Friday, March 22, 2013

Sleeping like a baby

After the arrival of Little Miss M, it was interesting to see how our priorities changed.  Sleep became one big concern, and I was determined to do as much as I could to ensure that Little Miss M picked up some good sleep habits from the start.

There are so many different philosophies with regards to babies and sleeping. It can be very confusing for the first time parent, and lots of conflicting views. We opted for the FEED, PLAY, SLEEP routine as recommended by the government and other resources. It has worked reasonably well for us.  Our day is somewhat unpredictable as Miss M's naps are of variable length, however at six months old she is napping three times a day and sleeping reasonably well at night.

Luckily for us, Little Miss M has seemed to know her night from day, and from the start she slept longer during the night, settling back to sleep straight after a feed when she woke up. I read that some babies may wake up wanting to play during the night, and it can be tricky to get them back to sleep.  Thankfully we have not had to deal with that just yet!

Bed time routine
We established a bed time routine as soon as we got home from the hospital.  Miss M's first bath was in a tub on the kitchen bench!  This position was not particularly comfortable for either C or myself so baths were moved to the more conveniently sized and height laundry sink.
We would bath Miss M, dress her for bed, I would feed her and then (attempt to!) put her to sleep in her bassinet next to our bed.  During the early days I got into the habit of going to bed when Miss M went to sleep.  I was so exhausted that it helped me to get the extra sleep that I needed to recover.

Sleep cues
At the hospital, the midwives swaddled the babies.  Miss M seemed to be happy with this so we tried to do the same.  We swaddled Miss M for about three months, and then we worked on transitioning her to a sleeping bag. Swaddling was great for us.  We would swaddle her and then cuddle her to sleep, and at some point she learnt how to self settle. I have no idea how, but I was thankful that it wasn't harder than that. I had visions of cuddling a toddler to sleep every time and it didn't really excite me.
Our first night home our technique was terrible, and we really didn't know how many clothes to dress a baby in or for that matter how to put a nappy onto a baby!  After we changed her nappy, bedclothes, outfit, swaddle for the second time we gave up and brought her into bed with ourselves and spent a restless night, paranoid that we would roll onto her and suffocate.  At least she was warm and slept well!  The following day one of the midwives came to our house for our follow up visit and showed us (again!) how to swaddle Miss M.  We never quite perfected the art but it was good enough to keep her warm and snug and get her to sleep in her own bed.

I was lucky to be lent a few books on sleep and settling. The best one by far was a booklet from the South Australian Government, called Settling Your Baby.
Some useful sites include: