I still remember my first peep into the upside down world that we sleep-deprived parents inhabit.
I was pregnant with my first child and living in a tiny London flat. My husband had just come home with a baby monitor and was messing around with it. As he turned the dial he must have tuned into a nearby mum’s desperate pleas muttering through gritted teeth, “PLLLLLLEEEAASE go to sleep!” over and over again. We looked at each other, is this what lay ahead?
Nothing can prepare you for that zombie-like state when you’ve had not one sleepless night, but countless. When your head nods sitting up, when you can’t string a sentence together, never mind find the energy to put your pants on. And what about the rage you feel when some well-meaning individual makes a ‘ways to make them sleep’ suggestion?
“Let them cry! Have a stricter routine! Use a dummy/black out blinds! Put them in your bed/don’t put them in your bed!” Arrgh!
A friend of mine had such a rigid routine in place she wouldn’t even flush the toilet once her daughter had gone to sleep in fear of waking her. Now she looks back and says even the fear of her waking up, caused untold stress. Another friend, took one look at a Gina Ford book and lobbed it in the fire. So what is the solution?
“The one that works for you.” says Kerry Secker from Care It Out Sleep Consultancy in East London. “There is so much pressure to get your little one sleeping through. If Baby isn’t sleeping it’s easy to feel you are getting it all wrong. I PROMISE this isn’t true; they get through the night when they are ready, no two babies are the same.” And Kerry should know, as a qualified paedriatic sleep consultant she has helped hundreds of desperate parents get their babies in to a routine that works for them.”
I agree. From the hundreds of mums I speak to every year at the Baby Shows we attend (ooh and the next one is at London’s Excel on 2nd March, we’re at stand D22 if you fancy catching up), everyone has a different story as to what works and doesn’t. Some of the mums have had three or four babies and each one has been different. Some babies sleep, others don’t sleep so well. Here’s what we’ve learnt…
- Sleep when your baby sleeps, I hated being given this advice but on the few times I took it, it helped (obviously only when I had one child) The washing-up can wait.
- Even if you don’t want to follow a routine, a ‘wind-down’ time can really help. A gentle massage with a 100% natural oil such as Love Boo Kind & Calming Massage Oil and soothing words or stories can really help. You don’t need any specific massage techniques, just a gentle rub around the limbs and tummy – your baby will let you know what they like. A spritz of 100% natural Pillow & Room Spray on to bedding can also be a sensory cue to tell Baby it’s relaxing time.
- “When your baby was in your tummy, he/she was used to noise,” says Midwife Jo Watson, from UK Birth Centres. “Tip-toeing around being super-silent can unsettle them but a bit of background noise and gentle chatter can help”
- “If your little one wakes for a feed it’s a bona fide biological need and meeting that need can never be the wrong thing to do. Most little ones will naturally wean once they take in enough to sustain themselves over night,” says Kerry Secker.
- And finally, going without sleep is hard enough without feeling that you’re not doing something right. “It’s so hard not to compare your baby to friend’s babies but it can really pile on even more pressure, says Kerry. Well said! Go easy on yourself, you’re doing a fab job!