Being a new mom is not easy, what with a body tired from engineering and manufacturing a tiny human, but then that human does not want to sleep, nor let sleep!
After delivery, my malishwali ammaji was adamant on giving me an hour and half long massage and bath, and the moment I came back to just lay down baby V would be up and demanding! Oh God! Luckily, some tips I picked up from the countless suggestions by the endless "well meaning" relatives and neighbours and other "accidental discoveries" worked to my advantage. Here, I am sharing them with you:
- Do not expect babies to sleep for long for the first three months. It is nature's way of protecting them from starving or getting suffocated in sleep, so they keep alternating from deep sleep to light sleep frequently.
- Swaddling is a good way for baby to feel the warmth and the comfort of the womb. Choose a light cotton fabric for swaddling. But some babies do not like swaddling, don't force swaddling on them.
- If your baby keeps grunting, stretching, straining in sleep, it could be an early sign of gas. I found my baby losing sleep due to this, once his gas problem was resolved, he immediately started sleeping a lot better.
- Do not use motion to put your baby to sleep - no walking or rocking. You can either pat or sing to the baby. I used to keep a nice and soft pillow on my lap for feeding baby. Without motion, I would sing and put him to sleep on it sometime before putting him on bed. The thing about putting the baby to sleep on a pillow on the lap was that although baby felt my nearness, he didn't feel the warmth of my lap, so the change from warm lap to cold bed never happened, it was always from a pillow to bed.
- Associate a couple of songs with sleep time. If you have sung these during pregnancy, then even better! Learn a few lullabies and sing them. I had three songs,; he would be asleep by second and at most the third.
- Keep rooms bright in daytime and dark at night time. If you must use lights at night, use soft zero or 0.5 watt bulbs.
- When baby wakes up at night, do not immediately start talking loud or playing. Try feeding and singing first, sometimes they go back to sleep after a feed.
- Take care that baby is not feeling too hot or too cold. Wiping baby with warm water before bedtime would help as well. Wetness could also ruin a good sleep. If you are not using diapers, using absorbent dry sheets would be a blessing.
- Now this last trick was my saviour, it was suggested by my mother-in-law and I will forever be in gratitude for that. Babies feel really comforted by the warmth on their cute little bums. So while you place the baby on the bed(keep singing those songs), keep your palm under the bums for a while, till they are comfortable sleeping. Slowly replace your hand with a soft rolled up towel(should not be too big, should feel like your hand). The baby would feel its you. Placing a pillow near baby's leg works too, but be careful that these objects never possess a threat of suffocating the baby.
Now, what if you have already got a baby used to rocking and motions? Start changing the habit one thing at a time. For e.g. Stop putting in the cradle (if baby is used to that), instead alternate between rocks in arms and stopping motion. In this way, reduce motion, then use pillow on lap and so on. Do not be hesitant to ask someone to take care of the baby once in a while, if help is available. If you are too tired to sing, you could also play recorded lullabies, or white noise which can be downloaded as apps, although nothing can replace mamma's sweet voice!
Also Read: Me- Time: A Necessity or A Luxury?
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