When did the word advice become hack?
We’re just coming up to six months in and I feel like we’re getting our lives back on track. The last month we’ve managed to get some time to ourselves and watch some TV programmes as a couple again while our daughter sleeps upstairs. Some people get to this milestone much earlier, some much later. Either way whenever you get there it’s a good place to be and you feel like you could maybe handle this parenting thing!
As a note to myself as much as it is help to others, I wanted to compile five helpful things we have found can make the difference when getting our baby off to sleep. Whether these work for everyone, I don’t know but they have consistently made a difference for us, so they deserve a mention.
One: Sling/Baby Carrier
One of the first things we picked up was a baby carrier. To be honest I think they are all the same, but ours is a Funki Flamingo.
Initially, we found it was massive (our daughter was only 7lb 6oz when born) so I think in the first month we didn’t use it much, but it’s become invaluable when trying to get her off to sleep. When out and about, my wife prefers to use something that she feels is more supportive, as the stretchy fabric could leave you worried about them sinking down over time as you walk, but in the house, it’s my go to when I’ve got a distressed baby, the wrap just pulls them into you and makes them feel secure. I’ve yet to have her stay awake when she’s tired and distressed after ten minutes sat in this, walking around the house. I often combine it with a dummy, which she usually doesn’t like, but the two things work together quite well for us. For the full effect, I combine it with some options from below.
This one might be slightly embarrassing for you, but if you can get over your own embarrassment it’s worth it. In the months leading up to delivery, you should start learning nice soothing songs. Bona fide classics such as “twinkle twinkle little star”, “you are my sunshine” as long as they are soothing and not up beat, so “the wheels on the bus” is a no go for sleep time, obviously!
Not to blow the Welsh trumpet, but I have found that there are some good Welsh classics to reel off that do the job – check out Calon Lan and Bugeilio’r Gwenith Gwyn. There are also English lyric versions of those two, as the tune is the most important. I can’t explain how awesome it feels to be singing and have your child look up at you and just stare into your eyes as you sing them off to sleep.
Can’t or won’t sing? Get hold of spotify and gather some stripped back acoustic versions of these songs so you can get as close to a voice singing as possible.
Finally, if you are ahead of the game and reading this before your baby has arrived, then get started now, mums and dads can start bonding by singing to the bump. Babies can hear from as early as 18 weeks, so you have plenty of time to bond. We sang a quick round of twinkle twinkle little star every night before sleeping and while it initially felt weird, I swear she recognised the song the first time we sang it after she was born, and it helped calm her down.
Three: White noise app
If you’ve got an android phone you’re in luck as the app I use specifically doesn’t exist on iTunes store, but either way you should be able to get hold of a white noise app. The one we use is made by Relaxio, specifically the white noise generator but you will see on their website they have a few.
You have to remember, when in the womb, it is never quiet. The baby is surrounded by the sound of the mother’s heartbeat, the swishing of blood flowing around the body, the muffled sound of conversation. A white noise generator can help replicate this background noise. We discovered by accident how well it worked when we took our daughter to a cafe. Loads of background noise of people talking, and she was out like a light and slept for over an hour. Later than evening I looked up white noise generators and we haven’t looked back. I often combine this with the sling when I’m trying to calm her down.
Four: Rockabye Baby (Fleetwood Mac)
The effect of this album is amazing and it’s our secret weapon when she’s really worked up. I don’t know whether our daughter will grow up to be a big Fleetwood Mac fan or what, but for some reason, the opening track will calm her down, no matter what. If she’s really worked up, feeding is difficult, talking or singing is difficult as she just won’t listen or look at us. Playing this snaps her out of it, and it gives us enough time to get her attention and usually means we can start to get her to calm down for whatever we are trying to do.
I’m not saying this is an instant fix, by playing this music, but we have played it a lot to her, and when we play it we sing along, maybe dance along, so she presumably hears it and is reminded of happy thoughts, which soothes her enough that she stops her crying (at least for the duration of the first track). If Fleetwood Mac isn’t for you, I recommend look at some of the other covers they do!
Dads, if you’re reading this; The first few months are super hard on the mother. Yes she has maternity leave and therefore has the ability to sleep when she wants, whereas you may need sleep to get up for work in the morning, but don’t use that as an excuse for not pulling your weight!
Both parents suffer in the first months, and it’s easy to turn on each other for not doing enough. This is natural, but you have to be honest and realise that you are both trying to achieve the same goal here – raise your beautiful child into the world. My wife is very good at trying to avoid disrupting me in the night if our daughter is keeping us up, and I have to get up for work, but I also ensure that I do what I can in the evenings, and if it really is a bad night, then unfortunately I have to take that on the chin and get up to help out. If that means I have to struggle through work with a few coffees then so be it. Also if the mu is breastfeeding, the other partner might see this as an area in which they cannot help, but it doesn’t mean they can’t change nappies before the feed, or provide cups of tea for the mother! Be proactive and do what you can. Talk about what you need and remember you are in this together!
6 months in and we’re still going through the sleeping dramas, but she goes down before 8pm most nights now, and that’s been a real game-changer for us – though we might have a disruptive night, we get to spend a few hours together between 8 and 11 chatting, cuddling and catching up on some TV like normal people do! It means we have the energy to deal with the nights now, so there is light at the end of the tunnel!