How does your baby sleep?
Does your baby often wake in the night….and can’t settle himself off to sleep?
Does your baby suffer from reflux or stomach related issues…which is especially bad at night?
Co sleeping…is it a preference or the easy option?
There are many discussions to be found on these topics. Firstly the topic of self settling. Many suggest this is an all important skill a baby can learn from the beginning. This could enable all the family to have a settled and happy routine throughout the day and night. This skill can be encouraged in younger babies, from the start, here are some suggested ways:
- By having a good structured routine that fits around you and any siblings.
- Sleep times that are not necessarily straight after a feed and where your baby is put down to sleep awake at the set times (or as close to).
- A familiar toy or blanket that is with your baby at every sleep time.
However for some babies it just does not seem to be a skill that is either naturally developed or taught, even with having all of the above suggestions in place! This is where the difficulty begins and the questions are raised. Such as: Which method should I use to encourage my baby to learn to self settle? Feeding seems to be the only thing that helps to settle them in the night? Unfortunately there is no ‘one size fits all’ method but a differentiated approach is needed. A brief explanation of some of the suggested methods for older (I would recommend from 5 months) babies could include:
- The pick up and put down method, where you comfort them with a cuddle (avoiding rocking to sleep) but put them down awake. You repeat this until they settle.
- The controlled crying method, where you would leave them to cry a little then comfort a little. You repeat this until they settle, leaving them to cry for longer periods as it continues.
- Re introducing a comforter such as soft toy/blanket if it hasn’t worked before. Or introducing a dummy.
Before considering any method to encourage your baby to self settle you must ask yourself first:
Am I sure that my baby is not uncomfortable? Am I sure S/he is not suffering with any tummy issues, such as reflux or wind? Am I sure s/he Is not unwell with a cold/temp/teething? If your answer is ‘No’ to any of these things then it probably is not the best time to be considering a method which involves leaving them to cry for periods of time. However once you feel these are no longer factors in your babies sleep issues then you can start to consider which would be best for you and your baby.
Like many others, you may have fallen into those bad habits of ‘quick fix’ solutions, by feeding your baby every time they wake in the night as it’s the quickest way to make him settle. It could be that they have just woken and can not get themselves back off to sleep without a feed, thus creating that cycle of bad habit. You may resort to co sleeping because of the frequency of needing to feed, it saves you having to keep getting out of bed. But do you sleep that well when you’ve got your baby lying next to you? If any of these things are not an issue for you and you don’t mind the frequent feeding or you are happy to co sleep with your baby then there is no issue and enjoy your baby….however if these things are causing you to feel drained and upset (sleep deprived) then you may benefit from some support.
Sometimes the solution is very simple but hard to see or just difficult to implement yourself (with consistency) as you’re just too tired from the sleepless nights…. I fully appreciate all of these suggestions and methods are easier said then done. There is a lot of theory and advice to seek out which can be confusing.
- It could be as simple as finding a differentiated routine that suits you, your baby and family to try to stick to.
- A routine suggestion, including some support during the night to help encourage your baby to stretch out between feeds to help stick to this routine.
- some relief of having someone experienced to take over those, difficult to settle after, night feeds for babies that suffer from reflux or tummy related issues.
- A method of sleep training which would be fully empathetic and which suits you and your child, for those with sleep related issues which is causing everyone sleepless nights and distress.
Please visit my Facebook page to keep informed of sleep issues and advice. You may not need it right now but in the future or know someone that does….
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