An interesting article came out the other day stating that
“Mothers who are depressed or anxious may disturb their babies’ sleep because
of their constant worry, research has suggested”.
When a baby isn’t sleeping, it can be emotionally draining on new parents. A
lack of sleep puts anyone on edge and can seriously increase tension within the
household. The research, which was carried out at Pennsylvania State
University, suggests that new mothers whose babies are not sleeping will seek
out emotional comfort by picking their baby up out of the crib, feeding them or
bringing them back to their beds to cuddle.
The study was linking maternal depression and its affects on “night-time
parenting”. It stated that mothers whose level of depression was higher, would
have more stress and anxiety. In turn, their babies’ sleep was more disrupted.
Why? Because mothers who have higher levels of depression or anxiety would,
more often than not, interrupt their child’s sleep by picking them up while
Mothers who were worried about their babies’ sleep would waken to the slightest
sounds or whimpers. They would go check on the babies and would adjust the
sleep position, or pick up the babies and rock them, rub their backs, try to
feed, or bring them to bed.
They are not so much attending to the needs of the baby, as they are attending
to their own needs to be comforted.
So how do parents avoid this? It is imperative to create and follow through
with a calming bedtime routine. This usually takes four to five days to produce
• Let the babies play an hour before bed. This helps them get out all the pent
• Get in the bathtub. Warm water is incredibly comforting for babies, and it’s
a great time for mom or dad and baby to bond.
• Brush their teeth/gums. Get them started young.
• Initiate a quiet time. Read books or play quiet games.
• Have a chat with them. Talk about the day.
• Sing a song or play soft music.
• But most importantly, STICK TO THE ROUTINE!
Once the baby is in bed, ignore non distressed vocalisms, like little whimpers.
Babies need to learn how to comfort themselves and go back to sleep. If a
mother goes in and rocks a baby ever time the smallest cry comes out, the child
will expect that and will cry for it every time they wake up.
The moment a baby is in a routine and comfortable with it, a mother can relax.
And then both baby and mother can catch up on their sleep.
This is so important, because sleep problems in infancy can endure into teenage
years and even adulthood, and have negative effects on emotional, behavioural
and academic development. So learning how to deal is the best line of defence.
And if the routine isn’t working, mothers should not be afraid to ask for help
from a midwife, nurse or parenting hotline or chartroom. There are so many
resources out there – and chances are, someone has been, or is currently
experiencing the same thing.
Robert Jackson is a freelance journalist who writes about sleeping disorders
and how to choose an .For help on how to find the best