I love my sleep. Always have. If someone disturbs my sleep, I feel really sorry for them because it is like waking a dragon. A pissed off, fire breathing dragon. So imagine my fear about having a newborn. A tiny little creature that comes into your life and completely disrupts your sleep cycle. Luckily, for the child, motherly instinct must have kicked in and I coped quite well. She and I survived the first few months and I kept her alive and well without completely losing my mind.
My husband might have had a rough time with it because unfortunately for him, a lot of everything was all his fault while we were sleep deprived. Which might have led to why he took over the plan for trying to get baby to sleep through the night.
From around a month old we started doing a small routine at night. Not super strict because she was so young but at least trying to make her realise the difference between day and night. After a lot of ‘advice’, some requested, some not, we started trying a couple of things.
1) The Difference between Day and Night – We would try and make sure that in the day we would make noise even when she was sleeping. By noise I mean that we would just go about our regular day, hoovering, chatting, TV on, going out etc. We wouldn’t lower our voices, we wouldn’t go into another room, we would just be our normal selves. When she was awake we would try and communicate with her as much as possible; play, sensory, books, music. Even when feeding we would try and chat and sing at her, looking her in the eyes and being quite interactive.
Night time we would try and be quieter, we would turn lights off, keep the volume of the TV low. When she would wake up for a feed we wouldn’t chat at her and we would try and avoid any kind of communication. Obviously, cuddles didn’t count, we still did lots of cuddles. Of a night, we would feed her, keep her sitting up right for about 20mins afterwards to avoid any reflux and then immediately put her back down. Even if she was still quite awake. We would only turn a small lamp on so limited lighting and then leave her. We were very lucky, she wouldn’t cry once being put back down and would just go straight back to sleep.
2) Bathtimes – We didn’t want to bath her every night with newborn skin being so sensitive so we did it every other night. We would do her bath at around 5pm and afterwards I would play the same song whilst we dried her off and did some baby massage.
3) Bottle and Book – After her bath she would be due her bottle and then after feeding we would read a book with her. We found that this worked well because she would be sat up for a while we read which would help with wind and reflux. We had read nearly everywhere that a book would soon become a signifier of bedtime. Obviously at a month old it was probably too early for this but we did it more for us trying to get in the habit than for her. Plus its a nice way to snuggle and spend some time with her.
4) No more Moses – Now I know all the advice and guidelines say babies need to be 6 months old before they go into their own room BUT we decided to move her in at 4 months. We were putting her down in her own room after her last bottle upstairs so we could stick to the quiet night rule and then moving her to the basket once we went to bed as well. This started to seem silly one day because we were unnecessarily disturbing her so we decided to leave her one night. She slept through until 8am from when we put her down at 8pm!
Don’t get me wrong, I was terrified. I didn’t sleep.
BUT we had the Angelcare monitor on which has an alarm if it doesn’t sense any breathing or movements after 10 seconds which obviously made me feel more comforted. Once she had slept though once we decided to try it from then on and since then she has slept through the night.
We stopped using the the Angelcare monitor mat at around 9 months because she was moving around and off the mat so much that an alarm was going off every night. We still used the monitor as a sound monitor until about 15months old and then stopped altogether when we moved her into her new room.
5) Strict bedtime routine – Now she’s 18months old and not much has changed with the routine. Every other night she has a bath at 6pm, her bottle at around 6:45pm and then book and bed at 7pm. She’s at a really cute age now where she will pick the book she wants and try and read along with you. I love it. When we put her down she can sometimes be quite awake and chat to herself for a while but she will very rarely cry and eventually just goes off to sleep. She is an angel.
6) Sleep training – When we first started putting her in her own room to sleep she did not like it. After a lot of research, we decided to do some sleep training. We would leave her to cry for 1 minute at first and then go in to her room, give her her dummy back which she would normally have lost and say some reassuring words or shushing. We wouldn’t pick her up. Once she had calmed down we would leave the room and if she continued to cry, we would leave her for 3 minutes then go back in, then 5 minutes and then 7 minutes. If she was still very upset and crying after the 7 minutes then we would pick her up and give her a cuddle until she calmed down.
It was very rare that she would get to 7 minutes; it would normally be after the 3 minutes that she would actually fall asleep because she had tired herself out.
We found that this sleep training worked for us but obviously there are a lot of different ways to sleep train. We did a lot of research into different methods to find out which one we thought would work for us and what we were comfortable with trying.
I’m hoping that what we have done with Sadie is the sole reason why she is such a good sleeper and not just because she was a good baby.
That means everything will work exactly the same with Baby Number 2 and s/he will sleep through from 4 months old again…right? Right?