As you are getting to know your new baby you may discover that there are many dynamics that you did not anticipate, I had an email recently from a parent with a 4-week-old who explained that their baby was awake and crying when they wanted to be sleeping; and that for me in just one sentence summed up early parenting.  Your baby’s needs are on a 24-hour basis. 

Their sleeps need, although cumulatively is potentially a lot, it is mostly scattered throughout the day and the night and it is not always achieved in any long or substantial blocks, that parents often would like and are used to. There is no immediate answer, as well as continuing to build the loving-trust bond and learning the language for sleep- see last month’s blog for more details- here are 4 more suggestions to help in the first four months:

Use motion

Use motion to help your baby achieve and maintain (when necessary) their sleep.  Rock, roll, swing, dancing, jig and feed your baby to sleep!  If your baby shows you that they need lots of handling and intervention to get to sleep, filling this need as required in-grains and strengthens their connection with you.  Don’t worry about “bad habits” there is no such thing!  Nothing that you would do that supports your baby and you could ever be a negative. The early months are specifically about needs being met appropriately, quickly, and effectively, that’s not to say this doesn’t continue, of course that it does but as your baby gets older, their needs shift, adjust and reduce in many areas that in the first few months are heightened.  If you can commit to these needs without delay and with love, remind yourself that are doing an amazing job. Many parents worry that holding their baby will make them reliant on them-but they are anyway! They need to trust you and be supported by you- realistically, you have held baby in-utero for 9 months and if they come requiring more of the same, consider this very typical, and that it has meaning for you both. I often feel that it is nature’s way of building of making us slow down and connect in this way and although tiring, I encourage that you lean into this need to be held and supported, it will diminish and reduce as time evolves anyway as they become slightly older and more robust.

Walking

I know that we are all walked out right now, however, getting out and about, even when you don’t feel like, it is a great strategy to help both you and baby.  Your new baby is super mobile and adaptable right now, the summer months come with lots of promise and better weather and the vaccine rollout also brings a sense of hope too.  You don’t need to stay home and establish a routine or define a place to sleep just yet.  Getting lots of outside activity and fresh air is great for baby and for you! Walking your baby to the park-filling their sensory diet, exposing to fresh air has such positive implications for your emotional wellbeing, their sleeping patterns and of course early development.  It helps you to feel more human. Make lots for plans for safe distanced coffee with friends if allowed and trips out and about.  Don’t forget to keep your baby in the loop and chat and discuss with them where you are going and what you see- creating a dialogue in the early months sets the tone for your deep ongoing relationship with your child.

Friends with Baby

Look after yourself first

Remember you matter more! To be the best parent to your infant then first you need to parent yourself.    As well as deepening your relationship with baby, travel inwards to the relationship with yourself too.  Meet your needs, put yourself first, take time out, and ask for help.  Doing something kind for yourself means your tank of self-love is high and then you will have enough to give to another.  You cannot give to another, what you do not have for yourself.  Time out is not selfish as you may believe; it is critical getting some time for you, whatever that looks like, go for a walk alone, meet up with a friend, without the baby.   Avoid being hard or critical on yourself, be kind and loving to you- you are very important to a lot of people.  Although we feel the baby must come first, parents need to put themselves first to be able to be available both emotionally as well as physically.

Read to them

Reading to your baby.  It’s never too early to read books to your little baby.   Sitting with them, telling them stories either from a book or from your head is a lovely bonding exercise.  It’s not the words, it is the way that you say them and in turn will help grow their imagination and love of learning.  It is a powerful way to help them to feel calm in your presence.  It can also begin for form the basis of a calm bedtime routine.  When you feel ready after the first 6 weeks, then incorporate story-time and a song and some familiar phases as part of your signals that it is time for sleep.  When you are ready you can start to use my percentage of wakefulness approach as well to begin to initiate sleep ability. 

Try to remember, that we are all doing our best and we are doing an amazing job!  There are no right or wrong ways to parent-just different approaches that you may not even heard about, developed, or learned about yet.  Effective, positive, loving parenting is based on your self-belief and personal preferences.  Your baby will let you know what doesn’t suit them and you can evolve together.  

Lucy Wolfe is a Sleep consultant, Co-creational Parent and Relationship Mentor, Author of The Baby Sleep Solution and All About the Baby Sleep Solution, creator of “Sleep Through”, a natural bed and body sleep spray and relaxing rub, and Mum of four. She runs a private sleep consulting practice where she provides knowledge, expertise, and valuable support to families around the world. See www.sleepmatters.ie |+35387 2683584 or |lucy@sleepmatters.ie