Monday, October 5, 2009


I posted the following shoutout on Facebook and was pleasantly surprised to get 32 responses! I was getting desperate as I can't seem to get Nathan to fall asleep on his own. It was comforting to know others who've struggled with the same problem (some still struggling), and the solutions they've found.

Dean and I were talking about how blessed we were that there are so many of our friends are expecting babies at about the same time as us. Other than Nathan having playmates in future, it also helps us as parents. I'm so thankful for friends who've just gone down the 'new parents road'. They have been so encouraging. Hearing how they dealt with various issues with their newborns has helped me to handle Nathan better.

I can't stand it when folks talk about how taking care of babies is easy, or that we've got an easy baby, that sleeping thru will naturally happen... even more so when it comes from people who 'farmed out' their babies from the time they were 2 months old. If they hardly saw their babies in the week, and left the baby care to someone else, of course it is easy. If you've not had to deal sleep depravation, breast feeding and changing diapers in the middle of the night, I do not want to hear your mindless comments.

Other than hearing from loved ones and friends, the two books that I've found helpful are Gary Ezzo's On Becoming Baby Wise and Gina Ford's Contented Little Baby. Incidentally, these two books were also recommended by our friends. I don't follow Gina Ford's strict schedule, but I apply the principles. Both books are based on the feed-wake-sleep principle. The idea is to repeat these three activities in the right order, in rhythmic cycles. As Gary wrote in his book,"routine leads to consistency, consistency leads to stabiliszation of each activity... as a result, the whole family is blessed by the order brought to baby's day".

I started off feeding Nathan on demand, which resulted in a 3 hour cycle. Wake time needs to follow after feed time. It is easy to put baby to sleep immediately after a feed, especially at the beginning because babies naturally fall asleep at the breast. But the books says that if you allow that, baby doesn't take a full feed, he sleeps but wakes up shortly after because he's still hungry. You'd end up with a baby that doesn't feed well nor sleep well, and a very tired mom who has to feed very often. Snack feeding is something to avoid at the very start. The idea is to ensure that baby stays awake to finish a full feed. Having fed well, play with him till he's tired (usually you'd be able to tell cos he'll start fussing). When he's tired, settle him in his cot wide awake. You want him to learn how to sleep on his own, without the need for sleep props.

With all the suggestions gathered, I'm slowly figuring out what works for Nathan. I found that swaddling Nathan helps him to sleep better. Else his arms will be flailing about, and he wakes himself up. Nicely swaddled, I'd sing him a bedtime song. The same song all the time so he'll recognise it as his bedtime song. On good days, he'll fall asleep shortly. Some days, it takes a bit of effort. If he still doesn't sleep, I'll put him on his tummy, and pat his bum. He'd fuss for a bit cos he generally doesn't like being put on his tummy. But after a few pats, he'll usually fall asleep. In the day, I do not draw the curtains so he'll be able to differentiate day from night. For nights, there are no wake times. If I talk to him, it'll be in hushed tones. He's put straight back to bed after a feed. With the full feeds and routine established, you're working towards getting baby to sleep thru the night. My goal is to get Nathan to sleep thru by the time he's 8 weeks old so that both Dean and I can rest better.

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