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The Essential List for the Expectant Nigerian Mum – Part 2: Sleeping Arrangements

December 09, 2017 1 Comment

The Essential List for the Expectant Nigerian Mum – Part 2: Sleeping Arrangements

I remember when I just had Lulu I literally wanted him as close to me as possible. I would smell his soft baby skin and all would be right with the world. And then when he finally latched properly and we got a good nursing rhythm…ahhhh bliss! It was me, my baby and the rest of the world came a distance third (hubby included!). I literally didn’t want to share him with anyone, I wanted to be in charge of everything and even though I had other loved ones ready to help, I would do every single ‘feed, burp, change, rock and put down’ routine myself. Well you can't blame me, he is literally too cute to share :-)

You see in my mind, I was this zen earth Mama nursing her young but in actual fact I literally looked like a red eyed monster who had zero sleep and forgot what a comb looked like. Eventually my loving husband had to say “STOP! I need to help you, I promise I won’t break him”. I think he might have later regretted those words though, because once I remembered how good it felt to sleep, I swear I would just give him or my MIL Lulu and run off to catch some zzzz’s.

Ok I’m sure you’ve looked back at the title of this blog post a couple of times to check if we are still talking about Sleeping Arrangements for your baby. Don’t worry, I’m going somewhere with this!

Thing is, before you go out to buy that pretty crib, Moses basket, pack n play or any of the other myriad of options available, make sure you understand what your family set up is going to be during the first few months. If baby is going to be moved from nursery, to the master bedroom, to the guest bed room to sleep with MIL or to the living room to have a nap while you watch Jenifa’s Diary, then the baby bed you buy has to be mobile, compact and not cumbersome else you will end up buying like 4 different items to meet one simple need – baby sleeping peacefully! Also if you are like me and want baby as close to you as possible you will probably want to co-sleep – whether that means having baby in your bed or getting a co-sleeper.

Irrespective of whatever sleeping method you prefer, your munchkin will need somewhere safe and sturdy to sleep in. I fully recommend a crib ( I was sooo crazy & in full blown nesting mode, so I set mine up myself while 7months pregnant) but to be honest you won’t need it till baby is like 3 to 4months – in fact most paediatricians will suggest your baby stay in your room for those first months. However, there’s nothing as emotionally rewarding as walking into your baby’s nursery while pregnant….you will feel all the feels I tell ya!

I am not going to prescribe what you should buy but I will try to be as unbiased as possible because I definitely have my faves and hates. I will also recommend some tips* on how to ensure baby sleeps better at night.

*Tips are tips, sometimes they work, and sometimes they don’t. Don’t beat yourself up if they don’t work for your baby. It just means he or she is even more special and you have to spend a bit more time understanding their unique needs.

0 -4months (4th Trimester)

The first three months of your baby’s life is basically them adjusting to life outside your womb so it might be helpful to view it as the ‘4th Trimester’. You have only one job – helping them navigate this our weird world as safely and as painlessly as possible. Almost like your ‘School Mother’ in boarding school helped you transition and make sense of your new surroundings. However, just like a School Mother does – you and not baby should dictate the sleeping schedule even at this early period. Yeah I know, controversial right!

I can already see all the baby-led mummies giving me evils. E ma binu o but what you need to remember is that in utero, your baby was awake when you were asleep and asleep when you were up and about. So now that she’s been born, you have to gradually transition and guide her to a daytime schedule. Else you will be dealing with an 11month old who still wakes up a zillion times at night, wanting to be fed and held. Err..so not fun!!!

So how do you do this transition thing? The trick is in the feeding my sister – Frequent Daytime Feeds & Cluster Feeding at night. So basically during the day, try to feed your baby every 2-3hours timing from the beginning of the last feed to the beginning of the next feed. Wake them from day naps if you must, especially so they are not sleeping too much during the day. Once baby is about a month old start cluster feeding at night which essentially means you feed your baby frequently before bed time. So if ‘bedtime’ is around 8pm feed them at 6pm, then at 7pm and then a little top up just before you put him down. This is so that you’ve filled their bellies and they can go longer before waking up hungry. Another trick is to put baby to bed closer to when you go to bed, so if you go to bed around 10pm then that's when you put baby down to sleep. Hopefully she will sleep till 1 or 2 am - you feed, burp, change, rock and back to sleep and then hubby takes over at 4 so you can sleep till dawn. #WhateverWorks

So where should they sleep?

Option 1: A Portable Bassinet

Fisher-Price Rock n Play Bassinet or Fisher Price Rock n Play Sleeper

I love this product! Ok so don’t laugh at me but I was using my very nice co-sleeper when I gave birth in the US. However, I mistakenly packed it with the items that were going to be shipped down to Nigeria by the courier company. We got back to Nigeria and I started looking for it – I cried ehn! Anyway I urgently needed to buy something cheap and cheerful so I just bought the Rock n Play Sleeper! Ohmalawd, we completely lucked out because this was the one thing I didn’t research like a loonie before buying. When I first saw it, I was like ‘hmmmnn this thing looks flimsy o’ but I won’t lie it does the job! It’s lightweight and easy to move around the house and perfect for room sharing. If your baby has bad reflux that’s not letting him sleep well, get this! It has an incline so it’s particularly good for babies with reflux. Be aware though, the fact that it is not completely flat and firm means that it’s not completely SID ProofAlso, my baby got a bit of a flat head (its rounded out though) but that’s always the case if your baby is constantly sleeping or napping on their backs.
 

 Option 2: A Pack n Play

The most famous brand is the Graco Pack ‘n Play and it’s certainly my favorite. Some come with a “Newborn Napper” feature that sits on top of the Pack ‘n Play. This comes at an extra cost but comes in really handy during the first few months. You can also get the basic no frill one with a bassinet attachment so that you can move the bed up if you want.

The best thing about it is that you can move the Pack ‘n Play around your house fairly easily and it assembles and disassembles in about 30 seconds. When taken down, it folds into a portable package that you can easily take anywhere. I basically believe every family should have used this, be it you want to look after the baby in the sitting room or visiting grandma, it comes in very handy. We actually have 2 - one at grandmas and a big one in our living room where Lulu plays while I cook.

Option 3: A Co-Sleeper

If you want to grab your baby to nurse at night without even having to get up then this is certainly the best arrangement for you. A co-sleeper attaches to your bed like a “sidecar,” I used the Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper and I cannot recommend it enough (it basically sold out on the site at the speed of light!) It’s a play yard, bassinet and co-sleeper all in one. You can drop the sides and attach it to your bed or you can roll up the side and it becomes a free standing bassinet. Its compact, has a storage compartment to keep wipes and diapers so you are not running around in the middle of the night and it comes with wheels so you can easily move it around. Just imagine your baby sleeping on his own bed and you sleeping on yours but you can still stretch your arm to feel him. Such bliss! #Win

 

Option 4: In Your Bed

Many people sleep with the baby in their beds although sincerely I am not a fan of this - I’m in my house comman beat me! Lol on a serious note though, I just feel like it will make it much harder to sleep train the baby and I always wonder how you and hubby will have 'special time'. However, if you are doing this then you are better off with a shielded area for baby. It basically protects your baby from pillows, duvets, and other bulky bedding items that can put the baby in danger (make sure you read the article on SIDs earlier in the post). I can’t imagine a parent accidentally squishing baby in their sleep but, I promise you will sleep better knowing your baby is protected.

Option 5: A Bassinet

Last but not least, you can buy a regular one-trick pony aka bassinet. They usually last for about 3-4 months, and then you would have to transition your baby into a crib or a pack n play. Honestly, there a million and one options when it comes to bassinets - there's the cheap entry level one, the wooden 'heirloom type' ones, the ones that hang from the ceiling (yup!), even some that are stroller compatible! If you are still unsure of what type of bassinets to go for, definitely visit ThinkBaby - basically the most detailed unbiased baby blog ever (I love 'em so I'm totally biased lol). They have a post on bassinets and baby sleeping arrangements with lots of pics n tips!

 

5 months +

Basically, this is the time to prepare baby for all that sleep training and putting them on a routine. When buying a crib, think of the space you want to put the crib in. If baby is going to be sleeping in your room then you want a compact ,no frills crib that can function almost like a co-sleeper. If you need additional storage space for spare blankets and beddings, then get one with a drawer. If baby will start off in your room but move to his own nursery later, it might be beneficial to get one wheels for mobility. 

 

My personal favourite feature is a convertible crib that grows with baby. These ones start off as a simple crib cot, then you can remove one of the side bars and replace with a toddler rail so your munchkin can easily climb out once he is mobile. Some even transform into day beds so your little love can use the same bed till they are in their teens! My heart is racing from all the cha-ching you will save if you cop one of em bad boys! 

If you can, make sure you get a mattress that's hypo-allergenic and free from dust mites and toxic fire retardants. Note that for babies, the firmer the bed the better so don't get any squishy soft mattress just yet. Also read my previous post to get the low-down on swaddles and wearing blankets. Other key must haves include a baby monitor so you can keep an eye on baby if she's no longer in her room and a sound light/mobile for white noise or sweet melodies to lull baby to la la land.

Let me even gist you guys sef. You see my DH (Dear Husband) gave me a push gift and a card. In that card after writing all the mushy stuff he basically said “Let’s Not Mess with our Magic”. I was so over the moon with my gift and basically wearing my love goggles that I somehow agreed to moving Lulu to his room once he turned 4months. When the appointed time came, I caved. I wasn’t ready to let go. My baby all alone in his crib? I started sprinkling anointing oil every night, installed CCTV and wired up the whole house like a CIA agent. In more practical terms, I also made sure Lulu started napping there during the day to get used to the idea. The first night was torture – my mind played all sorts of tricks on me and I didn’t sleep a wink! However, looking back now I am so happy we did it at that time because it coincided with me going back to work which was pretty neat. But it also set the stage for sleep training him later. Till today, Lulu sleeps by 8pm (sometimes as early as 7pm) almost every night. When he wakes up, he just soothes himself with his blanket and goes back to sleep. 

I remember telling another new mom in my office that Lulu had started sleeping in his crib at 4 months. She looked at me like I was the most selfish person ever – like how dare you want to have a semblance of a life, you are a new mom. Girl bye!! I shudder to think what my evenings would have been like if I hadn’t put in a routine!

If you guys follow @Makybenson on Instagram, you will know she has a new book coming out on Sleep Training (can't remember the title) but I will definitely be grabbing a copy. If its anything like Micah's Meals - her cookbook for kids - I know it will be an invaluable resource.

Speaking of cooking, l will be discussing feeding next. That's the second item in the Holy Trinity of Babycare and one of the most important so you don't want to miss it.

While you wait for my next post, (I promise its coming!) do check out and follow this blog - Think Baby - its basically like the bible for new parents everywhere. 

See you guys later!

Cuddles,

g x

 

 




1 Response

J
J

June 08, 2018

Enjoyed reading this!! So apt. This info right here is what a new mom needs.. I must have bought about 10 different sleeping things.. but we ended up co sleeping.. Moses basket, pack and play , crib, she loved her sleep and play bouncer though.. so many thing I’ll do differently for the next baby… I stop and think before buying anything..

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