Oh my goodness the one thing you wish you did more before the baby arrived…SLEEP!
No one can ever prepare you for sleep deprivation and it’s no secret, I found it incredibly hard. If you sit down with any of my friends they will tell you the tears I cried, the bags under my eyes and how lost I felt. Back before COVID my husband travelled a lot, and he wasn’t able to help me at night. No amount of day naps made up for the disruptive nights. Anxiety would build up as bedtime approached. I quite literally feared going to bed at night, wondering if I would get more than 2 hours of continuous sleep. At times it took me 2 hours just to settle her after a feed/wake. I found it exhausting mentally and physically. I became depressed, so lost and was jumping from one method to the next, not actually settling or sticking to one. I was a complete mess and it was starting to impact my ability to be a good mother.
In the early days Athena was a really “good” (can we use that term) sleeper, until her routine was upset by travel and I introduced some habits that made it hard for her to settle at night.
I knew I needed help and luckily found the help that suited our lifestyle and worked for us. It is important to remember that whatever you do, do you, and what is best for your family.
It was the best money I invested, in 2 days Athena was calm, settled and back to sleeping well getting the rest she needed, and so did mama and papa. Everyone was happy again.
At times I still refer to “my method” with the occasional sickness, regression or tooth coming through. It changed our lives for the better and I felt more confident as a mama and the relationship with my husband was great again. Let’s be honest, two tired parents aren’t a good thing.
I sat down with Isabel Page, Licensed Psychologist and Paediatric Sleep Consultant, of Savvy Sleep Consultancy to help give us some insights to getting a good night’s sleep.
5 Top tops for a good night’s sleep
1. Set the optimal environment - Babies already differentiate night from day when they are around 8 weeks old. From that moment, they will sleep better in a very dark environment (and by dark I mean as dark as you can go!). White noise can be your best friend! It will help your baby feel relaxed and it will absorb noises that may potentially disturb your little one’s sleep. Cool that room down! Our bodies naturally drop around 2 degrees when sleeping so a cool environment (between 20-24ºC) will help your baby’s body to get ready for sleep!
2. Follow a nice bedtime routine always - Babies love routines! Routines help them foresee what’s coming! A nice bedtime routine will not only help your little one get relaxed but will also become a clear nice pattern they will learn to identify. If you follow this pattern always, the baby will recognise that “Ah! So I am getting a bath, I bet I am going to sleep soon!”. If you think about it, you do this too! My bedtime routine? I put my pjs on, wash my face and hands, put face cream on and head to bed. And there is no better feeling than that! So you want to create your baby’s version of “Ooooh! How nice is it to get ready for bed?”
3. Establish nice associations with sleep - There is one thing you want to teach your little, for sure! And that is that sleeping is nice. Sleeping is cool. Sleeping is good for you! Your child should never associate bad feelings with sleep, this is rule number one. So never, never, never punish with sleep. If they are being extra slow at eating those peas, instead of saying “If you don’t eat your dinner already you are going to bed!” you can say “If you do not eat your dinner already, we will not have time for more than one bedtime story…”
4. Model for your little one - This goes for you all, toddlers’ mamas. Toddlers learn by imitation so, if you want your little one to learn that she needs to stay in bed all night long, do some little role play with toys or just model it for your child. If you want to use rewards to encourage one specific behaviour, by all means, do! We all love having a little something to tell us that we have done well! Just choose your reward wisely and make sure you start realistically (They need to be able to get the reward easy in the beginning) and then make it a little more difficult every couple of days. When the behaviour is part of their routine, those rewards can go.
5. Identify sleep props that are not making it for you and eliminate them - Children do develop habits the same way we do, so if you have always rocked your baby to sleep and he is now 2 and still demands to be rocked to fall asleep and your back cannot take it any more, mama, I can only say:
Stop. Rocking. That. Child.
I know, I know, it is easier said than done, and that is what I do for a living! I support mamas like you to stop habits that are no longer working for them, while implementing others that do! Need some help? I am here at @savvy.sleep and www.savvy-sleep.com
Now that you have some tips and tools to help your baby sleep like a champ, make sure you have a look at our organic cotton sleepwear. Our customers adore these little sets, made from 100% GOTS organic cotton, with the most superior quality.
Any tips or hints that made sleep easier for you? Share in the comments below, we love to learn and hear what works for others.