Posts Tagged ‘baby to sleep through the night’

Why Won’t My Baby Sleep?

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

Why Won't My Baby Sleep?I remember it well. My daughter was around 4 months old. She had started to smile, play, and just be a lot of fun. Along with this fun came sleep issues. Transitioning to her crib from her pack ‘n play, waking up every hour or so to nurse, waking up in the night just to hang out and play. They no longer sleep those long stretches and mom starts to panic. Here are a few tips I discovered while battling many sleepless nights.

Tip #1 Find their happy place

My daughter slept right next to my bed until around 4 months old. It was so easy to grab her, nurse her, and put her back down. We rarely woke up her daddy, and it made for quite the easy night. She also became a lot more aware that she was next to mommy. She would wake up and see me and cry. While I have never ventured into bedsharing, I discovered that having my daughter in the room, but not next to me, was effective. This is also a great time to transition into the crib if you choose. You can start with naps, and then try it at bedtime. Find the best spot for baby to sleep that is safe, comfy and works for both of you.

Tip #2: Sound machines are a lifesaver

A friend recommended a sound machine to me. As a new mom, I was clueless. I bought the My Baby by Homedics Sound Spa at Target. It retails for around $25. White noise, sounds of lullabies, heartbeat sounds, and other white noise helps baby feel they are not alone. It also prevents waking from the slightest noise. I also recommend things like the Baby Einstein Sea Dreams Soother aquarium. My daughter still uses this. It plays almost a half hour of soothing lullabies and features a relaxing underwater theme. These retail for around $40 on Amazon.

Tip #3: Go to other moms for advice

Other moms always have great advice. Another tip I was told was to start creating a bedtime routine so baby knows what is happening. Try a soothing bath with Angel Baby Bath Blossoms. Baby massage is also another way to soothe baby to sleep. Sing lullabies to baby before bedtime. There are so many resources online, but I think as moms we often forget our best resource is our friends–other moms who share our parenting styles and philosophies.

Tip #4: This Too Shall Pass

A friend told me about the 4-month wakeful period. I am convinced that we lived through that. My daughter soon began sleeping better, and I did, too. The nursing slowed down in the night, although growth spurt times were times of frequent waking. I frequented Starbucks, but that’s nothing new. I remember sitting up in the night with my daughter at 3 a.m. one night and she just wasn’t tired. She preferred playtime. Try to think of it as you are the person your baby loves enough to want to spend precious time with. You won’t get those precious moments back.

Karyn is a mom of one. She likes her sleep but loves her daughter Johanna so much more!

 

 

API Principle #5: Ensure Safe Sleep, Physically and Emotionally

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

Attachment Parenting International is an organization dedicated to promoting a evidence-based information to foster healthy parent-child attachments. Each Friday for the last several weeks, I have examined one of API’s 8 Principles of Parenting. The fifth API Parenting Principle and the topic of today’s post is to Ensuring Safe Sleep, Physically and Emotionally.

Often when a couple finds out they are expecting they will put a great deal of thought into decorating a nursery, choosing a crib, and selecting bedding. However it is not very common for many expectant couples to devote that same energy to understanding an infant’s sleep needs or patterns. The underlying assumption is that their baby will soon be sleeping solo in their crib through the night. While this may be the case for some families, it is likely the result of intentional sleep training on the parent’s behalf. The most common approach is to allow a baby to ‘cry it out’ by simply ignoring their crying until the baby finally falls sleep on his/her own. Often this approach is validated by claiming it teaches a baby to be independent and how to self-soothe. However “an infant is not neurologically or developmentally capable of calming or soothing himself to sleep in a way that is healthy. The part of the brain that helps with self-soothing isn’t well developed until the child is two and a half to three years of age” (API, 2008). While this method has prevailed for the last few decades, research is now showing the harmful effects of allowing babies to cry themselves to sleep. When a baby’s cries are ignored there is a significant increase in ’the stress hormone cortisol in the brain which has potential long term effects to emotional regulation, sleep patterns and behavior’ (API, 2008). So while crying it out may indeed be effective in getting a baby to sleep through the night at an early age, we are starting to question at what cost? Science is now providing evidence for what we’ve intuitively known all along; a crying baby needs our love and comfort and we are discovering that there are serious implications to denying those basic needs.

Getting ready to go to sleep in our "Family Bed"; a queen size and a king size bed pushed together

So what does API believe ensures safe sleep, physically and emotionally? API believes that babies nighttime needs are equally important as daytime needs. An effective way for babies to communicate their needs is by crying. When a baby cries at night they are expressing a valid need whether it be they are too hot, too cold, ill, hungry, uncomfortable, or simply needing physical contact/reassurance from a parent. By recognizing these needs as important and responding accordingly, parents instill a sense of trust and security in their child which form the foundation of healthy attachment. What is often misunderstood about healthy parent-child attachment is that it actually leads to greater independence. The fear of creating a an overly dependant child is so prevalent in our society that often parents will go to great lengths to attempt to “teach” independence at a very early age. When a baby/child is prematurely forced into independence, it often results in greater dependence as well as can lead to anxiety and insecurity.

API encourages parents to be open, flexible, and creative in developing a sleep arrangement that allows for optimal responsiveness to night time needs. Typically this translates to baby sleeping in close proximity to parents. Two distinct terms are used to describe such sleep arrangements:

Co-Sleeping – infant/child sleeps in same room as parents, but on a different sleep surface than parents such as in a bassinet, a sidecar crib, or on a separate mattress.

Bed-sharing/Family Bed - infant/child sleeps on the same sleep surface as the parents. “This practice is recommended for only for breastfeeding families using API’s Safe Sleep Guidelines” (API, 2008).

Shared sleeping arrangements such as co-sleeping or bed-sharing frequently report a reduction in parental fatigue thus providing a physiological benefit to the parents as well to baby. Additionally “we should understand the mother and child as a mutually  responsive dyad.  They are a symbiotic unit that make each other  healthier and happier in  mutual responsiveness” (Psychology Today, 2011).

While getting adequate sleep can certainly be challenging as parent, API reminds us to not lose sight of the importance of ensuring a baby with safe sleep both physically and emotionally. By providing baby with a peaceful sleep routine and environment, parents are optimally supporting their child’s development.

What does your sleep arrangement look like? How did you know that was the right fit for your family?

-Sarah

Will I Ever Sleep Again?

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

 

After the arrival of your new baby and a few sleepless weeks, do you wonder if you would ever get a full night’s sleep again? I know I do. Adjusting to an infant’s sleep patterns is challenging because they are vastly different than an adult’s sleep cycles. Functioning on lack of sleep is no doubt very difficult! I have lots of compassion and empathy for sleepy moms! In fact, I’m one of them. :) However I do believe there is a light at the end of this tunnel and sleep will be restored in our lives someday. I remind myself that overall this is a relatively short period of time in our baby’s life where the need a lot from us during the night.

 

Nighttime Parenting
As you explore literature on infant sleep you might see the term Nighttime Parenting which refers to how we parent at night. When I first heard the term it kind of confused me. Why the need to distinguish nights from days in terms of parenting? Doesn’t the role of a parent automatically include addressing baby’s night time needs? Is it possible to hang up your parenting hat at night or does parenting exceed the boundaries of time? After doing some reading and some thought on the topic I felt being equally available to baby during the day or night was important to establishing a sense of security for them. I wanted them to know their needs were important to me and that my love was available to them all times of day. Additionally I believe crying serves an important communicative function day or night. In other words if my baby is crying, my baby is expressing a need. By responding to that need I am fostering communication skills and trust, which are the foundations of healthy relationships.

Listen to your heart
There is a lot of parenting advice floating around in regards to infant sleep. There are various sleep training methods that promote ways to get your baby to sleep through the night. Some may have suggestions that feel uncomfortable or upsetting to you. If so, listen to your heart! It speaks from a wise and intuitive place.

Don’t Compare Your Baby to Others
I remember going to a mom’s group when my first son was about 6 months old. Many of the moms were discussing how early their babies slept through the night…some as young as 8 weeks old. At 6 months old my son was still waking up several times throughout the night to nurse. After hearing the moms talk I wondered if I was doing something wrong. Also I was a little jealous of all the sleep they seem to be getting. After thinking about it for a few days, I reminded myself why I wanted my son to have access to breastmilk at night. I realized it was important not to be pressured into thinking he needed to be doing what other babies were doing; rather trust we were doing what felt right for our family. I found that connecting with like-minded families was helpful. It felt safe to openly share with them that my son still nursed at night and I found comfort in knowing that many of their babies did too.

So to answer the original question of Will I ever sleep again? The answer is YES! You will! I don’t know exactly when, but it will happen and it will feel amazing! In the meantime nap when your baby naps (forget the housework!) and utilize your support system to help you get through the days that follow those sleepless nights.

What are your thoughts on nighttime parenting? Any moms of older children who can attest to eventually getting a good night’s sleep?

Sleepy moms need good nutrition for energy throughout the day. Check out tomorrow’s post for a fun, healthy nutrition activity you can do with your child.

-Sarah