For a long time my children did not sleep. This is normal for babies. However, it is not normal for adults, and it can be hard to manage when you suddenly find yourself thrown from your routine of sleeping 8 hours a night, into night-time chaos where small humans reign.
Ruben is 14-months-old now, and is going through another not-so-great sleep phase (yep – they lull you into a false sense of sleep security, and then they go right back to not sleeping again), so I feel that now is a wonderful time to share my tips on dealing with a child who doesn’t sleep.
1`) Maintaining a healthy diet and exercising This is a sure fire way to ensure you have more energy, and will be more equipped to deal with sleepless nights. I know it’s probably the absolute last thing on your mind – all I want to do when Ruben isn’t sleeping is eat cake and pass out – but I promise you’ll feel much better for it. You can find lots of gentle exercise routines – many specifically designed for mothers to do with their babies – on YouTube.
2) Blackout blinds
Our bodies are naturally inclined to wake when it’s light, and sleep when it’s dark. As adults, we can override this, but for babies it is not that easy (having spent 9 months in pretty much permanent darkness). Black out blinds are a really good way to help baby – and you – get a better sleep, especially during the summer; they keep the room dark, even when it’s light outside. This is a guide that I’ve found really useful.
3) Sleep when baby sleeps
And do the dishes when the baby does the dishes. I know, I know. Yes, I do actually have kids myself, but I am a firm believer that you need to take care of you. The washing will still be there tomorrow, but if today you need to crawl into bed and nap for half an hour while your baby is sleeping, that is what you should do. You’re not much use to anyone if you can’t keep your eyes open!
4) Spread the load
I have learned since having my eldest that having a good support network – and utilising it – is SO important. If you’re dealing with a child who doesn’t sleep, ask someone to watch baby for an hour while you have a quick cat nap; I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve fallen asleep on relative’s sofas in the past year, while they have taken Ruben off to the park. That quick power nap can be so helpful when you’re not getting your full 40 winks, and you’ll find that most people will be happy to lend a hand in return for baby cuddles!
5) Establish a good routine
This is something I haven’t managed myself yet – I’m very much a “go with the flow” person – but we have a loose semblance of a routine which is: pyjamas, bottle, and bed. Establishing a routine helps baby make the connection that bed time is coming. Always put them down to sleep in their cot or Moses basket so they associate it with sleep, and keep things nice and calm in the run up to bed time so they have a chance to unwind and get in the right frame of mind to help them achieve a peaceful sleep.
Remember, baby waking through the night is natural. All babies will sleep through in their own time, whether this is at 6 months or 6 years – it won’t last forever – so don’t be worried, or tempted to forego safe sleep guidelines to help your baby sleep through the night before they’re ready.
Make sure to read up and follow the safe sleep guidelines provided by The Lullaby Trust to reduce the risk of SIDS:
⦁ Always place baby flat on their back, with their feet at the bottom of their cot
⦁ Remove all pillows, teddies, and loose blankets from baby’s cot before putting them to sleep – a clear cot is a safe cot
⦁ Make sure your baby is not too hot or too cold – the room should be between 16-20c
⦁ Keep baby in a cot or Moses basket in your room until they are at least 6 months old
For more safer sleep advice and info, please click here.