Sleep is a basic ability that all babies are naturally born to develop! Yes that's right develop!
As they grow they start to need healthy sleep, but of course newborns need our help to soothe, calm and settle....
By around five to six months of age, most babies are capable of sleeping well without too much help from parents, but unleashing your babies natural ability to sleep easy can be one of the biggest hurdles many parents face.
It seems that as soon as you've had your baby the question rolls in 'is your baby sleeping through the night yet'? 'How is he sleeping?'
And there are many opinions on how to get your baby to sleep through the night, "cry-it-out sleep training" "no cry method" are just two of them.......
Many of these techniques seem to contradict each other as well......
Babies are such smart little things and they don't like it when we make changes; babies often cry when you're changing their already established sleep pattern.
Often babies sleep issues are because they are unable to self soothe, or they wake in the night out of habit rather than hunger and some won't go to sleep without needing a parents presence. Sometimes we can actually over-help our baby to go to sleep; rocking, bouncing or even feeding baby to sleep are classic techniques we develop to soothe our little ones!
- Put your baby down while they are awake
- Recognise your tired baby's cues
- Offer baby a comforter (blankie, raggie tag)
- Lose the feeding-sleep association
- Don't let your baby cry for long periods
- Be consistent and persistent with your baby!
Sleep deprivation can feel like torture! By the afternoon your energy levels are low and you're exhausted surviving on caffeine and sugar - we've all been there!
Mums look normal (well maybe a few darker circles under your eyes) but we are just functioning, cooking, laundry, going to work. Just because our eyes are open doesn't mean our brain is fully switched on!
Our sleep deprived minds are slower; we are trying to function on too few cylinders; and we accept as parents this is something that comes part of the job!
Well there is no one right way to get a baby to sleep, it has to work for you & your family. It never surprises me how much pressure society puts on 'baby sleep' and many people will share with you their amazing stories of their fabulous sleeping baby.
My boys never slept through the night until they were around 1 year old. Just as I thought I had cracked it we would stumble across teething issues, night terrors or illness. I just thought this to be the norm; I wasn't bothered that my babies weren't perfect sleepers.
The Happy Sleeper:
I truly believe there is so much pressure for babies to sleep through the night this has a knock on effect to whether they eventually do.
Is there too much information now for parents? So many different sleep techniques that maybe they interfere with our children's natural sleep development.
I recently discovered an interesting book 'The Happy Sleeper' Heather Turgeon & Julie Wright talk about babies innate capacity to self soothe, as well as the brain machinery to sleep well.
They share some great tips for raising happy sleepers and more about creating a positive association with sleep and less about following strict methods that might not feel instinctive, especially when you are a sleep deprived parent....
Knowing that sleep is not learnt, but a habit developed is so true. Our babies are creatures of habit; they are tuned to follow and latch onto patterns, so keep your sleep patterns the same each night, baby will soon start to settle.
There is no right way to sleep, if your baby wakes up half way through the night and your routine is to go to your baby popping their soother back into their mouths and they go back off sleep and everyone in the family feels happy with this then no need to change, it works for you.
For now, I say go to bed early (9.30pm was quite often my bedtime for at least the first year!) And strong coffee was my saviour!