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After seeing so many reviews on babies and sleep, I felt I finally had to add one myself, in large part because our sleeping arrangements were very different from the norm.
Co- sleeping is not recommended in the UK, because it has been linked to cot death, or SIDS, as you are now meant to call it, the manufacturers of baby cots not liking a fatal syndrome named after their product. I have to admit, I was paranoid of cot death. I had a hard time relaxing as a parent at first after so many losses - so why would I choose a sleeping method linked to infant death?
Quite frankly, because I did quite a lot of research, and while co sleeping in the UK may be linked to an increase in cot deaths - in other countries the studies show the exact opposite. In fact co-sleeping correctly may be one of the best protections available against cot death - but co-sleeping is not for everyone - it requires certain safety checks - not every parent is capable of safely co sleeping, this is a personal decision and you know yourself and sleep patterns better than anyone else.
I think the biggest problem with co sleeping in the UK is that while 50% of families co sleep occasionally, only a very limited number plan to co sleep. Therefore I think every parent should be aware of basic safety issues concerning co sleeping. I also think if your baby is ever going to be in your bed, whether you plan to sleep with the child there or not, the bed should be carefully checked for safety issues. I say this because I think many , if not most parents have unintentionally co-slept before. Having woken up in the middle of the night hunched in an unnatural position over a child's story book, with a child sleeping beside me in their own bed - I know full well how easy it is to fall asleep unintentionally at times.
Co- sleeping makes breast feeding so much easier. Many studies have found mothers who co sleep are more likely to successfully breastfeed, and tend to breastfeed longer. Breastfeeding is not only one of the best defenses for a child against SIDS, but it also protects against later diabetes, childhood cancers, and of course the whole pantheon of childhood ailments.
Sleep - Every parent of a new baby knows what that mind numbing sleep deprivation can do to you. My oldest had some other difficulties that affected his sleep, but once those were sorted, we found co sleeping a perfect way to encourage sleeping at night. With my youngest, there was nothing he liked better then curling up sleeping in bed. I had to wake him at night for feedings and as soon as I stopped waking him after 8 weeks, he slept through the night. Although co-sleeping does not guarantee a baby who sleeps through the night, co-sleeping mothers usually are far better rested, and less tired.
SIDS - James McKenna has demonstrated in laboratory studies that co sleeping infants spend significantly less time in stage 3 sleep, the level of sleep where cot death is most likely to occur. The infants heart rate and breathing are regulated by the parents. McKenna believes this is a natural biological adaptation, as human infants have slept with their parents for almost all of our evolutionary history. Additionally, if anything does go wrong - Mom is right there. My oldest did have some problems with choking on vomit at night, and both boys had a couple of apnea type episodes. Because I was right there, and so closely in tune with the babies I sensed something wrong right away and both resumed breathing without difficulty when lifted up by a panicked Mom! My husband does suffer extreme sleep apnea, and the doctor felt this might be related. McKenna also found co-sleeping infants lest likely to roll over and sleep in a face down position - the most dangerous in terms of SIDS. I know mine always slept on their backs except in extreme illness when they slept help upright.
Repeated studies have found bed sharing to protect against cot death in some countries - and to increase the risk in others. The biggest factors seem to be whether maternal drinking and smoking are the norm or unheard of in those countries, as well as prevalence of breastfeeding.
Stress - stress levels are significantly lower for both mother and infant in co- sleeping pairs.
Independence- Many parents fear co sleeping will make children overly dependent. Most studies show the polar opposite. Children who co slept tended to be more outgoing, more confident and more independent. Judging from my own two - they may perhaps be too independent.
Warmth - This is something no one wants to admit, that they can not afford to heat the house adequately for a new infant. Where I live 50% of parents responded to a survey question by admitting they had brought the children or babies into their beds solely to provide warmth. Heating or lack of it, was a factor in my decision to co sleep. It is far easier to regulate a child's temperature beside you then to try to wrap them enough to withstand freezing nights alone. I do feel this creates another risk factor though, as parents unaccustomed to co sleeping bring a new baby into a bed full of duvets on the coldest nights of the year.
Sleep - some parents can not sleep well with a baby beside them, other parents seem to keep the baby awake tossing and turning.
SIDS - Increased risk of cot death under certain circumstances
Privacy - lack of parental privacy
Often results in Dad sleeping elsewhere.
Entrapment - While America's most famous baby doctor, Dr William Sears cites a dramatic decrease in SIDS for breastfeeding co sleeping infants - he also cites an increase in deaths by entrapment in parents bedding, most commonly the child's head being wedged in adult furniture. While this increase equates to only 10% of the lives saved through lower incidence of SIDS - it is still something that would haunt you for life, and one preventable death is one too many. I feel every parent should make a thorough safety check of their own bed, whether you co sleep or not. Parents should also be aware that a highly disproportionate number of these deaths occur with co sleeping on a sofa, settee, or recliner chair. Of course parents accidentally fall asleep, but every precaution should be taken against sleeping with your infant on the sofa.
~~ WHO SHOULD NOT CO-SLEEP~~
* Smokers must not share bed with babies as exposure to residual toxins from cigarette smoke while sleeping increase risk of SIDS.
* It is recommended that Mom always sleep between the father and child, never sleep with baby between you.
* It goes without saying if either partner is drinking, indulging in recreational drugs, or on prescription drugs affecting sleep patterns - co sleeping should be avoided. Keep in mind, a baby used to co sleeping is not going to sleep soundly in a cot when you have had a night out. For the most part - co sleeping requires Mom to give up drinking until the child is old enough for their own bed.
* Some people have extremely deep sleep cycles. If you know world war 3 would not disturb your slumber - if your partner has to wake you because the baby is crying and you don't hear it - co sleeping is not the best option.
* Most co sleeping mothers have a constant awareness of where the baby is. Mine always slept in the crook of my arm. McKenna reports co sleeping mothers repeatedly checking on infants though out the night - with no memory of this the next morning. If my children coughed, choked, stirred, or had any change in breathing pattern, I was instantly aware. Some parents do not feel this though. If I were waking up, not certain where the baby was - I'd have given up co sleeping. I think this is also a reason for accidents in families that do not usually co sleep. They have not built up that awareness required for safe sleep sharing.
* Never ever co sleep just once without a bed safety check.
* Never co-sleep on a sofa or chair.
* If you do not normally co-sleep bringing to baby to bed when the parent is ill or completely exhausted increases risks.
* Current studies recommend co sleeping only for breastfeeding children. No one really knows why co sleeping seems to reduce cot death in breastfeeding infants but may increase it in bottle fed infants - who already have an increased risk. There is some speculation that a hormonal influence may play a part in regulating mothers sleep patterns and over all awareness of the infant.
* Co sleeping is considered unsafe if the mother is overweight.
* No dogs allowed - or cats either. Pets must never be allowed on the bed if a baby will be sleeping in it.
* Perfume should be carefully removed before bed as strong fumes of any kind may affect breathing.
*Avoid co sleeping on overly soft mattresses. If the baby and you roll together - it is too soft.
~~ BED SAFETY CHECK~~
If you ever bring your child into your bed - even if you have no intention of falling asleep yourself it is worth carefully checking the bed for safety issues. The most common cause of death through furniture is a gap which allows the infants head to be trapped between bed frame and mattress. My own bed has a gap that would pose a serious risk as the mattress slides down leaving a space near the headboard. We corrected this by my husband forcing the mattress all the way to the top and then placing a rolled up duvet between the bottom of the mattress and bed frame to prevent it sliding down. If you can not safely close off all gaps - I would sleep on a mattress on the floor or be sure baby is never on the bed. A gap between the bed and wall is the next most common issue. This needs to be checked every night. Mesh bed guards prevent falls while still allowing a child to breath against them, but again, one needs to check to be sure they do not create a space where the child can be trapped against the mattress. Experts recommend removal of pillows and duvets as well. Be especially aware of soft fluffy pillows, heavy duvets and soft mattress toppers.
~~ SAFER CO SLEEPING~~
Many people use a side car arrangement in which a specially made crib butts right up to the parents bed. This gives the infant their own space, while still being able to touch and be next to Mom.
Another product, known as a Snugglenest folds out to create a small sleeping space within the parents bed for a new infant. This has sturdy sides to prevent a parent rolling onto the baby, as well as a sleep positioner which keeps baby in the correct sleeping position. A small waterproof mattress also reduces accidents for those of us who use cloth nappies as well.
Co sleeping isn't for everyone. However, it worked brilliantly for us. It meant I was able to get a good nights sleep, and my children slept well. I also think it helped a great deal with my youngest who at 3 weeks early had difficulty feeding at first. The fact that I was unable to lift my son after a botched C-section made co sleeping a real lifesaver for us. I can't imagine my boys being any more independent, and I'm glad they have no fears of the dark, and see bed as a comforting pleasant place - although perhaps too comforting judging by the amount of effort it takes to get them out of it in the morning! I do wish more health proffesionals were informed of the benefits of sleep sharing as well, and I think this should be one option for informed parents to consider - without judgement.
Still this is not for anyone - if you are considering co -sleeping I would strongly recommend reading boos such as Dr Sears' 'The Baby Book', 'The Breastfeeding Book' or 'The science of Parenting' by Margot Sunderland ,and doing some research online. I would also recommend against taking baby to bed as a spur of the moment decision, especially under anything less than ideal circumstances. Sleep sharing is a perfectly natural way for infants to sleep, and is safe - but only under the right conditions.
I'll close with a quote from author Jean Liedloff, in her book which sparked the return to attachment parenting, 'The Continuum Concept' :
"The change from the total hospitality of the womb is enormous, but, the infant has come prepared for the great leap from the womb to his place in arms. What he has not come prepared for is a greater leap of any sort, let alone a leap into nothingness, non-life, a basket with cloth in it, or a plastic box without motion, sound, odor, or the feel of life. The infant lives in the eternal now; the infant in arms in a state of bliss; the infant out of arms in a state of longing in the bleakness of an empty universe."
Having a baby is a momentous occasion, full of wonder, joy and those sleepless nights. Before having a baby we thought nothing of spending our nights partying, getting in during the small wee hours, falling asleep in our clothes then getting up a couple of hours later to get ready for work, while our parents had sat up waiting for us to get home.. But when our little bundles of joy make an appearance all of a sudden, we find surviving on a couple of hours sleep a night steadily becomes more and more difficult, until we feel like zombies. I'd love to say that everything will work out in the end, that every baby will eventually sleep through the night, and there will be a time when all those sleepless nights fade into the distant past. But that never really happens, even the best sleeper will have a bad night and some children never manage a full night's sleep. It doesn't even get any better when they "grow up", as you then become the one that's sitting up waiting from them to stumble through the door after a night partying. So now I've crushed all your hopes, I'm going to try and share a little of my knowledge and experience of helping five babie master the art of getting a good night's sleep.
Even before your baby was born he or she had a sleep pattern of sorts, being awake and kicking for short periods and then sleeping. If they were anything like mine then the periods when they were awake were spread fairly evenly over a twenty-four hour period, with them waking you up by wriggling and kicking just when you were in bed enjoying a particularly vivid and pleasant dream. It's no surprise, therefore, that the newborn has absolutely no concept of night and day and will wake pretty much any time that they feel hungry, thirsty, wet, hot, cold or generally uncomfortable. Add to this the fact that a newborn's stomach is only the size of a walnut, and you are going to be woken at frequent intervals. It's not your fault, it's nothing you've done wrong it's just nature's way of making sure your baby has all the energy he needs to grow and develop.
All the same this is the stage when I've always started to establish a bedtime routine, even with knowledge we're probably going to be getting up at least two or three more times during the night. During the day I encourage lots of interaction during and after feeds, chatting to baby as he feeds, but during the night I keep interaction at a minimum and the lights dimmed. I also try to make the last feed before bedtime a very special time, we'll normally start with a warm bath, followed by the feed and cuddles with singing or a book to share, then it's time for bed in a darkened room, trying to ensure they are still awake when you put them down so they start to learn to settle themselves to sleep. Where you put your baby down to sleep is completely up to you, as newborns they really don't care and will happily sleep anywhere that feels secure. You could put them straight into a cot, although I've always felt that a newborn looks a little lost in a cot, or you could use a crib, Moses basket or even carry-cot. If you do buy a Moses basket or fancy crib and it has one of those very sweet little quilts on it, then put that quilt away as they aren't actually recommended for babies under six months. So you shouldn't use a quilt, and you also shouldn't use a pillow, so what do you use to keep your baby warm? My own recommendation is to buy a number of flat sheets and waffle blankets so that you can add or remove layers depending on how warm the room is. I know I'm preaching to the converted, but always lay your baby on his back (unless advised otherwise by medical professionals) and so that his feet are at the bottom of the cot/crib/Moses basket. Since this became standard advise along with preventing baby from over-heating the number of cot deaths has dropped dramatically. As to keeping baby warm or cool enough then you could rely on a room thermometer, though I've always believed in trusting yourself and working by the rule that baby needs one more layer than you. If you're feeling cold then chances are baby will be feeling cold too so they may need an extra blanket. Similarly if you're feeling hot, then swap the blanket for a sheet. Although all the gadgets have their place, trust your instincts, we were given them for a reason, but remember a newborn cannot regulate their own temperature (they have to learn to do that) so you need to regulate it for them. Rather than feeling their heads to see how warm they are, check the back of their neck as I find this a far better indicator.
If your newborn is constantly waking themselves up by flinging their arms and legs (the startle reflex) then you may like to try wrapping them tightly in a blanket or sheet (depending on the weather), using a technique known as swaddling. There was a time when all babies were swaddled and new Mums were taught how to do it, but it's something I rarely see done now (I was the only one on the ward that swaddled my youngest when he was born last year). It's a tricky technique to master, but once you've worked it out you can easily swaddle a baby in seconds. If you cannot master the technique or have no-one to teach you then you can now buy special swaddling blankets that take the work out of it by using Velcro or poppers to hold the blanket tightly round the baby.
Although the average newborn sleeps for up to 16 hours a day, these will be in periods of anything as short as an hour up to three or four hours. This means that you will be short of sleep during the night, because we seem to have lost that art of instantly falling asleep. So it's very important during those early days to grab sleep when we can. It doesn't matter that the ironing needs doing, or the vacuuming or even the washing up, try to grab a nap when baby is sleeping.
As your baby gets older and his stomach starts to expand he starts to be able to take some more milk and so last longer between feeds. By a month, you've hopefully got into a some sort of routine and life starts to feel as if it's getting back to normal. Hopefully you've established a bedtime routine that's laid the foundations for sleep in the months and years to come, but it's not a given. All babies will go through a growth spurt at about this time, when they suddenly demand more frequent feeds. Breast-fed babies may also start to cluster feed, meaning they feed almost constantly for several hours during the evening/night. And then there is the dreaded colic, which nobody knows what it really is or how to cure it. One of my older children had severe colic, which left me with an inconsolable baby from about seven in the evening until three or four in the morning. Twenty years on I still remember spending hours pounding the streets in the early hours trying to settle him in his pram. Nothing can prepare you for the horror that is colic and it then becomes even more important to grab sleep when you can, as a exhausted and distressed Mummy is not going to help your baby to sleep.
So the colic's over (normally clears by twelve weeks all by itself) and baby is starting to settle for longer, by three months your baby might even have dropped a feed during the night and you may be getting close to that magic day when you can say your baby is sleeping through. All babies are different and hit this magic milestone at different ages, so even if your first baby sleeps through at three months, your next might not manage the feat until they are a year. Of my five children, they have definitely all slept through at different ages, with two being between three and four months, another being about five months, another six months and one over a year. Of course when I say sleep through, no baby actually sleeps all the way through the night, they all wake at some point, but the trick is when they learn to settle themselves without your help. Because this is again something that babies need to learn, I do believe that it's not a good idea to go in to a baby on the first whimper. I'm not saying ignore your baby if they are screaming, but give them a chance to drop back off if they're whining.
==Into The Cot==
Unless you started by putting your baby into a cot to sleep, there's going to come a day when you are going to need to make the transfer from that snug, secure, little bed into the much larger space that is a cot. Understandably some babies find this a stressful experience, they've been used to the security of the Moses basket and are moving to a relatively wide open space, but there are some things that you can do to make the transition a little easier. First thing's first, try to make the cot a comfortable, pleasant place to spend the night without making it over-stimulating. There are some really nice cot mobiles and other cot toys available that will help give your baby something to occupy their minds while dropping off without over-stimulating them. Next I would recommend that if you have used a Moses basket or carry-cot, for the first few nights place this inside the cot so baby can get used to his new sleeping place while still having the security of the old.
While it's tempting to kit the cot out with co-ordinating linen, to be perfectly truthful this really isn't a good idea and can even be dangerous. Cot bumpers are really not a good idea and I don't know any health professional that would recommend them. With very young babies they pose a suffocation risk, and then with older babies they provide a very convenient step when trying to climb out of the cot. As with Moses baskets, those gorgeous quilts are not recommended for babies under six months and don't give the flexibility that flat sheets and blankets do for older babies. I do however think that sleeping bags are brilliant for babies that have become a little more active and kick off their blankets. I really don't know how we used to manage without these and really would recommend that you try them if you have a restless baby.
Although the current recommendations are to keep baby sleeping in your room until he is at least six months old, the day is going to come when you want to move them into their own room, if only so you can have a little privacy to attempt to practise making more babies without worrying that a certain someone is going to wake up. This can be a scary process, both for baby and yourself and is often the time when your sleep is going to be once more disturbed (if only because you're lying awake wondering why baby doesn't seem that bothered). I find using a baby monitor makes the transition easier for Mummy and Daddy, and there are all manner of different monitors available, from the simple ones that simply transmit sound, to movement monitors, to two-way monitors that allow you to talk to baby to video monitors that provide a picture as well as sound.
Having an established bedtime routine in place helps make the transition easier for baby and ensuring that he has all his familiar cot toys also makes this easier. Another thing that can make the transition easier for baby is something that smells of you. This may sound slightly strange, but if baby has spent his first six months sleeping in your room, he's used to being able to smell you, so if you put something that smells of you near his cot (a pillow case you've left in your bed overnight), he'll have that comfort of being able to smell you.
For many, many parents the transition to baby's own room runs smoothly, but there are some where it quite simply doesn't. With some baby's they become distressed at the idea of being on their own and find it really hard to settle themselves. There are three main schools of thought when it comes to dealing with this problem, the first being controlled crying, the second being "settle and leave" and the final being the separation method. In all cases you should check that baby isn't crying for a reason before starting the technique.
This is probably the most controversial method of sleep training, and is not suitable to be used on babies under a year old. Personally, while I have tried this method it's the method that is most difficult to carry through. After checking all the obvious signs as to why your baby is crying, you need to allow baby to cry for two minutes before going in and soothe him, without switching the lights on, picking him up or making eye contact. Once he's settled you once more leave the room and should he start crying you wait for four minutes before going in to him, continuing to double the time between going into him until you are waiting 15minutes before going in to settle. Now I do know of people who praise this method and state that by using it they managed to sleep train their babies within a week. But it is an extremely harrowing process for the parent and personally I feel it's also distressing for the baby. My toddler knows that I will always be there if he needs me and the thought of allowing him to cry and maybe lose that sense of security is just too much. However, as I've stated I did try with one of my older children, the only trouble is I didn't even last a night.
If you are going to try this method, then I would strongly recommend that you warn your neighbours and make sure you have someone with you to give you emotional support.
==Settle And Leave==
With the settle and leave method you put baby to bed and if he starts crying you pick him up and comfort him until he stops and lay him back down. Should he start crying on as you put him down then you pick him back up and once more comfort him and so on until he settles himself to sleep. To be perfectly honest I've not really attempted this as, as far as I'm concerned this is certainly not going to produce the results I want, which is my child learning to settle himself to sleep. But again there are people who swear by this method.
==The Separation Method==
This is the method that I, personally, have found works best both with babies and toddlers and I've tended to use this with each child with great results. The separation method works by you putting your child to bed, switching off the light and then sitting on the floor so that they can see you, but not so you can make eye contact and stay there until they fall asleep. Each day you position yourself a little closer to the door, and eventually you spend a couple of nights sitting outside the door before finally your child/baby is able to settle themselves without you being there. This is a long term method that can take anything up to a month, but I personally feel it's less distressing for the baby and better for teaching them to settle themselves back to sleep. This is a method I've successfully used with five babies, including one who had to be re-sleep trained after a serious illness where he got used to me sleeping in his bed with him.
It wouldn't be fair for me to write a piece on babies and sleeping without at least mentioning Co-sleeping. Although Co-Sleeping is common in many cultures, it's not really recommended in this country as it is considered to add a risk factor in Cot Death. While I personally have never and would never co-sleep I have nothing against anyone that allows their baby to sleep in their bed with them. Co-sleeping is where your child sleeps in your bed rather than a cot, and if you do decide to take this route then please follow the safety guidelines, such as not to share your bed if you smoke, have drunk alcohol, taken drugs (legal or otherwise that affect your level of consciousness).
Now while I can see the advantages of co-sleeping, especially when breast feeding, such as being able to feed your baby without having to lift them out of a crib and then put them back, for me it's never really been an option. As far as I'm concerned the one place in the house that is simply for me and Daddy is our bed, and while I'm happy to share a cuddle in that bed in the mornings, at night time it's a purely grown-up place. I also feel that if had allowed any of my children to sleep in the bed, it would have made teaching them to settle in their own bed even more difficult. So while I've been perfectly happy to sleep next to them in their own rooms when they've been unwell (either in their bed or on the floor), I've never allowed them to sleep in mine.
OK, so this is now quite long enough and yet it feels like I've only just scraped the surface. Hopefully there's something above that's helpful to you or strikes a cord as you work through that first year from a newborn in the crib with all the sleepless nights to a toddler who sleeps in his own room and hopefully allows you at least an occasional broken night. The next big adventure will be moving your toddler to the big bed, but that's a whole new story.....
I have always been a girl who has loved her sleep! No-one could wake me up and if they did I would be very grumpy! After having our daughter in October, the first night for me was the hardest. I was numbed waist down and couldn't move to help my little one, but the midwives sorted her for me. As I watched the midwife cradle my daughter and feed her until she slept, I wondered: How does she do it?? She had no children herself but was always smiling at 3AM as she came to help me and my daughter. The first night I was awake ALL night. I finally fell asleep at 8AM, 6 hours after birth. I just didn't want to sleep and miss anything that my daughter did.
For 8 weeks, my daughter was up twice every night. It made it very hard for me as I needed my sleep more than anything else. My parents and my partners parents took her here and there in the first 8 weeks and rather than spending much time with Matthew (my partner) I was sleeping. After the first 8 weeks, Angel began sleeping through like a dream. She's 7 months now, and she still gets up in the night, but she is very close to crawling and LOVES to practice it, until she gets herself all tangled up and screams the flat down at 3AM. Then she's awake 3-4 hours later for a feed.
I am having to change our night routine. I am giving her a bath every night before bed, then a bottle, then taking her into her bedroom with a dimmed light (which she loves sleeping pretty much right next too) and making sure her pjama's aren't all over the place, her nappy is clean and she is dry and that she is comfy.
It makes her sleep a little longer through the night, but teething is a big factor of her waking up, so Calpol before bed is a must. I don't mind getting up now, whereas before I was begging anyone I could to do it for me so I could sleep. I literally looked like a zombie everyday for those first 8 weeks!
A baby is a blessing, and never comes with a manual. I found something that helps Angel sleep after weeks of trial and error bedtime routines. But I'm getting there with my ever-changing bubba!
5 months ago I gave birth to mine and my husbands first child- we had a baby girl, Olivia. I was 21 when I had my daughter and I have always been someone who needs her sleep, so I must say the only part of becomming a mummy which I dreaded was the sleepless nights. I have seen my sister go through 9 years of her son and two daughters messing her around, not going to bed until gone 11pm, not sleeping in their own beds and demanding to sleep in with their mum- and I was determined I wasn't going to have tantrums at bedtime every night.
I am a very old fashioned mum, I don't believe that children should rule the roost, I don't believe in spoiled children who get what they want when they want, I don't believe you have children to let them take over your life. I was brought up with a strict bedtime, and it meant I grew up having a good sleep pattern, and still do now.
So when my daughter was born I wanted to get her into a good sleeping routine as soon as was humanly possible. Not only for my own good of getting a good nights sleep, but also for her.
The most recent advice is to keep your babies in your bedroom for the first 6 months- this isn't always possible, you might not have a bedroom which is big enough for example, so it is always important to make sure you follow the other guidelines to cut down the risks of cot death- of course it is something which you don't even want to think about with a newborn, but is something which does happen sadly, and is something which all new mothers are petrified about. Incase you don't know these guidelines:
Keep a nursery thermometre where the baby sleeps, the room shouldn't be too hot...18 degrees celcius is just right for a nursery, and at this temperature for a baby wearing a nappy vest and baby grow, they should have a sheet and two blankets (a folded blanket is classed as 2 blankets!), if it is hotter than this, then take the blankets away, if the room is over 25 degrees, then just use a sheet. You can also get sleeping bags for babies of 2 different sizes, a winter one and a summer one, these are a good idea as it means they cannot pull them over their head!
Always place the baby feet to foot of the cot, so they cannot work their way under the blankets. Do not place anything in their bed like teddies and toys until they are older than 6 months, and even then only one or two. Only ever place a baby on their backs to sleep (unless otherwise told by your GP or Health Visitor due to a health condition). As they get older they may start to roll over themselves, once they are old enough to do this though, they're old enough to roll back or lift their head if it became difficult to breathe and so its no longer too much of an issue, but still only ever place them on their backs to go to sleep.
When I had Olivia, I kept her with me at all times for the first week, she had a moses basket downstairs and one upstairs next to my bed too, and she slept downstairs until we went to bed and then in her moses basket in our room. But after a week i started getting more confident with my baby and started to trust life, and leave her on her own in bed...this is when her routine began...at 1 week old. Many people will criticise saying that 1 week is far too early to start a routine, but I personally do not see why this would be the case, you are never too young to learn a routine, and my case just proves that.
We started giving Olivia a bath at 5.30pm every night, no more than half an hour earlier or later, after this it was straight upstairs, into her own bedroom to get ready for bed to get her used to her bedroom even before she was "living" in there, dressed for bed, a quick story (yes even at 1 week old!), a bottle and bed. For the first 2 months or so, I would sit with her until she went to sleep, but would not rock her (if you get a baby into a routine of rocking them to sleep, they won't learn to soothe themselves to sleep and will learn to need you there), and i would not pick her up to get her to sleep in my arms (babies remember the last things before they fall asleep, so if that is of being in their mummys arms, if they wake up momentarily once they have been put into their cot, they will be disorientated which will scare them and it will make them cry, whereas if they are left to go to sleep on their own in their cot, they will only remember being in the cot and should learn to soothe themselves back to sleep). So I would sing, "shhh" her, etc when she cried, but usually she would go straight off to sleep within 15 minutes and I would go downstairs to settle down for the night. She then slept til 10pm (which was when we went to bed) when she would be given a bottle and again she would go back to sleep in her own bed. Then another waking at around 2am, when a bottle feed would be given in the dark, no talking so she knew it was still night time and bed time, this makes it much easier to get the baby back to sleep after this feed as it means they aren't being stimulated and woken properly. She would then sleep until 6-7am when she would be fully awake.
It took maybe a week to get into this routine, so by two weeks old she was in this routine- it meant I was getting a brilliant nights sleep, and even though I was getting up at 2am in the night, it was always the same time, so I was used to it, and went straight back to sleep just like Olivia.
When she was 3 months old, we realised we were waking her when we went to bed at 11pm or so, which was stopping her from sleeping through the night, and so we decided to put her in her own bedroom, the routine stayed the same, and within a week of being in her own bed...she was sleeping through the night from 6pm to 7am, I started to put her to bed an hour later as she wasn't as tired at 6, and she started to sleep through the night. I was made up, I had a 3 month old baby who slept from 7pm to 8am all because I had worked at getting her into a routine.
So if you want your own baby to sleep through the night and allow you to relax at night without tantrums at bedtime then the tip is routine. It is never to late to get a child into a routine, as they get older it can become more difficult to get them into a routine, but with a bit of hard work, it is possible.
Always keep things at the same time, do everything the same each night, the best place to start is with a relaxing bath, keep it short and at the same time each night, try not to differ by more than half an hour each way so if you bath at 6pm on average do it no earlier than 5.30 and no later than 6.30pm- when you have given the bath my advice is straight to bed (unless you have an older girl who needs her hair brushed- then try to keep the hair brushing in the routine, doing the same each night take her into the living room sit her on the floor in front of you and brush her hair for the same amount of time, then bed), dry them, dress them and give them a feed (if they are a baby)- giving a feed at bedtime means that they aren't waking in the night hungry...the more they have going to bed, the longer they are likely to sleep, I give my daughter 8oz going to bed, which is how many ounces she is having with each feed in the day.
Read a story, this is important as it is 1) a bonding thing, 2) is educational and gets them interested in reading and 3) relaxing for a child. Start reading to them as early as possible for around 5-10 minutes going to around 15 minutes as they are older, and then they can maybe read you a chapter of a book as they learn to read themselves.
Then bed. Say goodnight, love you (even to a baby this is important as those words can become a trigger that right ok it's bedtime now, time to sleep)- and leave them. I don't believe in controlled crying where you go in every 5 minutes then every 10 minutes then every 15 minutes, I think you will spend your life going in and out of their room, and they will begin to know if I cry mummy will come eventually. I believe that from 3 months old, you can leave a child crying once you know they are not in pain, they are not hungry, not sick, not too hot or too cold and do not need their nappy changing- as they are only crying then for a couple of reasons- 1) they want attention, 2) they are frustrated because they are so tired and cannot sleep, 3) they have been over stimulated and cannot switch off...all of these things won't do your baby any harm, and they will very quickly drop off if they are tired. In my own experience, it takes around 15 minutes for them to go to sleep...they go through a crying down process of screaming for a couple of minutes then silence, you may think they have fallen asleep but it is unlikely...after 5 minutes of so they will start crying again, maybe not so loud this time, for a few minutes, then silence again, then another bout of crying this time even quieter...then they will drop off, this may be a slower or quicker process, if after around 15 minutes the crying isn't getting any quieter or sounding like they are starting to fall asleep, you may want to check them to make sure that there is nothing wrong as in hunger, nappy needs changing again etc. You know your baby though and will know when you need to re-check them as you alone knows their cry so use your instincts here.
So many parents think their lives are lead by their children in sleep, the baby wakes up 10 times a night and won't go to bed on time...their 6 year old runs riot at bedtime and refuses to go into their own bed...but you just have to regain control of their sleep pattern. I am yet to see if my daughter continues with her good sleep pattern as she gets older...gladly she maintained her good sleep pattern through teething and getting her first tooth, and I haven't had one sleepless night since giving birth 5 months ago and I really believe that is because I have her in a routine. She will sleep in this routine anywhere we go, at her nanas where we visit once a month or so, she keeps to this routine in a strange bed and strange bedroom. I do hope that she stays in this routine as she gets older, and I hope I can keep her in her routine. I try to pass on my experience to all new mums who complain of lack of sleep, and to let them know how important a routine is to a child. If they don't have this routine they don't know what to expect from one day to the next, if you have them in a set routine which you rarely differ from, they will know that once bath time is over its then time for bed, they'll expect it all and it will make your life so much easier- of course its important to understand that all children are different, and what works for one child may not work for another- some mothers find that the controlled crying approach works better for them, or that a routine simply doesn't work for them and they still have issues with their babies and sleep- the important thing is to rememebr that if a child doesn't feel comfortabler (this could be teething or anything really!) it could mess up a routine you have them in, and their sleep pattern could be thrown out of the window at any point, so although my approach may work for some, it may not work for others- and it is possible that Olivia could well turn around in a few months and stop sleeping through as she does now, I hope she doesn't, but it is possible. Also, if you already have one child, you need to try and work a routine aruond them, i.e. if they are up for school the next morning you don't want your baby waking them, or disturbing them- so again my routine may not be for you.
I am not trying to be patronising, only helpful, as before I had my daughter I looked into sleep and how to get them into a good sleeping habit from early on, and I looked at hundreds of different techniques and routines, and chose the one I thought would work for me. I know many mothers who have tried everything and still cannot get their baby to sleep for them, and any new advice they will jump on and try, I am not saying it will work for your baby, but for a lot of babies routine is key and it will go a long way to good sleep training! :)
Well all babies are different what works for one doesn't necessary work for another. I believe that children from at the very latest 9 months should be in bed at a reasonable time so that the parents or parent can have a bit of relaxation or me time. (The time depends on the individual it depends what time you go to bed) as the children get older and go to school then they should really be getting a good sleep, when they first start school they will be tired so aim for 12 hours (some might be laughing now)
When I had my first child she was sleeping through the night at about 10 weeks (I was feeding her a teaspoon of baby rice which isn't recommended by the health professions). I started slowly by rubbing her head (also not recommended) until she was asleep, then nearly asleep then just for about 30 seconds. There was never really a time that she had to go to bed it just depended on when she had had a sleep and when she was tired etc. She also got a video in her room for her third birthday (another wrong one) she didn't go to sleep with it on every night so it wasn't a problem for us.
I believe children should stay in their own beds but I did say to my friend if you have an older one I can totally understand why the youngest can end up in bed with you because you don't want the eldest to wake up and be tired for school etc.
My eldest started waking up after about 45 mins if she went to bed before 8pm (sometimes it was later) this was at about aged 3. The solution was put her to bed after 8, her dad rub her head for 15 minutes until she went back to sleep or get her up. That was when we put the video on until after 8 (it didn't go on again if she had gone to sleep). Most of the time it worked but when she started school we had to do things different (but this is babies so won't go into it)
So on the whole my eldest was very good at sleeping I never let her into our bed if she woke in the night I would just rub her head and she would go back to sleep. I have to say though she was in her own room from 4 weeks old (also not recommended) when she woke then I would at first feed her then stay in her room (only becase my husband had to drive 55 miles to work so I didn't want him being too tired - awh how good am I)
My second daughter came home from the hospital to a different house and the third bedroom was full of my husbands records (and he has loads believe me) and a load of junk so she slept in our bedroom until we cleared the "spare room" out and decorated it which was when she was 6 months old (about the recommended time for babies to go in their own room). She first slept through the night at about 13 weeks - I have to say I did not feed my children in the night after 10 weeks if they wanted anything they got water, I believe that way they don't see the point in waking up and creating a fuss.
How great that my children slept through from an early age .................... well changes happened with my youngest we went on holiday when she was about 4 months and she then started waking up in the night as we didn't want our eldest to get woken up we got her out of her cot and nursed her back to sleep. A couple of months later she was in her own room and was fine until we went and stayed at my mums, then she started waking up again and screaming and wouldn't lie down so everything I believe in went out the window and she ended up in our bed until she went to sleep and then I put her back in her cot.
This pattern went on we would get her sorted and then a change would happen (she could be ok for 6 months) we would go away etc and then she would wake up wanting to come in our bed so she was allowed as we didn't want our eldest waking up.
Come the school holidays and I would start bed/sleep training she would go to bed and if she woke up would just lie her down but she could cry and shout for 3 hours (even when I sat in her room) by this time the eldest was very stressed etc so I had 2 children to calm down it worked but only till we went at stayed at my mums at Christmas. Then she refused to even go to sleep in her room.
When she was 18 months I decided it might be better if she was in a bed at least that way if things got really bad I could lie with her and then go back to my bed. It did improve things but then she got wise and knew even in her sleep if you got off the bed.
So it improved when we put a tv and video in the room she watches it before bed and I tell her she doesn't have to go to sleep but she has to stay on the bed and I know it is wrong but she goes to sleep watching a video. So at least I can spend a bit of time with my eldest.
She is now 3 and doesn't wake up every night and if she does most of the time (if I get to her room quick enough) I can settle her by talking gently etc. At bedtime she still creates sometimes and tells us she doesn't like her bedroom and wants to sleep in mummy's bed so it can get quite stressfull but we have to get on with it and at least keep to a bit of a routine which isn't what the books say you should do but i don't care it works for us. I have 2 children of different ages and they both need their sleep and if the youngest wakes I am not going to jepodise the eldest sleep if i can help it.
Every baby and child is different do what is right for you and although you might read books on this sometimes it can be good advice but if it doesn't work CHILL! or at least don't let it stress you
I know what I should do according to the professionals but this is the real world and I will do what is best for my family. We all need sleep!
Sleep what is that again? I honestly cannot remember the last decent nights sleep i had. Im lucky if i get about 6 hours these days. I have 2 perfect children who seem to turn into little monsters at bed time. My four year old is still a regular visitor to mummy and daddys bed along with rabbit, who is a giant pink fluffy teddy and her one year old sister. Most nights its mummy, daddy a big fluffy rabbit and two extreamly fidgety little girls all in one, far too small bed! On a good night both girls will be tucked up in bed by 7.30 and i'll be sat on the sofa with a nice cup of tea ready to watch the soaps. But my peace is quickly shattered after 14 trips downstairs to tell me shes hungry, thirsty, scared of the dark, too hot,too cold ect,ect,ect my 4 year old will eventually drop off to sleep. Once shes gone i might get lucky and she will only wake up once to climb into my bed in the night. Then the fun starts with the littlest madam in the house. She clearly tries to outdo her sister and wakes up about 4 possibly more times a night. In the end its usually poor daddy who takes over and eventually gets her off to sleep. Ive tried every bedtime routine possible and 4 years later im still no closer to finding the magic solution to get my girls to go to sleep. So if your lucky enough to have a good sleeper count your blessings and me ill keep counting down the days until they leave home and i can finally get some sleep!
Babies and sleep in general - do these go together? My daughter is coming up to a year old and she is still a monkey at Bed time!! She settles quite well and from very early on we have had a clear bedtime routine of bath, bottle and bed which she enjoys however the bed thing is not supposed to be a temporary measure - she is supposed to stay in there overnight! I thought that we had cracked it when she was six weeks old she slept through for about a month. I was soo smug I had mamaged that horrible waking up every three hours when she was first born and we had now got to the sleeping all night stage - fantastic - or not! This lasted like a say for about a month then she started waking in the night again, always at 3am like it was special to get me out of bed at 3am on the dot - I checked her room and she doesn't have a alarm clock set so how does she know to scream for me at 3 on the dot?
I tried loads of different things, feeding her loads of food in the day, giving her loads of juice, putting her to bed later or earlier but no, she still loves to shout me at 3am. She goes quickly back to sleep most often just wanting a bottle and then I don't hear anything out of her till 9 which is lovely as my friends who have babies are all up and well onto their days by then.
I will let you know if and when we manage to sleep for a whole night - i am hoping that it will be soon!
Sleep we all need it and as a new parent you need it more then ever.
As I had gestational diabetes I was informed that when my son was born he would be on 3 hour feeds day and night. (Weather he wanted it or not as the midwife said)
The first few weeks of my sons arrival I was either feeding him winding him or changing him and when he did go to bed I would try and get some shut eye but you have the constant panic in your mind 'is he breathing', is he to hot, to cold, blotchy to pale to pink so on and so on ....
From day one my son was in a mosses basket ,right up against my bed , my mothers advice to me was swaddle!!! Some healthcare professionals now say not to but I was and most people I know wear as babies.
The first few nights of swaddling he seemed to not want to be, breaking free but then I thought to myself this baby is 48 hours old he's got to work with me here so I persevered with great results from day one to the age of about 8 months I did this.
I kept my son in with us till he was 9 months this was only because he outgrew the basket and there was no room for the cot (if I had my way he would still be in with me and he's 2 in December talk about not wanting to let go)
Finn slept through the night from 5 weeks old I believe this is partly due to very good luck and also the swaddling and keeping him close to me.
When he did go in his own room there was no hassle at all went straight in to his ''big boy'' cot.
My son now 22 months go's to bed at 7 (always has) and usually get up between 8 to 9 in the morning sometimes 10 if im lucky.
We always have a busy day together as I only have to work one day a week , we go outside at least once a day to the shops ,garden ,painting ,making , modelling , and of course he eats like a piggy which I think helps him sleep well too.
I think my best advice I can get is you need your sleep and if your stressed your baby will pick up on this ,you have to find time for yourself to remain clear headed ,after all being a mummy or a daddy is a very important job.
Every one is diffrent and there is no shame in asking for help!!!
I don't know if I've just been lucky or if it was down to any of the following techniques which we used, but my little boy started to sleep through the night after he was 6 weeks old. If any of the following suggestions can help anyone from having more sleepless nights than necessary then I'll be a happy girl.
1: Get blackout blinds - as soon as the sun started to rise my little one would wake up - fool them into thinking it's night time
2: After two weeks we put my little boy into his own bedroom with a baby monitor. I know this goes against many recommendations, however I do feel this played a huge part in helping him to sleep. In his own room my little boy had total peace and quiet, and wasn't disturbed by my husband snoring or coughing.
3: Don't let you baby nap in their cot where they sleep at night. Our little boy napped in his moses basket in our living room for the first few months. He slept in complete day light, with noise and activity around him. By doing this he learned the difference between bedtime and naps in the day.
4: Baby rice - again another controversial choice, but I started adding a small amount of baby rice to my baby's bottle to keep him full through the night and to stop him waking up hungry
5: If your baby wakes during the night, leave them few a few minutes, they may just be having a fidget and could go back off to sleep. Don't automatically assume they will need help getting back to sleep.
If you are having trouble with sleepless nights, I hope the above can be of some help. Please know that this doesn't last forever and one day you will get a full and lovely nights sleep.
Everyone knows how little babies actually sleep at night. Or at least they think they do until they have one. I've trained as a paediatric nurse so I was very smug when I was pregnant that I knew exactly what to expect when it came to looking after young babies...until my own came along. I ended up with an emergency c-section so was in hospital with my little one for 5 days. He was quite good there really, woke up, I'd stick him on the boob and he'd feed until he fell asleep and that was that. Until we got him home. I will never forget that first night at home for as long as I live. I didn't sleep AT ALL! No exaggeration, I was awake every single minute of that night, and I'm not sure who cried most, me or the baby!
My little one would sleep like an angel during the day and become the devil at night! He'd want constant feeding and would fuss as soon as I put him down. This went on for 6 very long weeks. I remember a colleague asking was it tough waking up every four hours with him....four hours?! I'd cry with joy if he slept for four hours! For those 6 weeks he'd wake up every hour, if he made it to two hours it was a miracle!
What would annoy me was these smug mothers who would say "oh well my 'Billy' only wakes up once in the night, he's a good boy", as if somehow implying that my precious, if noisy, little bundle of loveliness wasn't a good boy, or that I was somehow failing this test of being a good mother. Those 6 weeks were hard, but eventually he started to sleep longer (by longer I mean 3-4 hours).
He's now 6 months old and sleeps like a dream. We put him down at 7pm and he sleeps until 7am. I am fully aware of how lucky we are. I know every baby is different and what works for one won't work for others but I just thought I'd pass on some tips I picked up along the way and let you know what worked for me, what didn't, and what I didn't even bother trying.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~What worked for us ~~~~~~~~~~
I don't think it was one key thing, I think it was the combination of a few things. The first thing was blankets. When he was really small he looked so lost in his moses basket and would only settle if he was completely swaddled up in the blankets. I know some babies hate this, and some say it increases the risk of cot death (I'm not sure why as long as you ensure the blankets are nowhere near the face and their feet are at the bottom of the cot) but it helped settle our little one, if only for 30 minutes!
When he became big enough to kick about he became so frustrated with being swaddled and would scream until we freed him. When we did that he'd kick his covers off and cry because he was cold. It was time to buy a Grobag (a baby sleeping bag). We never use blankets anymore, its Grobags all the way. He knows now as soon as we put him in it that it's either nap time or bedtime and there's no way he can kick off the covers and become cold in the night.
When we asked a friend what worked for her she recommended a night light. Its soothing for the baby plus you can check on them without having to turn "the big light" on and disturbing them further. We have a little night light and a Winnie the Pooh dreamshow that displays light images onto the ceiling and plays a tune. As with the sleeping bag, our little man knows as soon as that goes on its bedtime.
All the books said we needed to get him to realise the difference between night and day and to do that we needed routine. It worked to some extent; we'd bath him, feed him and put him to bed and some days it worked some days it didn't. Although the Grobag and dreamshow thing worked, and I guess you'd call that routine.
Another thing we do, which may cause gasps of horror from some mums, is use a dummy. I didn't use one for the first few weeks as I had heard it interfered with breastfeeding but after yet another sleepless night someone recommended giving him a dummy, as it was probably his need to suck to soothe himself that was the issue, not the fact he wanted milk. We tried it, and that too seemed to make a difference. It certainly gave me and my poor boobs a bit of a break anyway! He still has his dummy now but only when he is tired but I am gradually trying to wean him off it. I know using a dummy isn't everyone's cup of tea but it certainly helped us.
Up until three months ago our little one would go to bed at 7pm, wake at 2am, then again at 6am and I could live with that. It was only when our health visitor suggested slightly altering our routine. We used to bath him, feed him then put him down. Apparently babies learn how to fall asleep, it's not something that happens naturally and so our little one had learnt to fall asleep by having milk, so when he woke up he couldn't get back to sleep without more milk. It made sense. She therefore suggested altering our routine slightly, and feeding him, then bath him, then put him to bed, so there was some distance between feed and sleep. She advised that when he woke up in the night we were to talk to him quietly and soothe him but try not to feed him. The first couple of nights were tough, and we gave in a few times but in time it really worked. It only took 4 nights and he was sleeping 7pm until 5am, the next week was 7pm until 6am and now he sleeps a full 12 hours. It amazed me that something so simple could make such a difference.
The same theory goes with cuddling - if your baby is used to being cuddled to sleep, they will need to be cuddled every time. I found it hard to give that one up, but it did make a difference! I read in one of my many parenting books that if your baby struggles to sleep without being cuddled, try placing something next to them that smells like you. I started holding little one's comforter next to us both as I fed him so he would eventually learn to be soothed by that. This too seemed to work as he still loves it now, and its really handy for settling him when he's sleeping somewhere more unusual such as my mums. I've only ever forgotten it once but he cried so much it's made sure I'll never forget again!
We found that once our little fell asleep he'd be fine, it was getting him to sleep in the first place. I'd just recommend ensuring they don't get overtired - as soon as they start to show signs they are tired (our little one starts stroking his own face just as he starts getting sleepy) pop them in the cot. Our little one is also far too easily distracted and we would often find him playing with something in his cot when he was supposed to be sleeping, ending up making him overtired and undoing all our hard work! We therefore take everything out of his cot and use it purely for sleep, not for play.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Other tips ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Don't smile or make eye contact - We were advised not to make eye contact or smile at him if he woke in the night and to try and soothe him / feed him without interacting with him. I failed miserably every time with this! I couldn't resist those eyes!
Stay in same room - If your baby's cot is in a different room, try feeding them in the same room if possible as moving them from one room to another will disturb them further. Also try to do night feeds in the dark, so they know it's still night time.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ What didn't work ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dream feeding is raved about by some mums. The idea is that you feed your baby at, for example, 7pm, and at 10pm you feed them while they are still asleep. You pop the bottle (or boob) in their mouth and they feed, albeit slowly, without waking up. Apparently you don't need to wind them, just simply put them back in the cot and their full stomach means that they wont wake up in the night. Completely didn't work for us. We'd put little one down at 7pm, pick him up at 10pm, and he'd be wide awake. There was no chance of feeding him asleep. We then head to go through the palaver of trying to get him back to sleep, just for him to wake up again at 2am! Complete waste of time for us, but it does work for some so may be worth a try.
A lot of people criticised me to pandering to my baby's every whim. As soon as he made a peep I was there to comfort him, but that was my instincts taking over, I hated hearing him upset. Control crying is where you just let them cry it out until they fall asleep (obviously only when you've checked nothing is actually wrong). I hated the thought of this and only tried it once. I sat there watching the clock, timing every minute that he was crying. I felt awful and he showed no sign of stopping and actually started to splutter so I instantly went in and picked him up. Sorry for those it worked for but I just couldn't stand the thought of him being so distressed and I don't necessarily think it's a bad thing that he knows his mummy will be there when he's upset. I have learnt not to pick him up at every whimper, and instead talk to him and stroke his cheek until he's calm enough to drift back off again.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Summary ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
As I said there's all kind of theories of what works and these are just a few that we tried. Every baby is different so its just a case of trial and error but hopefully someone will find this useful
My Son is 15 months old and although he sleeps a lot better than he used to, he is still not sleeping through the night on a regular basis, therefore I feel that I have enough experience to contribute to the 'Babies and Sleep' category. My review is not going to help you to get your baby to sleep at night, but hopefully it will provide a 'virtual' hug to anyone who is going through sleepless nights with their little one(s).
Sleep deprivation is hard to explain, once you have experienced it, only then can you begin to understand how it feels to be constantly tired and exhausted. So when your little bundle of joy arrives after a long 9 month wait, sleep is the one thing that you take for granted. Well I did, as I assumed my Son would sleep well at night. Obviously, I didn't expect him to sleep through all night within the first few months, but it would have been nice if he only woke up a couple of times at night.
I can remember going to Baby Clinic and hearing the other mums saying that their babies ONLY have 2 naps in the day and ONLY sleep for 8 hours at night! I remember feeling myself boiling up inside as my Son would only have two 30 minutes naps in the day and would wake up to 7 times at night. I feel guilty about this, but I used to feel a lot of resentment towards the other mums and think how dare they moan that they are not getting enough sleep. But now I have had well over a year to get used to it and have got to the point that there's no good moaning about it as sometimes you just have to accept it.
I have tried everything to get my little one to sleep at night. I had always put my Son to sleep in his moses basket as a newborn, and then at 3 months when he outgrew it I put him in his cot bed. Firstly, I tried co-sleeping which was recommended by my Health Visitor (as I breastfed him until he was 7.5 months old). I didn't exclusively co-sleep as this was only done on a few occasions when he would not settle in his cot bed. I would lay him in our bed with us until he fell asleep them would transfer him to his cot bed. Yes, he did go to sleep but he still kept on waking up frequently, so co-sleeping didn't really work for us. Also, I know that co-sleeping works for many and is very easy to do when you are breastfeeding, but I didn't want to carry on with co-sleeping as a few people told me that it would be hard to get him to sleep back in his own bed once I started this.
So we got to 6 months and he was still waking up every 2 hours at night and I started to hope that he would sleep better once he started weaning. Everyone told me that he would sleep better once he was on solids, but weaning came and went and made no difference to his sleep even though he was on 3 meals a day by the time he was 8 months old.
Routine, routine, routine! If I had a pound for every time someone told me this, I would be rich. I stuck to the same routine of bath, change into bed clothes, feed, story and bed, but again it made no difference. I even put him to sleep in a baby sleeping bag so that he wouldn't wriggle about so much, but it still didn't stop him from moving about and waking up!
For 2 weeks I tried the Baby Whisperer's 'Pick Up/Put Down method. So every time he started crying I would pick him up and hold him until he stopped. The second he stopped crying I put him back down in his cot and repeated this process every time he cried. According to the Baby Whisperer it can work within 4 days. I gave up after a fortnight as my Husband and I were taking it is turns to get up with him and one night I counted and we had done Pick Up/Put Down 40 times! This was bordering on the ridiculous, so we stopped doing it.
I also tried Controlled Crying when he was around 8 months old. There seems to be a lot of debate about Controlled Crying and I tried it as it was the last thing that I could try to make him sleep better at night. Although this method wasn't for me, many parents swear by it. My Son was crying so much he was hysterical and was nearly sick so this method quickly stopped.
At this point I was starting to get obsessed with it all as I knew I would be returning to work soon. I would spend endless amounts of time looking up on the internet ways to get my Son to sleep and used to ask any Mum I saw, how they got their baby to sleep at night! My Son's sleep issues had taken over my life, but unless your baby isn't sleeping you may not realise how much it can affect you.
I returned to work when my Son was 9 months old and one night he got up 7 times. I remember sitting in bed crying as I was so tired and just wishing that 'Supernanny' could come to my house and help me sort out his sleeping. Seriously, at one point my Husband and I both considered paying for a sleep expert to give us advice as I thought that he would never sleep at night.
Then two significant events happened when my Son turned 1 years old. He started walking two days before his first birthday and I changed his milk to Cow's Milk and so far his sleeping has improved, with him only waking once or twice at night. Obviously I can't prove if it's the cows' milk which is making a difference or that he is burning more energy by toddling around, or if it's the combination of both.
The one and only piece of advice I can give is that when people say that babies will sleep when they are ready, try to believe what is being said. I know it is very hard to focus on things when you don't get enough sleep and you are totally drained, but one day your child will sleep, the only problem is that no one can tell you when that will be!
Update October 2010. My Son is now over 2 years old and he now goes to bed at 7:30pm. He continues to wake up once or twice a night, but goes back into his bed and will usually sleep until 6:30am.
Thanks for reading xx
© sweetdaisy 2009
I have always been blessed with good sleepers my son was sleeping through at 4 weeks old, my second child at 5 weeks old and my new baby is sleeping through now at 7 weeks old. As a parent you need your sleep because of contending with night feeds, or in most cases you are working and most of all you need your sleep when you have more children that you have to look after which doesn't enable you to sleep in the day.
Always try to get your new baby in a routine with feeding. I have had my children in a 2, 6, 10 routine with feeding. If they have woken early through the day for the next bottle I have upped the oz of the bottle to help them feel a little bit more full for longer, eventually they are able to miss the early morning feed out and sleep longer through the night which means you get a good nights sleep for the next day. If you have a hungry baby try the hungrier babies milk to help keep them full for longer. With my daughter she was a hungry baby even on the hungrier baby milk so I added a quater of a rusk mashed down and dissolved in her night bottle to make her feel a little more full. I would not advise this technique until your child is 3 months old so that their digestive system is able to handle the rusk. I wouldn't advise to use the night time milk because it is that thick that it takes your child longer to drink the bottle and the struggle to finish it which means they are not getting as full as they need and will wake up for another feed early.
My son liked to be swaddled. This is when a child is wrapped up in a blanket around their body with their arms strapped inside. This makes them feel secure and warm. If you are using this technique ensure that you do not cover the childs face. If you are having to do this is hotter weather then make sure that you use a thin cotton sheet to wrap the child in and ensure they are wearing a vest and not a baby grow so that they do not overheat. When the child gets older they like to be able to move around and tend to kick off the blankets this is where a grow bag is best. A grow bag is a big bag like sheet that zips around the feet and torso with two strapps over the sholders. This works in a way that your child can kick their legs but is able to stay covered so that they will not wake up because they are cold.
I have always given my children soothers these are good for many reasons. It has now been a proven fact that soothers help reduce the risk of cot death due to they remind the child to breath while they are asleep. A baby is will usually fall to sleep while they are drinking the bottle because of the sucking action. I have notice when using the soothers they have helped bring up the stubborn wind that causes griping pain in babies so this has helped settle off my children a little more. It can sometime take a little while for your child to find a soother that they like but when they are used to one this will help settle them to sleep. When my child has woken through the night I have poped thier soother in and my child has settled off again within 5 minuites.
Giving your child a bath before bed is a good relaxation technique to help your child settle a little better. The warm water helps relax the child and will make them feel more sleepy. The bath also helps babies wind as it warms their belly and takes away the pain. I always use a lavender baby bath due to lavender is a natural relaxant and I have found this sooths the child ready for bed. This works for all of my children at any age I still use this technique on my 5 year old and it works with him.
Reading to older childen is a good way of relaxing them before bed. Either when they are in bed or if they are cuddling on the sofa before going upto bed it helps them feel secure and relaxed. Reading a book in a quiet soothing voice helps them feel contented and safe a child like to hear your voice because it is what they know and understand about being safe and relaxed. I tend to try and find a book that is about night time or bed so that they understand what bed is.
There are all kinds of night lights for children of all ages. My daughter has one that plays musical lullabys and nature sounds and projects shapes onto the ceiling. All the baby night lights have the same things but always make sure that they are not too loud the quieter they are the more your child will stay quiet to try to listen to the sounds which helps them fall to sleep. My son is 5 and has a night light but prefers the landing light left on which gives him a sence of security. I don't mide this due to the bathroom is downstairs in our house so if he does get up to the toilet he is safe on the stairs. My daughter is nearly 2 and she also has her musical night light that she has to have on to help her sleep.
Your child is familiar to your voice it is the first thing that they heard and recognised. So the sound of your voice is relaxing to a child because it is what they know. Singing a lullaby quietly and in a soft tone help relax your child even if you are not much of a singer it doesn't matter it will still relax your child and help them fall to sleep.
I don't belive in picking up your child all the time but in some cases it is good for the child to have a cuddle from the parents or even being rocked to sleep. When a baby is born they pick up the smell of their parents so that they can relate to them. This helps them feel comfortable and contented. My son still likes to cuddle before bed that relaxes him and makes him feel safe to go to sleep. My daughter likes to have a cuddle and have her hair stroked to relax her and my third child likes to lie on my chest and have her back rubbed to relax her. If your child falls to sleep on you this can work out a bit awkward to move them to bed without waking them. If you can try to position your child so that you are able to move easily without waking them this will make it easier for you to be able to put them in bed. Ensure you have a warm blanket for them, if you have let them fall asleep on you they have had the warmth from your body so the sudden shock of being colder will wake them. I found that rocking my son in a rocking chair helped and made it easier to settle him to sleep when he was having a love.
Up until my children are 3 I have given them a milk bottle before bed that I have warmed up. This helps them feel a little full before bed and has warmed their tummy to help settle them. This is ok until they are starting to potty train through the night and it also ensures that they are getting calcium at least once a day.
There are other reasons why children will not sleep such as suffering from colic and being ill if you would like any advice on how to deal with these problems I will be happy to try and help.
I would like to start this review by stating that I am not a mean person or a bad parent, just a woman who really can't function without a good eight hours of sleep at least!
I have two children: my daughter Charlotte is nearly eight and my son Finlay is 16 months. When I first had Charlotte I really wasn't prepared for the sleep deprivation that life with a newborn baby would entail: my god that was a shock to the system! I breastfed her for the first week of her life and that was quite enough for me (that's another discussion entirely I think!) and then bottled fed. I didn't really have her in any sort of routine at first; I just used to take her up to bed when I went, whether that was 8pm or 12pm! I carried on giving Charlotte night feeds until she was six months old, then started to give her water after that. She must have realised quite quickly that this wasn't worth getting up for as she stopped waking up for night feeds after about a week of no milk.
(Just as an aside: my stepmam had her babies in the 1960s, and she said that mothers were told from the start that babies didn't need a night feed, and just to ignore them if they cried in the night. Very harsh in my opinion but she reckoned it worked for her generation!)
So there I am, lulled into this false sense of security (kids love to do that to you), with Charlotte sleeping through all night. Then she hit the age of two and it was time to put her in her own bed. Let's just say she didn't take this transition very well! It's six years ago now but I can almost still hear her stood at the stairgate on the door of her bedroom screaming at the top of her lungs "Mammy! Mammy!" This was quite difficult as you can imagine, evening after evening for hours on end. I tried comforting her, cajoling her, I think there may have even been some bribery with Milky Bars at one point, until I realised that the only way we were going to get this sorted was for me to simply ignore her (is that Social Services I can hear at my door? lol)
So I'd take her upstairs, get her in the bath, read her a story and sing her lullaby, then put her in bed, tuck her in, and come downstairs and plug my headphones into the stereo and turn it up loud enough so that I couldn't hear her screaming for me (listening in every few minutes or so to check that she was okay of course, which she always was, if mightily narked off!) And what do you know, within two weeks she had given up the screaming and settled into a good sleep routine again.
I'd like to stress that if you're thinking of trying the same approach, it is essential to give your toddler heaps of praise the next morning when they do settle. I was still saying "Clever girl, big bed all night" to my daughter until she rightly pointed out that she was six and that was really no great achievement lol.
When I had my son it was so much easier in a way; I had to get him into a routine as soon as possible to enable me to spend a bit of time with Charlotte before she went to bed. Also I knew that they'd be sharing a room once he hit six months or so and didn't want her sleep to be disrupted. I had Finlay in the early hours of the Wednesday morning and I was back home by lunchtime, and he was in bed for seven o'clock on the dot! Of course I was up and down the stairs like a yo-yo checking that he was still breathing as you do! And breastfeeding him every couple of hours as well.
Consequently, Fin is in a fantastic sleep routine; he goes to bed about 7.30 pm now after a bath and a story, and settled immediately most nights. He does occasionally wake up in the night and cry (usually because he's dropped his dummy or kicked his covers off), and I leave him for five minutes or so to see if he settles back down on his own (which he often does).
I also have an unwritten rule in my house that mam does not get up before 7.30am (and 8am on a weekend and school holidays!) I see some of the girls at my mother and toddler group whose tots have had them up since 5am and I can't understand why they don't put their foot down! The challenge is that you keep putting the child back to bed and see which one of you gets sick of it first! I have an iron will and refuse to give in on most things so this worked for me with Charlotte when she wanted to get up at some ungodly hour, and I fully intend to show Finlay who's boss if he tries it! (if the kids are ill then obviously you have to make allowances though).
So there you have it! My tough love approach may not work for everyone but it's worked for me, and I have two happy confident little sprogs so I must be doing something right!
UPDATE: My God, i have now become one of those daft mothers who gets up at a ridiculous hour! My definition of a lie-in has now changed to any time after 7 am!
I have been quite lucky as far as sleeping goes with my little boy I only had a couple of weeks worth of sleepless nights before he started to sleep through the night and by sleeping through the night I mean for at least 12 hrs each night, not that I could say the same about me, I was always worrying and checking up on him every hour or every couple of hours.
Just before I had my little boy I knew that I would have to go back to work once my maternity leave ran out so my main thought was that getting the little man into a routine as soon as possible was essential. I didn't go to antenatal classes as I thought doing it on my own would be very embarrassing (my other half made it clear that he didn't want to go and I knew the reasons behind this which I accepted) So I phoned a lady up from baby dolly who came around to the house for a 1-1 session, She really was great and worth the money. It wasn't antenatal classes she gave it was more information on anything that you wanted to know both facts and advise from her own personal experiences, the whole session was focused on what I needed to know as an individual. During this visit she gave me some of what I would consider the best advice I'd had. One bit of advice that she gave me and I would offer anyone else was about sleeping and it was one piece of advice that me and my partner had decided straight away was definitely worth a try. She advised that you may wish to have 1 cot/ mosses basket down stairs and 1 cot upstairs this will then distinguish day time naps and night time sleeps, when down stairs and your baby is in the cot they can have all the attention you/ they want but upstairs is a place for sleep and not play, I don't mean you leave them there to cry but gently start setting you boundaries when they cry attend to their needs and place them straight back into the cot. I found this worked miracles for me.
The next thing that I would recommend is more common sense than anything else but always change your little one when they get up and before they go to bed this too I found distinguishes night from day. I didn't implicate any more routines than this at first and as I said I was very lucky he seemed to sleep through the night very quick.
I still have no problems with him sleeping through the night earliest he will get up is 9.30 and im lucky if he is out of bed before 11.00 unless I get him out and I still find that a bath before bed works wonders even if I do struggle getting him out most of the time working shifts does sometimes disrupt his routine no matter how much I try not to so anything that will help implement a routine I will do.
A few other tips I picked up a long the way was if you think your child is hungry through the night first give them some baby rice before bed and when they are a little older break part of a Rusk up (the amount depends on the age of the child) in a warm bottle and this will fill them up a bit - I also found this one very useful as little man was a right gannet.
When the little one was first going into a cot he really didn't like it so I placed him into his mosses basket and then placed the mosses basket into the cot, this only took a couple of nights and then he started to go to sleep in the cot, the security of the confined space in the mosses basket made him feel secure while getting used to the sites around the cot. Anything different is unsettling for a child so if there is anything you can doo to make this easier it will make your life easier too.
He was about 6 months when I put him in his own room; this was a pretty easy step some unsettling times throughout the first few nights but over all he seemed to take to it quite well. It was only when I put him into a big bed that he decided that he preferred our room, so I bought him a Disney cars make over kit for his bedroom I also took him to B&Q where he chose his own bob the builder stickers for his bedroom, I painted his walls blue at the top for sky, yellow at the bottom for sand I drew a road around as a border and we then stuck the cars on one side of his room and the bob stickers on the other, we made a cars bed (thank god for the other half and his farther) and he now loves his room and is quite happy to be in there.
From personal experience I would not recommend letting your child sleep in your bed it is great to have them their with you but at some point you will have to start at the beginning again getting them to sleep in their own bed
Every child is different you just need to find the best way for you and your child, perseverance is the key and giving into your child is the undoing of all your hard work hope this helps it did for me.
One of the roles of a baby is to keep their Mummy and Daddy awake. It is in their job description, and they are as good as gold in sticking to the rules. This, however, whilst expected by all new parents, can be far more draining than anyone ever imagined, and whilst we are designed to cope for the most part, in the knowledge (or is that hope?) that "they will grow out of it" reasonably soon, and will settle through the night, the reality is often quite different.
Sleep deprivation is not fun. It makes you tired (obviously), but it also makes you grumpy, clumsy, and very very emotional. When you are tired, you blow things up out of all proportion, and everything seems so much worse than it would have done had you had something resembling a normal amount of sleep.
When you are suffering from a lack of sleep, your baby doesn't understand what the problem is - they carry on demanding (another of their contracted roles)......food, nappies, comfort. This can result, in my experience, in one of three things:
1) you carry on - your coping mechanism working overtime, tired, but aware that this is "normal" for this stage in your life, and it will pass.
2) you try and pacify your baby - by giving into its demands.......picking him up because he is only happy when he is with you, giving him more food or more milk because he is quiet when he is eating/suckling, etc etc. Whilst this might seem like the easy option, your little cherub is learning quickly, and if you continue doing this, you could be setting yourself up for a lifetime of constant demand.
3) you are so exhausted, that you just want the baby to shut up. You may love your baby dearly, but sometimes it feels as though they are your worst enemy, sapping you of energy, and somehow deliberately doing it just to wind you up (or that is how it feels, anyway). This can lead to excessive snappiness and anger, and in extreme cases, just the desire to walk away or to shake the baby to make him take notice of the way you are feeling. (As I said above, when you have severe sleep deprivation, things get blown out of all proportion, and I am not for a moment suggesting that everyone who has a lack of sleep turns violent towards their babies, just pointing out that sleep deprivation affects people quite severely). Post natal depression may kick in, just to round things off nicely.......
So, what can you do? First of all, check out with your GP, midwife or health visitor that there is nothing physically wrong with your baby. I don't want to say "babies do this, it is just what they do" and sound all blase about it, because if there is a real reason behind it, it needs to be sorted. If baby is suffering with digestive problems or had a traumatic birth leading to head or neck stiffness, they will let you know by crying - so get it checked out first.
The chances are, that there is nothing physically wrong, so now it is a case of making the best of the position you are in. This is not easy, because you are tired, exhausted, emotional, and feeling as though the world is against you right now.
If you choose to allow your coping mechanism to do its job, be realistic in your expectations. This is tiring, but if it applies to you, make sure that you are eating a healthy diet, and looking after yourself throughout - it is easy to be on autopilot and "forget" to eat, or to snack rather than to eat properly. Accept offers of help - if someone can sit with the baby while you go and have a soak in the bath, or a walk on your own etc, that will give you that extra bit of strength and energy you need.
If you are verging on the desperate - and fear that you may harm yourself or your baby, please please please see your GP, midwife or health visitor. Whether simple sleep deprivation, baby blues or full blown post natal depression, there are people who can help - don't be afraid to ask for that help.......it does not make you any less of a good mummy. Support groups are available in many areas, and these can provide you with a great network of people who have been there, done that, and can help you through the difficult days (and nights) and help you bring everything back into perspective.
If you are giving in to a demanding baby all the time, "for an easy life", you will possibly be setting yourself up for a demanding toddler, pre-schooler, teenager, etc etc.........so, don't be afraid to say NO. That doesn't mean you have to actually say "NO" at every opportunity, but have a system whereby you know yourself that the baby is not hungry, is dry and clean, is warm, and is healthy (having checked out any possible illness, as above). So, you know that no harm will come of the baby if he cries for a bit. The theory behind this is that the baby will soon learn that crying for the sake of it doesn't work, but that if baby genuinely needs mummy, she will be there. It also doesn't stop mummy giving baby lots of cuddles just because cuddles are nice!
When my first born was a baby, I got very little sleep - my husband worked away, so I was on my own, and I still worked, so I had to function, come what may. Someone came in to look after her when I was at work, and lo and behold, she was an absolute angel while I was out, and then turned into my demanding little terror as soon as I walked in the door.
Although I never got to the stage of wanting to walk away, I know a couple of people who did. One actually got to the point of handing her baby over to her partner and walking away for ever. I thank my lucky stars that this was not me......but it so easily could have been.
I had developed a combination of coping (especially at work) and giving in to demands......picking my baby up, feeding her more or less on demand. When it became apparent that I was doing neither her nor myself any favours, I was advised by my health visitor to try "controlled crying".
This involves making sure that your baby is comfortable, fed, dry etc, and putting them to bed/in the pram or whatever so they are safe. Kiss them and tell them that you love them. And walk away. When they cry, leave them. After a while, you go back, and just check that they don't need a nappy change, and that they are warm enough, but don't pick them up, just tuck them in, and tell them you love them......and walk away.
Eventually, the baby realises that mummy is still there, but that she isn't going to play the "Demand" game any more......baby goes off to sleep, and when baby is asleep, so Mummy can rest.
This is hard, though. It is difficult to hear your baby cry, when you know that by picking him/her up, you can make everything better. It is hard to walk up to the crib or the pram, and not pick up your baby, but to stay at arms length before you walk away.
I am not pretending for a moment that this is an easy thing to do. I remember going to both neighbours at the time (we lived in a terrace) and telling them what I was doing, for fear that they thought I was killing my baby - the noise from inside my house was so great at times.
You have to be strong, but in my experience, it works......after just 3 days of torture, my baby worked out her own natural routine, meaning that we both got more sleep.
When my son arrived shortly afterwards (there is only 15 months between my two), I worked on this system more or less straight away, and he has been one of the best sleepers in the world. Coincidence, maybe, but I am grateful for it.
Some people criticised me for doing the controlled crying - one even called me a bad mother for allowing my baby to suffer. If I knew where that person now lived, I would invite her round to meet my 13 and 14 year olds and to tell me if they have been adversly affected.
Interestingly, though, when I went to my two neighbours to apologise for the noise, both said that they had done this when they were new mums. One pointed out that until relatively recently it was normal for babies to be wrapped up warm, put in their pram, and put outside in the garden for several hours each day......and that all I was doing was going back to basics.
I love my children dearly, and I always have done, but I look back and remember those days of no sleep and am grateful that I was given the advice that I was.
It is a very personal thing though - this is just MY experience.