When you are expecting a baby, especially if it’s your first child, all the information you receive on how to take care of a newborn may seem overwhelming. Most likely, how hard you try to learn and memorize, you will forget everything by the time the baby arrives. Everyone has an opinion, both those that already have children as well as those that are planning some in the future. Internet is, of course, more than anything, filled with advice from both specialists and those that have some experience – or even none at all. ‘’When I have a child, I will train it to…’’ is often heard, and you may have your own plans as well, but the truth is that once you face the reality of the situations, all those ideas on how to make your life easier will go down the drain. Then, when you take your baby in your hands you will see your heart melt, ready to do anything it needs you to do.
Getting as much sleep as you can will become a priority even if you manage to have enough help to get you through those first few rocky months. You might find yourself searching for answers on how to get the baby sleep at least through a few more hours through the night. It is important to note, however, that at time, what matters even more than waking up fresh and ready for the day, is that your baby is getting enough to eat to be able to grow and gain weight at a healthy speed.
Night feeds are something you can’t avoid, especially in the first three months. In the beginning, babies are unable to tell day from night. During that time, it is often recommended to keep waking them up every three hours even if they don’t wake up themselves, even more so if you are breastfeeding. This way, you will be sure they are getting all the food they need. Remember that, as every pregnancy is different, so is each newborn, and observe their behaviour and their needs closely. That way, you will be able to adapt yourself to their routine and work around it. As they grow, they will need less sleep during the day and sleep through longer stretches at night. After all, there is no child that stays awake during the night and even if your baby wakes up to feed frequently, it will pass in time. Everything happens gradually and one morning you will find yourself waking up with six or more hours of sleep behind you!
Making Night Feeds Easier
Although babies are fine waking up every few hours only to fall back asleep again, it comes difficult to parents, especially if you are breastfeeding. Interrupted sleep along with sleep deprivation can lead to depression and exhaustion, but there are ways you can make it more bearable, if not even enjoyable.
- Get enough sleep.
As contradictory as it sounds, try to sleep as much as you can when the baby is sleeping. One of the ways to do so is to ask for help with other things that need done around the house, so that you don’t have to worry about chores. Also, there are plenty of things you can get done when the baby is awake, as it can keep you company. You can put your baby in a carrier or place the play gym next to you while you do laundry or watch a relaxing film. There are also mom and baby yoga tutorials online, if you do want to get back in shape so quickly, and you can do them together. You can also pump the milk and store it for the night feed, and take turns with another family member, which will help them bond with the baby. Just be careful to pump the breasts regularly so you don’t lose the amount of milk you are producing. Also, be careful when warming the milk up. Read more about getting it right here.
- Make it comfortable for you.
Wherever you choose to feed to your baby, it needs to be nice and cosy. Decorate your bed with nice sheets and pillows. Save your favourite book, blog or music album for those night feeds and enjoy them while you breastfeed or give them the bottle. Have a favourite cup of tea or juice next to you and try and look forward to those quiet nights when only you and the baby are awake.
- Think positive.
As with anything else, this phase, too, will pass. Use the time to memorize how beautiful your baby is at that stage, daydream about your nice future together, caress its small hands or feet and think about how precious those moments are.
Once you are sure that the baby is growing at a steady pace and you see that it is ready to sleep through most of the night, you can stop waking it up. This will usually happen around six months, but it’s not a definite age. If it wakes up by itself, avoid waking it up even more – don’t turn the lights on, and don’t change its nappy unless you feel it’s really necessary. Keep the atmosphere calm and soothe the baby back to sleep by feeding it. During the day, remember that babies find it difficult to stay awake for more than two or three hours at a time, so keep a nap schedule by sleep training it – or simply putting it to sleep at approximately the same hours of the day. Create a night time routine which you will follow each and single evening to let them know it is time for bed. This can include a bad, singing a lullaby and feeding it a quiet room with little or no lights on.
As it shows, nothing is ever black or white so it is important to choose the solution that is best for the baby.