There is nothing more exhausting about motherhood (the early years) than having a baby who will not sleep and then spending those half-conscious waking moments trying to find a sane solution to the sleeplessness.
Let’s forget the books, the Google-ing, other mother declarations (or maybe your mother’s two cents worth) for now. Instead, let’s focus on the here and now on what is right in front of you.
Sometimes all you need is a fresh perspective—attune yourself more closely to your baby’s experiences to turn on that ‘night light’. Here’s my mommy brief on some of baby’s key senses. There are actually 11, but here are the top five:
- Smell. It’s incredibly heightened in the early months! Have you ever been awoken by the smell of coffee, or maybe bacon? Keep your baby’s room as free as possible of chemical scents found in detergents (on their sheets, clothes), bath soaps etc.
- Hearing. White noise all the way, mamas! Invest in a white-noise machine, or turn on a fan. Babies have many more frequent wakings through the night than we do, so any sort of noise may intrigue them to wake and see what it is.
- Sight. Remove the mobile and toys! It’s too stimulating. Bed is boring, so boring in fact there is nothing else to do but sleep.
- Intuition. This is your baby’s superior sense. If you are frustrated with your baby’s sleep situation, they’re feelin’ it, too. Find peace in the moments you spend with your child before bed—always!
- Sense of Time. Babies’ circadian rhythms are dictated by the sun. Develop a 24-hour routine and once baby’s on one, they know what time it is.
Good to know: Babies will hone their senses between four to seven months of age. Tune in next week for more on sleep and your baby.
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Sometimes we set our expectations too high, too low or we have none at all when it comes to our baby’s sleep. It is healthy to have realistic and positive expectations for achieving good sleep habits in the home. Here are some ‘peace-of-mind tidbits’ to help you relax—mentally and physically.
- Don’t expect your healthy, nursing baby to sleep through the entire night until around one year of age (by this time, it’s a quick ‘up and feed’ and back to bed in 10 minutes or less). Believe it or not, most moms don’t mind getting up for this one feeding.
- Expect your baby to want to go to bed early and rise early. They are biologically wired to do so, and not accepting this is counterproductive and very frustrating.
- Don’t expect to achieve what you did before baby! If you’re overtired, the first cognitive ability to disappear is multitasking. Take it slow and downsize the ‘to- do’ list.
- Expect to feel like hitting your friend when she gloats about her great little sleeper. My advice is to stop comparing. It’s good practice for the future. You don’t want to be comparing your teenagers.
- Expect your baby’s sleep to reflect the healthy sleep habits you initiate. Consistently repeating patterns before the onset of sleep will condition your baby’s brain to accept sleep and to sleep well.
- Don’t get caught up in the ‘achieving’, get caught up in the moments that really matter—the ones you wish to remember. If sleep deprivation is affecting your ability to enjoy these moments, know that you can do something to fix it. You don’t have to be sleep deprived to the point of being a Zombie Mommy.
Expect motherhood to guide you to solutions and perpetually transform your expectations. The more well-rested and relaxed you are, the easier it will be to adjust to the constantly changing world of motherhood.
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