OK, better late than never, right? I can’t believe how time goes by. We are into another year and my last post was way too long ago. I write in my head everyday, but sitting down to actually write has not been as easy.
The sleep research continues, but at a very slow pace. The more I read the more I have questions. Does that ever happen to you? I did pick up a book the other day called Sleepless in America by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. I met her once and she interviewed me for the book she was writing at the time. This was a while ago, so not sure what book, but it was fun to talk with her. Her sleep book is very reassuring and the tone is calm and kind. I like that. I’m the kind of person who questions everything, so when I hear about someone who says that there are lots of ways to do something, I’m in.
So, as promised, here’s some of what I have gleaned so far on this sleep path:
*Newborns are used to movement and touch and it makes sense to me to soothe them with both, especially in the beginning.
*What works for your baby at the beginning needs to be modified as you go along. Don’t expect anything to stay the same. It rarely does.
*When a baby is over-tired they need a lot of support to calm down. Catching a baby’s cues that they need to rest before they get to this stage is what we are after, but it isn’t always possible. Babies can get over-tired very fast, so sometimes it doesn’t matter what you do they will be over-tired and need a lot of support to unwind.
*Match their level of expression with what you do to soothe them. This means that if they are wailing and flailing you need to use bigger movements and sounds to reach them. As they calm down, you calm down.
*I can’t emphasize enough the importance of tracking your own experience as you are present with your baby’s. Breathing, noticing where you are holding tension, letting go of expectations, really looking at your baby, will help your baby so many ways.
*Using tools such as sound machines (white noise), music, pacifiers, rocking, singing, humming, nursing, all have their place. Just know that what you use may need to change as your baby grows.
*I love baby dancing. Standing and moving while holding your baby in your arms, gazing at him or her, making loving sounds as they relax, gently bouncing and swaying can feel so good to you both. When it stops feeling good, stop doing it.
*Babies often cry as they get ready to sleep. I think it must be disconcerting to move from an awake state to an asleep one. It looks disorienting and uncomfortable for some. Having compassion for the process and letting them release through crying will help them to know that you get it. However, if they are over the top crying they need help calming down, especially the really little ones.
*Come up with a plan for how you are going to help your baby get to sleep and be clear in your mind what you will be doing. Tell your baby. Tell your husband or partner. If you are on your own, tell yourself. The clearer you are about the plan at that particular period of time, the better your chances of it working.
*The plan goes out the window with illness, traveling and changes of any kind. Let go of the plan while you are in a phase like that and pick it back up again when things have settled.
*Have a routine that is predictable, but it has to be flexible too.
All this is crazy making, I know. Not much is steady and consistent. I wish there was a magic formula that worked on all kids, but so far, I just haven’t found that to be the case. You can try the methods out there (there are plenty), but it really comes down to trusting yourself and your baby, getting good support, and knowing that you are not alone. There are a lot of us out there trying to figure this sleep thing out.
You are trying to teach your child that sleep feels good and that resting is something to look forward to at the end of the day( and during the day too). We need to model as well as teach, so don’t forget to rest yourself (easier said than done, but worth the effort).
I’m sure I’ll be writing more on this subject as time goes on. If you have any ideas that have worked for you and your family, by all means add your two cents.
And know that I am available to be of support to you. Talking about sleep and strategies for helping you and your baby is what I love to do. You can reach me at http://www.earlyparentingsupport.com