Sunday, August 23, 2015

.cute cues (Sleep solutions 0-3 months) Pt.1

During the first month of his life, my son Adam was the most peaceful sleeper imaginable, his daily cycles pretty much consisted of feeding, changing and being put to sleep, which was easy as ever as he would be already drowsy from the feed. I thought to myself "Wow, who would have thought that putting a baby to sleep was such a simple task?", and boy, was I wrong.

Once he entered the dreaded phase of the 6-8 weeks crying fits, everything turned around at 360 degrees, he would go into them mostly at dawn, which was the worst time for both his father and I, I felt like at that time in particular, the fatigue is ready to be drained out completely, but then he would wake up, and we're back to square one.

I was desperate enough to resort to books, not to sound like an ignorant person, but when it comes to solving such problems I find that they only list several methods based on the origin of the problem without really offering guaranteed solutions. Nonetheless, I decided to purchase Dr. Harvey Karp's book "The Happiest Baby Guide to Great Sleep", the book is supposed to guide you through the use of great sleep cues and offer solutions for very common sleep problems facing parents of children aged between zero to five years, so far, even without finishing the book, it had helped greatly  in establishing the right techniques and figuring out the best props to use in order to result in a fuss and tear free sleep training.

Below, I will list the steps as they are already immensely widespread all over the internet. I will not,however, go into the more intricate details in the book in respect of the copy rights to the material. I will be speaking about how we executed each step, how it helped, and what product we have used.

1- Swaddling
When we were first introduced to swaddling, mostly by my mother and MIL, we were keen on the idea that it was an old habit that probably benefited the child in no more than provision of warmth, particularly when the hospital's lactation consultant basically advised us not to do it because it limits the baby's freedom to move. We have,however tried it anyway, and we noticed that Adam was always wiggling his arms out of it, so we stopped doing it for a while. After purchasing and reading the book, I came to a much better understanding of the purpose of swaddling, it is basically to mimic the curled up position the baby was accustomed to in mother's womb! So we gave it another shot, and the second time around, the difference in his sleep longevity was noticeable, why? as he would wiggle his arms out, he scratched his face, and eventually woke himself up!

Initially we used traditional wrap swaddle blankets, but later on I stumbled upon the Safety 1st Swaddle blanket, it is an easier type, sac like swaddle, with velcro tabs to secure the baby in a way that guarantees them to stay wrapped in tight. (not the one pictured)

Swaddling is recommended up to 3 moths of age only, and that is approximately when we had stopped using the technique.

2- Side stomach position
This position makes the baby feel secure during the soothing process, it helps calm down the baby very quickly, however, it is definitely a big no-go when it comes to placing the baby in the crib/ on the bed to sleep, as it increases the risk of SIDS, it is better to have the baby lying on their back.

3- Shushing
Shushing your baby using your own voice is definitely doable but could also be very exhausting. I remember the first time I used white noise, Adam was back from a vaccination appointment when he was two months old, it was his first ever crying fit. I felt helpless, i broke down in tears, I called my husband demanding that he comes home from work to calm down his son (lol). I suddenly remembered the infamous video of Harvey Karp MD demonstrating the shushing on several babies, and I tried it myself. It sure worked, but not for so long, why? other than the fact that I did not factor in all the cues, I was shortly out of saliva from all the shushing, so I immediately searched youtube for "shushing sound" and I found out more about white noise. Next thing I know, he was asleep in 5 minutes, and five more minutes afterwards, so was I.

There are several wonderful white noise machines on the market to choose from. I however, relied on my iPad, since I already owned a device that could provide that from I didn't feel the need to go ahead and purchase a whole separate machine.
It is absolutely safe, as long as you keep a distance between the device and the baby, and you keep it on airplane mode.

Here is a picture of the one app I liked the most. It has several nature inspire white noise tracks, that are played on an infinite loop, and don't require the device to stay unlocked.

Simply search the App Store for : Relaxing white noise

4- Swinging
it is recommended to use a swing that fully reclines. The swing we had received as a gift when Adam was born, did not have that feature, unfortunately. That was not the only missing feature, as through a lot of research, and actually trying out other types of swings with Adam, I realised why he didn't like it and why we didn't use it for more than four weeks. It was basically swinging! Back and forth, and this is not what babies need! Babies are calmed down through the motions of bouncing and rocking as well as some gentle vibrations, similar to the ones experienced in the womb. Which is why we had to resort to rocking Adam on our arms, which was the biggest challenge for me of all. I was exhausted, I went through postpartum depression and I cried constantly because of my aching body. Adam would nap every 2-3 hours, and I had to rock him for 30 minutes each time he did that, so basically he was slowly breaking my arms. It went on like this until I started to introduce the sleeping props I will talk about in the second part of this series.

5- Sucking
Basically, the pacifier. It contributes greatly to the relaxation of the baby.
The pacifier was actually the number one thing our paediatrician recommended to me on our first visit, which I honestly found quiet unusual, as I thought he would be against it. But I was even more surprised when I knew of its benefits in not only calming down babies, but preventing SIDS.
We had used a pacifier with Adam up until he was six months old, he actually self-weened off of that one, which had me doing a major Phew!, because it always had me worried on how I would ween him off of it, because -and this is strictly personal- I don't like it when babies are extremely hooked on their dummies, and I know from all the moms around me that it is the most difficult thing to ween a child off of.

We used the Avent pacifiers, and they are wonderful! I have been recommending them to every mom I know, especially those whose babies won't take a pacifier, this will get a guaranteed baby approval! I recommend getting at least two (one pack)

Ever since Adam reached 4 months of age, the sleeping issue became much less of a hassle, I will talk about that more in the second part of this post.


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