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When your baby wakes in the middle of the night, you probably have a routine to get him back to sleep. For Coleton

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and me, it was breastfeeding. I used to nurse him until he was totally asleep. Every hour, we had a very exact pattern: Coleton woke, I shifted him to the other side, I kissed his head, and then he nursed — a beautiful, soothing ritual. Sometimes he would wake up and pucker up, looking for the kiss and the shift. As sweet as this ritual was, after 12 months of this nightly/hourly ceremony, I desperately needed a change.

As with the writing of this book, learning how to break the association was a gradual, thoughtful process that required self-examination. I discovered that I was responding to Coleton so quickly and intuitively that I’d put him to the breast before he even made a real noise — he would just fidget, gurgle, or “sniff” and I would put him to the breast. I began to realize that, on so many of these occasions, he would have gone back to sleep without me.

I am a follower of the “never let your baby cry” rule, and I took it very seriously. What I didn’t understand, though, is that babies make sounds in their sleep. And these sounds do not mean that baby needs you. Babies moan, grunt, snuffle, whimper, and even cry in their sleep. Babies can even nurse in their sleep.

The first step to helping your baby sleep longer is to determine the difference between sleeping noises and awake noises. When she makes a noise: Stop. Listen. Wait. Peek. As you listen attentively to her noises, and watch her, you will learn the difference between sleeping snorts and “I’m waking up and I need you now” noises.

When I learned this eye-opening piece of information, I started “playing asleep” when Coleton made a nighttime noise. I would just listen and watch — not moving a single muscle — until he began to make actual wakeful noises. Some of the time, he never did; he just went back to sleep!

The idea, then, is to learn when you should pick your baby up for a night feeding and when you can let her go back to sleep on her own. This is a time when you need to really focus your instincts and intuition. This is when you should try very hard to learn how to read your baby’s signals.

You need to listen and watch your baby carefully. Learn to differentiate between these sleeping sounds and awake and hungry sounds. If she is really awake and hungry, you’ll want to feed her as quickly as possible. If you do respond immediately when she is hungry, she will most likely go back to sleep quickly. So, the key here is to listen carefully when your baby makes night noises: If she is making “sleeping noises” — let her sleep. If she really is waking up — tend to her quickly.

Excerpted with permission by McGraw-Hill Publishing from The No-Cry Sleep Solution (McGraw-Hill 2002).

 

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By Elizabeth Pantley, Author of Gentle Baby Care

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Babies love new places! There’s so much to investigate and new things to touch. But many people aren’t too happy to have your little one crawling or toddling freely about the house exploring everything in sight. While you think its adorable that Baby found the Tupperware, your host may not think it’s cute that her tidy cabinet has been rearranged by sticky baby hands. If your host has a big heart she’ll let you know that your baby’s exploring is okay. But even then, you run the risk of your baby breaking or losing something.

Bring toys!

The best thing you can do is bring along a bag of toys to seize your child’s attention. You can purchase new items, or dig through your baby’s toy box to put together a collection of forgotten favorites. Avoid bringing loud toys that may annoy others, and bring toys that will hold your baby’s attention for a long time.

Bring your own supplies

Think about things that keep your baby happy at home or in the car, and bring these with you, such as your sling, a favorite blanket, a Boppy pillow, or a special lovey. If you are prepared, then your baby will be more content.

Safety issues

Visits with a mobile baby are tricky, especially if you’re at a home that isn’t childproof. If you want to avoid physically shadowing your baby around the house, bring a few safety tools, such as outlet plugs and a folding baby gate to section off stairways. When you arrive, assess the area and ask if chemicals, medications, or fragile vases can be put away during your visit. Remember that you’re certain to miss some hazards, so keep a close eye on Baby during your entire visit.

Food and eating

Whether your baby is new to solid food or has been eating it for a while, bring along a few favorites. If you don’t bring snacks with you, your baby may not touch the dinner that’s served and may cry for her favorite crackers. In any case, don’t feel you must push your baby to try something new to the point of a temper tantrum. Politely requesting something simple like toast or cheese is perfectly okay and will be welcomed more than a loud and tense test of parent/child wills.

What if you’re breastfeeding and your baby is hungry?

Do what comes naturally: Feed him! Breastfeeding is the most natural way to feed a baby. If your hosts aren’t used to seeing a mother breastfeed, then you’re doing our world a favor by introducing one more person to the beauty of baby feeding. Be thoughtful about other’s sensitivities. This doesn’t mean you need to hide, but your efforts to be discreet are a courtesy for those around you and may help others feel more comfortable about seeing you breastfeeding your baby. Using a sling, blanket or nursing shirt are easy ways to accomplish this.

Changing Diapers

Bring a changing pad; this will protect the surface you’re using. If you don’t have a pad, ask for a towel. Ask where your host prefers that you change the baby, or suggest a location: “Do you mind if I lay the towel on your bed to change the baby?”

Bring along (or ask to use) plastic bags to store messy diapers. Make sure that they are sealed so that they don’t create odors. If you use disposables, put used diapers in a sealed bag and offer to take them out to the trash. People don’t like stinky diapers in their bathroom trash.

Sleeping and napping

If your little one sleeps in a cradle or crib you may want to bring along a portable crib. If you don’t have one, or if you co-sleep at home, this is a time when “anything goes.” If your baby will sleep in your arms, then go ahead and enjoy an in-arms nap. If your baby is flexible, put a blanket on the floor and set up a sleeping nest. Don’t leave Baby alone, since the area probably isn’t childproof.

A great nap solution is to bring your car seat into the house and strap your baby in securely, or fashion a bed from a large box or an empty dresser drawer. Keep your baby close by or check on her frequently.

For co-sleepers, your first order of business is to create a safe sleeping place. Inspect the furniture placement in the bedroom. If you know that pushing the bed against the wall would make the situation safer for your baby, then politely explain to your host. Let her know that you’ll move it back before you leave (and then remember to do so).

Be prepared for anything

Life with a baby is filled with surprises. Take a deep breath, and do your best to keep your baby content….and if things don’t go as well as you’d hoped, remind yourself that “This too shall pass.”

Show your appreciation

If you’ve had an overnight stay, if your host is helpful, or if you made special requests during your stay, remember to send a thank you note that expresses your appreciation.

This article is an excerpt from Gentle Baby Care by Elizabeth Pantley. (McGraw-Hill, 2003)

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By Elizabeth Pantley, Author of the No-Cry Sleep Solution

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The environment that your baby enjoyed for nine long months in the womb was not one of absolute quiet. There was a constant symphony of sound — your heartbeat and fluids rushing in and out of the placenta. (Remember those sounds from when you listened to your baby’s heartbeat with the Doppler stethoscope?) Research indicates that “white noise” sounds or soft bedtime music helps many babies to relax and fall asleep more easily. This is most certainly because these sounds create an environment more familiar to your baby than a very quiet room.

Many people enjoy using soothing music as their baby’s sleep sound. If you do, choose bedtime music carefully. Some music (including jazz and much classical music) is too complex and stimulating. For music to be soothing to your baby, pick simple, repetitive, predictable music, like traditional lullabies. Tapes created especially for putting babies to sleep are great choices. Pick something that you will enjoy listening to night after night, too. (Using a tape player with an automatic repeat function is helpful for keeping the music going as long as you need it to play.)

There are widely available, and very lovely, “nature sounds” tapes that work nicely, too, as well those small sound-generating or white-noise devices and clocks you may have seen in stores. The sounds on these — raindrops, a bubbling brook or running water — often are similar to those sounds your baby heard in utero. A ticking clock or a bubbling fish tank also make wonderful white-noise options.

You can find some suitable tapes and CDs made especially for babies or those made for adults to listen to when they want to relax. Whatever you choose, listen to it first and ask yourself: Does this relax me? Would it make me feel sleepy if I listened to it in bed?

If you must put your baby to sleep in a noisy, active house full of people, keeping the tape running (auto rewind) will help mask baby-waking noises like dishes clanking, people talking, siblings giggling, TV, dogs barking, etc. This can also help transition your sleeping baby from a noisy daytime house to which he’s become accustomed subconsciously to one of absolute nighttime quiet.

Once your baby is familiar with his calming noise, or music, you can use these to help your baby fall back to sleep when he wakes up in the middle of the night. Simply sooth him by playing the music (very quietly) during the calming and falling-asleep time. If he wakes and cries, repeat this process.

If your baby gets used to his sleep time sounds you can take advantage of this and take the tape with you if you will be away from home for naptime or bedtime. The familiarity of these sounds will help your baby sleep in an unfamiliar environment.

Eventually your baby will rely on this technique less and less to fall and stay asleep. Don’t feel you must rush the process; there is no harm in your baby falling asleep to these gentle sounds. When you are ready to wean him of these you can help this process along by reducing the volume by a small amount every night until you finally don’t turn the music or sounds on at all.

Babies enjoy these peaceful sounds, and they are just one more piece in the puzzle that helps you to help your baby sleep – gently, without any crying at all.

Excerpted with permission by McGraw-Hill/Contemporary Publishing from The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night by Elizabeth Pantley, copyright 2002

Website: http://www.pantley.com/elizabeth

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