Put Baby To Sleep

Put Baby To Sleep

Difficult Births or Illness

Babies who have had difficult or long births are sometimes poor sleepers too. Such babies often seem more irritable from the beginning, crying more and spending less time asleep than their contemporaries. They also go on to sleep less well than other children when they are older. Babies who have had difficult births may also have specific health problems caused by the pregnancy or birth which affect their ability to sleep well.

Janet’s daughter Eleanor was delivered by forceps after a failed ventouse, and had a misshapen head and an eye that wouldn’t close where the forceps had caught her:

I stroked the eyelid for a couple of days until it closed. But Eleanor never slept well. She moved all over the place, her blankets were all over. She found it hard to go to sleep and she was constantly waking at night and needing to suck. A year-and-a-half later, when her sister Anna was born, she saw the bottle, latched on to it and carried it round for the next year-and-a-half, sucking all the time. I can remember vividly one Christmas night at a quarter past three she had been screaming for two hours and her scream was going up a pitch at a time. I was at my wits end. Finally I put her dummy in and within two minutes she fell asleep. A relative suggested cranial osteopathy when she was three. The osteopath said there was a lot to do. He said that all her bones were locked up, where they should move, particularly down one side where the forceps had caught her. She had tremendous pressure in her head, especially when she lay down. I explained it to myself by saying that the sucking would have relieved the pressure. The first day after the first treatment she wet the bed. It was a wonderful sign – it told me that she was asleep. Then one day, after three months, she just put the bottle down. It took us six months of treatment to get her to really sleep well. Now she sleeps 12 hours a night.’

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Camlo was in an awkward position in the womb, at the mercy of strong contractions over a long period of time but without the right pressure on the cervix. I am sure the trauma he experienced in himself together with the high dose of adrenalin he got through my sheer terror contributed to his wakefulness later. Being prepared for labour to enable a relatively stress-free birth must be a factor in helping our new babies to sleep better. Also with a caesarean operation you are pumped full of drugs for at least two days – not a good sleep-inducing start. ’

A child who is ill or even just feeling under the weather may well have a disrupted sleep pattern. You’re unlikely to succeed if you try to teach your baby new sleep habits when he is ill. It may be best just to go with it until he is better and more able to respond to your new routine.

Up until 12 weeks David had slept pretty well but then he went into hospital with bronchiolitis and they said we had to feed him every two hours day and night. So, of course, once we got home it was impossible to get him to sleep through. So we gave him time to build himself up and then we began the controlled crying approach.’

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