You’ve made it through labour and have a beautiful baby in your arms, but instead of feeling happy, you’re feeling exhausted, irritable with your partner and maybe even a little resentful towards your new baby.
Sleep deprivation is a very real concern, with new research showing one in four new mums are getting just three hours or less of sleep a night. What’s more, one in five admit they have experienced severe depression or post-natal depression when their babies weren’t sleeping well, according to the study by Galaxy Research.
But does it have to be like this? Is there simply too much information out there, leaving parents confused about the best approach for getting their unsettled babies to sleep?
Child sleep consultant Maryanne Sayers believes this is the most sleep-deprived generation of mothers, and yet we have greater access to information than before. As she says: ‘We’ve turned what is a very simple issue into a complex and overwhelming one.’
Maryanne, who with colleague Steph Gouin has set up an online guide called Dream Start Baby, says the key is setting good routines from the moment you bring your baby home from hospital. Maryanne and Steph set up their online service after seeing families falling into the same unhealthy patterns.
1. Set your baby’s clock. Their rhythms are regulated by light and dark, and all babies need a night sleep of 12 to 13 hours with feeds. The ideal bedtime for babies is 6pm.
2. Always put your baby to sleep in their cot so they form a sleep association.
3. Create the optimum sleep environment. Remove stimuli and make sure your baby is dressed for the weather – hot or cold.
4. Respond to tired signs. Learn their jerky arm and leg movements. If they become overtired, it’s more dif cult for them to fall asleep.
5. Allow babies to self-settle, so this will become natural. Go into their room to provide brief comfort, but then leave.
For more, go to: dreamstartbaby.com.au.