What Grandmas Know About Babies Sleeping Through The Night Predates the Studies and Shows The Value of Experience

finland-masterThere is no better teacher than experience when it comes to babies and sleeping through the night.  Grandmas have the edge over the studies.  New parents hold their precious cargo and the joy of the newborn is overwhelming. . . until the first night home from the hospital when caring for the newborn is overwhelming.  As new mothers, we grandmas never forget feeling like zombies with sleep deprivation.  The round the clock three hour feeding schedule feels like a treadmill that one cannot get off.  It seems that this period will never end.

Finally, the baby sleeps one longer stretch of four hours, then five hours, then six hours.  Each segment allows for feeling a little more normal. . . even wanting to shower and dress.  It is only later than someone will remember to tell the parents that a newborn must be at least nine pounds to be able to “sleep through the night.”  Then, every ounce is important.

Trying to decide whether to go with demand feeding or get the baby on a schedule is most difficult when a new parent who cannot think after nights of sleeplessness.  That is why this Grandma knows the best gift for new parents. . . an expert in their home.  A baby nurse!  Whether one can afford just a few days round the clock or a night nurse, from experience, we grandmas know the value of help.  If grandma can be sleep deprived, grandma can act in this role for free, but it takes a toll physically on the grandma too. See post: “The baby nurse–the best EXPENSIVE gift you can give your newborn grandchild”.

This Grandma always says that babies MUST smile around six weeks.  If not, parents could not take the abuse one more day.  Finally, there is positive feedback from the baby and all the sleep deprivation seems worthwhile.  Then, as soon as the parents feel that there is actually a sleep schedule, the baby starts teething and waking up during night again.

Now, there are the theories of how to get babies to sleep through the night.  This Grandma has written previously about GG (great grandmother’s) mantra, “little children, little problems, big children, big problems.”  Translated, don’t sweat the small stuff.  It does not matter how we parent as long as we love and care for the children, the children will be okay.  It is hard to tell that to sleep deprived parents, while they are going through the baby periods of sleeplessness.

The issue for the parents is depression and guilt.  And the studies concentrate more on this about the parents, as well as whether any methodology in getting a baby to sleep through the night is better than another. So, now we find that the studies confirm GG’s theory.  Looking at three methods used to get babies to sleep through the night, and examining what happens as a result brings us to the conclusion that it does not matter.  The children will be okay and whatever method used does not harm the parent child attachment.

In the New York Times,May 24, 2016,  in “Parents Shouldn’t Feel Guilty About Training Babies to Sleep,” Dr. Perri Klass, reports:

“In a study published this week in the journal Pediatrics, 43 infants in Australia, 6 to 16 months old, all healthy, but identified by their parents as having sleep problems, were randomized to three different groups. In one group, the parents tried graduated extinction, the technique in which babies are allowed to cry for short, prescribed intervals over the course of several nights. The second group tried a technique called bedtime fading, in which parents delay bedtime in 15-minute increments so the child becomes more and more tired. And the third group, as a control, was just given sleep information.”

You can find the study here.

You can find Dr. Perri Klass’ article here.

This study and a previous 2012 study showed that all methods eventually work.  The baby will be fine and sleep through the night, and the parents will be fine and sleep through the night.

The take away is that the parent must do what the parent feels comfortable doing.  This Grandma tried every method for the eldest child when a newborn, and nothing seemed to work.  So, I rocked the eldest to sleep, as less painful than letting her cry.  When a toddler, the eldest pushed me away and said “no yok,” (could not say “r” for rock), “cib” for “crib.”  This was traumatic for me, the parent who was going to be kinder and gentler any of the methods.

Experience.  What matters most is what ultimately works for the parents and then works for the babies and that this period of development can be a period of joyful parenting. . .sometimes. There are two other articles, one by Dr. Perri Klass, which talks about temperament of the baby and how that affects the ability to soothe a newborn.  This Grandma experienced this with the second baby in the family. See this article:

But what it took almost forty years to learn is that colic, which the second baby was diagnosed with is now the acid reflux of this generation.  We never know what and when new theories or scientific advances are going to provide us with the answers we crave when we have a baby.

Experience.  What matters second most, if there is such a thing, is that grandma’s help is invaluable.  We can be the respite.  We can provide the cost of respite.  We can watch and listen.  Remember, to keep advice to the minimum, as new theories come out daily as we can see, and anything we say will be considered outdated and dated.  But, being around, we grandmas can watch and help and look out for the well being of the baby, and the parents.  See previous post: “Depression of Either or Both Parents of Our Grandchildren, Before or After the Birth, is Something We Grandmas Can Identify and Should” at this link.

There is a third article which this Grandma loved as enlightening, as to the importance of new parents having help and oversight. In, “Why Finland’s Newborns Sleep in Cardboard Cribs,” July 6, 2016, New York Times, the author Eli Rosenberg, answers the question:

“At a glance, it seems a strange place to put a newborn: a bit of bedding and a miniature sleeping bag arranged in a cardboard box. Even so, that’s the first place that many Finnish infants lay their little heads. And the simple setup is believed to be one reason that Finland now has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world – 2.52 for every 1,000 births, less than half that of the United States.”

“Finland provides all mothers-to-be with a baby box, but there’s a string attached. To receive it, the mother has to undergo a medical exam during the first four months of pregnancy.”

“Each year the government gives away about 40,000 of the boxes, which come with bedding and about 50 other baby items, including clothes, socks, a warm coat and even a baby balaclava for the icy Nordic winter. (Mothers who don’t need all those items can choose to get 140 euros instead, or about $155.). . . .The program started in the late 1930s, when nearly one of out 10 infants in Finland died in their first year. The boxes were a low-cost way to encourage women to set aside old habits and see a doctor during pregnancy. They also provided a safe place outside of parents’ beds for infants to sleep, in homes that might have only rudimentary furniture.”

The system is being expanded to England and other countries, and private agencies are starting to put the system into place in Minnesota.  This Grandma learned through grandchildren that even sleeping in parents’ beds is okay too.  See previous post: “As the Grandma Sandwich, This Grandma Rethinks “The Family Bed”.

So, where the baby sleeps and how and when the baby sleeps will be the primary focus of life in the early months of life.  “Little children, little problems.”  This too shall pass.  Very little matters so long as the baby comes into a loving and caring home where his or her best interest is most important to the caregivers.  See previous post: There is Now Proof that Our Children and Grandchildren Will Survive Parenting “Mistakes”.

And, we grandparents are an essential and integral part of helping to make the grandchild’s home loving and caring which brings us and the parents and grandchild

 

Joy,

 

Mema

 

 

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