Thursday, 9 April 2015

advice from the laundry pile: on sleeping

Welcome to the first part of this series - Advice From The Laundry Pile. Each week or so, I will post my thoughts and experiences on topics such as sleeping, feeding, starting solids, etc. Please keep in mind that I'm not an expert or a medical professional, just an ordinary Mum who even after nearly a year and a half is STILL learning every day.

There's always conflicting information on everything to do with a baby. Every book, internet article or person will tell you something different and it can be extremely confusing as to what is right.

You know what is right? The things that you are probably already doing, even though you may not feel like they are.

My first piece of advice would be to keep an open mind when reading all those books or internet articles. Take away from each one the things that you feel comfortable with doing and if something doesn't work (after a period of time), then try something else. Don't see it as being a failure, it's all a learning experience. Not only for you but your baby as well. Remember that no two days are the same,  just as no two babies are the same.

The first topic I'm going to write about is sleeping. Ahhh, lovely, delicious sleep. Unfortunately most babies don't see it that way. They do sleep a lot for the first couple of months, but never for long periods of time (unless you got the jackpot and then you'll be worried if you should wake the baby to feed them). Most newborns will wake every 2-3 hours to be fed. Some poor darlings will have severe reflux or colic making them scream a lot instead of sleep. As they get a bit older, they wake up because they're hot. They wake up because they're cold. They wake up because you've left the room. They're not comfortable. Their arms woke them up because they've struggled out of their wrap and now they're flailing around.

After nearly 18 months, I've worked out there's really no rhyme or reason to their sleep. We spent HOURS for MONTHS getting L to sleep and she wouldn't sleep anywhere but her pram. We'd push that thing up and down the hallway, swaying it from side to side, over the rug to create a bumping motion, slow and fast. She would look like she was asleep and as soon as the movement stopped - BAM! - eyes open looking at us like "ummm, why did you stop?" At least after she was asleep, she stayed asleep. Then it was definitely time to transfer her back into her cot. Hours of patting and shhhing and singing. She'd sit up and cry and wouldn't lay back down. She'd lay down and look like she was drifting off, only to sit up and cry some more. But again, once she was finally asleep she stayed asleep.

I could not get her to take day naps though. No matter how tired she was, she just would not sleep in the cot during the day. Just over a week ago, I said "right, you sit here and play and Mummy will lay on the lounge and have a nap herself". I could hear her messing around over by her fold out couch. She was laying down, sitting up, laying down, moving around. Then silence. I didn't dare look at her in case I interrupted whatever she was doing, but I could see her reflection in her little mirror on the floor and she was laying on her tummy very still. She was that tired she passed out for the very first time, half on-half off her couch, clutching her bunny.

So, you know what we did? We put this couch into her cot! We now give her big kisses, tell her we love her and hope she has a great sleep and we'll see her in the morning. Then we leave the room. She may cry on and off for a few minutes but she's not distressed (if she was hysterical we would go back in there to comfort her) and within 10 minutes she is asleep! My little girl is growing up! My Mum and I look at each other in amazement - how easy is this?! How silly have we been with all this patting and singing and pram pushing for hours? But I know that we had to do all that to lead up to this. She is ready now. She is comfortable. She is understanding a lot more. She now sleeps a good 12-14 hours EVERY NIGHT.

I guess my advice is - it doesn't happen over night, but it does eventually happen. Don't stress too much over it and enjoy those late night baby snuggles while you can, even if your eyes are burning and you live on coffee all day to stay awake. They're only babies for a short period of time... and then they grow into independent little people.

In just over 2 months I will have another baby and go back to getting up every 2-3 hours haha!

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