New parents are often sleep deprived. This short article deals with parental strategies on how to get more rest while caring for a baby round the clock.
Health professionals always recommend sleeping when the baby does, even if it’s daytime. Aside this sensible suggestion and making night feeds as quiet as possible not to stimulate a baby and make him/her too alert, a mother (usually the main carer) can minimise sleep loss by following some tried and tested methods.
Tried And Tested Ways To Minimise Sleep Deprivation
Many parents find that cat napping during the day is not enough. Other things a parent can try include:
Placing the cot, Moses basket or crib as close as possible to her side of the bed.
For babies in their own room (usually from six months), a parent can place a mattress on the floor so they can get some rest if the child wakes often during the night
The UNICEF has issued guidelines for breastfeeding mothers in cooperation with the Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths. The leaflet, Caring For Your Baby At Night , advises parents to: make sure a baby doesn’t get trapped by covers or pillows; ensure a baby cannot get stuck between the mattress and the wall; keep pets away from the bed; avoid sleeping with a baby if a parent has drunk alcohol, is on medication, overtired or is a smoker. This handy leaflet also warns never to sleep with a baby on a sofa or armchair (the baby can become trapped down the sides or in the cushions) and to avoid co-sleeping if a baby is small for his/her age or was born premature
breastfeeding – aside the fact that it has been proven that parents of breastfed children sleep more, another study revealed that the composition of breast milk changes during the night, when chemicals that aid sleep peak in the milk (study by Cristina Sánchez at the University of Extremadura in Spain)
Sending daddy in
If a baby has had a good feed and wakes up sooner than expected, a mother can ask her partner to comfort the baby – a baby will stop waking up unnecessarily if not genuinely hungry or thirsty.
Controlled Crying Versus the No-Cry Approach
Some experts, believe that controlled crying should only be attempted with babies who are at least six month old.
This is how it works: if a baby starts crying when a parent places him/her in the cot, the parent should leave the room and come back after five minutes. The parent should reassure the baby by saying, “Mummy/Daddy is here, now go to sleep” and leave the room. If the baby starts crying after 10 minutes, the parent should go back and repeat the procedure. This should be repeated every 15 minutes till the baby falls asleep. Consistence is important. As the child gets used to it, the intervals of “checking and reassuring” can be extended.
There is a limit, a baby should not cry for more than an hour. The first three nights will be very hard as no parents can bear hearing their child cry. If a parent is not made of stern stuff, it’s best not to attempt this technique. This system is also not foolproof and won’t work for some babies, I could never stand to hear any of my children cry (still don’t like it now!) so this would never have worked for me, but I know some swear by it and say it was the only thing that kept them sane, so you do whats best for you.
Many parents recommend The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley. The gentler method explained in this bestseller is all about how to develop a bedtime routine and creating positive sleep associations. It also offers a gradual withdrawal method to get a baby off the breast or bottle.
Although when they are very small and it feels like you will never get a decent nights sleep, remember that it will not be forever, it will get to a point when you will get more than a few hours sleep, in fact I quite often now lay in until 10am at the weekend, and i’m still the first one up, as the teens are clearly catching up on the sleep they missed as babies!