Sleep and surviving a newborn baby
There are definite remarks that I still to this day recall being told to me when I had my 1st child in 1996. “It will be easy,” they said. “All you need to do is feed them, then let them sleep. What more is it to it?”
My thoughts were about how I could not wait to dress them in cute little outfits all day long, taking Anne Geddes inspired photos to pass to all the family. Feeling like they are just far too cute to put down, let’s cuddle them all day!
I promised myself that I was not going to wish our time with my newborn away!
I am sure you will agree. We have had a shot of saying and doing all the above while pregnant and when our bundle first arrives! Being that girl who was born to have babies, whose only wish and desire were for nothing more, was my very own bundle and literally could not wait. As the nine months of pregnancy floated by, all I could imagine was of all the fun I was going to have with my precious baby.
Then she arrived…
The only way I can seriously describe it was like hitting a brick wall!! Not only was the wall wide, but it was also high, and it seemed genuinely unsurmountable. I can only describe it as being shocked to my core as I took my gorgeous little girl home, and her not doing one thing she was supposed to that everyone promised would be natural and happen quickly…SLEEP!
My routine was to feed her, myself, then wind her, to then put her into her cot awake. I had been advised by many to do by many people. It will be that simple they promised me…but she WOULDN’T sleep. The same thing would occur each time. It would start with her starring around for a bit, where I would think, OK, yes, maybe this will work this time. For her, then to suddenly break into a ferocious roaring of screaming tears. Which only worsened my already frazzled nerves, making them feel like fleeing my body entirely. SO WHAT NOW, I would say to myself?
After attempting yet another feed again just in case, she WAS still hungry. Or try shoving the latest orthodontic friendly silicone dummy in her mouth. After finally managing to calm her down, I would do as they suggest…I’d place her back down again, to find she had the equivalent of an atomic explosion from her rear end… Leaving me with what felt like the most significant decision of my life, should I change her, risking wakening her fully again? Or do I pretend I did not hear it and leave it?! To find you do the right things and therefore start the process all over again and again.
Soon becoming a typical day. Sleeping for an entire day while upon me, to then decide it would be better to be awake for the entire night… There is one night that I lay curled up beside her on the floor playmat watching her play while my exhausted self-attempted not to fall asleep beside her. When I had the thought, “what on earth has happened, how did it get to be like this, and more importantly, what the hell am I going to do to sort it out?!” It still surprises me today how much my little lightweight had us literally in a position of powerlessness. I could not go on like this.
The answer is
The excellent answer was that I finally found a way that worked, so much so that I even decided to do the whole newborn thing another three times! Therefore, today I will share my list of things to do not just survive this time, but love and cherish the time you have with them, just as we dreamed it would be.
Hands down, feeding is the most important activity you do when you have a newborn. Making feeding times into EVENTS. We must ensure they are for long enough to be sustained for around 3 hours. The first tip – take time out to do this properly. It is best to try where possible to arrange these feeds to be at certain times in the day. The easiest way I found to do a daily routine is by having the same time every morning and following and creating your schedule from there.
I found most suggest when I split the feed into two parts.
The first part, or as some would call it, their 1st course, could be in the lounge while watching TV, Netflix, or scrolling Instagram while I enjoyed my cup of tea. By ensuring I allowed her to feed for as long as possible. When they finished feeding as they will pull off the breast or stop drinking their bottle, use this guide and give them a little break for now before trying again.
The second course then takes place in the bedroom, ensure the curtains are closed, nappy is changed, and swaddle them. Offer the second feed or top-up feed at this point. When they’ve indeed finished feeding, and they are winded, all you need to do is pop them into their bed.
I know that it all sounds like a bit of a mission. However, if you can think about it, if you split the day into 4-5 main EVENTS throughout the day, it means that they are much more ready and satisfied when they come to the time to sleep. It makes this a much easier option. Setting the right timescale will give yourself much more of a better chance of achieving it. Aim for between 45min and 1hour for the full event, and repeat.
Sleep, feed, play, feed, sleep is the best way to ensure the baby is satisfied and tired enough to sleep each time.
2. UNDERSTANDING THE NEEDS OF A NEWBORN:
These tips are essential. They will be especially good at preventing any severe outbursts, which may make a two-year-old tantrum seem like a breeze!
I have yet to come across a newborn baby who likes to feel exposed. I know this as I yet to find or hear of a newborn who relishes their bath. Trust me. Swaddling is your only true friend when we talk newborn. I know that they pretend to hate it but trust me, persevere with it. It will help.
Awake times for little ones should ideally be around 45 – 1 hour. Maximum of 1 hour 15 mins.
By staying calm and confident when you handle a baby makes such a difference too. As they say, fake it until you make it goes a long way. Babies are all about energy, so be aware of how you feel. Do not let them sense your fear or anxiety as this will only heighten any tears…from you both.
Newborns are not able to filter stimulus. Please help them by simply removing them from any bright, noisy, and chaotic places, with most emphasis on this as they approach their sleep time.
Be patient. When you put the baby down and start crying, pick them up, calm them down, and try again to put them. Continue to do this even if it takes ten times. I promise you it is easier than taking them out of the room and trying again in a bit. This does not go well as you are then also having to deal with both results of overtiredness and overstimulation! That changes the situation completely. It is best to avoid where ever possible.
Sucking. Baby’s first instinct is to do this – it helps soothe them. Therefore, once your baby has finished their feed, they are still not happy, try the use a pacifier to help settle them.
3. MUM and DAD
Please remember each other too. Take care of each other. Now, remember, change for anyone is not easy. Never mind when a newborn arrives. Following these few suggestions will help keep the communication open while being sympathetic and caring to each other.
New life together
A new baby means new adjustments are needing to be made. To you, a new Mums, try your best to hand over some of that responsibility to dad’s when it’s his turn. Do not hover around when it is his turn; instead, take advantage of the breathing space you have and take care of yourself by having a long bath. Also, do not be afraid to ask for support. We all need a little me time, and you need to take advantage of those around you offering and willing to support you. Everyone loves a cuddle, so you make the most of it.
If you are trying all of the above and feel you are not winning, ASK for help; never suffer in silence! I am here to help you guide you through the new journey of parenthood. Even if it’s not your first baby, they are all different. It is also quite common for one child to be great at sleep and another one not.
Remember, we are all different
All of my babies, at some point, have all needed extra support with their sleep at different times. Not knowing the answer is OK. The important thing is to ask for help or answers if you do not know, rather than allowing it to continue. Sleep deprivation is real, and it can have terrible effects on you and your baby when not enough.
I offer 15-minute introductory calls with myself to chat through your current sleep with your family. I work and support all age groups. The newborn sleep guide helps you for the first six weeks to establish a good routine and know where and how to help create good sleep habits, making foundations for later. The full newborn sleep program creates a personalized sleep program reflective of your parent ethos. It has weekly stages update to ensure you manage proper aged sleep for both you and your bundle for four weeks.
Let’s get you on a positive and rewarding family sleep journey today.