Well, I don’t have the answer and every baby is different. But lately we have realised that I have made a bit of a rod for our backs. I will talk you through Amaya’s sleep from the NICU up until today. Hopefully this will help someone struggling with their baby’s sleep (and save you from making the same ‘mistake’ I have!).
In the NICU Amaya was fed through a tube and just layed there as the milk was put into her tummy, no burping required as she was not gulping her feeds. So she often slept through her feeds. Once she was on bottles, she was fed a bottle, burped and then placed back into her cot (which was on an an angle, which assisted her in digesting the milk). I was told by the Doctor and Nurses to feed Amaya, burp her and then have her sit upright (whether that be on your chest, on her back on a boomerang pillow…) for 20 minutes before laying her flat to allow her to digest her food properly.
Now I have a baby who wants to be cuddled to sleep…
Whilst I love the cuddles, this is not a habit that I want to keep, as I do NOT want to be cuddling a toddler to sleep every night. I used to be able to cuddle her for 20 minutes after her last feed for the night, put her in her cot and she would stay asleep, but now she wakes up, cos she wants me to cuddle her all night. That’s right, ALL NIGHT.
So in the early hours of this morning, 3am to be exact, Teina decided that this has to stop, as he woke to me, extremely tired with my eyes pretty much hanging out of my head. Clearly, we cannot continue to go on like this. So we put her in her cot and let her cry it out. Not only could I not sleep through her crying, but I felt terrible. I ended up going in and cuddling her, telling her that she is safe & that we love her, before I put her back down and she started to cry again. Then something magical happened – she fell asleep. At 9am Teina & I woke to her having a good ol’ chat to herself in her cot, probably either bad mouthing us or congratulating herself on falling asleep by herself. Teina went it & got her, brought her into our bed where we both praised her before Teina told her “aaannddd we are going to do this again tonight!”.
So basically, babies love to keep you on your toes. I used to cuddle Amaya for 20 minutes after her feed before placing her into her cot where she would sleep for 12 hours (not waking at all!) until the morning (I knew the straight 12 hour sleep was too good to be true! HA!). Oh how things have changed. We are determined to get back to that stage though. As much as I love the cuddles, and I know that I can get sleep by cuddling her, in the process I have made a rod for my own back, it is entirely my fault. In an attempt to get some sleep (you know, to stay sane and to do my best to not be a raging psycho) I have made a bigger problem for myself.
I believe, that I should have just been a bit tougher on her from the beginning (but she’s so tiny, she won’t be this tiny for long and I just want to cuddle her as much as I can) but, I am also a firm believer in being patient with yourself, I have no experience with Amaya and I am finding my way each day whilst always trying to be the best Mother I can be. I also believe that they are really little and they just want their Mum & Dad, so I am trying to find a balance where all three of us are happy AND getting oodles of sleep!