When my little girl came into my arms and my life, on one of the last days of December, years ago, I was overwhelmed with emotions that I thought I was incapable of. Here was this perfect cherubic bundle of prettiness. She rarely demanded attention, playing by herself quietly and sleeping without any fuss. She was too perfect to be true. I could probably count on my fingers, the times she has been restless and cranky in all the nights of her early years. Sleep regression came by around 4 months of age but was little noticeable given that she slept through the nights and afternoons without as much as a whimper. Feed her, burp her, and rock her to sleep in less than 15 minutes and she would sleep fast. Yes, the nights when she was cranky was perhaps one of those rare occasions when she had had her vaccine and developed temperature or unwell and restless with a blocked nose. She would still sleep if she was comfortable. I believed so much in her that I knew not what it meant to be bleary eyed and ready-to-fall-off-to-sleep-any-time-of-the-day, state. This was to be tested at a later stage when my son arrived 3 years later and turned my entire life topsy-turvy with his loud and demanding wails many times during the nights. It was in stark contrast to my first born. A feed and some rocking would make him sleep for a couple of minutes to couple of hours, if I was lucky. However, he persisted in his wakeful state at night for many years. And of course, he was colicky, went through the infantile asthmatic period which lasted for well over 2 years of age. It left me exhausted and frustrated.
Besides the experience gained from my children, I have been around my nieces and nephews who arrived before, between and after my 2 children, with different sleeping patterns, different challenges and so on.
It’s helpful to be equipped when babies reach 4 months of age and slowly lose the ability to sleep continually, waking up only at feed times.
To ensure that you rest too, sleep when the child sleeps and wake up when they do. That can help you stay sane for the day and nights! Understand the techniques that help your child fall asleep. Anything that sets them off to sleep peacefully and enables you to get some good hours of sleep yourself. Walking around holding her/him, rocking them slowly; anything that works. Don’t be afraid to try them all out. Perhaps, some may work, others may not. Keep trying. Whatever you choose to do, don’t valiantly continue doing this if it doesn’t seem to be helping!
Encourage healthy self help pattern where you create a conducive atmosphere for the child to fall asleep in the most simplistic way possible.This can be achieved by a warm evening bath, a night time full tummy feed and turning off the lights in a noise free room. Don’t feel guilty in keeping them awake for those few hours before the final night sleep time which suits your night sleep as well. It’s a way to stretch their day for them, so that they are tired and spent, ready to sleep it off at night.
Middle of the night, wakefulness should be dealt with in a very smart manner. A feed can be organised for, with less noise as possible, changing the nappy discreetly, never turn on the lights, discourage any attempts by the baby to play by shushing her/him gently. Avoid as much interaction as possible. Despite all these precautionary measures, the little one could outsmart you!
Yet, there is no right or wrong here. Babies are different. What works for one may or may not necessarily work for the other. I would always encourage parents to attempt creative and new techniques to help a baby sleep through the night with least disturbances.
Keep calm, it’s a temporary phase and there is light at the end of the tunnel. Do what works best for you and the baby, Work your way to ensure that your baby and most importantly, you both as parents get enough sleep to tackle this journey through babyhood.
Image Source: https://sleepcoachsarah.wordpress.com/2015/02/09/why-the-18-month-sleep-regression-is-the-worst/