Putting your baby to sleep feels like a accomplishing a milestone. Suddenly, you remember having a number of errands to run and as soon as you tip toe away to the other room, you hear a squeak, followed by endless crying.
When only your arms and cuddle can console your little one, you are left wondering why is it that your baby keeps waking up moments after they fall asleep. The long sessions of lullaby and cradling seem like a waste once they get up and start crying.
Apparently, by crying they start blaming you for putting them to sleep and carrying on with your work instead of taking care of them—however, that is not the case.
Remember that babies cry to gain mother’s attention—that is the only way for them to communicate with you and let you know that they need you. They aren’t manipulating you or becoming little attention seekers.
In the womb, there was no feeling of hunger, cold, hot, passing of poop or sensations that a baby has to encounter after birth. The world outside is new—for them, the comfort and warmth of the womb don’t exist anymore. Developing these feelings after birth not only becomes overwhelming but also frightening for the baby.
You are a source of assurance and safety for them that everything is fine—never leave your child, crying and unattended.
To understand why your baby wakes up soon after you put them down to sleep you must know that babies take about 20 minutes to enter into a state of deep sleep. If you put your baby down too early, they may easily wake up with the slightest of sound.
Doctor James McKenna, a well-recognized and world-renowned expert on infant sleep, especially co-sleeping says that babies are born with the ability to sense danger—this includes separation from their caregiver, the mother.
They can sense their mother’s touch, smell, heat from her body, the gentleness of her touch and the smell of the milk—they associate her presence with a sense of protectiveness. In her absence, they feel they are abandoned and alone—crying is a way to get their caregiver back. This is their way of survival since they completely depend on the mother for everything.
Since your baby’s brain is not yet developed they are unable to grasp that you are away for just a little while. They get alert and become anxious when you go away from them. This understanding of separation only seeps in when they become 6-9 months old.
So, what can you really do about it? Right now, they only need your love and care. You must understand that your presence assures them of their safety. Hold your baby in your arms and comfort them. Leaving them alone will only increase their stress levels and their crying may only escalate.
When you comfort them, they will learn to feel safe and have a proper sleep. A baby who hasn’t slept well will only be more fussy and irritated.
Make sure they are sound asleep, avoid making any sounds for 15-20 minutes until they are in deep sleep. You could keep in a baby carrier for some time—they will feel safe and cozy staying close to you.
Keep your unwashed top of shirt close to the baby or over their blanket—your scent from the cloth will help them stay calm when you are away. Let their room be a little warm—cold room and sheets could make them uncomfortable.
Most importantly, remember that this is a temporary phase and your baby is going to grow through it after all.