Sleep becomes a precious commodity once you become a parent. Gone are the days of having 8 or more consecutive hours of sleep, and for most parents – they pray for the night that their child “sleeps through” .
In one way or another, your sleeping patterns shift completely. Some parents get lucky when their baby easily perfects the art of sleeping through. We were briefly blessed in that department, as Alyssa perfected that art before even reaching the 3-month mark. On the other hand, I can literally count on my one hand the nights Aidan has slept completely through.
Broken sleep is the absolute worst. I take a really long time to fall asleep, so with each wake it takes me a while to nod off again. For me, it’s better having a few consecutive hours of sleep than a night of broken sleep.
I will never forget the time when Aidan picked up the RSV virus. There were about 2 weeks, both in and out of the hospital, where he just couldn’t breathe properly and sleep was near impossible for him. I never slept for days either. I would dose off and frightfully wake up to see if he was okay.
I read that sleep deprivation was actually a torture tactic in the military… . It can definitely break anyone’s will!
For our family, the only way to ensure we all have the best possible sleep each night, is to follow a bedtime routine, which we rarely deviate from. We find that when there’s a break in routine, the kids take forever to fall asleep, they wake up during the night and are grumpy little heads in the morning.
We have however evolved our night time routine over time, as the kids get older, but the principles of consistency remain the same.
Here are a few things which helped us survive a few sleepless nights over the last few years:
Bathtime = Sleeptime
From the first day we brought Alyssa home, we started a bedtime routine which began with a bath, baby massage and then finally a feed before bedtime. Minus the feed nowadays, we find that the kids still associate bath time with sleep time. I think the warm bath also relaxes their little bodies which help them drift off easier.
We could not live without our BabySense From Womb to World CD during the first 4 months of Alyssa’s life. I carried Alyssa for almost 42 weeks and clearly, she was very comfortable inside my womb. The sound of white noise completely comforted her and she absolutely refused to fall asleep without it playing.
No Wet Soggy Bottoms
By using good quality diaper such as these, a baby can have up to 12 hours of dryness!
In the early days, investing in a few swaddling blankets definitely worked for us. These handy pieces keep baby comfy and snugly wrapped up. It also helps baby feel safe and secure. Being wrapped up can also stop a baby from being disturbed by his or her own startle reflex.
This still applies to my kids! Whenever they are overstimulated, we are basically asking for a terrible night… Too much TV, going out at night or even just a generally busy day can really make for a miserable night.
Of course, there are times when it’s just not possible, but 99% of the time we stick to our usual bedtime routines as we know any deviation from the usual is asking for trouble.
I find that a bedtime story sets the tone for a good nights rest. It’s also a great way to spend good quality one-on-one time with the kids. At Alyssa’s age, its also a great time for her to chat to me about anything that bothers her (there have been some strange questions).
Aidan is still getting the hang of the whole reading thing. He prefers to break pages and draw on the books – but I’m sure with some perseverance we will get there. With many aspects of parenting, it takes time and a lot of trial and error before you find a good sleep rythym in your home. It doesn’t necessarily guarantee 8 hours of sleep for all each and every night – but by having a night time”routine” in place, it does give you a sense of comfort knowing that you can sleep restfully when you do get that chance to snooze!
What are bedtimes like in your home?