There is no other way to say it, whilst yes having your newborn home is a beautiful and magical thing, being a new parent is simply exhausting.
Having been voted for this week, my 'tired eyes' article is here to help you gain a better understanding of your little ones sleep needs and what you can do to help in meeting them.
The first, I feel, is to accept that all babies are different so no matter whether this is your first or fifth child doesn't mean you'll know what you're doing so to say.
The most important thing to remember here though, is to remember that it doesn't matter what the books say. It doesn't matter what the professionals say, you do what YOU feel is right for your family.
As a mum of two very active boys, who have always seemed to fight their sleep, I have learnt that it matters not what you choose to do, there will always be a differing opinion...all you can do is find what is right for you. And lets face it, a sleep deprived parent (or infant) is not going to skip through early parenting like the joys of spring.
So, please do read my advice, talk it through with your partner, with your mum, with your Health visitor if you wish, but at the end of the day it is up to you to pick and choose the pieces that resonate with you.
So lets jump in...
Remember to GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK, first of all. As a new parent, one of the first questions you'll get is "aw, are they good?", and we know straight away they are asking "do they sleep well" or "do they sleep through the night".
I'd like to say straight away here, by no means are either you or your baby 'not good' if the answer to these questions is "no".
I believed it to be myth that any child actually 'sleep through the night', until my first born turned about 6 (and yes this is coming from an Early Years Specialist). I found out very quickly when hormones were rife, you were unable to drive so finding yourself rather isolated (C-section mumma here) and you too were in pain and lacking in sleep, that putting things into practice with your own family was a totally different ball game than advising others.
Nevertheless, the one thing that always helped me understand the babies need for sleep was this little chart below.
The hours of sleep required for a child/baby of each age here is the total of hours napped and slept throughout the night...so every little 20 minute cat nap and hour long doze will be taken off the total hours required at nighttime.
You also need to consider how long it takes for your baby to digest their milk (this will differ between breast fed and bottle fed babes too), so your little one waking for a feed and returning back to slumber actually does count as them 'sleeping through'.
For a more precise breakdown on this, I would need to discuss your baby's feeding pattern here, so why not send me a message for a personalised consultation?
The one thing, however that will have all professionals in agreement though is the need for a calm and consistent bedtime routine. You can decide when to begin this.
For me and my partner, it made sense to us to begin the pattern of bedtime events at around 6 weeks old. At this time, we both had a good idea of his sleep and feeding patterns so decided to move the moses basket up to the bedroom, rather than staying downstairs until we went to bed (again, this is something we felt worked for us. It is your perogative to tweak here to what you feel comfortable with).
The key to a bedtime routine is remaining consistent with a series of events that the baby will begin to recognise as sleepy cues (and many find it helps to repeat them for naptimes too). It can also be the perfect time to share song, language and skin to skin, all beautiful examples of bonding together.
Here is what worked for us...
1) Warm, shallow bath.
Always washing babes body but not necessarily the hair.