If only we could give new parents the gift of sleep, rather than Sophie le Giraffe! Here sleep expert Lisa Clegg imparts some words of wisdom to help you through the early days and beyond.
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Sleep is something we all need and crave to function and stay healthy on a day today basis. As a parent, those early days and weeks of having a newborn in the house means sleep, is something you will get very little of.
If you thought a particular job or career you had before embarking on parenthood would prepare you, then think again! Nothing will come close to the sheer relentless exhaustion you will feel, on the parenting roller coaster.
The feelings that come with having a baby affect you emotionally as you worry about every fluid that does or doesn't go into them and come out of them, every noise they do or don't make, coupled with the fact that you can't remember when you slept for more than 2 hours in a row, means you walk around in a sleep deprived haze!
Don't get me wrong, becoming a parent also comes with the most wonderful feelings about this little person you created too, who you would suddenly walk to the ends of the earth for and is worth every sleep deprived second.
However, you are still wondering how long it will be before your little bundle, will allow you to sleep for a good stretch again.
Some parents count themselves lucky and have babies who sleep for long stretches of night from an early age. Others are still being woken two, three, four or more times per night when their baby is over six months or even a year old.
Since beginning my parent email advice service last year, I have had many mums (mainly) contact me daily. 95% of them are asking for help and advice with sleep related issues they are having with their baby or toddler.
The one thing they ALL have in common is that their baby is reliant on some kind of sleep prop to help them off to sleep:
- A dummy
- Being rocked to sleep
- Being cuddled to sleep
- Being fed to sleep
- Using a pushchair or pram to be rocked/pushed to sleep
- Motion of a car
A baby that is reliant on any kind of sleep prop, will always wake frequently to look for that same comfort, to help them resettle each time they pass through the sleep cycle. This happens every 30-60 minutes during the day and slightly longer at night, 1-2 hourly, and a baby will wake looking for that same comfort to get them back to sleep again each time.
If the last thing the baby remembers is being snuggled in a parent’s arms and maybe having a dummy, breast or bottle in their mouth, it's totally understandable that they are pretty furious when they wake up in a different place, i.e the cot, so they will need that same comfort to resettle again.
I'm sure you would be pretty shocked if you fell asleep in your own bed and woke up in the spare room bed of your house, wouldn't you?
Teaching your baby how to self settle to sleep happily, with no crying and no reliance on you feeding, rocking, or using a dummy, is a massive gift you give them.
Establishing a good day time routine and teaching your baby to self settle without being reliant on you or a dummy all the time, will mean you all finally begin to enjoy sleep again...until teething or illness hit-but that's a whole other post!