How I got my babies to sleep
Kate shares her experience of getting her little ones to sleep at night.
I am the mother of five lovely children and am now a clinical support worker for people who have children with extra health problems. Trial and error brought me to the steps that I am sharing with you now…
How to get some sleep
The last weeks of pregnancy are a good preparation for the first weeks or months of having a child. You are uncomfortable, hot, and need to pee every half hour. Baby is big and awake as soon as you lay down to rest. The good news is, if you can relax about baby being ok after it’s born, it is possible to sleep on a barbed wire fence. Sleep whenever you can. Leave the dusting and the hovering to later. I was always tired but never desperate because I would drop everything for a sleep. I could be found asleep in my car in multi storey car parks, on the floor next to the cot, on the couch, in a chair, or round a friend’s house. When baby settles into a routine you can work around this, mid-morning was a favourite nap time. Necessary housework can be done with babe along for the ride.
"I was always tired but never desperate because I would drop everything for a sleep"
How to get baby to sleep
Night time sleeping requires routine, organisation and stealth. These are my three basic steps to new baby sanity.
Establish a bedtime routine as early as possible, at a time that suits you. Personally, I don’t think that children should be in bed too early. This means they will be up too early also, so I found somewhere between six and nine in the evening worked. This means the working partner can be part of the routine too!
Start with undressing baby and giving them a bath or a strip wash. This can be anywhere, they are very small – kitchen sink, bowl, baby bath or big bath with or without you in it too.
Then get their pyjamas on and dial down the stimulation. Sitting in a dimly lit quiet room is dull but it should pay off. Feed babe, wait for sleep then put them to bed. Any feeds or cuddles are then dealt with in the bedroom until morning. This becomes bed time even before they are aware. When they are aware the rules are already set, so even when changes mean this cannot happen, we can return to it because it is their ‘normal’.
Particularly important if baby is bottle fed. Make sure you have everything you need for the night. If babe wakes up enough to start howling it will take
longer to settle them again. I mixed up a slightly strong night feed, and then when baby woke up I added hot water from a flask by my bed and shook it. I found that if you respond quickly at the first squeaks they're more likely to resettle.
Breast feeding at night was much easier so no gadgets were required. I had babe in the room with me and just scooped them in and fed lying down. If they needed the other side just roll over! I would usually wake with baby in my arms and I would shift them up a bit onto a terry nappy or blanket that I kept there.
April 30th 2014