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Baby keeping you up again?

Jacqui Flint is the owner of Baby Love, a company that specialises in routine and sleep guidance programmes for pregnant couples and parents with babies two years or younger...

Why is sleep deprivation in parents so dangerous?
Sleep deprivation can affect a parent on every level. Side effects include loss of emotional control; a compromised immune system; low concentration and slower mental reaction time, among many others.
Why is it important to implement a routine for your baby?
Many babies thrive on routine and structure, so ensuring your baby is on an age appropriate day routine and sleeping pattern will benefit the entire family.
If a parent is sleep deprived and has thoughts of harming their baby, what should they do?
- Place the baby in his or her cot and leave the room.
- Take time to breathe deeply.
- Do something that will help you relax.
- Don’t go back into the baby’s room until you have control of your emotions.
- Acknowledge you aren’t coping.
- Seek help.
If a parent is sleep deprived and starts to resent their baby, does this make them a bad parent?
Absolutely not. It means the sleep deprivation has reached a point where the parent feels powerless and totally overwhelmed.
When is a baby capable of sleeping through the night?
A healthy baby who is getting his or her full kilojoule intake during the day, should sleep through from around 4 months.
If my baby doesn’t sleep well during the day, will he or she sleep well at night?
No – if a baby doesn’t get enough sleep during the day a state of hyperalertness is reached and he or she will wake up throughout the night.

Chantell Roemer, 33, is the general manager of a shopping centre. She explains how sleep deprivation affected her.
‘When my daughter, Jessica, was born, all I remember is one of the nurses at the hospital saying that I should feed Jessica every two hours or so. I latched onto this bit of information and some nights we were only getting one hour of sleep a night! I was so sleep deprived that at one point I was unable to sleep at all – even when Jessica was sleeping, I would still hear her cry; I was an emotional wreck and often used to burst into tears. I was so exhausted that I couldn’t even hold a conversation or work properly. This happened for five months before we went to see Jacqui. It was quite difficult implementing the sleep routine programme, because we had to break our own habits, but Jessica slept through on the third night. It was only after a few weeks of Jessica sleeping through that I realised how bad the situation actually was – and started to feel like the real me again.’

Credit: Essentials
Published: June 2009