Baby Sleep

For new mum Nicole Blake, having a good sleeper was a dream come true.

Until at 12 weeks old little Zac decided that sleeping particularly at night just wasn't for him. "The waking became five times eight times ten times we got to a period where he was waking hourly all night and it just went on and on and on"

That's when motherhood became a living nightmare and as many parents know sleep deprivation can be soul destroying. Zac's sleeping patterns were so bad Nicole was sleeping next to him on the nursery floor! "I think we all know as mums of young babies how exhausting those first few months are because there really is little you can do but to attend to your baby crying feeding its exhausting. It controls everything it changes the way you feel about your baby during the day it changes your happiness and how you interact with him during the day because you've got nothing left"

"There's nothing worse than being tired you just can't function" first time mum Lucy Reichstein has had her fair share of sleepless nights too. "It was about us finding a medium that worked for William and for us"

But bombarded with so much talk and literature about how we should be getting our babies to sleep both Lucy and Nicole just didn't know where or who to turn to. "it is looking at the first year looking at establishing healthy sleep habits and not thinking that can happen in one or two or three days"

And this is the wakeup call they both needed, a book written by Adelaide psychologist Angie Willcocks and central Queensland uni's head of paediatric sleep research Dr Sarah Blunden.

The books not like most, in fact it flies in the face of what many health professionals are telling mums to do.

Controlled crying. They say is not a solution not only because it's hard on parents, but because the jury's still out on what psychological damage it can do to a baby.

"What happens if we're wrong just what happens if it does have a detrimental effect what then?"

It's a risk Nicole wasn't prepared to take. Nicole was looking for a more supportive approach and found the answers in the sensible sleep solution.

"The book provides a gentle settling technique that allows you to attend to the baby and puts something in place that's not going to create bad habits later on"

Cotts - creating opportunities to self -soothe

Calm activity as sleep time approaches

Check baby's needs are taken care of

Give baby a sleep aid

Cuddle baby in your arms until drowsy

Put baby in cot while still awake

Gentle rub or pat baby's back

Step away

The book calls it cotss - creating opportunities to self sooth.

They say it's important to start by calming activity around your bub when sleep time approaches

Check that all baby's needs have been taken care of like a feed a nappy change or a burp.

If it uses one, giving your baby a sleep aid like a dummy

Then a few cuddles. Before placing bub in the cot while still awake

Gently rub or pat baby's back

And step away.

If the baby's cries escalate repeat the last few steps.

"Self-soothing is the ability to teach a baby to be calm enough and confident enough to wait to stay alone that can happen in the day time practiced in the day time then at night time"

Sarah and Angie say understanding a baby's brain development is also a big help. "I don't think a baby who wakes in the night in the first year has a sleep problem and parents can get a bit anxious and worried if they're hearing all the time that their baby shouldn't be waking at night because it is normal developmental behaviour in the first year"

"When a parent understands about brain development it's much easier to understand and expect different types of sleep patterns in your baby"

And only once that's sorted is when a routine should be set.

Lucy says "I guess what i like about it is there's much literature on sleep and having a full night's sleep but as a new mum you don't have time to read it this draws on a lot of practices and it's in the one place" The book's also helped Lucy clue into William's signs of tiredness the obvious ones like crying and rubbing eyes but also the more subtle signs. "A baby can become quite active and jerky and that can actually be a tired sign and something parents might miss might think baby is excited but not - just tired"

Angie and Sarah say the most important thing to remember is every child's different. Listen to what your baby needs, be patient with your baby and yourself and run your own race. "We're a high performance society a 24 hour society and we expect a lot from all members of our society most particularly mothers" thanks to the book, that pressure's lifted for both Nicole and Lucy who are finally getting some decent shut-eye.

Further Details

"The Sensible Sleep Solution" by Sarah Blunden & Angie Willcocks available at most bookstores or www.sleepeducation.net.au