Sleep deprivation is a real and sometimes terrifying concern during motherhood that seems impossible to prevent or cope with, especially when your life revolves around a supposedly erratic infant. Here are 5 ways in which you can prevent and mitigate sleeplessness in your baby, and by extension, sleeplessness for you.
1. Set your baby’s bio clock
Make sure your baby’s longest naptime coincides with night time. Schedule daytime naps so they don’t interfere with this schedule. For simplicity, make routines like feed-play-sleep, bathe-feed-sleep and stroll-feed-sleep. Take notes, improvise and see what works best for you.
2. Watch out for witching hour(s)
Babies get terribly cranky in the evening, fussing, crying and screaming, sometimes for hours. Unless your baby is colic, he/she is consolable. Most women turn the lights off and hold/cuddle their babies to calm them. The steady beat of the caregiver’s heart is reassuring and a neutral stimulant for the baby to focus on. Gently rocking your baby works similarly. Some women use white noise, like the sound of waves or a ceiling fan to recreate an environment that is similar to that of the womb. Other women take their babies on a daily evening strolls to the park for familiar visual and auditory stimuli along with playtime to engage their baby and keep her/him amused, happy and active while combating crankiness.
3. Sleep with your baby (if your baby sleeps, you sleep)
An excellent strategy for sleep training is to sleep when your baby sleeps. Newborns sleep a lot, so while they are napping, you could get done all your other work too, like cooking, bathing and laundry.
4. Over-exhausted babies sleep poorly
As counter-intuitive as that sounds, an ill-rested, sleep-deficient, tired baby does not sleep well immediately and requires extra cuddling, comforting and reassurance. So, if you’ve had a busy day with your baby, account for this stress and spare extra time to calm her/him. Make sure to stick to your naptime routine, be it rocking, singing, cuddling, holding the baby close and deep-breathing. Your baby will recognise a familiar drill and fall asleep as conditioned.
5. Work as a team
Keep in mind that you and your partner are both your child’s primary caregivers. Take turns so you both stay sane and have the psychological and physical energy to do a good job of feeding, bathing, comforting and nurturing your baby. If/when your partner’s leave from work runs out, have your parents, his/her parents or hired help to assist you with your ‘baby duties’.
Happy parenting. You can do this.