This is a topic which vexes many mums - both new and old hands (I have spoken to my mum at length about this, and she had 4). How to get baby to sleep, and more importantly, how to do so without going crazy yourself?
There are a lot of books out there, which each provide their author's own theory on how best to get a baby to sleep, and keep them that way. I have read quite a few of them, and frankly, didn't find them too helpful - other than for some initial ideas in the early days. I am a great believer in doing what feels right for you and your baby.
Here is what is working for Naomi and I (some days!):
1. The 30 minute rule. I am very strict about this one, for my own sanity, as well as Naomi's. If whatever I am trying to get her to sleep (rocking, singing, feeding, whatever...) does not work within 30 minutes, then take a break. And I don't just mean 2 minutes of listening to the crying while sobbing outside the nursery door. Put them in their cot, bassinet or wherever they sleep. Walk out for 30 seconds. Take 10 deep breaths, paste a smile on your face and walk in, sing out "Good morning / afternoon", open the curtains, turn off the music and pick them up for a cuddle. Start the "feed play sleep" cycle all over again - whatever time it is!
9 times out of 10, I find that the crying stops, we get a nice cuddle and a play for half an hour or so, then the tired signs start re-appearing. Then I pick up, and start the settling process again. Rocking her on my shoulder with some calm music on, while I read blogs often works!
The point is, try not to get to the point where the whole things becomes too stressful for you both. Take a break, enjoy some play time together, and the opportunity to try again will come along pretty soon.
2. Don't feel pressured to do something that you don't feel right about. Maybe I am just soft, but I cannot bring myself to do anything like controlled crying, or other published methods of sleep settling. Even the ones that claim to be 'gentle' often require you to sit beside the cot, without picking up or doing more than the occasional pat and "shhh" noise. I found this to be parental torture at its worst! Every instinct was crying out to pick her up, hold her, let her know that mummy was there and it was safe and warm and ok to go to sleep.
There is so much pressure to have a 'self settling' baby. They apparently "sleep through" at at earlier age, and have longer naps during the day. From discussions with other mums in my mother's group, and online discussion forum, I am not convinced that this is anything like the sure-fire thing that authors would have us parents believe.
3. The "6 hours" rule. No one told me in the prenatal classes that sleep deprivation was a form of torture than, whilst illegal for prisoners of war, is alive and well and practiced in most family homes around the world!!
We all know that our own sleep is just as important as our baby's. If you have had less than 6 hours sleep the night before, then take every opportunity to sleep during the day -- when those little eyelids finally droop closed, and the rosebud mouth goes slack ... race back to your own bed, close the curtains and snuggle down. Even if you are not a day sleeper, just some quiet time with your eyes closed will do you good, and help you feel refreshed enough to keep going with the day.
These are the things that are helping me through each day - one nap at a time.... I hope they give other mums some help and reassurance that there are many of us out there doing it tough --- you are not alone.
Speaking of the 6-hour rule..... bad night last night.... time for my nap!
And thanks to Shannon for hosting WFMW!
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