This is the second part in a two part series by Postpartum Doula, LeeAnne Hamilton. Part one can be found here.
As an overnight doula I am taking care of a client's 10 day old baby boy. Mom is getting some much need rest and I am on baby duty. I love my job! Here's how our evening has gone so far.
At 11pm I arrived to a frazzled mommy and daddy. I gladly took over, rewrapped his blanket so he was cozy, not swaddled, and headed downstairs to clean the kitchen. We puttered around for an hour, he and I, doing whatever I could manage with one hand while he dozed on and off in my other arm (tomorrow I will bring a wrap)! At midnight we headed for the bedroom where he had a bottle while listening to the white noise machine play heavy rainfall with the lights lowered as much as possible. I swaddled him, gave a few more cuddles while letting the feeding settle, and placed him in his crib. I stayed in the room with him, and so he watched me move around the room for a bit and then fell right asleep, without a peep. It is now 3am, and I expect he will wake for his next feeding shortly. And please don't worry, I have read the studies, and he is not overheated resulting in a deeper sleep. He has only a light blanket to keep him cozy. I do this with him every night, and already he goes to sleep on his own, sometimes a little pat on the bum is needed, sometimes a quick cuddle, but most of the time when I time it right, he is quiet, content and happy to simply fall asleep.
Other helpful tips for getting a head start on good sleep habits?
Babies function on a 24 hour clock for about the first 6 weeks; there is not much you can do about it. But you can help them to begin to learn the difference between day and night. At night keep things dark and quiet, with the exception of your white noise. Do feedings where baby sleeps, don’t get up and turn on the lights and sit in front of a loud television.
Night feeds are business-like. Daytime is just that . . . daytime. Things are noisier, the house is busier, lights are on, people move about, sunlight comes in. Make sure there is a difference between night and day for your baby. And spend some time outdoors, even in the colder months. A few minutes of natural sunlight each day encourages your body’s production of melatonin, which is triggered to release when the sun goes down. Capitalize on that.
Spend lots of time cuddling and playing during the day. I tell my 6-year-old everyday before he leaves for school “I need a huuuuge hug and kiss to get me through the whole day” . . . lots of cuddles during the day will help reduce the need for lots of make-up cuddles at night, so baby can sleep.
A wise woman once said “start as you mean to go on” (Tracy Hogg) and I follow that advice. Help your baby learn good sleep habits from day one, and you won’t need to call me in 6 months begging for a few hours of solid sleep ;)
If you do,vist me at GoodNightSleepyhead and together we will help get you and your little one on the path to healthier sleep, on your terms, according to your parenting style.