15 Tips for Surviving the World’s Youngest Insomniac
Apr 2 2008

babytips.gifI babble about business, babies, and parenthood on this blog, so those of you who come here to read my posts on entrepreneurship but do not have babies, please forward this post to your friends and family who do have babies. For those who have babies and dabble in business, these tips might be right up your alley.  If you have babies and no interest in business, then send it on to the folks you know who are knee-deep in business and encourage them to have a baby!  To read other great tips, check out the baby tips category

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Rose is a mother of one very energetic daughter (age 2 1/2) with another on the way in late August. Her blog, From the Park Bench, is about the latest in parenting news from recalls, to scientific research to fun stuff like which celebrities are expecting. It includes a feature to allow readers to submit stories they think would interest other parents. Before deciding to stay home with her daughter she was a senior software engineer for a Silicon Valley startup. In her “spare time” she loves to read, garden, experiment in the kitchen, hike, camp and play with computer programming.

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15 Tips for Surviving the World’s Youngest Insomniac
by Rose of From the Park Bench

I remember reading that babies sleep soundly for at least 4 hours right after labor. After being up all night I really looked forward to that sleep. However, the authors forgot to inform my new daughter. Sleep? Why would I sleep when everything is so new and interesting! Thus began life with our youngest insomniac. At a year old she still slept like a 3 month old. At two years a full nights sleep was still a 50/50 proposition. Our pediatrician even gave up on the it will get better when she’s older speech and started greeting my daughter with “So how’s my youngest insomniac?” So what can you do if it turns out your baby, well, sure doesn’t sleep like a baby! Here are 15 tips that helped us survive the first couple of years:

  1. Read The Happiest Baby on the Block and try all 5 soothing steps. The directions in the book are detailed and a life saver.
  2. Get a Miracle Blanket. It is the best swaddle blanket I ever tried. My daughter could fight her way out of almost any swaddle except this blanket. (Wash it often to keep it stiff for a snugger swaddle.)
  3. Get a sling. Babies that don’t sleep usually need a lot of soothing even when you are all awake. I ate out a lot more and had cleaner clothing thanks to my sling. Here’s an article I wrote about my favorite.
  4. Get help! Get a maid to clean every two weeks. Order more take out.
    Take up family friends for offers of cleaning, food, holding a baby while you take a nap, etc. If you are up all night you are not going to have the brain power to do everything during the day. Please don’t kill your sanity trying.
  5. Do your research. I really liked the book Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child because it told me what sleep patterns I should expect for what age. Sleep got a little better when I realize I was actually waiting too long for naps and she was overtired. (I ignored the cry it out advice the author gave and it was still very useful.)
  6. Trust your instincts. I spent the first 9 months of my daughters life trying to convince her pediatrician that something was wrong. I wish I had pushed harder because at 9 months hidden reflux became daily vomiting. Turned out she had food allergies that had been progressively getting worse since birth. (A tummy ache is a very good reason to be a bad sleeper.)
  7. Keep a food journal if you are breast feeding. Try a hypoallergenic formula if using formula. In our case we would have had a lot more sleep if I had figured out her allergy before she was 1.5 years old.
  8. You don’t need to be 100% baby focused. I remember a friend telling me that nursing was for bonding and I should spend every moment looking deep into my babies eyes. Well I forgot to ask how often her baby nursed. Mine nursed for most of the hours normal babies sleep. After almost having a nervous breakdown I gave up on 100% deep gazing. I read, surfed, made phone calls, watched a movie, grocery shopped (very discrete with a sling and blanket), etc. She got attention but I got some sanity.
  9. Research safe co-sleeping. I’m not suggesting you actually do so. That’s a personal choice. We chose not to. However figure how to do it safely before you are dead tired, tempted and don’t realize you are doing it dangerously.
  10. Remember you don’t need to be a perfect mom or dad, just a good enough one.
  11. See if you can get a longer maternity leave. If you can afford it seriously consider it. Lack of sleep at night is much more doable if you can take a nap at 2pm when your baby finally decides to take a 3 hour nap.
  12. Get a crib soother. Yes, I also thought I should hold my daughter every waking moment or the mommy police would start judging me. It’s ok to put down a happy awake baby in a safe location and try and get some desperately needed sleep.
  13. Remember every child is different and you are the judge on what works, even if your mother-in-law, best friend, coworker swears by it. I have a list of all the not so useful advice people have given me. “I’m really glad your kid is a great sleeper because you had them sleep in a bright noisy room for the first 6 months. I guess all my problems would be gone if I had only tried that! Oh, wait I did! And she was up for 12 hours strait!”
  14. No matter how desperate do NOT put a baby who can’t roll over to bed on their belly. The back to sleep program has dramatically cut the nations SIDs rate. That’s one piece of extended sleep that is never worth the risk.
  15. Remember it will get better! Even in our extreme case at 2.5 years my daughter sleeps through the night most nights. (That blessing requires cooking all her food from scratch with an eagle eye for allergens but well worth the tradeoff for everyone!))

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If you like this tip, you might be interested in these too:

How To Properly Swaddle A Baby 

Tips on Co-Sleeping and Ways to use a Co-sleeper

Keeping a Baby Food Journal by Neena at A Mom’s Life at NeenMachine.com

Increasing Breast Milk Supply by Carole Hayes at Alias Tex

15 Tips for Traveling with Baby by Maryam Scoble of Maryamie

Note to new readers: these tips are based on our experiences, as well as those of our friends and readers. Please always consult with your doctor before implementing any tip that might impact the health of your baby. If you have a tip you’d like to submit please send an email to blogger at babblesoft dot com.  Please check the ‘baby tips’ category to make sure your tip (in some form or fashion) hasn’t already been posted. If it has been, feel free to comment on that post and support the tip. We also welcome respectful challenges to the tips because as is noted in our inaugural baby tip ‘everything is relative!’ We will, of course, give anyone who submits a tip we publish credit and lotsa link love!

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