Miracle of miracles – I am writing this blog post having just put Frankie down for her second nap of the day (at 11.40am) and after grizzling her head off for a few minutes, she had self settled by 11.45am. Has someone swapped Frankie for another baby?
We had a great session with all the mums with babies under 6 months this morning with one of the nurses, who was a whirlwind of brilliant information. She said at the start – “don’t worry, you won’t need to take many notes” – but of course, I found myself writing non-stop. Note to self: bring iPad to next session.
Here are some tips from this morning (keeping in mind these are tips for 6 months and under):
Feed 3-5 hourly during the day, and within 15 minutes of getting the baby out of the cot. Allow a 45 minutes window for feeding – after this time, the Milk Bar is officially closed. The reason for this is to teach the baby that milk does not flow on tap around here. Prior to sleep school, Frankie was a major snacker. In my pre-admission interview with Masada, the nurse said to try to stretch Frankie out to 3 hourly feeds (just extending each window by 5 minutes until we could reach 3 hours). The snacking cycle is hard to break – but important to break as it helps babies feed better.
A little trick to help wind the baby is to sit them in a bouncer or swing (or something where they are a bit upright) straight after a burp – this mixes burp time with play time. Who knew that babies could multitask at such a young age 🙂
As tempting as it is to multitask while I am feeding (I feel so “inefficient” if I don’t have my mobile phone or ipad in hand or on lap when I am feeding), one of the nurses suggested just focus on the feeding when they are feeding – especially during our time here at Masada where we don’t have the duties and distractions of the outside world. This will allow me to actually focus on whether Frankie is feeding properly. She shared a story about a mum who was constantly on the laptop while feeding, and she never noticed that her baby never wanted to feed from one side – which was the side by the laptop.
There were a few comments on Facebook about babies becoming dependent on pitch black rooms. This was brought up this morning and it was recommended that after Masada, we try to stick to the “Masada rules” for 2 weeks (as strictly as we can), and as the bub learns to become a better sleeper, you can slowly let more light into the room, and they will also naturally become better at sleeping in the pram, car, grandma’s, etc too.
Apparently hiccups are a tired sign. Who knew?
For morning naps, try to do three sleep cycles (one sleep cycle is around 45 minutes). This is the most important nap of the day – seems to get them off to a good start for the rest of the day.
Remove all mobiles from above the bed. It is critical that there are no distractions for the baby. This is especially important between sleep cycles to help them move effortlessly from one sleep cycle to the next.
When putting the baby down to sleep, give them a rub on the chest and say “time for sleep”. Another thing to help them recognise that it is NOT time to play.
For the overnight sleep, always wrap the baby in the cot and if they need changing in the middle of the night – change them in the cot. This is something we had never done – but am excited to do this. If you move them out of the cot for these activities, the baby might mistakenly think that it is play time.
If they don’t settle, come in, and do a gentle shhhhh. Don’t say their name (you are not here to play and interact). Then start the Masada Pat Pat (my name for it, not theirs…). To do this:
1. Place the baby on its side, facing away from you.
2. Say “shhhh” in a calming way (ideally until she stops crying).
3. Cup your hands like you are holding an egg and with one hand on the baby’s shoulder and the other on the hip, do a fast pat. Place slightly less pressure on the shoulder pat because it doesn’t have a nappy as a cushion. Count to 100.
4. Change to a slower paced pat. Count to 100. The idea is to bore them back to sleep (and hopefully you don’t get bored to back to sleep while you are doing it).
5. If they are still crying or grizzling, do another round of the slower pats.
6. Keep your hand still on your bub’s shoulder, and then do a single pat on the hip for 50 counts. Start slowing right down for the final few pats.
7. Move the baby back onto it’s back.
8. Walk out.
Finally, never go backwards in the steps. I asked “why not”? The nurse replied “because you don’t want to be in there all night”. Fair enough.
And here are some tips for play time:
– Do tummy time midway through a play. You don’t want to do it right after a feed (too much pressure on the tummy) and too close to bed time (hello grizzle city).
– If you have a playmate (like Frankie does), swap the mobiles that hang above it from time-to-time to give the baby a bit of variety. This may sound really obvious to some people, but a good thing to be reminded off nonetheless.
– Spend the last five minutes of every play time doing “wind down”. This involves changing the nappy, then reading a story (rhymes are good) or singing a low key song (like Twinkle Twinkle little star). By doing this before every nap time, they will start to associate this with “time to sleep”.
Keep your comments and questions coming! It’s lovely to know that this blog is helping some sleep deprived mummas 🙂