Baby Sleeping (or not..)

Or maybe this should be called not sleeping. Sleep deprivation is definitely one of the most challenging aspects of parenthood. Especially when you’re a first timer and you’re trying to master your “new job”, on two hours of broken sleep a night. How or why any of us ever have a second baby is beyond me.

Now you may be lucky and have a “sleeper”. If that’s the case then say a quiet prayer of thanks but don’t mention it to other new mum’s (as they’ll automatically hate you for this!). Alright I confess I’ve got a sleeper, but in all fairness I’ve earned her. We had 5 years of little sleep with our eldest two; I’ve been there, done that and got the eye bags to prove it.

Sleep plans

There are many sleep plans out there that have been designed by various experts. You can start trying to establish a routine as early as six weeks if you feel ready. If you decide to follow a sleep plan then the main factors to remember are:

  • To give it a chance you need to stick with it, as it’s quite unlikely that it will work on the first attempt. You need to carry on and be consistent, so your baby has the chance to learn.
  • Be calm but firm, babies pick up on stress and this can unsettle them.
  • Have confidence that it will work, if you do the plans half-heartedly not having any belief in them or yourself, then you are setting yourself up to fail. BE POSITIVE.
  • Find a plan that fits in with your lifestyle or adapt them accordingly.

I must admit to failing on all of the above points first and second time around and found the lack of sleep unbearable. But they are also things that I applied when I had number 3 and it’s made the world of difference. I think the most important thing is that sleeplessness won’t last forever; it’s just a phase (my mantra). 

A bedtime routine will help your baby to realise when it is time to go to sleep. Ours goes like this:

  • Last play.
  • A warm bath with a drop of lavender oil added to the water.
  • Into a clean nappy and sleep suit.
  • A bottle downstairs in a relaxed atmosphere (not that easy with at least two more kids in the house but we try).
  • Carried up to bed and put down awake, with the musical mobile on. A drop of chamomile oil on the cot blanket (perhaps she’s not asleep but in an aromatherapy induced coma).
  • If Livvy cries I go in and put my hand on her to soothe her. But I don’t make eye contact or speak.  Controlled crying works in this way when you keep going in to reassure your baby, after allowing them to cry for a set amount of time.

Items of use:

  • Blackout blinds, these are invaluable during the summer months.
  • A relaxing CD played at a low volume or a mobile that you can leave running to send your baby off to sleep.
  • A room thermometer, so that you can keep her room at a safe and comfortable temperature.
  • A comfort blanket or soft toy that smalls of you. Basically put it down your top for a couple of hours, your baby may settle better if she has got your comforting scent with her.
  • Baby monitors, for your peace of mind.
  • Baby sleeping bag, this stops your baby kicking off the covers and then waking up as she is cold.
  • Some good quality concealer, to hide the dark circles under your eyes.

A guide to moses baskets, cribs and cots

Moses baskets and carrycots are used from birth until about 3 months.  They are snugger for your newborn baby, but can be placed inside the cot, to get her used to sleeping in the cot.

For a great selection of moses baskets check out the Moses Baskets >> website.

Cribs can be used from birth to 6 months of age. Most of them have a gliding or rocking motion to soothe your baby to sleep. Mothercare make a fab product called the Eco Crib which is made and packaged in recyclable cardboard.

Cots are suitable from birth. Some have drop sides to make lifting older babies in and out easier. You can even get cots where one side can be removed. This means you can push the cot right up against your bed, so you can be closer to your baby (great for breastfeeding). Many have teething rails too. They also have different height settings to adjust as your baby grows.

Read our article on construction your baby cot

Cot beds are cots that you can remove the sides from, so that they can be converted into a bed. This means they last longer. They usually have height settings and teething rails and a fixed, or a dropside, mechanism.

A travel cot can be folded away, so are great for trips and holidays.

Cot divider - you place your baby’s head at the top of the cot and place the cot divider under her feet. This stops her moving down the cot and slipping under the covers.

Make sure all bedroom furniture, mattresses and bedding are fire retardant

Bedroom furniture available from:

For furniture that is made from natural materials and is chemical and toxin free visit Spirit of Nature >>

Co-sleeping

Co-sleeping is sleeping with your baby in bed with you. There are different views on this in relation to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). The Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths does not support co-sleeping, as they believe that it poses a risk to the baby. This is due to the risk of the baby overheating, the parents rolling on to the baby or the baby wriggling down the bed and suffocating.

But conflicting reports claim that co-sleeping reduced the risk of cot death.  This is due to babies not sleeping as deeply so the risk is lowered. It also means that if the baby stopped breathing, being close to the mother could help restart it. In many countries where co-sleeping is the norm, there are far fewer cases of cot death. It is also said to create more relaxed and confident children, as babies are not separated from there mother. Mums and babies also get more sleep.

If you are thinking about co-sleeping here are some points to consider:

  • You should firstly speak to your midwife or health visitor.
  • You should not have baby in bed with you if you or your partner smoke, have been drinking alcohol or taking drugs.
  • Or if you or your partner are obese.
  • Make sure your baby has her own bedding, is not under your duvet and doesn’t have a pillow.

For more information on safe sleeping, read our article on cot death >