Thursday, 28 July 2011

Sleep when baby sleeps.....but my baby doesn't sleep?????

This post is dedicated to Anonymous who posted this comment after reading my last blog post,

"Fantastic article. As soon as I started reading about Rhys's feeding patterns I thought 'Oh my god, that's me!!!'. My baby sounds very much like Rhys. I am happy to accept his feeding patterns, but I find it very difficult finding time to sleep/eat/dress myself, and get quite distressed. I have a wonderful husband but no other real support and am home alone most of the day. Any tips to cope physically and emotionally with such demanding feeding? My baby is 6 weeks old now and I am starting to feel I can't possibly go on like this for much longer! :("

After reading this i had a light bulb moment, i thought, feeding baby according to need is truly demanding on mum, what do i do to cope day to day?

What i realised I've been doing for the last 8weeks (Rhys is 8weeks old) is the absolute opposite to what every mother is told. Mums for so long now have been told "sleep while baby sleeps"....problem, my baby hardly sleeps....I've been practising "go nuts while baby sleeps, rest the rest of the time "....hear me out...

The bottle feeding culture we've all grown up in lead to the idea of 4th hourly feeding, that all babies should follow bottle fed or not. We as health professionals have done our darnedest to undo this thinking and re teach mothers the idea if feeding according to need (commonly known as demand feeding). I think we're slowly getting there.

The thing that didn't catch on is that with feeding according to need and not to a schedule means very sporadic, unpredictable and often brief sleep from baby, so to say sleep when baby sleeps is impractical to say the least.

Heres how my theory works, go nuts when baby is sleeping and take every other opportunity to either interact and enjoy baby or rest/sleep.

Here's a typical day of mine of late:
Bub wakes we feed as we muster the energy to get out of bed, bub slings it as i do breaky for the big boys and then we sit and feed while some morning cartoons are happening.
Bub sleeps and will either sling in or transfer to rocker, ill run around put a wash on, do dishes, put clothes away etc, then sit and rest, maybe another feed.
Head out for the day, bub slings and feeds as he wants.
We get home and i usually settle on couch for the rest of afternoon, everything in reach and bub can feed and doze as he wants.
Come dinnertime, bub gets slinged up once more and snoozes as dinner is made and kitchen sorted as i go. Then bath and last couch time for the day as he goes of to hit his bed for the first time of the day at about 7pm.
He wakes at around midnight at which time i slide him over to me (his cot is side carred next to my bed) and he feeds almost 2nd houky for the rest of the night (I'm awake for probably 20mins all up these feeds combined) .

I view this day as a potential for a whole lot of rest, if you can learn to put your feet up at every feed and enjoy it as quiet rest time you'll soon appreciate how frequently she feeds. I think since Rhys has been born I've only had a couple of daytime naps, because my days allow the maximum amount of rest and by co sleeping at night I'm hardly lacking any sleep. I'm simply not all that tired. If i do nap, i doze while feeding and Rhys is sleeping at the breast, allowing for many potential naps if i want them.

As i write this I'm on the couch, recliner back, lap top on knee, remotes and phones at hand, sandwich, drink, even nappy and wipes. I don't have to move till preschool pick up time. (but i did just this once cause i couldn't leave the chocolate in the fridge)

I get that this is a bit trickier if you have other littlies, but its something you could deffinatly practice if you have someone else around, kids at daycare or on the weekend.

I challenge you this weekend if your struggling like the post above, parent from the couch this weekend, get a good baby sling so you can settle on the run. See if it changes your perspective a little.

My biggest concern now is how much longer  i can milk this for, he's soon going to be feeding less frequently and getting active, until then, my couch recliner will be getting a workout.

Hope this helps you Anonymous, good luck :)

Untill next time.



  1. I like it Lou :) I think the key to this is actually the co-sleeping at night which leaves you relatively well-slept for the challenges of other kids and housework during the day.

    Another thing for 'Anonymous' to remember when she says she "can't possibly go on like this for much longer" is that she probably won't have to! Bub will soon develop a new rhythm that hopefully won't be so intense for mum.

    How lovely for new mums to have such wise and nurturing words as yours to help them through xoxo

  2. Follow this advice and you will never look back and be sorry for lost time with your baby!