We’ve all head the horror stories of babies who don’t sleep - stories of baby sleep ‘problems’ that see anxious parents running to sleep training. But a lot of the problems we’re trying to ‘fix’ are actually just natural infant development.
Routine for routine’s sake
I angst when I hear of parents training 6 week old babies into a 'sleep, play, feed' routine. In the first 3 months, or the 4th trimester as it is known, your baby will settle into a regulated sleeping pattern overtime. You don’t need to impose a routine, and often can’t.
Don’t rush your baby into an older baby’s sleep pattern before they are ready – let them evolve naturally with your support.
If you’re a person who needs predictable, fixed routines then this will be a tough time for you because babies naturally swing in and out of different patterns. Hang in there though. Although it’s a stressful time, if you can remember to offer your baby kindness and comfort throughout these critical first months, you’ll start to see a pattern emerge as they adjust to the world.
Tips to keep you sane
The following basics will help you support your baby as they naturally grow into sleep patterns, and will help you stay connected with your baby:
Comfort your baby whenever they’re distressed
Cuddle your baby who won't sleep
Feed your baby when they're hungry and don’t worry about feeding to a routine
Allow your baby to sleep in your arms or at your breast, as long as they are safe
Be gentle, be kind and take big breaths, it will get easier.
But baby only sleeps on me
Hint: if your baby only sleeps in your arms, periodically give them the opportunity to sleep in their cot or on a safe flat surface. If it doesn’t work, keep trying – they might just surprise you next time!
Experiences shape your baby’s understanding and expectations. It’s a big ask for a baby who has only ever been cuddled when sleeping to adjust to a different space. By letting your baby sleep in different places they’ll have the opportunity to experience sleep in different ways.
Author: Helen Stevens. RN. RM. MCHN. Manager of Clinical Services, Education and Research. Parent Infant Consultants. 0411880720