Guess who did't sleep last night!


I still remember how much I had laughed when I first saw this picture! At that time my son was about ten months old and he still used to wake me up two to three times every night. However that was a big improvement! Until then he was waking me up almost every hour. Every night.

So if you have a baby or toddler who can not sleep continuously at night, believe me I know very well what you are going through! I have experienced the physical exhaustion, anxiety, frustration, despair and anger any parent  is feeling when deprived of sleep for a long period. Back then I felt remorse for these negative feelings. Now I know that my son was a "high need baby" and I understand that unfortunately we begin the journey of motherhood / fatherhood totally unprepared. No one is training us for the most beautiful and at the same time most difficult task of our lives. During pregnancy an expectant mom will receive a lot of  information surrounded by a pink or blue cloud. Information mostly related to nursery furnishing and decorating, baby clothes and cosmetics, strollers and car seats. Unfortunately new parents are not bombarded by numerous articles and brochures referring to the major changes a baby will bring to their everyday life- one of them being sleep disorder and rest deprivation.I started my quest for better and longer sleep by reading a book suggested by several more experienced parents. Sleep expert Dr. Eduard Estivill claims that with the method proposed in his book "Sleep My Child" babies and toddlers are trained in just one week to fall asleep easily and stay asleep throughout the night. According to his approach at bedtime a parent should put the baby in the crib, withdraw from the room and if the baby cries or asks him/her to return he/she should enter the nursery after gradually increasing intervals in order to comfort only verbally the child with no physical contact. I know parents who have implemented this method and saw a change in their child's sleep behavior in the very first week! However all of them told me it was a very difficult and stressful procedure, especially during the first 2-3 nights when their baby would almost endlessly cry.Even while reading the first pages of the book I had decided that I would not apply this tactic to my baby. The author himself notes that this method is not suitable for babies younger than six months and for babies or toddlers who have difficulty falling asleep due to colic, teething or some other disease. Which practically means that the method suggested by Dr. Estivill is inapplicable or even worse dangerous for babies younger than two years, which is the age they start speaking and may be in the position to express the discomforts that keep them from sleeping tight. I am thinking of how lucky I was! I did not resort to this solution and yet my son started sleeping without interruptions during the night just as he became 16 months old and after the majority of his teeth had come out. Could that be a coincidence, I wonder.
On the contrary, three other books helped me a lot to clear negative emotions, to deal patiently with sleepless nights and to tenderly guide my baby towards the path of restful sleep.The first book, "The Baby Sleep Book: The Complete Guide to a Good Night's Rest for the Whole Family (Sears Parenting Library)" written by pediatrician Dr Sears, father of eight children, helped me understand the physiology of infants and why most babies are not programmed to sleep throughout the night without frequent awakenings. It is a comprehensive, reassuring, solution-filled guide for parents who are trying to match the nighttime temperament of their baby to their own lifestyle and provides practical tools for improving the quality of sleep for the whole family. 

You will find it here.

Prior to writing her book "The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night: Foreword by William Sears, M.D. by Elizabeth Pantley (2002)", Elizabeth Pantley collaborated with many mothers and their babies worldwide. Her research resulted to an effective strategy of simple steps that gradually leads babies and their families to peaceful nights without tears and stressful situations. In this book you will read how to:
  • discover what really prevents your baby from sleeping all night long,
  • determine the biological sleep rhythms of your baby,
  • create a customized step by step plan to help your baby sleep better
  • teach your baby to fall sleep without breast-feeding, bottle-feeding, or using a pacifier.

You will find it here.

The third book I suggest is "Τα μωρά είναι άνθρωποι της νύχτας" by Katerina Chrysanthopoulou. Finally a book written in Greek defending babies that do not sleep through the night, revealing taboos and entrenched beliefs about baby sleep and suggesting mild methods to facilitate their sleep without any physical, mental and emotional burdens on family members. 

You will find it here. 

These three books will definitely teach you how not to worry, not to be anxious and above all not to get upset if your baby or infant keeps waking up several times during the night. I promise you, this period will end someday and as Dr Sears says, these early years and difficult nights are just a fraction of the beautiful life you will have with your child!

Aromatherapy can also help your baby sleep better. If it is older than one year place at a safe spot in the nursery a bowl with warm water and 2-3 drops of lavender essential oil. The sweet smell of lavender will relax your baby and you.

You will find lavender essential oil here.

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