After spending nine months in the dark and with the buzz inside your womb, your newborn would have established her own sleep cycle, which will feel natural to her even if it seems strange to you. If the baby sleeps all day and is up all night, or if she’s waking up frequently in the night, it’s completely normal.
Your baby’s sleep may seem random at first, sometimes even changing from one day to the next. Her sleep patterns will evolve as she grows. Remember, babies aren’t born knowing how to put themselves to sleep when they’re tired or how to wake up when they’re well-rested. This is all a learned behaviour. But one thing is for sure, your baby’s erratic sleep patterns might mean that no one in the family is sleeping very soundly these days.
Study your Baby’s Sleep Habits
Most babies wake up at night – quite frequently. So do adults, but we have the ability to go back to sleep easily and fairly quickly too.
The point to note here is there is a big reason for babies waking up in the middle of the night. As babies have smaller stomachs, they wake up several times a night because they are hungry and need to be fed. Every 45 minutes may be already sounding all too familiar to you.
Within a few months however, (when they are 4 months old), the baby’s stomach would have grown in size, and they can eat enough to keep them happy and satisfied during a full night’s sleep.
What’s more, once they have doubled their birth weight and are developing normally, feeding at night may not be needed at all. If babies naturally wake up, they will quickly resettle on their own.
Baby sleep training means, you can teach your little one to go back to sleep when they do wake up at night. When a child can resettle independently, they get vital, nourishing deep sleep on their own. Waking you up only if they are in distress.
But how about you mom?
How have you been sleeping lately? Napping in spurts? Sleeping less than 3 hours at night? Waking up with a start, hope that is happening less often now. As for that well-earned 8-hour sleep routine, most moms really miss it more than anything else.
But what is ignored is that there are actually two babies at home now, and only one needs to be re-trained to sleep like a baby again. Losing on sleep because you have become a mother of a newborn, needn’t be your reality. You just need to change the time when you decide to sleep. Reorient your pattern.
To make that happen, spend your time practicing the most logical, sensible and smartest way to be less sleep deprived. Be less cranky, or feel stressed out. Nap when the baby naps. Sleep when the baby sleeps. Matching your baby’s sleep and nap routine. Not the other way around.
Sleeping or napping in sync with your baby may seem difficult at first, but with practice, both of you will be enjoying a restful sleep. As for the thought of not being around when the baby wakes up, put it out of your mind altogether. Mother’s instinct will never let that happen.
Day or night, you will make yourself instinctively available when your baby cries or needs your help. Nature has already wired you for that. So moms, don’t fret.
Baby first or mom first
There is a lot of literature out there talking about baby sleep training method. By now, you would have read enough to know more about baby and sleep, than anyone else in the family. But knowing doesn’t seem to be doing any good to your routine. No one seems to be telling you a thing about what you as a mother ought to be doing to cope.
So much of what we know totally ignores that the baby is already trained by mother nature to sleep whenever it wants to while still in the womb. The thing to realize however is if you are unable to beat the lack of sleep trap, there is no need to fight it. Or be frustrated by it. Remember, you can train yourself to sleep, when your baby sleeps.
We all need about seven to nine hours of sleep a night, and probably a few short naps in between. While your baby probably sleeps for about 14 to 17 hours in a 24-hour period as a newborn, but as she gets older, it will average around 10 to 12 hours at night, plus naps.
When the baby is sleeping and doesn’t need you to be around, what is it that you are doing? Catching up with chores? Worry about things that don’t need to be worried about? And paying attention to that constant stream of thoughts that swing thru your mind during the day. Why not practice napping or sleeping during this lull, instead. Make time for yourself, and your sleep.
Practice the gradual retreat technique
This baby sleep training programme is called "gradual retreat". It goes something like this. After feeding the baby, put her down on the cot after she has burped. Sit next to her and pat and stroke gently as the baby falls asleep.
When the baby accepts this, just sit next to her crib without patting. The next time around, move further away, putting a recliner in your baby’s room will come in handy. Rest on it, even doze off.
A baby might sense your absence and begin to cry, but they will progressively be reducing crying for shorter and shorter periods. Once this change to the baby’s routine is accepted, just being around will be comforting and reassuring enough.
If you do step out of the door, you can always come back into the room to cuddle and pat them and eventually will manage to increase their sleep time. The good news is that the older the baby gets, the more is the likelihood she will soothe herself back to sleep. So while night wakings will still happen, you might not even know it.