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  • Beth

10 Top Tips For Anyone In The 3am Mind Games Club

I was talking to some mums in a class recently and it they were talking about those thoughts you have when you are up with your baby in the middle of night. It might feel like you are all alone but you really aren’t. There are mums (and dads) everywhere up with you. And although you might not know it they are probably all thinking the same things as you.


This is the time to start questioning everything. It’s dark, you are probably the only one up in your house (aside from your baby obviously and they aren’t much help!), you are exhausted, this isn’t the first time you have been up tonight, and probably not the second either, you want to get back to sleep and you want your baby to be settled.


You could dealing with a whole host of stuff in the middle of the night. Baby won’t stop feeding, baby wants to play/chat/practice new skills, a baby with trapped wind or who really needs to poo, baby a bit under the weather, baby who just won’t be put down, or who can’t go to back to sleep. It doesn’t really matter what the reasons are it’s just so much harder to deal with anything in the middle of the night compared to the day time. And, of course, you know that dealing with stuff in the day is much easier if you have had a good sleep.


This is when we start over thinking and probably over googling. What’s the weirdest thing you have searched for in the middle of the night? I’m sure it’s also a great time for internet retailers, particularly the ones selling sleep solutions. Ever wondered about a parcel that turns up and eventually you discover it was a middle of the night impulse buy?


Where do our minds go in those dark hours? Well the I think the most common thing is sleep!


Why does someone else’s baby sleep longer than mine? Why do they need to feed so often at night? Why did they sleep longer last week and now they don’t seem to be able to? Is it because we didn’t have time for a bath? Or maybe because we had a great day out? Are nap times wrong, did I let them sleep too late this afternoon? Should I stop feeding to sleep? Is walking them up and down or rocking better? Should I stop rocking them? When do babies fall asleep by themselves? When do babies sleep all night? What did we do that time they slept for 5 hours? Am I creating bad habits? Will be doing this for years? When will we ever sleep again?


It's so hard. When you are pregnant everyone jokingly tells you about the lack of sleep, expectant parents absolutely know that sleep will be really hard with a baby, some are anxious about it before baby arrives if they know they need a good sleep to function. But the reality is something you can’t prepare for and can’t really appreciate because it is different to anything most of us have experienced before.


We’ve all had bad nights or late nights and early starts but then you can usually catch up over the next day or two. Have a lie in or a nap. But that doesn’t always happen when you have a baby, the lack of sleep is every night for weeks or months and you need to make an effort to find any chance to catch up because babies need looking after and you might need someone else there while you have a decent sleep. It is a whole new level of tired and it can really mess with your mind.


Add on to that all the ‘helpful’ comments from friends, family and complete strangers that are also making you question whether you are getting it right or if you have in fact broken your baby or set up years of misery by creating bad sleep habits or associations.


Where does this all leave you when you are sat in the dark at 3am doubting all your parenting decisions?


There are a few things I would really like you to remember;

1.      You are not alone. Not only are there many, many other parents having a tough night they are also doubting themselves just as much as you are.

2.      Some babies do sleep really well from a young age; most do not. Those people telling you how amazing their baby is are either exaggerating, forgetting what it was like or one of the lucky few.

3.      This is not forever. It might feel like it and, if I am honest, it will probably be months rather than weeks but it is not forever.

4.      You haven’t broken your baby. Sleep changes all the time. Growth spurts, developmental progression, teething, illness and a million and one other reasons. It gets better, it gets worse, it doesn’t improve in a linear manner from birth.

5.      No bad habits. Your baby needs help to fall asleep or stay asleep at the moment. If you decide whatever you are doing is a bad habit and stop you will more than likely need to replace it with something else. As babies get older (nearer 12 months) it is easier to make changes to sleep associations as you have more options but tiny babies just want to feed to sleep or be cuddled to sleep. If you take away feeding to sleep you will need to do something else like rocking.

6.      Trust your instincts. If it feels like the right approach for you and your baby then go for it. There are endless books and endless products promising success with sleep. If it really worked there wouldn’t be so many of them! If you are doing something that works for you and someone tells you it is wrong, take a moment to think. If it feels the right thing to you and everyone is safe then it’s the right thing for you. Thank them and politely say you are happy as you are.

7.      Your baby’s sleep isn’t anyone else’s business. One of the most helpful things I read when I was finding things hard with my eldest was to stop and think about whose problem the sleep was. Was it mine, my mum’s, my friend’s, my mother-in-law’s etc. Ultimately it doesn’t really matter to those people, only you. Of course, they won’t want to see you struggling but if you are ok with the night feeds then carry on.

8.      Asking for help isn’t a bad thing. If you need someone to sit with your baby for a few hours while you take a nap then go for it. It isn’t a sign of weakness or not coping, and you will feel so much better for a bit of a sleep catch up.

9. Get out! Go for a walk with your baby, get some fresh air and meet with other mums or dads. Find your tribe, the ones who are honest and who you can be yourself with. Having those friends to message at 3am can be a lifesaver.

10.      You are AMAZING! This is tough. Possibly the hardest thing you have ever done and maybe something you are putting yourself under the most pressure to get right. But you are doing it and doing it brilliantly.


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