Friday, April 12, 2019

Advice We Wished We Knew as New Parents

On a faithful afternoon in November 2018, my dear wife and I welcomed our daughter after a long-awaited 40 weeks. Less than a year as husband and wife, we had our (yet another) promotion to parenthood. As compared to the former, this one is literally life-changing and will turn your lives topsy-turvy and in very unexpected ways. Trust me, life - as you know it - will never ever be the same. New responsibilities, change in schedule, and needless to say, a new cause for stress and anxiety. That's right, say good-bye to lots of personal time and sleep. As of the time of writing, we are more than four months into this new role, we are still surviving, taking each day as it is while learning a never-ending list of things.
This post is about advice that we wished we know when we just had our baby, and we thought that it may be of help to new parents. You might have already received tonnes of (unsolicited) advice. I know, I know, we have been there. Your parents telling you one thing, and friends telling you another, there are hundred-and-one methods to sleep train your child, internet resources contradict each other and what not. Read on if you would want to hear our two-cents:

Friday, April 5, 2019

Month #4 - Sleep Training and Sleep Regression?

Whoever says that it will be easier after three months should be hung upside-down. The 4-month milestone sees a SHARP decline in sleep as the baby goes through a heck lot of internal changes - mainly the notorious 4-month sleep regression, and as if that's not enough, BAM. It coincides with the 4-month growth spurt... and a shitnami of things struck:

Frequent wakings
Gone are the days (hopefully temporarily) when baby Olivia could sleep for 5-6 hours straight at night. At four months, she's going through a process called sleep regression, or sleep transitions as experts claim. According to them, the term "regression" means to take a step back, but this is a healthy developmental milestone whereby sleep cycles get adjusted to being more like an adult's. To explain this briefly: One full sleep cycle lasts approximately 45min for babies (it's 90min for adults). Unlike adults, most babies have not learnt how to transit to the next cycle. If you are lucky, they might whimper, shift their bodies slightly, or cry for a few seconds if they have to, and fall right back to sleep for another cycle. Otherwise, parental intervention is needed, such as assurance by patting, humming, or carrying.
Baby, it's not time to wake up yet.

But let's be honest here, waking up every 30-60 minutes (and especially when you are already in deep sleep) sucks big time. For both the baby and the parents. Late last month, we spent between 1 hour to a terrifying 3-4 hours to lull her to sleep, only to have her waking up in 30 minutes. WHAT. Oh, and I can't describe how stressful it is to anticipate involuntarily when she is going to let out a cry. My small heart can't take this.

Heads up from the world of the internet - this process lasts from two to six weeks. To indefinitely. Very helpful information.

Sleep training?
In mid-March, we had a consultant came over to advise us on her feeding and sleeping, and that's when she protested a heck lot. To be fair, weeks of intense rocking, doing squats to make her sleep had already formed some kind of habit. Mummy couldn't take it and cried during the training and even signalled me to end the consultation as soon as possible. It's $200 to have the consultant come over for 3 hours by the way.

Thank God, we started to see the gradual fruits of sleep training - we adopted the gentler shush-pat/pick-up-put-down method. Towards the 4-5th day of sleep training, she's able to sleep in her own cot after 20-30 minutes of shush-pat and minimal rocking, but then sleep regression struck and she's waking up every 45 minutes or so. Uh, what? Here's something to prep ourselves for the near future - we would probably have to restart sleep training every once in a while after certain incidents, such as going overseas, sickness,  and sleep regression. The bad news is that there are approximately five of them until the baby is two years old.

Hey, since we are at this topic, let's delve into sleep training for a little.