You’ve heard the elderly woman in the grocery store tell you, “Enjoy raising that baby; it goes by so fast.” Yes, as the mother of three children I can already see how fast it is going. It was just yesterday I brought home my newborn daughter, trying to survive with three girls age 3 and under.
It’s hard for us mothers to remember how fast time goes, when we are operating on little to no sleep. Other moms may have warned you about sleep deprivation at your baby shower, but nothing is like the real deal.
Nothing is like hearing your baby every two hours, crawling out of bed and tending to her needs. Nothing is like falling asleep hunched over on the floor in the middle of nursing. Nothing is like rocking for hours, only to hear a whimper when you try to transfer your baby to her crib. It is truly a service that bonds us moms together.
Because we sacrifice, we feed, we rock and we try everything in the book, we are tied together. We count down the hours to nap time, only to find ourselves staring at pictures of our baby the second they go to sleep. We light up when we hear a coo, and get to rescue them after a long nap. Before we know it, we start telling other moms how fast it goes by. We become that lady in the grocery store.
There are dozens of tricks for sleep training your baby, and it’s hard to sort out which plan is the right one for you. I discovered Belly & Beans Associates, a postpartum wellness practice headed by Christy Bunting-Hill and Jennessa Moore. Their team works to empower families with confidence, support and encouragement, which can certainly be helpful when things get overwhelming.
One of their major initiatives is personalized sleep coaching, based on their decades of hands on experience with newborn and mother’s postpartum care.
If you’re reading this at 2 a.m. or sneaking some Pinterest time in during a 2 p.m. nap, hopefully these quick sleeping tips will help you. Just maybe the next time the woman tells you to enjoy this stage, you won’t be rolling your sleep deprived eyes.
7 Sleep Tips from Belly & Beans Associates
- Make it a priority – Helping your baby establish healthy sleeping can help you find balance in your life. You may put off trying new techniques because you’re exhausted and overwhelmed. It may seem like too much to put effort into sleep training, but the postpartum healing process will take longer when you’re sleep deprived. It’s important that your baby sleeps well so you can sleep. Trust me, when you get a full night’s sleep, you feel like shouting from the roof top, posting it on social media, and it gives you the motivation you need to continue to care for your child.
- Introducing a new sleep technique— Belly & Bean coaches say moms must implement a new technique for at least seven to 14 days in order for it to stick. Consistency gives the baby predictability. This allows time for transitioning on the inside and outside. So get out your calendar and stay committed.
- Be patient—As you introduce a new sleep pattern, there are three stages your baby will go through. First, the first five to seven days in the reactive stage are the most difficult when your baby will be the most fussy. Then you deal with the responsive stage, when there is a learning period and your baby’s left brain starts to process the transition. Last, your baby will experience the anticipatory stage, usually about four or five days after the responsive stage.
- It’s all about consistency – Whatever technique you use at night time, you need to continue to use all night long. This same set of night time techniques should also be used for naps as well. Build sleep associations that provide the baby with continuity. For example, if you swaddle your baby when she goes to bed, keep the baby swaddled all night. Just remember the 80/20 rule. To develop new sleep routine and habits, keep 80 percent consistency and start with 20 percent change at a time.
- Find your baby’s cycle—Every baby has a BRAC, meaning a basic rest and activity cycle over 24 hours. Belly & Beans suggest starting wake up time at the same time every day so that their naps will fall with their BRAC every day. Physiologically speaking, your baby should have a 12 hour day. For example, if you wake your baby up at 7:30 a.m., then the baby needs to be asleep by 7:30 p.m.
- Meet your baby’s needs— If a baby is upset longer than 30 minutes to an hour, there is usually a key that one of their needs has not been met. Try changing a diaper, feeding or other calming techniques. When the body is sleep deprived, there are things that affect the baby’s health such as memory retention, weakened immune system, sensory operations, and ability to grow over time. As if you didn’t need more incentive for your baby to sleep, the growth hormone is only released when babies are asleep in their REM cycles. Be patient and committed to help meet your baby’s needs.
- Things can change—Just when you feel like you’ve got the hang of sleep training, things change. New teeth start to come in, and your angel baby becomes upset and whiny. At the four month mark, babies are also going through neurological growth and their REM cycles shift. There is also an increase in sensory perception at this age, so babies are more aware of their surroundings. Their REM sleep decreases from about 70 percent to 50 percent around this time. The changes that come are just to keep us humble and patient. Stick with it, and you’ll be able to weather the storms during transitions.
There you have it, some more tips on sleep training your baby. Above all, just don’t be afraid to get help. Even if you’ve talked to a million moms, there may be one trick that works for you and your baby. Luckily, Belly & Bean have specialized coaching to navigate this essential period of raising children.
Believe it or not, it doesn’t last forever. Although I’ve been changing diapers for my daughters for five years, I do get a full night’s sleep. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and maybe that’s what the woman at the grocery store has figured out.
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About the author
This content has been written or reviewed by a member of the Baylor Scott & White Health medical staff.
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