I’m SO exhausted! How One Mom Gets Her Baby To Sleep
New moms: Are you freakishly Googling every time you face a new question about your newborn? Been there, done that. No matter how many kids you have birthed, each new baby is entirely unique and will present you with situations you didn’t have with a prior one. (Well, maybe by the time you’ve birthed 10 babies you’ve seen it all, but…)
One big worry of new mommas is baby’s sleep routine. I went through many sleepless nights and still do (though very few lately, thank God!). I tried every trick available on the internet or given to me by other experienced moms. Here’s what worked and what didn’t:
child or me. Here are some of the things that I tried, some of which helped and some not.
Rock a Bye Baby…
Some newborns are angels; they will sleep right after you feed them and sleep for a long period until they want their next feed. (But that’s in the fairy tales mostly.) Not all moms are lucky. My newborn was an angel for the first few days, but then she got colicky. I had to spend long evenings rocking her to sleep for the first few months.
Then we had to take a family trip to Pakistan (I’m from there). Totally Later, different time zone, weather and environment for her. Many people trying to go to sleep in the same house. Big adjustment. Muuuuuuch more rocking. Much.
Bath Time and Massage
One person advised me to give my baby a bath and massage before she sleeps. For me, this didn’t work at all at first! Giving her a warm bath and massage in the evening actually made her more awake, not less. Then something magical happened when she hit 10 months old — the bath/massage trick started to work for making her sleepy.
However, her routine completely changed on visiting Pakistan and once again, nights were sleepless and difficult for me. After all, she was just a 3-month-old. Even grown-ups suffer a change in sleeping pattern due to change of places.
Bed or Crib?
With a newborn, you’re exhausted. Which means when you actually are lucky enough to sleep, you’ll likely be doing DEEP sleep. IMO, it gets dangerous to have your baby sleep with you in bed when you can roll over and the baby is too small to even cry or move when under you. Therefore, I always preferred to have my daughter sleep in her crib. But there were times when she would wake up every time I put her in the crib (so frustrating) and it was the middle of the night and I had no energy left to keep her in my arms. So I brought her in bed with me. What helped was that my mom offered to stay up for a least a few hours and hold the baby so I could get some sleep.
As she got a little older, I started nursing the baby at night until she fell asleep, then hand her over to my husband. He would hold her in his arms for an hour or so and then lay her in the crib. This helped and she got a good 3-4 hour sleep before next feeding.
Cry It Out?
Should you let your baby cry him or herself to sleep? There’s a reason this is so hotly debated. In my case, that method did not work. When she was 6 months old, I tried to make a sleep routine by leaving her in the crib at night while she cried. But for me that was just too harsh. People used to tell me, “She’s the right age to make her sleep by herself”, “Be strong!”, and “Leave her in the crib and do not go to her if she cries.”. My baby would cry and cry for more than 15 minutes and would not sleep at all by herself — no matter how sleepy she was. This method did not help me at all! Instead, she got so scared that she would cry her lungs out every time I tried to put her in the crib during the day as well — even when I just put her in there to play.
Sleeping Through the Night
As you can tell by now, in the beginning there was zero chance that my little one would sleep through the night. But after a few months, three magic things worked for me: 1. I avoided eating gassy foods. 2. I gave my baby colic drops. 3. I started formula feeding her right before bedtime. Ahhh! She started to sleep well for as long as 8 hours. Then some people in my life started suggesting it wasn’t right for such a small baby to sleep for so long. They said I should wake her up during the night and feed her. I tried doing that for a few days, but some days she didn’t even want to be fed when I woke her. So, okay, I let her sleep. And you know what? She was healthy.
So, fellow mommas, just know this: Your baby is a human and not a machine. There is no one “right way” to get him or her to sleep, no matter what anyone else tells you. I want to add, this is my own experience with my child, so I’m not making any big proclamations either. What works for your baby might be totally different. Just keep trying and trust your instincts.
P.S. Get help from your partner or family member and hand them your child so you can get some sleep and stay sane. Nighty-night, ladies!