Our first-born, W, wasn’t a great sleeper. I was hopeful that S would be a better sleeper (you can’t have bad luck twice right?!) and so before he arrived we had:
- bought a Snuzpod co-sleeper cot (c£200) – seemingly an absolute essential according to parenting bloggers!
- bought a Sleepyhead bed nest thing (c£120) – I had heard of these when W was a few months old – hadn’t read one bad review – this was THE thing to get babies to sleep through!
- bought a sheepskin liner (£50) to sleep on
- dug out W’s sleeping aids – Ewan the dream sheep (c£30) and the tranquil turtle (C£40) and of course spent a fortune on batteries for them!
The first 6 months of (no) sleep
Then baby S arrived. And he was a worse sleeper than W. I blogged about our breastfeeding struggles, and think this affected our ability to settle him. He suffered from bad wind, and generally screamed a lot (colic? silent reflux?) until he was about 4 months old.
After spending over £370 on the apparently perfect sleeping combo of Snuz-Sleepyhead, it turns out that the Snuzpod doesn’t ‘rock’ that well – it’s a bit jerky. So we…
- bought a moses basket and rocking stand (c£50)
So now we’ve spent over £400 on baby sleeping stuff! Many nights we’d alternate him sleeping in the Snuz-Sleepyhead, and the moses basket. We’d alternate the sheep and the turtle.
Eventually as he got a bit bigger, we’d co-sleep through the early hours of the morning, him cwtched into the crook of my arm. Although he settled ok-ish like this, we never seemed to get more than 2 hours sleep like this. By the time he was 6 months old, he’d sleep well in the evening (6pm-10pm) but after that we were still alternating where he slept, and co-sleeping, and he was still waking up every 2 hours – sometimes every hour.
Something had to give.
Preparing for change
We’d hit the ‘keep them in your room for 6 months’ mark, we got Christmas out the way and in the first week of the New Year we tried him in his own room. I wasn’t holding out much hope and luckily W was staying at his nan’s so wouldn’t get woken through the night.
In the run-up to this, I’d bought a couple of books (c£10) – both very different in their approaches – Gina Ford known for her more rigid stance, and the ‘no-cry baby sleep solution’ known for it’s far more gentle approach. Both of them actually shared one common theme – routine! We’d been following a bath and bed routine for months, but knew we needed to better structure his day naps…
Anyway, just buying and reading the books was a way of saying ‘ok I’m ready for sleep now, I’m ready to try anything!’ whereas I think when you’re in the baby no-sleep cycle, it’s easy to get into a rut – assume you’re trying everything but not really changing what you’re doing.
I should add at this stage, it’s not expected that every baby should sleep through by 6 months. I just knew that the way we were sleeping every night wasn’t the best for his sleep patterns, or mine. We were just waking each other up and needed to change…
First night in his own room
So back to his first night in his own room…. as usual he slept from 6/7pm to 10pm-ish… and after that he woke at 2am and then 6am – so straight away he went from waking every 2 hours to every 4 hours!
First week in his own room
After 2-3 nights of that, he improved further by waking every 6 hours, so dropping the 2am wake/feed (the hardest one!)
Within a week, I swear to god, he dropped his 10pm wake/feed and was now sleeping through around 11-12 hours – from 6/7pm to 6/7am – HALLELUJAH!!!!
Other things we did as part of our sleep routine
- He sleeps in a sleepsuit and sleeping bag (unless it’s too warm)
- We try and put him down awake (bedtime and nap times) so he settles himself – he usually grizzles for a few minutes but we leave him. I know there’s a ‘cry it out’ approach which I don’t really like the sound of where you could leave the baby to cry, but I think it’s important to distinguish a cry and a grizzle – S is the type of baby who always has a grizzle before falling asleep anywhere (bed/car/pram) but I know he will nod off whereas if I pick him he will start crying because I’m disrupting him trying to get to sleep
- We don’t use a baby monitor. We have one (the Angelcare one with the mat (c£100)) that we never really used with W, and with S it wasn’t fully charged in time so we didn’t use it for the first night…. or second… or any night thereafter….. I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t use one, but I do think we sleep better without it as we’re not waking/responding every time he stirs, which is probably quite a lot.
- We do use the Angelcare nightlight (so at least I am getting some value out of it!)
- We started weaning him a few weeks prior to the move to his own room, some people think the food helps fill them up a bit and helps them sleep – in our case, this could be true timing wise.
Where we’re at now, at 9 months old.
We’re lucky S is small (9th centile). He still sleeps in his Sleepyhead, Snuzpod combo. We’re also lucky he doesn’t crawl/pull himself up yet otherwise we’d need to put him in a cot – it is imminent, he will be moving into his big brother’s old cot bed soon! I do think the Sleepyhead has really helped so I’m going to buy the next size up which will last til he’s about 3 I think.
He generally still sleeps 12-13 hours every night but I would say at least once a week he’ll wake in the night – sometimes just wants a small feed, sometimes I lay my face next to his (the Snuzpod/Sleepyhead is good for this) and he puts his arm around me and just my presence helps him get back to sleep (I love those moments!). Sometimes just a ‘ssshhh’ and putting the Tranquil turtle on works. Sometimes he’s teething and nothing settles him. Sometimes he’s just wide awake and wants to play!
But generally he sleeps through. And for that I am SO grateful!
So in summary…
As I said earlier, I know not every baby is ready to sleep through by 6 months. But I wanted to share my story with you as I can’t believe the positive impact moving him into his own room had on us all. Before that happened, I was one of those mums who was so envious of all the babies sleeping through by 2 or 3 months. One of those mums who’d resigned herself to never sleeping through again. One of those mums secretly laughing at all the mums suffering from ‘4 month sleep regression’ – we’d not progressed enough to regress! One of those mums who spent about £500 to try and get the best night’s sleep!
So be positive – try something new. Read a book about it even but don’t take it all as gospel – just take one tip from it and that could be the winning tip! And of course some people will try ANYTHING and EVERYTHING to get baby to sleep through, and he/she just doesn’t want to. Some babies are like that! But I promise you two things- you are not alone, and one day you will all sleep through again!
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