I have been thinking a lot lately about all that I have learned since having Willow. Her first six weeks feels like a dream – it seems so far away. And I have found parenthood so much more challenging the older she gets.
One thing I am finding especially hard is night time sleeping and getting her to self sooth (a lot of trial and error has been going on and I have a long list of things I will do differently with future children, but this is a topic for another post).
Today I thought I would tell you about the things I wish I knew when I started on this crazy journey!
- When an infant’s head tips back it wakes up. We always used to joke about Willow’s altimeter and how she would be fast asleep in my arms and would wake up as soon as I lay her flat. What I didn’t know was that her head was tipping back and this was waking her up. When I was more concious of her head position I had less issues getting her to stay asleep.
- Which brings me to the whole ‘put the child down sleepy but awake’ thing: this is the hardest thing in the world to do! Too awake and you have to start the calming and relaxing routine all over again because she will think being put down in her cot is permission to play and one minute too long and you’ve put her to sleep. There is no middle ground!
- Cry it out doesn’t work for all babies. Babies only cry for 15 to 20 minutes they said. Yeaaah… about that. Willow has been known to cry for much longer than that. I tried it once and I swear if I hadn’t gone to her she would have kept crying for hours. Babies have personalities that dictate their sleep habits there is no one size fits all solution.
- Gym balls are not only for exercise! The minute you find out you’re pregnant go by a gym ball! It was the best thing in the world for getting out stubborn burps and now that Willow is older its the easiest way to bounce her to a sleepy state without my arms falling off. Plus I’m pretty sure its been helping my core recover from pregnancy.
- Swaddling is not always a good thing. I love a good swaddle. Baby goes to sleep easier and sleeps longer; its awesome. Until you get to seven months old and you cannot for the life of you get your child to sleep without it! Transitioning out of the swaddle has been next to impossible.
- Whenever you want to adjust your routine or introduce a new situation (such as sleeping in her own room) start on a Friday. That way you can tag team with Hubby, have that little bit of moral support or catch up on sleep during the day.
- Teething and your baby having a cold will make you feel the most helpless you have ever felt in your life! The baby is screaming, it can’t breathe, its mouth is sore, its miserable and you can do nothing to help. Queue many, many tears from both of you.
- Being awake at 3 am with a baby that just will not go back to sleep can bring on the highest level of frustration known to man. There are times you will feel angry and violent towards the baby. This is normal and does not make you a bad mom. Just walk away for a few minutes, take a few calming breaths and try again. Everything will be better in the morning.
- No matter how angry you are, when that baby smiles at you your heart melts and you give up on every rule, conviction or good intention you had in your brain.
- Ditto for when your baby sweetly falls asleep while breastfeeding and is all warm, soft and cuddly – best feeling ever!