Millions of parents have survived babies who don't sleep. You can too.
Here are 10 ideas to help you cope:
- Adjust your attitude about nighttime parenting. Babies sleep differently from adults because their brain is growing at a tremendous rate. Sleep happens best when you and your baby are relaxed and comfortable.
- Decide where you, your baby and partner sleep best. There is no right or wrong place for families to sleep. Wherever you sleep the best is the right place for you and your baby. In a recent survey about where their baby sleeps, most parents said: "The crib." When asked where the baby wakes up, most parents said: "My bed." Try a mattress on the floor or a sidecar with your crib. Be flexible, you might need a few different combinations.
- Try soothing techniques besides nursing to get your baby back to sleep. Sometimes nurse her off to sleep, sometimes rock her off to sleep, sometimes sing her off to sleep, and sometimes use tape recordings; and switch off with your partner getting her to sleep. Some babies will refuse this and that's OK, too.
- Dads part in nighttime parenting. It's important for dads and babies to have their own relationship. In dad's arms, babies learn about safety and protection and this helps mothers get more sleep. If nighttime doesn't work, early morning or evening might.
- A peaceful daytime carries over into a restful night. The more you hold your baby and are calm during the day, the more likely this peace is to carry through into the night. If your baby has a restless night, slow things down the following day.
- Create the right bedroom atmosphere. Make bedrooms sanctuaries of sleep. No phones, TV or media. If you have outside noise, use a white noise machine to mask it or a bubbling fish tank, a loudly ticking clock, recordings of womb or whale sounds. (These can all be put on a CD or iPod and repeated.)
- Sensitive Skin. Some babies are not comfortable in synthetic sleepwear like polyester sleepers. Try 100% cotton, bamboo or wool clothing. Some babies are also sensitive to new clothing, detergents, perfumes and fabric softeners. They may be unsettled, restless or have a skin rash.
- Be boring. Repetitive, monotonous sounds, humming while rocking and lullabies in a soft tone can all ease babies to sleep. Recordings of lullabies on continuous-play can help you remember the words or inspire you to sing.
- Skin to skin nursing. Dress your baby only in a diaper and sleep on your bed together. Curl up around your baby, face-to-face, tummy-to-tummy, and let the baby nurse. Most babies love the combination of warm milk, your breathing and heartbeat, along with gentle strokes from your fingers and will relax.
- Think about physical causes of nightwaking. If you've tried a lot of different techniques, he might be hungry or there may be an underlying medical problem contributing to your baby's nightwaking.
In short, moms wonder "Why everyone else's babies sleep and mine doesn't". My personal opinion is that a few babies are good sleepers, their parents brag excessively and the rest of us are jealous as hell!
I offer the following for your consideration. Most moms are paying attention to their babies--which is good--that's what babies need. Babies are supposed to have short, light, sleep cycles until they are about 9 months old. It is because their brain is growing and developing so much. It allows them to wake easily if their breathing stops. It is also a way to eat more and grow.
While it is true you can 'sleep train' some babies, it is not necessarily good for them nor does it guarantee they will be good sleepers as children. If you are paying attention to your baby, then you are going to notice that they need to eat frequently and they need you to hold, love and reassure them constantly. All babies need this, even when it is nighttime.