I remember vividly a comment made to me not so long ago, when my youngest was a fresh little bundle, all of about 6 weeks old. We were going through the checkout at Woolworths, when the lovely, more mature lady behind the counter said “Awww, how precious, Is he sleeping through the night for you yet?” as I stood there loading up my trolley while he cradled into my chest, firmly secured by the baby wrap, I just smiled back politely and said “No, not yet.. he’s only a newborn”. As I walked away in my sleep deprived state, I began to think about this passing comment and found myself mulling over it for the next few days. As a mother to four, I know newborns don’t sleep through the night, at least the vast majority don’t anyway and if this was said to me when I was a first time Mum with my eldest daughter than it would have made me feel like it’s something my baby should be doing which would have left me questioning myself, the sleep deprivation, what I must have been doing wrong and asking why my baby isn’t sleeping through if they’re suppose to?
You see, I remember like it was yesterday when I had my first. The first night home from the hospital, my husband and I laid our mattress on the lounge room floor with the mosses basket set up next to it, both of us learning how to settle our newborn baby and adjust to our new reality of being parents. It was nothing like we thought, nothing could have prepared us for the sleep deprivation. We read all the books, joined online forums and googled everything relentlessly but it’s not until you’re actually living this new reality for the first time that you can actually grasp what it is like or how you will cope. It was a struggle, trying to stay awake and keep up with the constant feeding demands. I remember thinking on the first night home with her “Why did I do this? I cant do this, I just want to sleep” and then to top it off, seeing a few weeks later that a friend who had a bay roughly the same age, post to their facebook that their bub was sleeping through the night, and I couldn’t grasp why their baby was and mine was not.
Fast forward seven years, add three more kids to the mix and the one thing I have learnt is that expecting a baby to sleep through the night is simply just as unrealistic as the expectation of finding the abominable snowman up at Mt Selwyn. All this does is leave you with feelings of disappointment and puts more unnecessary pressure on us as mothers. Lets face it, we really don’t need that added stress.
So, I am going to share with you my top three (non conventional BUT super practical and realistic) tips when it comes to your baby, their sleep and your sanity, that I wish I knew before I had my first and second;
- Don’t have any expectations – I wish someone said this to me the first time around, instead I was constantly being lead to believe that there were some kind of rare, magical human spawn out there that SLEPT ALL NIGHT, that in actual fact were not so rare at all. In reality though, that’s not the truth and having expectations like this of your child, especially a baby only causes yourself anguish and disappointment. Babies are not made to sleep through the night, nor are they meant to. Sure, its great if they do but its just not the norm. An extra bottle, ignoring their cries or cutting out a feed wont make them sleep through if they’re simply not ready to, it comes down to a developmental milestone that they will hit on their own when they’re ready to hit it.
- Do whatever works for you – Seriously, there is no rule book, do whatever works for you and your babe when it comes to sleep. People will have you believe that there are all these unofficial rules when it comes to babies and their sleep, but quit frankly that is a whole bunch of poppy cock. If I had a dollar for every time someone said to me “Don’t pat/rock/cuddle your baby to sleep or you will spoil them” or “You shouldn’t let your baby fall asleep while nursing” I would be a millionaire. The fact is, is that you can’t spoil your baby, they’re not threenangers and they’re not trying to manipulate you. It really is as simple as, If they’re tired, let them sleep, if they’re hungry, just feed them, if they want a cuddle, hold them close.. no strings attached, no ulterior motives. If a pat on the bum, a close cuddle or a snuggle, a bit of boob or bottle, a sweet song or the sound of the dryer going, a firm swaddle or a loose sleeping bag gets them to sleep, than just do it and go with the flow.. sleep is sleep, let them have it and you too.
- Don’t compare your baby to another! – Yep, you heard it here first. Your child is not the same as any body else! Shocking I know, but true all the same. Just like everyone else in the world, your baby is their own person, with their own individual thoughts and feelings. Us humans, we are not made in a factory or coming off a production line.. so you can not expect everyone to run and work exactly the same, you will only drive yourself mad comparing your baby to another and thinking like that. Instead, you should bask in their individuality, their personalities and little quirks that are starting to shine through, even if some of them are that they like a good midnight snack and to see the early morning sunrises.
Those are just a few of my own tips to help you and your babe to go from screams to snores and from crazy to content. I’m obviously no sleep consultant, sleep specialist or trained in pediatrics nor am I claiming to be but what I am is a Mamma to four, just trying to gently remind you that these moments are fleeting and that our babies grow soo fast! I know you’re tired, I am too but I promise that you are going to blink one day and they will be all grown up, sleeping through the night, in their own bed, in their own room and you will find yourself wondering where your tiny baby and the time has gone. Yes, the nights are long, some days are too but the weeks, months and years are short and this chapter in your life will soon be a distant memory. Just cuddle your baby, bask in each moment, enjoy them as they are, soak up every minute and let go of all those expectations. You will be surprised at how much better both your baby and yourself sleep when you just let go of everything, relax, become content with your life and accept their current sleep situation because it wont last forever, neither will their tiny size, the endless cuddles or them nuzzling into your chest as they sleep.
#rssau #littleonesnappy #woolworths