10 tips to better sleep for baby and mummy – this article is specifically written for the benefits of the first-time parents in particular, who are going through sleeping problems with their infant(s) like we did with our twins last time. These are frequently asked questions by mummies and daddies,
“Why my baby doesn’t fell asleep on his own?”
“Why doesn’t my baby slept through the night?”
“Why doesn’t my baby slept early like 7 or 8pm every night?”
“Why does my baby cried before he sleeps?”
“Why can’t my baby slept anywhere when he is tired?”
Before my twins turned toddlers, every night when it was time for my twins’ bedtime, it was always a battlefield in the bed room. It has been a long standing battle between G&G and mummy & daddy. My twins did not like to go to the LaLa Land unless the sleep monster buzzed them.
We could accept that all babies need time to learn the skills of falling asleep on their own, but is 12 months too long a time to learn? We know babies cry for many reasons but routinely cry at 8pm when they were being changed into pyjamas, why is that so? All babies were born not able to differentiate day and night, parents need to set a bed time routine and make the napping and sleeping environment different from waking environment. After you have done all these, why does your baby still wake up in the middle of the night and start to play? After so much play outside the house, your baby slept so soundly in the car or baby carrier or in your arms. Why did he wake up immediately you put him into his cot?
While we as parents are always worried that our baby isn’t getting adequate sleep for their growth, at the end of the day, we become the ones who are very sleep deprived. Admittedly, we have tried numerous methods and many permutations of daily schedules just to get our kiddos to sleep early and through the night. I must say, some worked and some didn’t. Commendably, I managed to sleep more hours now at night compared to few months ago.
The first year has not been easy and how did we manage all these sleeping-crying episodes? Here are the 10 situations which can keep you awake that come with some practical solutions. No caffeine needed! Note: This is not sleep training as we don’t believe in that. Neither do we are believer of “Cry-It-Out”.
1. Tiny little stomach wakes you up
Newborn at day 1 has a shooter marble-sized stomach, day 3 a ping-pong ball-sized stomach and day 10 a stomach with size of a large chicken egg. Inevitably, baby waking up every 2-3 hours or even every hour for feeding is a very common and normal behavior. Especially for breastfeeding baby, breastmilk is less dense compared to formula milk, baby tends to get hungry faster and require more frequent feeds. Try to outsource the feeding to another person or get a feeding pillow with good backrest for direct breastfeeding and learn the skill of sleeping while sitting. You can try to co-sleep with your baby to catch more sleep but care and caution are needed when co-sleeping with a small infant to avoid SID (sudden infant death).
2. New to the real world wakes you up
Our tummy is a dark world, our baby was a resident for close to nine months surely would not know how to differentiate day and night, they wake up anytime and sleep anytime.
Commonly, most people swaddled their baby to give them the continual sense of security and of course, we did that too. In fact, we carried and rocked them to sleep in particularly for G1 who is a light sleeper. We weren’t worried over the usual concern of “spoiling” our babies through the frequent carrying and no slightest regret that we actually did. After the first year, you will know that carrying an infant is much easier than carrying a tot.
To help them in differentiating day and night, we installed the day and night curtains. When it was time for naps, we close the night curtain to make the room dark and open it when they were awake. Whereas, at night we would just close the day curtain to show them that night has fall, time to go to bed. It has been a success to train them to nap at specific timing but not too successful for the night sleep.
3. Colicky wakes you up
Presumably, you have heard of this word – ‘colic’ very often. Exactly what is colic? Some people refer it to stomach has wind or bloated stomach. Our paediatrician explained to us that it just means, “Baby is crying for no reason”. So real and so true. In fact, we have no idea why G1 cried so much during his first 3 months.
To get G&G to sleep better and longer, I massaged them after shower and before bedtime daily. For G1, we introduced the spring cot (摇蓝) after he was one month old for his day naps and at times, allowed him to sleep in his rocker chair for couple of hours. G1 has reflux problem, and we used the cocoonababy bed which curves to the infant’s body shape. Wow, it was a good investment with good return on investment! They slept well, we slept well.
4. Pee and poo wakes you up
Some babies are just freaky clean babies and some do not really bother if their bums are covered with poo. If you have the earlier, do check and clean him frequently before the wailing starts. Once wailing starts, it takes longer to soothe him to sleep. I have a freaky clean baby who would just fuss and couldn’t bear the idea of his poo sticking on his butt for a minute more and one who wasn’t too bothered.
5. You cry I cry wakes you up
One of the twins problem is, when one cries, the other tends to follow. Separate them to different rooms for naps! As I co-sleep with both, it was easy to nurse both to sleep at night.
6. Non-conducive environment wakes you up
I have a friend who has gone to the extent of changing her bedroom’s light bulb as her baby didn’t like the colour of the light and refused to sleep. Possibly, it could also be the temperature or the humidity in the bedroom that are affecting your baby’s sleep. Your baby may be feeling too cold or warm or dry especially sleeping in the air-conditioned room. So, put a humidifier in the bedroom would help them sleep better.
7. Night nursing wakes you up
I nurse my kids to sleep, after they dozed off, I would put them back to their cot, and they woke up again. Then I have to nurse them again, and start the whole cycle which seemingly like a never ending nursing-putting in-carrying out-nursing and was not a fun exercise for me. I started to co sleep with them after they were 6 months old. Since then, I gained an additional hour of valuable sleep by eliminating the non-value adding vicious cycle.
Often, babies who are nursed to sleep tend to take their mummies as their pacifiers and for comfort nursing. I would unlatch them when they fall asleep and observe their reactions. If they aren’t bothered to re-latch, turn back to back resting position. If they start to cry, wait for a while before latching them back and go through the whole cycle again. This is a patience test.
8. Meeting milestones wakes you up
“Mummy, I have my KPIs to meet too!” When baby learns a skill, they tend to practice the newly acquired skill day in and day out until they master it. When my babies were learning to sit, they could just wake up in the middle of the night and trying to sit. When they were learning to crawl, they would do the sleep-crawling. There is really nothing you can do but wait for them to master the skill or outgrow it.
9. Dreaming wakes you up
Apparently, babies dream a lot. When they dream, they may cry, make noise or even talk in sleep. So, before you hurried to pick them up when they are shuffling or crying, they are probably still sleeping.
10. Any other reason wakes you up
Well, it could be due to teething, sickness or simply over-stimulation that is keeping your baby awake. For teething, you can use teething gel to soothe your baby’s gum but I personally find it useless. A pacifier may help but mine didn’t like it. It is a passing phase, bear with it.
Beside a bed-time routine, a winding down activity every night is helpful. We use story-telling as a winding down activity.
We learn not to fret over their sleeping time or waking time. Babies know how to balance their resting time. if they don’t sleep much today, they will either sleep early at night or nap more over the week. Just remember to put them to bed when they show cues of tiredness and not when they are overly tired.
So, who still wants to sleep like a baby?
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