January 29, 2018

Five sleep tips from a veteran night sitter

A piece of advice I got over and over as a soon-to-be twin mom was to get a “night nurse.” Veteran twin moms told me to do it, so did doctors, moms of multiple young children and some of the best mothers I know. Thanks to the generosity of a relative, I was able to do it and for our first 3 ½ months with twins, we had a night sitter in our home three nights a week. Frankly I’m not sure how we would have made it without her.

Having newborn twins as well as a nearly 2-year-old son meant the whole “sleep when the baby sleeps” tactic is really hard to pull off. It’s twice as likely somebody is awake! I am breastfeeding too, so I wasn’t going to get to sleep through the night even with a night sitter. But having three nights a week when I could spend only 15 minutes pumping every three hours, while letting the night sitter bottle-feed the babies, change them and get them back to sleep – which could sometimes take me up to an hour and a half – made all the difference. I could be a human being for my older son during the day and my husband could show up rested for work about half the time! JeannetteGregory

Jeannette Gregory was recommended to me by twin mom and our own Queen Smarty, Jen Plym. Thank you Jen!!! Gregory doesn’t night sit herself anymore but runs an impressive team of women who do. (While some registered nurses do provide this kind of service, the women who work for Gregory aren’t technically nurses. She calls them “night sitters.” They sleep train; they don’t handle medical issues.)

Two of the women who work for her came to our house, and they were both professional, courteous and know what the heck they’re doing. I’m happy to say (knock on wood!!) our boys are sleeping through the night now at 15 weeks and have been well on their way for a while thanks to the help of Jeannette’s night sitters.

I asked her if she would put compile a list of five tips to share with new moms, and here are her recommendations, in her own words.

1. Routine is the key word that will open the door to your baby sleeping through the night. It is never too early to set a bedtime schedule. If you choose 7 p.m. to be your infant’s bedtime, then stick with it. Rocking them to sleep each night or if you are going to use a swaddle, introduce it the first night. It interrupts sleep when they are used to being swaddled and out of nowhere you decide “not tonight.”

2. Use a log each night to give you an idea when the baby is progressing. As night sitters, our notes give the parents a snapshot of each night and keeps them informed of progress and milestones. Many times the night sitter is the first to see a smile in the middle of the night or notice that the belly button has fallen off.

3. If you are tired or feeling stressed, reach out for help. Your baby will be the recipient of your emotions. I’ve seen babies crying uncontrollably but when the night sitter gets there and Mom hands the baby over, there is immediate calmness.

4. Try not to compare siblings’ progress. For instance, one sibling may sleep through the night perfectly but now the new baby just can’t seem to get it.

5. Go beyond the cry. One whimper does not mean the baby is hungry. If you wait a while you will find that the baby knows how to self-soothe and will immediately go back to sleep. Do not rush to the crib each time you hear the baby cry.

For those interested in finding out more, Jeannette Gregory can be reached at divinesleep@ymail.com.

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