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"is he a good sleeper?"

If you type sleep into your instagram search you will be bombarded with hundreds of sleep consultant accounts, selling the dream (excuse the pun)... SLEEP!!

It's something you don't really spend that much time thinking about until you're pregnant, and then as your pregnancy progresses you find it more and more difficult to sleep weather that's from aches and pains or growing babies having parties all night in your stomach. Of course you get all of the "enjoy your sleep whilst it lasts" and "get as much sleep in now" comments (if only we could bank up sleep like that!)

Then you go through labour and give birth (probably on very little sleep) before heading home to be consistently asked "Is he/she a good sleeper?"

I found answering this question tough, you could simply say yes which should shut down any further comments or unwanted suggestions, but your eye bags suggest something else. 

The other option is to answer "yeah he is a great sleeper, he sleeps just like a baby should". It's probably my preferred answer. 

Our babies wake often and that's ok. It's about time it became socially acceptable for babies to wake often, i feel like society makes you think babies sleep 12 hours straight and that's just not the case. 

We go to our local children's centre most weeks for 'mini explorers' which is a group for 1-2 year olds, and last week I found myself sitting with 3 other mothers and the leader asked one, "is she a good sleeper, because that makes all the difference" and as each mother started to answer the "you should.." started i sat there thinking, here we go! I watched one mother answer without trying to say too much, she was a tired mama, you could see it in her eyes.. her baby does not sleep 12 hours! she was answering the question in a way to shut down any further conversation, as if she felt judged as a young mum that she wasn't doing a good enough job compared to the others. 

We need to start openly talking about our babies sleep and how it's OK for them to wake frequently during the night, so that mothers like her don't have to feel awkward or ashamed. 

Newborns have tiny stomachs, so waking frequently to feed is completely normal and GREAT, you want your baby to feed often especially if they are breastfeeding as it will help establish your milk. 

A great source for info on babies sleep development is Basis Online and is based on science. It states on their website:

"Encouraging babies to ‘sleep through’ before they are ready to do so makes it difficult to keep on breastfeeding, and may encourage babies to develop mature sleep patterns out of sequence with their other circadian patterns such as those controlling the regulation of temperature, hormone production, and the genes that control our biological rhythms"

Source: https://www.basisonline.org.uk/normal-sleep-development/

Sleep needs change throughout our lifetime, so although it might feel like it's never going to end. Especially early on in parenthood when the night feeds can be hourly! Know that their needs will change as they grow, they will sleep more, need less comforting and eventually will be rolling into bed far later than you as an unruly teenager (and as my own mum claims, you still won't sleep even then). 

If you have found yourself in those early days googling your night feeds away with how to get your baby to sleep longer or 'self soothe' etc you will have stumbled across all of the methods that sleep consultants push. 

I find sleep is a difficult subject for most people when it comes to babies, everyone has a different opinion on what's best. I had so many 'you must follow this exact routine' mums telling me how to get O to sleep, but in reality what works for one might not work for the other.

The same goes for 'sleep coaches', honestly in my opinion i don't like the word sleep coach or sleep training, but if it works for you then great. Would i like more sleep - yes, but I also see it as a short term (i naturally want to say problem, but i feel bad calling it a problem because it's just baby development). It's just short term.

Otto wakes in the night and i've always been honest about that, he can wake a few times after i've put him down (and only the boob settles this guy!) and then he will wake a few times in the night too - which is why i find co-sleeping works the best for us. 

The last few weeks have been a dream for me, Ottos slept solidly from the moment i put him to bed until around 11- midnight which is when he typically wakes for a feed and joins us in bed. He’s also found his own rhythm and is now consistently getting up and going to bed around the same times. 

So if your a really tired mama, who maybe doesn’t want to go down the route of paying for someone to help with sleep or you spend hours googling for answers, know this.. it’s not forever and it gets better!! 

Who knows for how long, ottos due his next development leap any day now so we might be back to regular wakes, but i’m so pleased that with gentle support i’ve been able to allow him to find his way whilst also getting a little more sleep myself too! 

 

Science of parenting book children's development & brain studies

 

I love following sleep accounts, they can really help at 4am when your baby won't sleep (when i say help i mean, they will make you feel empowered that you are doing the right thing, they most certainly won't send your baby to sleep, sorry mama!)

Most accounts that i follow are gentle sleep ones though because the cry it out method goes against all of the brain development/attachment books i’ve read and like to follow. 

One book i would highly recommend to anyone interested in development and attachment is The Science of parenting which i found really interesting, and i always suggest it to new mums/wish it was handed out by the NHS, as i really think it would make a huge impact in future generations. 

 Anyway, here's a list of some of my favourite sleep accounts that i've come across or have been shared with me over the past couple of months, which you may also find helpful. 

Remember Mama, this isn't forever and it's OK to say your baby doesn't sleep. Don't let anyone make you feel like you're not doing a good enough job, because you're doing GREAT! 

@gentlesleepfamily

Gentle Sleep baby sleep training help

Babies normal sleep schedule routine sleep regression

Babies sleep regression

 

@basis_babysleepinfosource

 babies sleep regression SIDS infant development sleep

@littlenestsleep

Baby attachment development sleep help

sleep parenting babies newborn attachment regression SIDS

 

 

 

 

 

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