Baby sleep advice

Co-sleeping? Self-soothing? Crying it out? Baby sleep is mysterious and overwhelming in the early days…and then again around four months…and again any time they have a cold or a developmental leap. When you Google “why won’t my baby sleep” at 4 am, you are quickly buried by the avalanche of opinions out there on the best way to influence your baby’s sleep patterns.

But don’t despair: There is hope! There is help! There are educators out there who can explain it clearly to tired parents.

The Baby Sleep Geek offers virtual consultations for tired parents to get a little empathy, a lot of useful tips, and customized sleep plans.

Dr. Karp is the baby sleep guru and creator of The Happiest Baby on the Block. if you are willing to wade through a lot of sales pitches for the Snoo, his specially designed baby bed, his blog has helpful advice about soothing your baby to sleep.

Gwen Dewar, PhD’s writing style strikes a balance between academic and reassuring. Her Newborn Sleep Patterns: A Survival Guide for the Science-Minded Parent explains many of the reasons why we struggle to get enough rest for ourselves and our babies. This resource might be a bit too detailed if you are looking for quick solutions in the middle of the night, but if you are a person who likes to understand how things work, take a peek during the daylight hours.

For desperate parents in southern/midcoast Maine, BirthMe offers overnight infant care in your home that includes gentle guidance for your baby to develop healthy sleep patterns.

This stage doesn’t last forever, but when you’re seriously sleep deprived, everything feels like a permanent catastrophe. If you are having scary thoughts or panicky feelings, call the PSI warmline at 800-944-4773. You are not alone. You are not to blame. And with help, you will be well.

6 ways to get out and about with your winter baby in Portland, Maine

The season of hibernation is upon us, and the one-two punch of sleep deprivation + lack of sunlight hits Maine parents with winter babies particularly hard.

It’s cold, it’s icy, and it somehow takes 3 hours to pack yourself and the baby into the car. The temptation to stay in and start building layers of winter blubber with the help of Netflix and Cheez-Its is overwhelming. Between the prevalence of seasonal affective disorder in northern climates and the 1-in-7 chance of postpartum depression worldwide, being a new parent during Maine winter is basically staring into the abyss.

Impossible though it may seem, getting out of the house is crucial at this stage. Movement and camaraderie are potent antidotes to isolation, and taking good care of yourself gives your baby’s early brain development an important boost.

Luckily, greater Portland has lots of destinations for parents with cabin fever. Even if you are the hardy sort who thinks nothing of strapping your baby to your back so you can snowshoe four miles for a gallon of milk, it’s helpful to know where to meet other parents with infants. Here’s where to start.

  1. The Mothering Circle
    This free weekly gathering of moms and babies is a great place to find your mom tribe. Facilitated by friendly professionals who create a safe space to share your joys and your frustrations, you will leave here remembering that you are normal and you are not alone on your mothering journey.
  2. Your local public library
    Maine’s public libraries are here for you, Mom and Dad. Whether you want to attend a “baby and me” story time or just find a warm, quiet place to sit with your newborn, the librarians are happy to see you all.
  3. Greenlight Studio
    Anna Maria Tocci, formerly of the North Star Cafe, bought and renovated this space in the summer of 2015. The result is a cozy, parent-friendly play space where you can feed your baby and sip a smoothie while the older kids burn off some energy. Even if you don’t have a toddler in tow, there is room for you: they offer cafe seating outside the play area with a full menu, too.
  4. Maine Mall Walking Program
    Is your baby up at dawn? The mall opens at 6 am Monday-Saturday and 9 am on Sundays for locals to walk its wide, climate-controlled boulevards. Park near any of the glass doors for easy access. Most stores open at 10, but Starbucks is there for you beginning at 7 am (or 5:30 if you go to the drive-through location across the street).
  5. South Portland Community Center
    This indoor walking track is smooth, clean, well-lit, and stroller-friendly. The facility has an elevator, large restrooms, and ample parking, and is generally open 6 am to 9 pm with slightly abbreviated weekend hours. Meet a friend there and walk as long as you like for a $1 nonresident fee or free if you live in SoPo. There is no dedicated area for nursing mothers (yet) but there are benches and chairs throughout the building where you can camp out when you need to.
  6. Walk Safely Falmouth
    The former Mason-Motz school is now home to Falmouth’s recreational program office. Monday through Thursday, from 8 am to 5 pm, (Fridays 8-12) you can wear your baby and do laps around the gym for free. Bring walking shoes to change into because street shoes are frowned upon. For questions, call their office at 207-699-5302.

Do you have a favorite place for hanging out with your baby during the winter months? Tell us.

7Q Interview: Postpartum doula in Portland, Maine

New moms need to be physically and emotionally nourished. We spend all of our time preparing for childbirth, preparing the nursery and taking the labor classes, and we don’t spend as much time talking about what happens when you come home from the hospital. Most of us are doing it without a map. We’re sleep deprived and it’s a struggle. It’s a crazy time in those first few weeks and it’s hard to know whether what’s happening is to be expected, or whether you’ve entered the seventh circle of hell. . .I don’t want to scare first time moms, but I think we’re doing them a disservice to not discuss what the fourth trimester really looks like.

Jessica Thomas

Postpartum doula, Ballast & Buoy

Postpartum doula in Portland MaineI recently spoke with Joyce Brown at 7Q Interviews about being a postpartum doula in Portland, Maine. She asked me why I think new moms are so stressed out. I held forth on celebrity baby bumps, the Pinterest paradox, and finding your sea legs as a new parent. It was a fun conversation!