Sleep from the Beginning. (AD)
When I think back to routine & bedtimes in those first few weeks with my newborns, I can’t really differentiate day from night, its as if they merge into one. Theres a lot of feeding, winding, changing, soothing, comforting, swaying and then some repeating of the whole process again. Not much sleep in the beginning, that came later on for me personally but both my babies were SO different. I was called ‘lucky’ when Oakley’s little sleeping patterns became bigger sleeping patterns, he grew into a great routine without us really forcing him into one. We weren't strict, he was a laid back baby and by the time he was 4 months old he would sleep anywhere. Looking back now I guess you could say we were ‘lucky’ after all! He would suffer a little with constipation so we would massage his little pot belly most nights with a some baby oil so he could sleep comfortably (he was a belly sleeper) But all in all we didn't sweat the whole importance of ‘routine’!
When Olive came along she took us by surprise with her hatred for sleep, she was nothing like laid back Oakley, once those brand new newborn weeks were over she made it very clear she wasn’t a sleepy cuddler nor did she want to fall asleep in her bed either. We almost lost her when her Oxygen levels dropped at 12 days old, we spent a week in hospital were I could barely touch her let alone cuddle her and sometimes I worry that its that time in her new life that made her so indipendant. She also had severe colic until she was over 4 months old, I am not exagerating when I say every night I cried because I found it impossible to ease her pain or make her content enough to sleep. It was utterly heartbreaking! I suddenly craved the routine we had with Oakley for her, (despite not really knowing we were doing it at the time with Oakley) I wanted to comfort her with an evening routine and help make her feel as content as she could. Selfishly I wanted it for me too, we didn’t bond like me and Oakley did, everything felt harder and I so badly wanted those special moments with her that I knew went incredibly fast. I found new ways to bond such as baby wearing which I did a lot, but she was only comfortable with being that close to me when we were on the move and if I slowed down she would cry and want to get out.
I wanted to cherish bath time, massaging her, getting her warm in her fresh baby grows then feeding & cuddling her to sleep but it just didn’t go down like that, not in the first 4 months at least. They were hard months, very testing but once the colic subsided we continued each evening to bath them together, massage them on occasions, read books and wind down together before bedtime and although even now Olive can take or leave it (thats including sleep) I am so glad we did it/still do it! Its a huge part of our day and its when we all know that the atmosphere in the house changes, everything becomes quieter, darker & more relaxed.
Even almost 4 years on now the evening routine is significant for us all, its form has changed a lot over the years and slowly things like massage have gone out the window. The skin is the first organ to develop prenatally, making touch the first sense to develop. Skin to skin seemed more important in the newborn days but less as they have grown and want to sit still less. When I recently attended a workshop with Johnson’s baby we spoke about stimulation and how ‘Touch’ can be so assuring to children, it made me think of Oakley and how much he loves a cuddle and why. I didn’t realise the impact those cuddles could have on him after a day learning and growing with his peers, my touch is a familiar and safe place for him.
The meeting was a lovely reminder of how those sensory stimulations we often practice early on can still have such a positive effect later on too. I thought more during the workshop about how our routine has evolved and how unknowingly we were still practising Johnson’s Three step routine for more effective sleep without even realising it.
Johnson’s 3 step routine involves, 1: Bath. 2:Gentle Massage. 3: Quiet Time.
These steps have been clinically proven to help aid your babies sleep, I saw results from experiments that said infants with this routine are awake 32% less. Now I know that children are all different, I have first hand proof of that with my 2 but I CAN believe those results. I have seen those changes over time with both Oakley & Olive, albeit different ages and stages for both of them. If you want to find out more about Johnson’s 3 step bedtime routine then click HERE. Where they share lots of insightful information and steps to better sleep, they even have a handy app for your phone to.
I think I have come to terms with Olive being a completely different sleeper now, I have very few pictures of a sleeping Olive, nor do I have many pictures of her asleep on my chest. Its something I struggled with in the past, I felt as though she didn’t want me or perhaps I wasn’t good enough to comfort her but I have learnt over time that she just has her own little way and we continue our evening routine in our own special way! She has grown into a toddler who does enjoy touch, just not on the same scale that Oakley does and thats ok. I want you to know that me talking about this isn’t a way to moan about lack of undisturbed sleep since she arrived or even make you stress over routine. I have always been the type of parent to let them lead the way, we have never done control crying and never wanted too. I am not suggesting that theres a one trick only solution to more sleep or that there is a cure, but I am a believer in gently trying new things that may help in some way because what do you have to loose.
This experience working with Johnson’s has bought to light lots of facts regarding children’s development from newborn onwards and its been so eye opening learning and understanding the impact we as parents have in the early stages. I don’t regret anything I have ever done as a mother I believe we trust our instincts and do what we think is best but the information, tips and guidance that Johnson’s are offering are so important to new parents.