We don’t actually know very much about sleep – there are lots of us who thought our baby would just sleep without much help from us!
I guess there is a lot of focus on – how much sleep your baby needs, knowing your baby’s tired signs; I wish I could tell you that it is easy!
I remember sitting down everyday and trying to calculate how many hours my daughter had slept, my sleep deprived brain was having difficulty, and then I would start stressing that she needed another 4 hours that day, knowing she would likely catnap 4 times, and I would be left battling with more hours to calculate the next day!!
I would start to worry that if she didn’t get exactly what the book said something might happen to her brain. As much as I loved her it was so hard just having someone share my every waking moment, not to mention the many wakeups at night.
So now having completed the training with Dana Obleman’s ‘The Sleep Sense Program’, I am armed with lots of tools you can easily put into practice. The Mums I work with tell me once they have an understanding of their baby’s sleep they feel they have a clear path to follow, almost like they have a tool box of tricks leading them to confident parenting, and resulting in the ever-important sleep.
Crying is something that is not often discussed when it comes to helping a baby get to sleep. That is the vital first step, understanding how your baby gets to sleep without your help. The no 1 reason most parents put up with months (even years) of broken sleep is crying.
PROPS – Have you heard of this word in relation to baby and children’s sleep? It all starts in the newborn period. We have this idea that a baby must have its eyes closed when she is placed into her crib, that she may not cry at all before she goes to sleep for fear of causing any stress. As a result we start to have some success with bouncing our babies to sleep in our arms Or on an exercise ball, or placing them down soon after a feed when they are milk drunk. Rocking them until they fall asleep, patting all the way to sleep, using a dummy for the next 4 years or more…
Well the truth is we all have a journey that we use to find sleep – some people need to listen to music, others need a special pillow, some snuggle in a particular position until they fall asleep.
Your baby and children are no different, they to need to find their own journey to sleep. It is not your job to PUT your baby to sleep. You need to believe that your baby has the skill to do this. The more they practice using their own journey the quicker it becomes, they will then begin to sleep deeper and therefore longer… goodbye to the cat naps. Sounds too easy? Yes, you say but my baby cries!
Well this is the reality, crying is their way of communicating that they are tired, and as they get more they practice finding their journey the crying will diminish when you put them down for their naps and at bedtime. There is no need to leave your baby alone when they are going to sleep so they know you are there, but they need space and time to find sleep. Sleep is a very personal thing, this is your baby’s first independent step in their little life. Why don’t you give them a chance to prove to you how clever they are?
Mostly as baby’s skill improves, they lie and chat for about 10-15 mins and just before they drop off to sleep. Believe me it is possible with the correct support. Conditions need to be right for us to have a nice nap – a quiet environment (White Noise is highly recommended from newborn, drowns out background noise and acts as a cue for sleep), a dark room (as dark as possible if your child is struggling finding sleep), and comfy clothes (not those cute little jeans).
So let’s look at a few of these tips:
Knowing how long your baby can stay awake before they need to get to sleep is so important. Tired signs are just a small part of this although it can be difficult to recognise. I have some Mums who tell me they can never see their child tired signs. It seems that by the time you see the signs their window for sleep has passed and then we have lots of crying before they find sleep, resulting in rocking or feeding your baby to sleep.
The good news is their resilience improves as they get older so from a newborn needing to get back to bed within the hour, our 6 month old baby’s can stay awake for up to 3 hours.
Here are some the top 5 tips to ensuring your baby has healthy sleep:
• Eliminate all sleep props • Establish a predictable bedtime routine • Get them to bed early • Use a “blankie” or soft toy • Use the same key words or phrases
To be honest it can be very stressful, none of us want to teach our baby’s how to cry. If you need some support or would like to explore the subject of sleep in relation to your baby further, please call or email Baby of Mine. We can chat for 15 mins at no charge, and begin to work out the best strategy for you and your family.