Sleeping like a baby – what does that mean? Part 2

More on what to expect with real babies and sleeping…

Crying 

It’s fair to say that young babies often cry a lot.  However the amount varies from baby to baby.  Your darling may cry a lot, or hardly at all.  Again this is not necessarily a reflection on your parenting.  Sometimes there are medical reasons for crying like colic or reflux but more often not.  Crying may be for an easily identified reason (like hunger, tiredness, pain, too hot or cold, dirty nappy) or for less obvious reasons (baby is lonely, over stimulated, or missing their wonderful womb room!).

Either way your baby needs you to respond to her crying in a loving and physically present way (more on this later).  Similar things will soothe your baby’s crying and help her get to sleep, so keep an eye out for our practical tips, coming soon.

Touch and more touch

When your baby is in the womb, it’s almost like your body is constantly giving her a soothing cuddle.  She’s used to that continuous physical contact so for the first few months she’ll probably want to spend most of her time in your arms.  This is completely normal and the physical contact helps her body adjust itself – keeping her brain and body in a state of relaxation and contentment.  It’s sometimes called the “fourth trimester” of pregnancy…in the first three trimesters baby lives in your tummy, in the fourth she wants to live in your arms, but the need for constant closeness is the same.  Your baby may also want to feed/suck a LOT!  She may seem like a vacuum cleaner without an off switch.  This sucking is often not for hunger but for comfort.  If you are breastfeeding, baby can suck as much as she wants (or you are happy for) without turning into a super sumo chubba bubba!  If you are formula feeding you will need to feed her according to her physical needs, and in between feeds let her suck on a dummy or your finger instead.  All this physical contact can be very exhausting for you so when you need a break see if dad or a friend can take your love hungry bubs for a walk.  Babies often love to be held close to a man’s chest especially if he is talking or singing – something about that deep resonant sound (good good good good vibrations…).  Initially baby will probably find it easiest to fall asleep in your arms, in bed with you, or while feeding.  Going with the flow can make the first few months a lot easier!

Change in sleeping patterns 

Your baby may initially fall easily into regular patterns of feeding and sleeping without much effort, but this often changes after the first few weeks for no apparent reason.  ‘Why, why, what am I doing wrong?’ you are probably asking yourself, as she starts sleeping less or more erratically and crying without apparent reason.  We don’t really know why this happens.  It is very normal for healthy babies to have at least one period of unsettledness or unexplained crying during the day, often in the early morning or evenings.  Check that there isn’t an easily identifiable reason for the crying (i.e. your baby isn’t too hot, cold, tired, hungry, dirty, or in pain and then try to stay calm, give baby lots of cuddles, let them feed or suck on a dummy for comfort (if you are happy to do this), and keep chanting the parenting mantra – “This too shall pass”.  We’ll be talking a lot over the next few weeks about crying, sleeping, and practical tips for soothing babies so keep an eye on future posts.

Finally… when baby does eventually sleep, if you are not falling into bed yourself, run yourself a long hot bath and soak in it or ask your partner to rub your shoulders (remember parents need comforting physical feelings too!)

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Posted on June 23, 2011, in Sleep and Crying. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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