15 Jun Diary of a Sleep Consultant – Entry 1: Balance
I can’t lie, I am spoiled to my sleep. I love to sleep. This is one of the main reasons my husband and I waited so long to have children in the first place. Regardless, here I am, back to sleepless nights, again, with a newborn. You may be thinking…you’re a sleep consultant, though, right?
Well, sure I know what I’m supposed to do to begin instilling healthy sleep habits because “it’s never too early” – to quote myself and what I preach… But let’s be real, who doesn’t love sweet baby snuggles, especially your own baby’s snuggles! There’s nothing quite like the smell of a newborn resting peacefully on your chest!
As a mom, I’m loving all the cuddles and snuggles with my precious baby boy. As a sleep consultant I find myself saying, we need to start laying the foundation down for healthy sleep right from the beginning of his life. So here I am, trying to find a balance, a happy medium, of the snuggles and the not wanting to put down my sweet, precious baby while simultaneously beginning the early works of healthy sleep habits.
These first two weeks have been about finding a balance for our family in many realms… A balance of married life, finding time to just to have a conversation as husband and wife, and parent life, meeting the demanding, and very different needs of two children. A balance between two kids, a delicate newborn and a busy toddler. A balance of work duties and family time. And for me personally, a balance of the professional, sleep consultant, who wants to instill early, healthy sleep habits, and the Mama of a newborn, who wants all the snuggles and wants time to freeze, and soak in all the sweetness.
This week, I want to share how I’m attempting to balance the professional and the Mama.
Real talk… I’m tired… We’ve been feeding Orin every 3-4 hours, around the clock. Disclaimer, I’m not breastfeeding so I know you mamas who are breastfeeding might be a little worse for wear, especially with those cluster feeds, which of course happen throughout the night! It wasn’t so bad the first few days, as the adrenaline of the whole experience had me at a high, but those small catnaps do catch up and wear you down. Thankfully, my husband and I are taking shifts at night, so I do get a solid chunk of sleep at least once a day to help me get through.
So, what are some of those little things that I’m working on right from the get-go?
EAT > PLAY > SLEEP
So that whole putting baby down “drowsy but awake”… Let’s be real, the first few weeks, that’s near impossible. Newborns are so sleepy! So scratch that! I am however, trying to follow an EAT > PLAY > SLEEP pattern. Has it worked every time? Not hardly! By the way, when I say PLAY, I mean things like tummy time, or staring at a mobile.
One of the most important things I am doing is watching the clock! Newborns, especially at this young age, cannot tolerate more than 45 minutes of being awake before overtiredness sets in. And if there’s one thing I preach, no matter what age I work with, is that an overtired baby is sleep’s worse enemy! Overtiredness, no matter what age, makes falling asleep that much more difficult. I’m learning that my little guy really can only handle about 30 minutes before he turns into a pumpkin.
PUT HIM DOWN AWAKE
At least one nap a day, I try to put him down awake to give him an opportunity to learn it’s not always my job to put him to sleep (and as I write this, he’s asleep on my chest). This has been easy in the sense that he sleeps a lot so falling asleep hasn’t been very difficult for him but hard because I don’t mind him sleeping on me at all! I love my baby snuggles!
This is an easy one to address from early on… ensuring our environment is set up for optimal sleeping conditions. Our room is dark with a white noise machine to block out ambient noise and prevent wakings. When I say dark, I mean pitch black at night for sleep. I say at night but this will eventually be for all naps, too. Let’s be real, some (most!) naps are on me, some naps are in his swing in the living room, and of course, the Grandmas feel it is their right to hold their sleeping grandbaby.
LOW STIMULATION DURING NIGHT FEEDS
During night feeds, I keep the lights dim, to help Orin differentiate a night feed from a day feed. I have an amber night light I use. This dim light also helps keep stimulation low, for both baby and me. I try not to play on my phone, though Facebook can be an interesting read at 2 am. But Facebook often gets my brain going and it’s harder for me to fall back asleep after a night feed if I play on my phone or watch TV. Though, truth be told, with my first, I binged watched Shameless, during night feedings… I blew through that series quickly!
EXPOSURE TO NATURAL LIGHT
When morning comes and during daytime hours, I’m exposing Orin to lots of light, including natural light. This can really help with setting his circadian rhythm or body clock, which if you follow along with me regularly, you know that newborns are born with an immature body clock, which simply means, it is not uncommon for newborns to have their days and nights mixed up. Newborn’s body clocks can take a few weeks to settle so that most of their awake time is during the day and the majority of their sleep is at night.
We’ve been swaddling Orin during periods of sleep. This helps calm the startle reflex which can cause little ones to wake during periods of sleep. So far, Orin prefers his arms out. We’ll see how long that lasts.
So, as you can see, I am working on some early sleep habits, even in the first two weeks of my little guy’s life. But I’m also realistic that this is my baby and I want to enjoy the snuggles and cuddles. After all babies don’t keep.
Stay tuned for another update here in the upcoming weeks, as I continue to share my real, honest adventures, sleep and all, as a Sleep Consultant and Mom of a toddler and a newborn.