Most days I see mums and babies and the range of sleep – or lack of it – varies so much. Some babies sleep most of the night, others sleep in chunks of a few hours and the rest are up every hour. No two babies are the same and this is why books can be frustrating because your baby might not match their sleep descriptions.
The reasons why babies wake frequently can be down to hunger and thirst, needing reassurance, discomfort from wind, reflux or teething or just not knowing how to get themselves back to sleep when they wake up. Sleep can be affected with growth spurts and developmental leaps – which despite apps such as Wonder Weeks – can be unique to your baby. The 2 biggest developmental leaps for your baby are around 4 months and at about 8-10 months (when brain/physical development is happening) when sleep could be at its worst but I have been around enough babies to know that it does vary a great deal.
Frequent night-wakings and exhausted parents can mean dreading the evenings, creating tension and tears. It can help to accept the nights and prepare for night-time parenting but if you are up every hour, that might not be too realistic. But it is crucial to get some rest, some support and to understand that your baby’s sleep is normal, even if it is challenging.
Here’s what might help…
*try to relax as much as possible
*can your partner do more to settle your baby?
*can you put some space between you and your baby – sleeping further away from your baby’s cot or, with an older baby, moving your baby into her own room can make a huge difference, especially if you are breastfeeding
*look at your baby’s day, where are the patterns, can you see your baby’s cues for feeds and sleep – sometimes the nights are affected because they are not napping in the day or because their feeds are short because they are distracted. Sometimes being able to focus on the day, can bring changes at night
*does background music/noise encourage longer chunks of sleep?
*take a break – have some time when you are not on mum duty to
re-energise and rest a bit
*can someone take your baby in the day so you can rest and catch up on some sleep
*remembering that there is no quick fix, no matter how much you pay for it on Amazon – some babies just aren’t great sleepers during the first 18months
working out a plan to get help and support, and so you can see your day and night and see where the simple routines and consistencies can be
*try to have realistic expectations for you and your baby
*ask for help – and accept it!
*be kind to yourself – you are not doing anything wrong
*your baby’s brain is developing, which is why sleep is so varied