As soon as you become a parent, you lose control of your sleep. Your baby dictates when to sleep and when to be awake. This can be very frustrating especially for new moms. I had a really rough time as soon as my daughter was born. She would sleep a lot during the day and she would be playful and active all night long! In short, ,my nights became my days! The hardest part was adjusting to this newly enforced sleeping routine. When the baby slept during the day, I was taking advantage of the time to at least take a shower, organize a few things in the house or when my day burg nanny opted not to report for the day, I would cook, do the dishes, express milk for future use after I resume work and the list was endless. Within two hours the baby is awake, I would then sit down for like an hour breastfeeding with the TV remote within arm reach, flask of hot fluids on the table and a my phone on my side. After the baby is fully fed, its burping, then diaper changing then get to the kitchen for maybe a snack or food. I know you know that triangle between bedroom, kitchen and sitting room. So, my life was revolving around those three rooms. The when the night falls, the baby would be up and active. I would take advantage of time between 7:00 pm and 11:00 pm since my hubby would help. Then at around midnight, he would fall asleep. Of course, I needed him to get enough rest so that he can work better now that he has an extra mouth to feed. So it was me and my TV the whole night. I would doze off at times and then change positions, switch channels, try movies, series comedy cartoon, everything! Sometimes my hubby would take over and I would sleep for at least 3 hours at night.(I think that was the sexiest thing ever). My baby would fall asleep at around 6:30 am. This was the time my hubby is getting ready for work! He was kind enough to make breakfast and he made sure that I joined him. Within a week I was a walking corpse! I was exhausted, stressed, puffy eyes, my back and my arms started aching, I lost concentration and that was the beginning of memory loss!
I had to do something. I refused to be controlled by this baby. Enough was enough! I was losing it. I needed my sanity back. Then colic happened. Then postpartum depression creeped in. I kept consoling myself with this phrase “ Nights are long, months are short”. But no! I still need my sleep. I needed to make sleep my priority. Brain runs effectively when sleeping. I had to learn how to sleep train. I needed to know how many hours of sleep that my baby needed and I then distribute then within 24 hours with majority of them at night.
So how much sleep time does your baby need?
- 0-4 months-need a 16-18 hours of sleep
- 4-12 months-need 12-16 hours of sleep
- 1-2 years– need 11-14 hours of sleep
- 3-5 years need 10-13 hours of sleep
- 6-12 years need 9-12 hours of sleep
I want us to focus on newborn to 4 months. This is the craziest stage because even as a mom, you need to heal hence rest is very important. A lot of baby experience that day and night confusion. Just like my baby, they throw a party all night and dream all day. This is because your baby has not developed their circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythm is essentially an internal body clock that gives your baby cues about when she should sleep and when she should be awake. It generally takes 2-4 months for an infant to develop a good circadian rhythm. It is essential to work towards helping your baby develop a strong circadian rhythm. This is what I want you to know. That it is not the amount of sleeping hours that is a problem, it is the timing that is a problem. That’s why you need to sleep train.
Sleep training is not rocket science. I didn’t require a professional (though they exist and they do a good job). I decided to do it because it was more for me than the baby. Remember the baby is getting enough sleep but you are not. I will tell you what I did. It worked for me. I have helped sleep train a few babies ever since and the result is amazing. I hope it will work for you too. The secrets is helping your night owl develop a good circadian rhythm by allocating more and longer sleeping hours at night than during the day. Here are the tips!
- Develop a routine- I literally drew a timetable indicating various activities and time within 24 hours. Why is routine important? Your baby learns what to do next automatically. For instance, I preferred the evening sun basking between 4:00-530 pm. This time I would play with the baby to keep her busy. You can breastfeed as you bask. Then she would take a bath followed by massage, then breastfeeding and by 6:30 pm she would fall asleep. She would sleep up to 8:00 pm. I would then wake her up even if she was sleepy and then breastfeed her to her full and play a little with her. She would then go back to sleep at 10:00pm. We would sleep together for four full hours. Then breastfeed feed then go back to sleep for 3 hours and the cycle continued. At least I will have a minimum of 7 hours sleep. Good enough for my sanity. The first three days are hard because the baby is still learning the schedule. Within a week your baby will be on board.
- Keep the baby active during the day- You need to show your baby that day time is for activity. Let the baby experience light, noise during the day and different activities as you carry on with your activities. I had these three colorful balloons that she would keep staring at. Tickle her a bit for some laughter. Dress her a little light so that she is not soothed by warmth to sleep. Remove those socks and play with her fingers. Have some tummy time Within two hours your baby may need to nap. Allow the baby to nap but for a limited number of hours. Do not let your baby sleep for 3-4 hours during the day. Wake her up and interact with her. Don’t worry, these sleeping hours will be compensated at night while you both sleep.
- Be boring at night-Let the environment be quiet, a little dark and less active. Be calmer and avoid bright light from the bulbs and even tv screens. . Bright lights or screens inhibit the production of melatonin, which is the sleeping hormone. Your baby will start yawning indicating they are ready to sleep.
- Breastfeed before bed time- breastfeeding soothes the baby. It also ensures that the baby is fully fed before the sleep. There is magic in mother’s milk in the evening as it contains higher levels of tryptophan which aids the body in producing melatonin (the sleeping hormone). If you are exclusively breastfeeding, this will naturally aid your baby. If you are breastfeeding and supplementing with formula, consider making it a habit to nurse as your pre-bedtime feeding session.
- Sunlight exposure- Sun as great source of vitamin D and also light that your baby will help differentiate night and day. Studies have shown that babies that get sunlight exposure sleep better at night. Ensure you baby has plenty of that.
That’s all I did guys. For any mom struggling with sleep right now, the power is in your hand. Only you can train the baby. Take charge and control the baby and not vice versa. Most moms give up after two days. Just do it for a week and I will be here waiting for your positive feedback.
Coming up soon….SLEEP PROPS…see you very soon as we talk about things that help your baby sleep faster when you need them to sleep. You don’t want to miss out. LIKE AND FOLLOW ME ON FACEBOOK, TWITTER AND INSTAGRAM by clicking on the ICONS below. Tag those moms who are sleep deprived. LOVE!