up in our bed.
Which is why I think trying to follow a bedtime routine and being consistent with bedtime routines will help eventually. If we have a blip, we get all the sleep we can by any means necessary and then we revert to the consistent routine when we can. I use the term ‘routine’ loosely too. I remember naively reading the infamous Gina Ford book when I was pregnant and thinking that it all sounded very straightforward and easy. The book was slung out of the window on about day two of coming home from hospital. But I do stick by the idea that if you find a way that works for you and your baby and you stick to it every night, you will EVENTUALLY get more sleep.
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The Simply Small Life Blog is a behind the scenes look at what goes into running an independent children's retailer. Written by Nat SS a North East Mam (#notamumpreneur) of two who founded and runs The Simply Small Co. All opinions are her own. Copyright of The Simply Small Co.