Today’s guest post is from Kelly-Anne who blogs at Mimi Rose and Me. In her post you will find plenty of great advice to help your baby sleep through the night. I have a feeling I will be putting some of it into practice!
There’s no doubt about it, parenting is hard. If we actually sit there and think about it being a parent is bloody hard work. I know this only too well as a first time parent. One minute you think that you have everything figured out and finally feel as if you have this whole parenting thing down, but then something is thrown into the mix to make life as a parent that much harder. Our daughter is nearly three years old so you could say that we’ve had our fair share of curve balls thrown at us. Separation anxiety being the mother of all the crappy parts of parenting. I will gladly take all those tantrums, potty training accidents and even accept the poo throwing incident in place of that.
As parents we feel moments of laughter and giggles, moments where we feel like crying all day, sometimes for no reason whatsoever. But for me as a first time mum there are lots of feelings of self doubt and I’m pretty sure that I am not the only who knows what I am talking about. Those first few days as new parents are ab emotional time, with exhaustion taking over one minute and then feeling total elation the next – and there was much that neither of us anticipated.
I guess we felt over whelmed to really understand what we were actually going through in the early days of parenthood. Even though we were ridiculously prepared, nothing can quite prepare you for becoming a parent – the exhaustion, the black poos, understanding each others needs, and more importantly making sure that our daughter bonded with both my husband and I. Our daughter came into the world and turned our life upside down and right side up again but we didn’t mind, we were very thankful for her. But as I look back to those days of early parenthood and think about all the advice I was given, there one piece of advice that I wish I had listen to, sleep when the baby does. For those first few weeks you can’t really have a normal routine, your new baby’s routine is your routine. Whether that’s being an early riser or becoming a night owl. Both you and your baby have been through some major changes and whether you like it or not it’s going to take some time, patience and will power to get through.
Every new parent is sleep deprived. It was pretty much all we were told at our antennal classes, midwife appointments and by family. But I guess until you have actually been awake six days straight you cannot really understand the sheer exhaustion new parents feel in those first few days. I was actually that tired I thought I was going to die, I know it sounds a little melodramatic but dealing with that type of exhaustion is just awful. Being that exhausted does make me wonder how on earth did I manage to still function like a normal human being I think that there’s just something that drives you, that and lots of coffee!!! After the initial first few weeks it was time to try and get my little lady into a routine, as we couldn’t become night owls forever. So our thoughts turned to getting our special lady to sleep through the night and I am offering to share all my top tips in getting your baby to sleep though and actually stay asleep.
First up, and I cannot stress this enough, the importance of creating a routine for your baby will help you no end. Honestly. Why should you get your baby into a routine? Apart from the most obvious – to get sleep. There are actually so many benefits in getting your baby into a routine as soon as possible. Let’s just sit here and think what we are like when an alarm doesn’t go off, if you’re like me, you will feel completely off sync all day. I know that if my alarm doesn’t go off, I feel cheated by that blasted alarm. It’s not my fault that I am late to a meeting, or an appointment or to a very important coffee date with a friend. Stupid alarm. By getting your baby into a routine as soon as you are able to will give your baby a sense of security and even give your baby some comfort. When you’ve established the routine they know what to expect. It can be a very draining process, but once you crack it there’s no looking back. You may have to miss out on some social events in your calendar, but rest assured if you keep with a routine your baby will learn to adjust to your lifestyle.
White Noise App
As a new parent if there is one piece of advice I will always suggest to expecting parents other than ‘sleep while you can’ would be to download a white noise app. The sleepless nights were a killer, especially in the first few days and one afternoon I made a discovery while I was drying my hair, my daughter fell asleep in minutes. We both had the best afternoon nap, as you can imagine I downloaded an app straightaway, seriously the best £1.99 I have ever spent.
A night light in the baby room helps your baby and toddler sleep in three different ways. First it can be reassuring in the dark, especially helpful during those baby separation anxiety phases. They can help create minimal arousal at night awakenings, which is critical for a better sleep, for both you and your baby. Lastly a timed alarm clock light effectively helps your early bird toddler sleep for much longer. When it come to night time I use an elephant night light which plays lullabies and projects different coloured stars on her bedroom ceiling. When we travel or stay at other people’s houses we use this cute seahorse which again plays lots of lullabies and has a night light.
Use your hands to soothe, but avoid soothing them for too long.
When I put my daughter to bed, even now, I always without fail stroke her face to help soothe her into a slumber. But if she ever stirs during the night I just go to her, stroke her face, or tap her tummy and she falls straight back to sleep. However bare in mind that if your little one is going through a big developmental growth spurt, they may be way too excited to try their new skill to falling back to sleep. Be firm and tell them that night time is not a time for play, it’s time for bed. If you don’t then you may be at risk of having a night owl, who loves to play at 4am. I even known some Mum’s who try soothing their baby for too long and now it’s become a habit and they will be three this year.
Singing or humming
If you hear your baby start to stir and you feel as if you want to comfort them go in their room and either sing a lullaby or hum to them. Even now, when my daughter wakes she will always ask me to sing to her, our favourite lullaby is Hush Little Baby and she settles back into a slumber. If you don’t want to sing try a continuous-play tape recording of your baby’s favourite lullabies, so when the baby awakens they can resettle to the familiar sleep-inducing sound of the tape-recording.
Introduce a comfort
This can be anything that’s safe for a baby or toddler to have at bed time. Most comforts are what you’d think of as “normal” comfort items – blankets, or stuffed animals. However, parents over the years have had some very strange comforts indeed! Some include spoons, a toothbrush and even a board book. Whatever you child feels comfortable with, will help them feel at ease.
Using a dummy to help soothe
Love them or hate them parents have been using them for years. I know that there are some parents that choose not to use a dummy to help soothe their child to sleep but for my daughter, a dummy helped her so much. I am however not here to say that you should use a dummy if you don’t, whatever works for you. So the benefits…the sucking motion can teach them to self soothe and it relives pain, especially when they are teething. It has been said that a dummy may even help to prevent SIDS, however there not much evidence to support this as of yet.
Stop the night time feeds, where possible.
Even though it may be tempting to feed your baby into a slumber, once you get the green light from your midwife or heath visitor slowly try and reduce your baby’s night time feed. If they are getting multiple bottles try and eliminate them one at a time over a four day period. You can also reduce the amount of formula in their bottle and when they realise that milk is no longer on the menu, they won’t keep asking for it. If you don’t you may get into a habit where your baby will only fall sleep if they are nursed back to sleep. Try and put your baby down when they are sleepy, but awake and check on them every 3-5 minutes until they fall to sleep.
So, now that I have told you all my secrets, it’s now over to you to try some of these methods to help your little one to sleep easier. Whenever my daughter wakes during the night I will always try and wait it out before going into her room, but if there is no way that she is falling back to sleep and is screaming or sitting up I will go to her. But I will try and go in with a soft approach and put her elephant night light back on, give her a dummy and place her yellow blanket across her, then pat her tummy. I will then try and leave and if I am lucky she will go straight back to sleep but if we have some trouble I would pick her up, give her a cuddle and slowly make my way out of the room. It’s all about testing ways that work for you, and these can be completely different but that’s OK.
About the Author
Hi, my name is Kelly-Anne, I’m a 28 year old mother to one, my cheeky little lady Amelia. I am also a wife to my lovely Tony and we have set up our forever home in the beautiful countryside of Norfolk. I first launched Mimi Rose & Me as a way to keep my brain from turning to complete mush whilst on maternity leave. Becoming a mother has changed my life and along with the blog my life is more fulfilling than I ever imagined. I hope to continue this new love for blogging whilst being the best wife and mother I can be. My blog is a UK family, beauty and lifestyle blog where I write about my life with my beautiful family who are always following the fun, living life inspired.