6 Baby Shower Alternatives for the Mom-To-Be

Baby showers are such a tradition in our society that its almost taboo to suggest doing anything but. That doesn’t mean that deep down there aren’t a lot of women out there who might find the virgin drinks, cheesy games, gift opening, and all the belly cupping a particularly painful way to spend the last days of their third trimester.

So, for the sake of open mindedness, read on and consider these Baby Shower Alternatives for a gal friend with alternative taste.

  1. Postpartum Party

After giving birth, so much of the attention suddenly shifts from the pregnant woman to the newborn child. Even the new mother’s attention drastically shifts. A big risk factor to postpartum depression and anxiety is the lack of a support system, which makes finding ways to let her know you are there for her all the more important. Hosting a Postpartum Party in her honor is the perfect way to show a new mama that you and the rest of her community are there for her through this big life change.

The beauty of a Postpartum Party is that no real rules apply except this: Mom is front and center. In planning the party, think of the honoree. What is her idea of a perfect gathering? Is it relaxing at a spa with her closest girlfriends? Does she like small get-togethers such as a potluck-style BBQ with friends and family and lawn games? Might she miss getting dressed up and going downtown to a hip restaurant for food, drinks, and lots of selfies? The purpose is to remind this new mom that even though a lot in her life has changed, and she too may have changed in rapid time, someday soon, she will feel herself again.

In the first few weeks after baby has arrived, listen to what your loved one is talking about. Take note of what she seems to be missing, and find a way to give that to her, even if just for one day. The other important decision about a Postpartum Party is when it should happen. Again, this is so contingent on the individual woman. Some women might be itching to do ANYTHING only a couple weeks after the baby is born. Others might not feel up to it until six to eight weeks out. Listen to her needs, but also know how to differentiate between a woman who is still healing, and a woman who may need a nudge to do some self-care for a change. If you’re planning this party, already you’re showing that you care a great deal for this person, now time to make it happen.

Best part about waiting ‘til after the baby is born to celebrate your loved one’s foray into motherhood? She can have a glass or two of her favorite alcoholic beverage to celebrate the occasion. While that may require a bit of planning and prep work if she’s breastfeeding, she’s earned it.

2. Baby-ette Party

By now, we all probably are familiar with the concept of a babymoon, the honeymoon-like vacation a couple takes before the baby arrives. It’s an opportunity to connect with your family of two before it becomes a family of three (or more). We are definitely not suggesting sacrificing the Babymoon for a Baby-ette Party, just reminding you that maybe you should also connect with your closest friends before your attention and priorities suddenly change with the arrival of your child.

Naturally, as a pregnant woman, this venture will look a lot different than your typical bachelorette party, but the concept is the same. Steal some of the cheesiness and outlandish fun and channel it into a preggo-safe outing. A Baby-ette Party should get this mom-to-be out and about, push her a little outside her comfort zone (but not too far – remember there are pregnancy hormones to consider) and offer her a last hurrah before becoming a mom. It may be a while before she can party this way again especially with the same group of women, so live it up and make this a tradition within your circle of friends for each of you.

3. Sleep-a-thon

According to a recent study, new parents lose 44 days of sleep during the first year of a baby’s life. Only after you’ve become a parent do you truly know the precious value of good quality sleep.  Many women in their third trimester, and some even before, struggle with sleep before the baby’s even arrived.

Resting and logging zzz’s is so so important leading up to the birth, but so often, pregnant women feel competing pressure and stress to get everything ready in time. Add in other children and work obligations, and often sleep takes a backburner on the list of priorities.

This is where a Sleep-a-thon is just what the midwife ordered. Depending on your special mom-to-be’s circumstances, the objective is to rid her of distractions, help clear off some things on her plate and give her a day or weekend’s worth of time to rest, relax, and ultimately sleep as much as possible. Sure, a day or two doesn’t really sound like much compared to the 44 days this new mom is about to lose, but it’s definitely more than she would get otherwise, and is the perfect way to show her you care.

You can treat her to a night’s stay at a local resort or hotel alone or with her partner in tow. While she’s away, you can help watch the other kids, clean the house, set up the nursery, or do laundry with the help of other friends and family. The tasks won’t seem as daunting if there’s a small group to split responsibilities around.

If your mom-to-be is more of a homebody and sleeps best in the comfort of her own home, find out what errands she still needs to get done and help with those. Take the kids out for a day at the zoo or your house for some fun activities and a movie night. Think though all the possible things that might interfere with your pregnant gal’s ability to relax and let her transfer the mental load to you.

4. Meal Train

Maybe you have already heard about Meal Train, a website that helps simplify the organization of meal giving after a significant life event. Meal Train was actually created after the co-founder’s wife organized meal deliveries to a family in their neighborhood after they had welcomed a new baby.

Meal planning, prep and execution is such a daunting task for new parents. Even the idea of ordering out or delivery can be stressful and costly with so much else to worry about. Meal Train helps any new parents’ village of support come together and help get them fed!

Since we’re talking about possibly replacing the concept of a Baby Shower with an alternative, this is where you send out invites, make calls, get connected with friends, family, co-workers, and other loved ones of the parents-to-be. Ask them to commit to at least one meal. They can either cook a meal, pick up take out, or schedule the delivery – depending on their cooking abilities and proximity to the family. Ultimately, though, the idea is to alleviate some stress and ensure both parents are getting enough to eat.

Planning a Meal Train involves some inquiries with the expectant family. Ask them what days they may need meals the most, find out food preferences, favorite meals, dislikes, allergies, dietary preferences. It won’t be helpful to them if the food delivered is something they can’t or won’t enjoy.

Lastly, if you’ve taken the role of organizer in this endeavor, follow through by sending a thank you once someone delivers their planned meal. While the new parents are going to be so grateful for the help, they may not have time to send out a thank you card right away or at all, so taking that worry off their hands will be icing on the cake.

5. 100 Days Celebration

Traditional Chinese, Japanese and Korean cultures believe strongly that the first 100 days of a baby’s life is when the baby and new mother are most vulnerable, and they are expected to stay inside to avoid illness and injury. Additionally, in the past, it was rare for a baby to survive the first 100 days so, when they did, it was worthy of celebration. For this reason, it was important to wait to celebrate until after the baby arrived, and today, its still considered unlucky to throw a shower for an unborn baby. The 100th day marks the third month postpartum, or the baby’s fourth trimester, meaning the baby is now a full year old.

Each country has its own variation of the concept. Koreans call the celebration, Baek-il, and in Japan, it is called Okuizome, or baby’s first eating ceremony. The Chinese have a Red Egg and Ginger Party to celebrate the baby’s first 30 days in addition to another ceremony for the 100th day.

If you choose to host a 100 Days Celebration for someone special, you can select a tradition or two to honor its history, such as cutting the baby’s hair (just a lock) to commemorate the child’s independent existence or have the oldest person in attendance ‘feed’ the baby to symbolize longevity. You can serve red eggs and ginger or dress the baby in red to symbolize good fortune.

Ultimately, the special wow-factor to this party will be the added joy in celebrating the baby earthside instead of in utero. You’re also able to congratulate the new parents publicly for making it past what most consider the toughest stage of parenting. Doesn’t that sound worthy of a party?

6. Blessingway Ceremony

A blessingway ceremony is an old Navajo tradition meant to cultivate positive and bless the pregnancy. Blessingways are still celebrated in modern time, and are becoming a popular baby shower alternative.

There’s a reason this practice is gaining popularity — the ceremony is meant to help prepare a woman with the transition to motherhood versus the typical focus on gifts for the baby. With so much more information out there about ways to prevent postpartum depression and anxiety, women are looking for ways to help this important life change happen with intention. This is an especially great option for the mama-to-be who is artistically expressive, sentimental, or in need of some healing before giving birth.  

A blessingway is typically on the more intimate side, with only close friends and family in attendance. The pregnant mama usually wears a crown of flowers and a common activity is to have the baby bump decorated in henna or body art. The mother-to-be is often pampered with a foot soak and massage, sometimes administered by the attendees. The intimate setting also allows for some time to connect and share blessings, stories, advice, or inspirational words.

Arts and crafts are common at blessingways via stone painting to provide encouraging words for the mother that she can place around her home, and bringing gifts that mom can use to make a birth altar. A bead ceremony is also common and requires each attendee to bring a special bead that will get made into a necklace for the mother to wear during the last few weeks of pregnancy and during birth!

After reading this, you might just be motivated to find a way to do a little bit of all six of these options for that special expectant mom in your life! There are no rules against having a Blessingway-100-Day-Meal-Train-Sleepy-ette-Postpartum-Baby-Shower-Celebration, is there? We think not. Happy planning!

 

True (Mom) Life: We Hired A Sleep Coach

One mom’s day-by-day account while using a coach to gently sleep train her baby

Context is everything when it comes to baby challenges. Some things just hit you harder than others. Sleep is my thing. Everything else we faced so far as new parents, I handled, to the best of my ability, with grace and patience. I accepted developmental milestones and understood they were both good signs and necessary. We weathered breastfeeding challenges with determination and optimism. But, take away my ability to rest, and remove my much-needed eight solid hours of daily self care at night, and the worst version of myself showed her face. Every little setback felt like a huge catastrophe, I was snappy, my moods could not be tempered, and to make matters worse, I was losing patience and lacked genuine energy to really be present with my baby during waking hours.

I knew something needed to change, but I had no idea where to start. When I became pregnant and did all the preparation I thought I needed to do, I hadn’t anticipated were all the theories, methods, and philosophies that just the first six months alone can entail. With each question asked of me by fellow parents (examples, just to name a few: “How do you feel about vaccines?” “When and how do you plan to introduce your baby to solids?” and the all-important “When will you sleep train? What method will you use?”), I felt a little more unprepared and overwhelmed. In short, I had no idea.

When my son’s sleep issues started to become more and more apparent, and I realized that I was losing too much of myself by waiting it out to see it improve (it also started to get worse), I told my partner it was time for some reinforcement.

Listen, I never even knew sleep coaches existed before having a child. I thought babies slept if you took care of their needs. Some better than others, but ultimately, the saying “Sleeping like a baby” suggested to me that it wouldn’t be a problem. Reality gave me something much more frightening, so much so, I’ll never use this expression. I did a lot of reading between December (when the sleep regression took hold) and March (when things got worse than I thought possible, and our sleep training attempts proved futile). I knew that cry it out was not for me, and likely going to be ineffective for my son (who showed me his tenacity when he cried for three hours when stuck in traffic on Thanksgiving). I knew that developmentally, I shouldn’t really start trying to train until he was six to six and a half months old. I knew that some, maybe even most, babies work it out by six months. When it got to be too much, I turned to a professional and a little over 15 days in, I can say with certainty that it was the smartest, and best, parenting decision we have made thus far.

Read below for my sleep-deprived account of our experience over the past two weeks with a sleep coach to help us get some zzz’s.

Day 1

Unofficially, we’ve been practicing the first part of our personalized sleep plan (see Disclaimer) for a few days before our launch to sleep training. Surprisingly, he’s taken to the initial adjustments fairly easily even though we didn’t really have a set routine in place while we were out of town for a few days.

Tonight was the first night of our sleep plan, but anyone who has had to execute a sleep plan or use a sleep coach may know that we really got our start from the moment he woke up this morning. That awake time sets a timer for me to plan our baby’s first nap, which is about 2 hours from wake time. Because I’ve been getting up 10-12 times in the night (I sh*t you not), my partner’s been taking on the early morning Daddy duties with baby while he gets ready for work This hour to two hours SUSTAINS me (I wasn’t able to do it the other day because he had to leave early and I about died).

The biggest hurdle during the daytime is making sure our son gets between three and three and a half hours of sleep, and that he gets a nap in within a three hour window before bedtime. He’s good about napping, but doesn’t nap too long. This means we need to find creative ways to get him to hit that three-hour nap goal. Today, it meant driving around for an hour while we did errands and timing it just right so there would be between 2 and 3 hours before bedtime.

A lot of math and time keeping is involved, I’m learning. Tonight, our math checked out. We managed to get him to sleep at bedtime without falling asleep on the breast also, which was another goal. Mission accomplished. He woke up for the first time an hour and ten minutes later, which means that progress is looking slow but, I’m feeling positive….for now.   

Day 2

I had to help our baby 14 times in the night to keep him sleeping in the nursery. 14 times over a 11 to 12 hour period! This has been the norm the past few weeks, hence the dire need for sleep coach. I told my partner this morning that, were it not for the sleep coach, I probably would be near nervous breakdown levels of panic. Instead, this morning, I’m feeling very optimistic. Dare I say, even, proud.

For starters, in the past, especially lately, I’ve been so tired that I fall asleep with the baby in my arms while nursing in bed. It doesn’t help that this has been the best way to ensure we both sleep longer than 40 minute stretches at night, sometimes even up to two hours. Of course, my whole body would be cramped and tense when I would wake up, we’d both be sweating, and yeah, SIDS risk, so I did not like the way I felt the next morning knowing I had done this multiple times in a night. Still, easier said than done in the moment, especially when the little one revolts with the strength and will power of 1000 men to ensure he is not placed on a surface but my arms in the middle of the night. He has more stamina than I in those wee hours. HE ALWAYS WINS.

Last night, he didn’t win (but ultimately, that is a win for us both….ah, parenting). I got creative, and my partner and I slept in the guest room right next to the nursery instead of our master bedroom, which is down the hall from the nursery. Proximity proved key. For every waking, I made sure to take my robe (so I wouldn’t be uncomfortable/freeze), and made myself sit in the rocker for feedings, which is a less comfortable sleeping apparatus for me. I used my phone to keep me alert, and am happy to report that he didn’t keep me up longer than 20 minutes. So, 14 wakings, but all under 20 minutes, made for a tolerable night shift.

Day 3

First, a quick report on the night. Eight wakings. Down from 14! Part of the reason though: three of those were over 30 minutes. One waking lasted 38 minutes (and felt like five hours). We had an unexpected breakthrough to top it off. Arlo found out about rolling over and sleeping on his tummy. I’ve been told by other moms that this was the only way their children learned to sleep through the night, but I was unsure Arlo would get there. Everything I read told me to wait until they did it on their own. Well, out of nowhere, he did it last night. He wouldn’t even let me put him down on his back, he’d be rolling as I lowered him down. I barely slept all night because I checked his monitor incessantly (and that’s even with the Owlet Sleep Sock), but I’m pretty excited.

Day 4

Today, the fatigue has returned or rather is taking its toll. My attempts to get our child to nap on schedule and at a reasonable length have been futile today. At 3 PM, I was feeling exhausted and that familiar dreadful defeated feeling as I rocked my baby in the nursery. I’ve developed a sort of PTSD-response whenever it’s time to put him to sleep. I have this slightly unsubstantiated fear that it is very possible he will just NOT go to sleep, ever, and I’ll be up for a full 12 to 24 hours with my baby wide awake but crying and fussy and me helpless. Eventually, falls asleep and the fear dissipates for at least 60 minutes.

We  deferred from our routine, and come 2:40 PM, I was feeling all sorts of regret, angst, and utter fear about that. By this time, he hadn’t slept more than an hour collectively in the day, meaning I needed to find a way to get him to sleep another two hours of day sleep to set him up for a successful bedtime. BUT I WAS SO TIRED.

Fast-forward to the evening, and we did it. We successfully had a two hour nap. I say “we” because I too slept on the floor of the nursery for the first hour and a half, before I brought him with me to the guest bed for a 30 minute siesta/dream feed. It worked and we got to log in our time.  

Today is the most tired I’ve been in at least a couple weeks, but at 9:38 PM, I feel renewed. Dad was able to get baby to sleep in 13 minutes! Tonight was the first night for Dad to be responsible for putting baby to bed, and that meant I needed to relinquish control for the first time. I set a 20 minute alarm for myself, before I’d go upstairs to wait and see if he needed help with the “drop” before starting to stream Amazon (to help drown out any fussing or tears). About ten minutes passed by and I turned on the monitor to get an update. Just as I did, I saw my hubs slowly lowering baby into the crib. Baby kicked once and then flopped over to his side, asleep. I WAS SO PROUD.

About 40 minutes later however, I heard the familiar stirs and groans that signaled a waking. I gathered my things downstairs and prepared myself mentally (still feeling positive about the easy bedtime execution). I hadn’t even left the living room when I realized that our child put himself back to sleep! I DON’T THINK I’VE EVER BEEN THIS PROUD. He fell asleep at 7:28 PM, it is now 9:42 PM. I can assure you, my son has not slept this long without needing one of us to go in the room in a month, maybe more. I don’t even know what to do with myself. Sleep. Go to sleep, woman.

Day 8

All weekend, I was looking forward to our first check-in call with our sleep coach. It happened today and for some reason, since the call, I’ve felt a little deflated. Things have gone so well that I was expecting to hear immense accolades. We were praised and told we were doing great, sure. But, we also were reminded that things might go backwards as our son is getting closer and closer to crawling. Teething is also just about to rear its ugly head, I can feel it. My husband is starting to show fatigue and now we’re moving ahead with cutting back feeds, which our sleep coach warned might mean increased wakings. Our end goal is to be able to put him down awake, but we’re not there yet. Until then, it’s just hang in and focus on the small changes. Today, that’s feeling just a little bit tougher.

There’s always a rainbow after a storm, and this evening, maybe a half hour after I said good night to my son, my partner came down from upstairs and quickly turned on the baby monitor. We both watched (me in mild horror) as my son rocked on hands and knees in the dark. “He’s still awake,” I told my husband. He was not supposed to leave him awake in the crib. That wasn’t part of the plan. “Go back up,” I told him. But then just as quickly, I realized that our baby was not making a peep. He was just rocking on his knees then plopping down on his belly. Up again and then plopping back down. He was trying to put himself to sleep, and this time, he didn’t feel the need to call out for help to do so. Sure enough, he succeeded on his own.

Day 9

This day was another special challenge for our family as I had a pre-planned commitment to go to Los Angeles for the day, not expecting to return until late into the night. I’d be gone at least 12 hours, which is the longest I’ve been away from our son. I wasn’t too worried about how Dad would handle things in my absence, but a little nervous about if my absence would increase wakings, reduce nap time, and essentially set back all our progress.

All that worrying made it easy for me to forget an essential part to my breast pump which made it impossible for me to pump while away. I was only able to hand express to relieve discomfort. After a brief panic, I calmed myself down. Luckily, things back home seemed to be going better.

I got short updates and some pictures and videos to inform their progress. I held back my impulse to tell my husband that bathtime was an hour later than we had discussed, which made dinner time and bedtime later than we normally do. Once I stepped away from my impulse to critique, I was filled with pride for both my boys. It might be nice to feel needed, but it’s almost a better feeling to know that things don’t crumble without you. My son adapted to the changes, was fine with Dad, and our sleep progress continued as normal in my absence.

Day 10

As I shared yesterday, being gone thankfully didn’t have any real impact on the progress we’ve made with sleep training. Once I was home and able to pump, I settled back into bed with enough time to feed my son for his 2nd/last feed of the night. How did he let me know everything was okay? He allowed us all to sleep in until 7:30 AM. We had to wake HIM up. What a nice change.

Now, I am about to have to go up and wake him again because he’s been napping for two hours! I’m also kicking myself for not sleeping when baby sleeps especially since I am running on only a couple solid hours of it from last night.

It’s been ten days today and looking back to when we first started, I am a little perplexed, a lot cautious, and also so proud to see that we’ve essentially gone from 10 to 14 wakings per night, all nursed to sleep and on-demand, to five to six wakings in total with two of those being scheduled feeds. Our son is sleeping in the crib pretty exclusively, and maybe only gives us a hard time once in the night.

We’re not done, maybe just a third to halfway through our plan, but for the first time in forever, I am feeling optimistic and hopeful that my son will be able to sleep well in the night, and that sleep for me, real sleep, is on the horizon.

Day 14

Last night was Day 2 of only one feeding per night. The first night was a little wonky because our baby woke up at 5:00 AM and did not want to go back to bed, which led to an early wake up and early nap and had me a little rattled. Last night, however, our son only had one waking around 10:30 PM. At 3 AM, I woke up a bit terrified. My husband was out of the bedroom and it was 3 in the morning and I hadn’t been woken up since that 10:30 PM waking. I checked the monitor and saw my husband sleeping on the floor next to the crib. My son was still sleeping. After a little while, I went in and decided to do a “dream feed” with my son to make sure he was able to sleep through to his 6:00 AM or later wake up time (I also woke my husband and told him to get his butt back to bed).

After that one feeding, my son slept in until 7:00 AM. He woke up and quietly played and cooed in the crib for a few minutes before we went to get him. I’m a bit awestruck just typing this.

Then, tonight, when my husband was getting him to bed at bedtime, he again was able to leave him in the crib awake but quiet and sleepy. He rocked a little on his knees, changed positions here and there, but eventually fell asleep on his own. I wouldn’t believe it myself if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes.

Day 15

Our son had a night similar to the night before. Only one waking around 10 PM and another at 3:30 AM, with that 3:30 AM time his one scheduled feed. I find myself now feeling so much more positive, with a better outlook on sleep, hell, a better outlook on life and on parenting. Sure, who knows how long it will last before something else becomes challenging, but we have come out on the other side of a bad, long fog.

15 days. I keep telling myself that because it’s really quite remarkable to believe it myself. I’m sure it doesn’t always work this quickly for everyone. But, I’m also certain that it isn’t as necessary for a lot of people either. There’s really no way of knowing from an outside perspective. I will say this: back in December, my instincts told me that my son’s sleep issues would require more attention and professional help. I knew in my gut that he was not going to figure it out on his own. I hung in there until I felt he was ready to do it successfully. Still, even though I was optimistic, I wasn’t expecting this much progress so soon.

One other thing I didn’t expect was how much these 15 days improved my relationship with my partner, whom I have probably been unnecessarily hard on. I felt lost over how to get our son to sleep, but at the same time, I got frustrated with him when he appeared aloof or distressed about how to help me. Now, I see a new confidence forming in him as a parent and my trust in him has grown exponentially. Having someone coach us helped guide us, and now I rely on my husband more. He’s actually much better at handling calming down our son than I have ever been without offering the breast. As a family, we are enjoying the bedtime routine we’ve put into place and I no longer feel the mix of dread and relief when it’s time to get him to bed. To have so much change in such a short period of time still has me a bit nervous about things reverting back to what they were. But, even when that fear sets in, I remind myself that we now have the tools to help our son, and our son now knows too what he can do to get to sleep on his own. He’ll definitely still have moments throughout his childhood where he needs our help or comfort at night (we wouldn’t have it any other way), but now we can be more at ease about nurturing him during thought rough times without the fear of sacrificing months of sleep in the process.

If this was tl:dr for you, here’s a quick summation: our experience with a sleep coach was worth its weight in gold. We’re still not done, but the end is in sight when it comes to the training part of our son’s sleep journey. With these 15 days behind us, I am feeling much more restored having gained back precious hours each night of sleep, and we are equipped with a deeper knowledge of what our son needs and the person he is becoming.

For those of you debating whether or not it is time to pull the trigger and reach out to a sleep coach, I would wholeheartedly say, “DO IT!” If the fees are a concern, our sleep coach has workshops both online and in person that she offers, which can provide enough information to give sleep training on your own a try. Whatever you decide, don’t suffer alone, moms. Ask for help, but be careful where you get advice and how much. Though people have the best intentions, every baby is different and every household, schedule, and parent is different. Advice can only go so far if you don’t also find a way to tailor it to fit your child’s needs, your needs, and your family’s needs.

May the counting sheep, cow jumping over the moon, and twinkle little stars out there grace you fellow sleep-less parents with more sleep-filled nights than even your wildest dreams can imagine. Hang in there. One day, one day…  

Recommended Reading

The Sleep Lady’s Good Night Sleep Tight: Gentle Proven Solutions to Help Your Child Sleep Well and Wake Up Happy, by Kim West

Loved to Sleep: Nurture Your Baby to Sleep with Minimal to No Crying, by Jen Varela and Andrea Strang

How Clean is Your Sleep?

While we were all talking about clean eating in 2016, clean SLEEPING is the hot topic for 2017. It’s one of the biggest health trends this year – and at first glance, one of the most appealing to sleep-challenged parents.

It was Gwyneth Paltrow and her Goop team who kick started it off claiming that a clean night’s sleep is not only good for you mentally, but the key to ageing gracefully, staying slim and having good hair. What’s not to love?

In a nutshell, it consists of at LEAST seven or eight hours of good, interrupted, high quality sleep each night.

This is the point where all new moms spit out their cold cups of coffee laughing hysterically….. interrupted sleep? You’re kidding right? Paaaaah ha ha! Good one.

Yeah, we know. This is maybe possible with toddlers (I said maybe!) and older, but this just isn’t possible in the early days of regular night feeds. For a new mom, it can be really, really hard to get the sleep you need.

But the truth is, we all know how important sleep is for our overall health and wellbeing. And while we can’t all be like Gwyneth and have 7-8 hours every night, perhaps we can and should still treat ourselves to a clean sleep every now and then. It’s not admitting defeat or cheating – it’s RECHARGING! It’s essential.

So, if you have the full support of a partner or family member, here’s how you can live like Gwyneth for a day and plan for the odd clean night’s sleep.

  • If breastfeeding, build up a supply of breast milk in the fridge and ask your partner take all the night feeds
  • Plan to sleep in a separate room away from your baby to minimize the familiar sounds of their wake up calls
  • Get outside and exercise during the day – take baby for a stroll and enjoy the fresh air
  • Stop drinking caffeine around 4pm
  • Avoid alcohol before bed
  • Set yourself a bed time – and STICK TO IT! There will always be a household job to do. Just this one time, let it wait until tomorrow
  • In fact, set your bed time one hour earlier than you plan to fall asleep, and use that hour before bed as quiet, relaxing time, free of duties AND Facebook is tempting, but it too can wait!
  • Keep your phone on silent. And away from your bed
  • And SLEEP!

The likelihood is that you will probably wake up on auto pilot the first couple of times you try and switch off – after all, you are so in tune with your little one’s needs and sounds! But perhaps after a few attempts, once you realize your partner has it all under control, or once you have established more of a sleep schedule with your little one, you can get a clean night of 7-8 hours and wake up feeling like a new mama! Because you really do deserve it ladies! And often.

Happy snoozing.

 

May is Better Sleep Month

BabiesinBloom_KelseySmithPhotography2015(PrintResolution300PPINativeFile)-41“SLEEP?” we hear many of you cry. “What’s that?!”

If you are struggling to get your baby to sleep through the night, don’t worry, you’re not alone. We know it can be HARD. And when you feel like you have tried everything, we know it can feel relentless. You’re exhausted. Defeated. Overwhelmed. You’re just not you.

‘Better Sleep Month’ is all about encouraging people to seek and establish better, healthier sleeping patterns. So what better time is there than now to take a moment and virtually hug, empower and support all our sleep deprived parents out there! It WILL get better, we promise you.

First, stop telling yourself you’ve messed up. That’s just the exhaustion talking, coupled up with the obligatory mom guilt that we all know and hate. Just because your friend’s baby is sleeping 11 hours a night at nine months, doesn’t mean you have done it all wrong. There is no ‘one size fits all’ way to do this. No two babies are wired the same.

Second, it is never too late to fix it. Good sleep habits can be learned at any age says Jen Varela, our wonderful friend and Sleep Coach, be it six months or five years old.

Under the age of six months, we are not talking about sleep training, but sleep shaping. This is all about sleep hygiene and simply identifying the methods used to get baby to sleep. From around three months, small incremental steps can be taken to make adjustments in how your baby sleeps at night – this is because most infants take about 12 weeks to fully produce melatonin, the “sleep hormone.” So for example, instead of nursing him/her to sleep, simply try rocking instead. Don’t worry, baby will let you know if it is too soon to make that change. And if it is, just hit pause on this shift for a little while and then try again.

Sleep training is generally recommended for babies six months or older. This is when you use a specific method, over a period of time, and then start removing ‘sleep crutches’ to enable baby to self sooth and put his/herself to sleep.

Third, let’s be real. There will ALWAYS be tears. There is no getting away from this. But our expert Jen’s goal is always to have as little crying as possible, and to avoid ‘toxic stress.’ She believes there is a big difference between tears in arms and not. If a baby is crying in arms, there is a stress buffer there by way of the nurturing parent, vs. things like the detached ‘cry-it-out’ method. Sleep training needn’t be a battle – it CAN be gentle and successful.

Jen runs regular Gentle Sleep Coaching workshops at our Boutique, so if you feel like you need to get a better idea on methods, or just feel like you need a darn miracle, please register. She may be the Fairy Godmother you have been looking for. We promise you, no question will be a stupid question, and no case is a hopeless one. Stay strong folks – this too shall pass!