Getting Through The Night: New Parents and New Babies, Learning Together

A New Baby Can Be Tiring

mother and babyOne of the biggest issues for new parents is learning to manage their baby’s sleep routine. Picking up tired signs, knowing when a newborn’s cry means it is uncomfortable or hungry or wet, rather than just tired and grizzly and in need of sleep, are not innate skills. Many parents today have had little exposure to babies before their own first child is born, and have only limited support networks where they live.

One solution for new mothers who are off work is to hook into whatever local groups and support programs exist. Depending on where you live there may be a new parents group you can join or a maternal and child nurse program to attend. These may seem ‘hokey’ to the mother who is used to being a professional, working hard and figuring out her own problems. In fact, they can provide invaluable assistance in the form of other women going through the same life changes and same learning process that you are.

Next to that, finding the best parenting books for new parents will be essential. These cannot replace the help of an experienced friend or advisor, who can watch your baby and point out tired signs she is exhibiting, but they can be the next best thing. Elizabeth Pantley’s No Cry Sleep Solution books are are great place to start, with lots of information on baby’s sleep as well as many choices for routines you can use to help your baby learn to sleep through the night.

Other useful books for the first time parent include The Baby Book by William and Martha Sears, The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp, Buddhism for Mothers: a calm approach to caring for yourself and your children by Sarah Napthali.

Whichever books or groups you choose to use, remember that no-one knows your baby as well as you do, and if the advice you are given feels completely wrong for you and your baby, look elsewhere. Having said that, don’t assume someone has nothing to teach you just because you don’t agree with everything they say. You may not want to leave your baby tocry or even grizzle herself to sleep, for instance, but the same person telling you do so, may also be able to point out that her seeming to struggle against her wrap is really just the uncontrolled, jerky movements a newborn will go through when he is tired.

So keep an open mind, but also use your intuition when you can. Get to know your own baby and develop your own parenting style, and above all remember: this time will pass all too quickly, and one day you will find yourself looking back with nostalgia on those long nights sitting up with your newborn. Eventually, you will both sleep through the night.

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