Farewell Old Sleeping Habits, You Served Me Well

I used to wonder why after all these years of my parents not having kids at home, they would still get up at 5am? I was honestly baffled, surely after 20 odd years of raising your children you would be entitled to a sleep in? Or stay up till midnight raging? I’ve now come to the conclusion its because they had 20 years of training.

Before I had a baby I thought nothing of staying up till midnight and getting up at 6am for work the next day. Likewise during the weekend I never had a problem staying up all night and sleeping all day. But now after having my baby I have discovered a tiredness i have never known before. It’s not the same tiredness you experience those crazy few months of having a new born, when your eyeballs are hanging out of your head, you put your mobile in the fridge, and perfect the zombie vacant look and walk. But it is a constant tiredness that ebbs and wanes in strength. But it basically boils down to I am lucky to be awake past 10pm, and I sleep in (when I get to) till 7am.

No kidding I am giddy with excitement if I sleep in till 7am. Seriously if I wake up and the clock says 7am I am as happy as a puppy who has spotted its toy ball. It is the best sleep in ever! At night you could almost set your clock by me as I fall asleep where I sit/lay at 10pm on the dot. Luckily hubby is awake to care for the little monkey, well I assume he was awake and caring for little monkey. Little monkey could have been swinging from the ceiling fan, colouring the cats in with fluro texter’s, or speaking fluent Japanese and commenting on the news channels top stories, and  I would never have known.

So I figure by the time my son is 20 and if I am lucky leaving home, I would have 20 years under my belt of going to bed by 10pm and being awake by 7am. I suspect my days of staying up late and sleeping in till 10am are LONG gone.

So farewell old sleeping habits, you served me well when I was young and child free. Greetings new sleeping habits, I’m sure you will serve me well.

I Have A Cunning Plan

I have a cunning plan for getting my son to sleep. No one way will guarantee my son falls asleep. We have at least five different methods to get him to sleep and it is different again with other people because what works for us doesn’t work for others , and likewise what works for them does not work for us.

But normally playing relaxing music or “pretending” to be asleep is usually the final step to getting our little guy down. It’s like he refuses to sleep until he is absolutely sure he wont miss anything. Let me tell you observing your child from behind pretend sleep eyelashes is a skill!

Now you have probably spotted the flaw in our otherwise awesome cunning plan. That is the fake sleep and relaxing music part. Unfortunately this usually turns into “real” sleep with me waking a couple of hours later with our little guy fast asleep next to me phew. Who would have thought a tired mummy pretending to be asleep would be the way of actually getting said mummy to sleep?

We might have to rethink our cunnning plan, if it wasn’t for the BIG flaw of me falling asleep too it would be perfect! Oh well back to the drawing board.

Amber Teething Necklaces

At risk of sounding like a hippie, I am totally in love with my Son’s amber teething necklace!

If you havent heard of them, Amber teething necklaces are made for wearing (not chewing) when a baby is teething. The warmth from the skin releases the active ingredient in the Amber, called succinic acid. Recent research suggests that this can improve immunity, help reduce drooling and soothe red cheeks. Amber’s anti-inflammatory properties are said to help relieve teething pain and calm a baby without the use of drugs

I had friends who have used these teething necklaces on their babies since they were really young, and i was always a little bit sceptical.  I thought they looked really cute on baby girls, but i was not about to whack a necklace on my cloth wearing, co-sleeping, attachment parented baby boy, for fear of really becoming a hippie.

And then we had – what is now referred to in our house as – the week of horror.  We had just successfully completed baby boot camp and got our little man out of our bed and into his cot, where he was sleeping through the night, without kicking Mummy in the face. All was going well, i even felt human!! Then the dreaded teeth started. My son woke every 40 minutes, had neurofen, panadol, and a homoeopathic remedy that smelt and tasted like cola and to this day i have no real belief that it works. We paced and we fed and we bathed him in the middle of the night, i sung twinkle twinkle until my voice was hoarse, and two days later we had a front tooth poke through the gum, we held a breath and went to bed that night hoping we would get at least three hours sleep, and we did! He slept through and so did Mummy and Daddy. We thought we had done it, but the following night it happened all over again. So in desperation i bought an amber teething necklace. By the time it arrived we had a second tooth through the gum and we were back to sleeping through, but i put it on anyway and we ghave all happily co-existed ever since.

Until this week. My son’s childcare has developed a no jewelry policy and so i took his little necklace off as i dropped him off, and when Daddy picked him up, he called to say that my son had a teething / dribble rash all down his chin. From four hours with out it!! We have cut three teeth in the teething necklace without so much as a grizzle, no panadol, no demeted midnight singing, or twilight bathing. It really is a little miracle!!

Due to the no jewellery policy and my mature outlook on life, i hide it on him on childcare days, i tuck it right into his singlet, and so far no dribble rashes, and Mummy and Daddy and my gorgeous teething toddler, live happily ever after.

A solid five?

Five hours sleep is not enough for me. At all.  Yet according to the “experts”, your baby is sleeping through the night when they pull a solid five hours, from after 10pm – 11pm through to 4am – 5am. When my son was born, this made me happy, because hey presto! He was already doing that from five days of age. We’ve got this nailed.

Until we brought him home from the hospital. He instantaneously started sleeping from 7pm – 2am and then he’d be awake every half hour until 6am, when he’d finally collapse back to sleep. Right in time for my daughter Lucy to get up and start her day. You don’t get to sleep when the baby sleeps when the baby isn’t your only baby. For a few weeks, I dealt with it. What choice did I have, he was preemie, technically he should still have been “on the inside”, so I could hardly shove a sleep routine onto him now!

The problem was, his only wakeful periods EVER were between 2am and 6am each morning. Great for him, but brutal for his parents. While husband was off work, we took it night about which helped. But once he went back to work I was adamant that unless I was sick, I would get up because he needed to actually function, while I could easily schlep around in PJ’s 5 out of 7 days a week, and nobody would care.

I researched sleep routines, tricks of the trade you name it, I tried it. Oliver has routinely clusterfed in the late afternoon since he was a newborn, which I was happy with. I figured if we upped his caloric intake during the day he would sleep longer at night having had his nutritional needs met before he went down. It worked, to a certain degree. So then I decided to introduce the dream-feed.

What a mistake! I tried for three nights to DF him. The first night I got him up at 10.30pm, nice and quiet so as not to wake him. He slept right through it, except he was so asleep he didn’t drink. He did when he woke up and hour later. And the hour after that. And that. And that. I chalked that up to a night of beginners fail, and decided to try again. Much the same deal that night, except he managed to get about 30ml down before he stopped feeding altogether. He was up every hour, on the hour for the rest of the night.

I figured I’d give it one more go, after all I have lots of friends who swear by dream-feeding, it had to have merit, right?

That night he woke up as I picked him up. He’d been down for four hours, and apparently that’s all he thought he needed. He didn’t go back down until close to 4am. That was the end of the dream-feeding.

Out of all the mothers to babies I know, only myself and one other have ever  had problems with the dream-feed. It just didn’t work for our babies. I went back to clusterfeeding Oliver of an afternoon, and by the time he was 12 weeks old, he was sleeping through the nights.

There are many things you can do to help get your baby sleeping through the night. And I mean REALLY sleeping through the night. Five hours to me, isn’t a full nights sleep. I define “sleeping through” as being nine hours or more. There are routines for feeding and sleeping you can follow, there are relaxation techniques, dedicated sleeping baby music. There is a lot of options.

But the truth is, until your baby is ready to do it, none of them will work. Because ultimately it’s up to them when they start sleeping all night, all you can do is make it easier for them with consistency and love.

 

Co-Sleeping Is It For You?

I never thought I would co-sleep. We spent months roaming baby shops weighing up the pros and cons of various cots in preparation for our new baby. In the end we spent a couple of hundred on a lovely wooden cot that did everything we needed it too. This is where he was going to sleep. That was what was safe. Never did it enter my mind that I would share my bed with my baby. But somewhere along the way this plan got screwed up. It all started when we decided to put our sons cot in the bedroom with us.

Then the next step to co-sleeping happened. It was 3 am, I had maybe a grand total of 2 hours sleep, and I was so tired. My son was not settling. I had changed his nappy, fed him, rocked him, swore silently under my breath, and pleaded with him to sleep. Nothing was working. I was exhausted so thought if we both had to be awake we may as well be in bed relaxing. Then I realise it was quiet. No more complaining, or crying, just silence. All I could hear was the soft breathing noises a sleeping baby makes. Suddenly one side of my brain was saying “I can just have a quick sleep, just 15 minutes, it will be fine. 15 minutes is ok”, the other side was saying “yup listen to that side it’s smart”. Next thing I knew it was 4 hours later and I was nice and rested (well as rested as you can be with a newborn).

Luckily I am a light sleeper. So any movement would wake me up. I mean any movement. I have nailed the cat to the bed a couple of times, and my partner too, as I woke in a blind panic thinking my son was crawling off the bed (which was ironic because at the time he couldn’t even crawl).

Now we usually do a combo of co-sleeping. My son usually spends 90% of the night in his cot then around 5am (usually because I am tired and lazy) he comes into the bed with us. To be honest I really enjoy it. I like having my son nice and close. For me it really comes in handy when he is sick so I can monitor him better (though I might revise this after my first vomit in the bed, so far this has been avoided).

Co-sleeping seems to be a really controversial issue with avid supporters on both sides. I personally find it strange that  experts say co-sleeping is dangerous when it should be the most natural thing in the world. Cot’s were not around when humans first emerged into the world (no matter what your belief) so I would suspect co-sleeping is what our ancestors would have done.

But figures don’t lie (unless your Christopher Skase then they lie a lot). Plenty of studies and statistics support the experts who say co-sleeping is dangerous. Suffocation is also a real, and undeniable risk for a baby sleeping in its parents bed. But just as many studies support co-sleeping as an effective way of bonding with your child and getting them to sleep more effectively. A few studies have shown that co-sleeping is rising in popularity, or is only now being talked about openly.

So which option is the right one? I don’t personally think either way is “wrong”. You need to do what best suits your lifestyle and personality; and like wise your baby’s personality. Plus it needs to be a joint decision between you and your partner. Be realistic, your bedroom/bed just may not be big enough to safely co-sleep.

If you want to co-sleep then have a good look at the options. You can have the cot in your room with you, have the cot “side-car” style with your bed, go the whole hog and have your baby in the bed with you, or have a spare bed in the baby’s room (preferably a mattress on the floor). Either way I personally would recommend if you are serious to discuss options with a health professional. There are “sleep” centres in some cities that could give you valuable information.

After choosing the “style” of co-sleeping you want, make sure you do everything possible to make the sleep environment safe.

Do not:

  • Use a mattress that is too soft, has a pillow top, or is a water-bed. While water beds are fun, it is not fun to watch your baby ride a wave ninja turtle style off the bed. Seriously though, these types of mattress’ pose a suffocation risk.
  • Leave any gaps between headboard, footboard, wall (if your bed is against a wall), bedside table, etc.
  • Use sheets that will become loose during the night
  • Use doona’s quilts, eider-down, or any heavy blankets.
  • Leave a baby unattended in the bed alone.
  • If you have long hair tie it up.
  • Use pillows if possible, if you need a pillow keep it to one.
  • Let pets sleep in the bed as well.
  • Let your baby sleep on a pillow.
  • Let your baby get hold of any cords or dangling items around the bed, such as light cords, jewllery, or ribbon from your nightie.

Do Not Under ANY circumstances sleep with your baby if:

  • You or your partner are intoxicated, inebriated, or incapacitated in any way.
  • You or your partner are taking strong medication
  • You or your partner smoke. No one knows why but when smokers sleep with their babies it increases the baby’s chance of cot death.
  • You or your partner are a deep sleeper.
  • Your baby is premature.
  • You or your partner is over weight or obese.

Do:

  • Keep bedding light and minimal
  • Dress your baby lightly for bed. Your body heat will raise your babies temperature.
  • Put your mattress on the floor. This will save you having a heart attack as your baby repels over the edge to escape.
  • Place your baby on it’s back to sleep.
  • Use appropriate bedding (satin out, cotton in. Satin is way too slippery).
  • Make sure you have a mattress protector on the bed.

As always consult a professional if you seriously wish to co-sleep.

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