Guest Post: Getting baby to sleep, one of motherhood’s biggest challenges
By Carrie Bruno RN, IBCLC of Mama Coach, Infant Sleep Specialist
Motherhood is a beautiful thing. Most women dream about the tender moments parenting brings. And the reality is, your baby will melt your heart a million times over. But motherhood can be challenging. I am The Mama Coach, a registered nurse, lactation consultant, infant sleep specialist and mom of two little men. I feel like I worried about everything in my pregnancy. Was my baby healthy? Would my birth be uncomplicated? But I never worried about sleep. And then I brought him home.
I had this little creature, who needed me day and night. He seemed to only be happy nursing, and would only sleep 40 minute stretches on my chest and then wanted to nurse again. He cried A LOT. My husband was unsure of how to help and thought because of my nursing background I knew what I was doing, and that was right to some degree. I knew how to nurse him, and what to watch for to ensure he was healthy. But I had no clue how to make my baby sleep and stay asleep. Keep in mind this was before I became an infant sleep specialist and I big reason why I did.
Lack of sleep started to effect my coping skills and my relationships. I was teary and was beginning to doubt my mothering abilities. Little problems were becoming big problems and I remember phoning my husband from the side of the road, bawling my eyes out. I was just so tired, and why wouldn’t he sleep?
We did research together and decided to hire a Sleep Sense consultant. Within days, life was so different and I felt myself enjoying motherhood again. Sleep was vital to my ability to parent and I noticed such a change in my baby. He was exponentially happier. The crying decreased significantly. I wondered why I hadn’t asked for help months earlier.
I decided to do the Sleep Sense training and use it along with my RN and lactation consulting skill sets to help moms find sleep for their little ones. Here are three tips I learned on how to get baby to sleep. Try them tonight to improve your baby’s sleep.
- DockATot: I love using the DockATot with new babies. Babies get used to a consistent sleep space while allowing mom the flexibility to have her baby sleep wherever she is. It's so versatile!"
Routine: Babies and children thrive on routine. Choose a bedtime routine, about 30-40 minutes long, and stick with it. I love to suggest a bath because it is the one thing that is different in a baby’s day, and helps signal bedtime is coming. Do this, and you will see bedtime becomes easier.
- Sleep props: What I mean by this is what do you use to put your baby to sleep? Many mums can relate to nursing their babe into a deep sleep, carefully placing them in their crib, sneaking out of the room, only to have them wake an hour later. The reason this happens is because the baby has been put to sleep by breastfeeding. This applies to babies that nurse to sleep, suck on a bottle or soother, rocking, patting, or even holding your baby’s hand to sleep! When your baby wakes after a sleep cycle (which all babies do!), he is looking for the same conditions he had when he fell asleep (in this case, breastfeeding). He will then cry until those same conditions return and he can fall back asleep. How to remedy this? Encourage your baby to fall asleep in his own sleep space. I love the DockATot for this as the baby feels secure and settles faster independently.
- Your baby’s cues: A crying baby is often overtired. If you wait till your baby is crying, it is harder to put her down to sleep. Instead, watch for yawning, zoning out, or disinterest with toys or stimuli. Every baby shows tired signs differently and mums know their baby best. So take note of what your baby does before the crying starts and put your baby to sleep then.
Both babies and mums benefit from longer stretches of sleep. I know it can feel overwhelming to try to get to where you are with your baby’s sleep to independent sleep skills. But it can be done and isn’t as awful as most sleep deprived mums imagine it to be. It is even less awful if you reach out for support. Whether it’s another mum, your spouse, your own mum or a professional like myself, I encourage you to ask for help. Like I said before, motherhood can be challenging but it feels so much easier when your little one develops healthy sleep habits. You and your baby are only a few nights away from better sleep!
To find out more about Carrie and the Sleep Sense program, visit The Mama Coach.