Sleep: the universal, elusive goal of parents all around the world.
If you are anything like me, you have googled and read every book you can get your hands on about baby sleep. And if you have, I would be willing to bet that you read so much contradictory information that you ended up more confused than when you started.
In my first year of motherhood I have come to realise that there are no miracle cures for sleepless nights with a new baby. However, I have discovered a few invaluable lessons on how you can approach baby sleep with a positive and realistic mindset, that won’t leave you feeling overwhelmed and defeated. This advice is aimed to give you and your baby the best chance of a good sleep!
- First, get to know your baby
It may sound obvious, but babies, like adults, have their own individual personalities, preferences, likes and dislikes. There is no one-size-fits-all approach that will be guaranteed to get every baby to sleep.
I remember when I was pregnant, my husband and I read all the baby books and together we decided what method we would use to get our baby to sleep. HA! How naive we were. We hadn’t even met our baby yet and we somehow thought we could just decide what approach would work best for him!
While it is a great idea to have some knowledge in your toolbox on different ways to help baby sleep, you don’t need to decide on anything definitive. Give yourself some time to get to know your baby and discover what he/she responds best to.
- There is only a problem if you say so
When it comes to getting your baby to sleep, there is no wrong or right way of doing it. There is no such thing as bad habits! Let me repeat that. There is no such thing as bad habits!
Trust your instincts. If you are happy with how your baby is sleeping, then there isn’t a problem. Period. If you, your baby and your family are all safe and happy then there is no need to make any changes! Don’t listen to anyone who tells you otherwise.
- Keep an Open Mind
There are an overwhelming number of different sleep philosophies and methods that promise to deliver a good night sleep for you and your baby. There are pros and cons to each of these. Keep an open mind as to what might be best suited for your baby and your family.
Likewise, you do not have to pick just one sleep method and stick to it no matter what!
In my sons first year of life I: co-slept, breastfed him to sleep, held him in my arms while he napped, rocked/patted/bounced him to sleep, offered comfort settling and left him to self-settle. There were also a few desperate nights I slept on the floor of the nursery.
Each method worked well for my family at different time periods.
- Don’t be quick to judge
Whatever you do, do not judge other mums who have a different sleep philosophy than your own. What works well for some, may not work well for others. And what works well at this point in time, may not work next week.
I am ashamed to say that I am guilty of making brash resolutions when it came to how I would be willing to get my bub to sleep. When I was pregnant I vowed that I would never:
- A) Co-sleep.
- B) Leave my baby to cry for any period of time to get to sleep
Apparently, in my naïve pregnant mind, I was under the impression that my baby would just peacefully drift off to sleep each time I placed him lovingly in his bassinet. Needless to say I was in for a shock when this fantasy did not eventuate.
In reality, like most mums, I resorted to whatever I had to do to get some sleep. At times, this meant co-sleeping and at other times it meant letting my baby self-settle.
- Ask for help
It is not only ok to ask for help, it is practically essential!
Accept help when it is offered to you. After all, it takes a village to raise a child! A short-term solution would be for your partner, a friend or family member to take bub for a walk in the pram each day while you have a nap.
Surround yourself with only positive supports and resources. For example, I am a big fan of the Facebook videos by Katie Forsythe from The Baby Sleep Company. She posts practical, non-judgmental advice and tips. I have not used her sleep consultancy services so I can’t comment on that, but I love her open-minded philosophy on baby sleep. Here is a link to one of her videos about newborns:
And finally, seek formal help and support if you need it. There is no shame in asking for help.
I requested to be referred to the Ellen Barron Sleep Centre in Brisbane when I was at my wits end of sleep deprivation with my baby. The centre provided support and education on responsive sleep settling techniques. This experience helped our family enormously and I am so thankful that I reached out for help when I needed it.
- Sleep is not linear
Baby’s sleep does not progressively improve each passing week. There will be periods of time when your baby will sleep like an angel and times when he/she will not sleep not matter what you do!
Physical growth, mental developmental, teething and illness will all have an impact on the quality of your baby’s sleep.
There will be times when it is necessary to respond to the changes in your baby’s needs and temporarily or permanently alter the sleep routine.
And sometimes, I am sorry to say, you just have to perservere through sleepless nights.
On these occasions, just tell yourself ‘this too shall pass’, and grab yourself another coffee!
If you love what you have read, we would really appreciate you joining us on Pinterest and Facebook
If you enjoyed this article, you may also be interested in THE 6 STAGES OF MY SLEEPLESS BABY.
P.S. I would love to hear from other mums about what sleep strategy works best for them and their baby! Please comment below to share your best sleep advice!