Regular sleep becomes a thing of the past for most parents during their babies’ first few months. Luckily, your body produces hormones to help you get through it. Your precious bundle will generally become a better sleeper as they get older, needing fewer night feeds, but if you’re finding the opposite is true and you’re feeling stuck in a rut, the following information and insights might help on coping with sleep deprivation with a newborn baby!
The Wide-awake Child
Nine sleeping issues that babies and toddlers can experience:
#1. Not falling asleep unless rocked, patted, bounced, pushed in a pushchair or driven in a car
#2. Not falling asleep for up to an hour or more
#3. Waking at the same time every night and not going back to sleep again for an hour or more
#4. Waking several times during the night
#5. Only sleeping if co-sleeping with a parent
#6. Waking at the crack of dawn or earlier
#7. Still waking for a night feed when older than nine months
#8. Continually getting out of bed
#9. Only napping in a pushchair or baby sling, not in the cot
Some parents prefer not to subject their babies and toddlers to sleep training, especially if they think it involves leaving them to “cry it out”. However, sleep training has been shown to improve the lives of many parents and little ones within a very short time. Plus, not all sleep training involves leaving them to wail the night away, which can tug at the heartstrings!
There’s a range of books out there too, which outline various sleep-training methods. Here are a handful of the more popular ones:
- Gina Ford, The Contented Little Baby Book
- Harvey Karp, The Happiest Baby on the Block
- Sheyne Rowley, Dream Baby Guide
- Richard Ferber, Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems
- Robin Barker, Baby Love
- Tracey Hogg, Secrets of the Baby Whisperer
The panel: How have you managed sleep deprivation?
Kathryn: My husband says that, unlike him, I’m the kind of person who can function on very little sleep (but I think that’s just his excuse for napping during the day!). I’ve been lucky to have good sleepers – thanks to the Sleepyhead Deluxe bed. I’ve also never nursed during the night, only in the early newborn days when we were still trying to instil a habit of sleeping through the night. I moved them to their own rooms at five months and it has done wonders for my sleep!
Laura: It took my husband and I a very long time to conceive our second child. While I often daydreamed about finally having another baby in the house, I would also have the occasional fear about sleep deprivation! I struggled a lot with it when I had my first child. This time, however, I think I’d set myself up for thinking it was going to be so awful that, in the end, it didn’t seem so bad. I’m terrible with very little sleep though, and I find it very hard to motivate myself to do anything when I’m tired. When I have a particularly bad day, I remind myself that this stage doesn’t last that long and that I can get through it because I’ve done it before!
Tanya: My son is a good sleeper and slept through the night from the moment we got him home. However, he is now waking at about 3am and coming into our bed to sleep. I have friends who tell me to be firm and walk him back, which I initially tried, but it means I sleep less and it’s not a pleasant experience. When Jago crawls into our bed, he does go straight to sleep 90 percent of the time so I don’t see it as a major issue, especially as he goes to bed in his own bed. I will also admit I do quite like to snuggle with him, so I’m not firm on this! My daughter Mia started completely differently. She was unwell when we got her home and she spent the first six months screaming; nothing would comfort her. I don’t think it’s possible to explain to anyone how stressful that is. No sleep, followed by a child that cannot be comforted! Sleep deprivation is not my friend; I need at least seven hours a night!
Katy: I try to squeeze in some little cat naps during the day
Abigail: I think that when you have your second child it’s easier in some ways as you know what to expect. You’re more relaxed and go with the flow. This time, though, we have a toddler as well so there’s a little more to manage! Remember that the first few months will be tough, so get some rest and don’t push yourself. Loads of people will offer their opinions and advice along the way. You can listen to the advice, but make your own decisions and trust your gut. Sleep when baby sleeps and have some good TV series lined up on Netflix!’
Lorraine: The keys for me have been co-sleeping and going to bed early.
Mariel: I started off co-sleeping with both of my children. But with my second child, I decided to sleep train her. She now sleeps through the night in her own cot in her room.
Zzzz … It’s estimated that having a new baby results in around 400 to 750 hours lost sleep for parents in the first year!
For more see our Mums & Babies section!