Important information for ‘soon to be’ parents……About baby sleep

Posted by on Jul 5, 2014 in News/Articles | 0 comments

It is so hard to imagine what life will be like, really like, when you finally have your baby to hold.  We are often overwhelmed by thoughts about the delivery, making it difficult to really consider things that may be helpful later on. Repeatedly, mothers say they wished they had thought about this before the baby was born, when they had a little more clear thinking time. Pregnancy is the time to be idealistic about how you will parent, how your baby will be cared for and how they will sleep, but reality is yet to determine many things. Your natural instincts will surge once you have your baby, some quite quickly, some a little more steadily. At the same time, everyone will be kindly offering you advice. Once you are a parent you will realise how much you would like to help other parents when they start out, but for the moment though, you will be a recipient of the advice from well-wishers.

Something I have gained from years of working with literally thousands of families is what works for one family MAY not work for another. Babies are all VERY different as are their parents, so not all advice will be appropriate for your family. Take hold of those gut feelings and embrace them. If someone tells you to do something and you think ‘that’s a bit harsh’ or ‘that can’t be right’, then believe in yourself. When it comes to baby sleep, everyone is an expert, so keep true to your gut.

In the first months of life babies can be cuddled and fed to sleep, they are tiny and need comforting and care. They just do not have the developed brain capacity needed for self soothing and when distressed they rely on you to calm. It is from a calm state that babies can drift to sleep. You simply cannot spoil a baby; it is a myth and a cruel one at that. Love and cuddle your baby. When they are calm and comforted they will be more able to go to sleep in their bassinette or cot. When babies cry they are telling us something … we may not know what, but there will be something that drives their behaviour, so don’t ignore it.

How you can help your baby to learn to drift off to sleep is not that difficult, but often when adults expect babies should just sleep without help is when the real trouble begins. Babies are not born with the ability to have a nice neat routine. If they do look like they have a regular sleep wake pattern, it changes, and often. That is completely normal. Little babies will grow to develop routines, but please don’t impose routines early thinking that will prevent problems later. Babies who are tired, need to sleep and that is not governed by a clock, therefore if you impose a routine, there will be great distress.

Please talk with your nurse or health professional before thinking about any interventions that sound harsh or cruel, including words such as ‘tough love’, because practitioners informed by current research recommend you comfort young babies so they learn to drift to sleep.


Helen - PicHelen Stevens (BA Sc G D M) is a registered nurse, midwife and maternal and child health nurse. Helen is co-Founder and Director or Safe Sleep Space, Manager of Clinical Services and Education and Author of Safe Sleep Space (Rebus Press 2012 3 ed.) Helen has been supporting families with sleep struggles for almost 20 years and is the professional who professionals turn to for assistance. As both a parent and professional educator Helen has presents around Australia. Having recently returned from presenting at the World Association of Infant Mental Health in Edinburgh, Helen has earned respect for her evidence informed and KIND approach to infant and childhood sleep challenges.

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