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Infant Sleep | First Time Mum Struggles

First Time Mum Struggles, and the Elusive “Sleeping Through the Night”

I’ve had two babies – the first was a terrible sleeper, and I was a First Time Mum with literally NO idea at all about infant sleep. My second was an amazing sleeper from birth. I literally danced around my hospital room the first time she self settled at two days old (well, it was more of a post caesarean shuffle than a dance… but I was excited!).

Looking back, it’s actually comical how little idea I had as a First Time Mum. I had convinced myself that parenting and motherhood would come completely naturally. Like breastfeeding. I read all the books on pregnancy, thinking that was the hard part, and that birth was the finish line. Friends lent me books like Baby Love by Robin Barker, and Save our Sleep by Tizzie Hall. I naïvely skimmed them thinking I would just look into my newborn baby’s happily sleeping face and just know what to do…

Unsurprisingly, I was in for a bit of a shock… My son was born full term but small – 2.8kg. He was born screaming, hungry, and strong. Birth did not come naturally. Breastfeeding definitely did not come naturally, and after six weeks of expressing, nipple shields, thrush, mastitis, and anxiety, we switched to formula. And sleeping did not come naturally either…

I recall our first night at home after being discharged from hospital. At 10pm we decided to go to bed. Husband and I brushed our teeth, put our pyjamas on, and swaddled our week old baby and put him in the bassinet next to our bed. We said good night and turned the light off. Family bliss! For all of five seconds before the screaming started… And continued all night. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, and have never felt so alone and inadequate in my life.

And so began my love of reading anything and everything ever written about infant sleep. My copy of Save our Sleep quickly began tattered and dog eared as I annotated every possible hint or tip. I read books, blogs, and articles. I purchased baby sleep guides, subscribed to newsletters, and talked ad nauseum about little else for months. I became sick of myself, and I suspect my mothers group and husband did too!

Infant sleep – What I learnt

Through all of this, I did learn some important lessons about parenting and infant sleep, and I would love to share some of these with you.

Every baby is different.

Your baby WILL sleep through the night eventually. I promise!

Telling anyone that your baby slept through the night is the best way to stop your baby from sleeping through the night. For months.

But in all seriousness, some things that I found helpful, and other mum friends rate too, are white noise, a dark room, a dream feed when under six months, making sure bub has a full tummy before they nap or sleep, having a regular routine with an early bedtime and a consistent wake up time, and adjusting the amount of daytime sleep they have as they grow, have all led to better sleep in our house.

And happily, as I’d done all my learning on my poor first born, we had a much smoother run when my daughter was born less than two years later. Although she has been a champion self-settler from birth, I really think introducing a solid routine earlier (she had to fit in with what the toddler was doing anyway) and having learnt so much from struggling with my first, really set us up to cruise comparatively easily into the adjustment of juggling two kids under two. Not to say it was easy… Teething and constant viruses kept us sleepless for most of her first year. There are still challenges, they are just different, and a story for another day!

Author: Leah Hutchins


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