It’s true, it’s akin to a miracle, Miss Rose can officially be described as “sleeping through”. I never believed it would happen, but somehow we have got there. She still wakes up sometimes, on occasion I go to her in the night, but this is now the rarity. Actually that’s a bare faced lie. The truth is she occasionally NEEDS me to go to her in the night. I go to her several times to check she’s not dead, but she stays sleeping whilst I furtively check her chest is moving, or linger at the door listening to her peaceful baby snores.
“HOW?” I hear you cry, mothers of the up-all-night club.
I will tell you what we’ve done, the changes we’ve made, and how and why I believe it works for us. But sadly I cannot say it will work for you. I was told repeatedly, time and time again, by many many people the things I just had to do to get her to sleep through. I tried them all. The only things that will work for you are what suits your baby… And time. Miss Rose has just turned 11 months.
I’m a big believer that time is a massive contributing factor. Sleeping through is a developmental stage and they all get there in the end and you can facilitate that, but you can’t force it. You can teach them that crying out in the night is pointless, but until they’re ready they will still wake up.
The biggest change, which made the most difference, is that I stopped breast feeding. This wasn’t my intention, and regular readers will know how difficult I found it, but my supply had dried up and she was getting distressed from not getting enough milk, so we had to get her on a bottle. She drinks Hipp Organic 6 months + (what my husband refers to as Hippo Milk) and uses Tommee Tippee bottles. Formula takes longer to digest so stays in their tummies longer meaning they are less likely to wake up hungry in the night.
We moved her into her own bedroom. She’s been in a cot by our bed, or in our bed, for all this time so this was a massive change. She has a Montessori bedroom; a bed on the floor and her toys and books etc all at her level.
It does result in quite a mess sometimes but it gives her independence she loves, plus it means that when she wakes up she is often quite happy playing by herself for a while. Ill hear her babbling away moving beads round her bead maze or oinking her pig happily, rather than screeching out for attention. It may only last ten minutes but ten more minutes lying in bed is pretty awesome.
Another change we made was we stopped night feeds. When she was breastfeeding Miss Rose would have five or six feeds a night, easily, so this was quite a massive deal. I thought it would cause much bigger issues than it did, but when we went in during the night instead of offering a bottle we just stroked her and settled her back to sleep. It actually worked. This broke the pattern of waking up and expecting milk. I wouldn’t advise doing this early on, and not if the baby is definitely hungry, but the fact she settled back without milk suggests she wasn’t hungry just used to waking up and getting milk.
We were advised, many times, to do crying it out. Just leave her to cry and she will learn that crying at night is pointless and stop doing it. Lots and lots of mums like this and carry it out successfully. I am not one of them. If she cries in the night and needs me then I go to her, even if its just to give her a cuddle and tuck her in. If she needs me, I’m there. That said, I also quickly learned that sometimes going to her actually wakes her up. I used to be in there like a shot the moment I heard her and more often than not I found her still asleep just having a bit of a moan, but then she would wake up because I’d gone crashing in. So now I listen. I wait. She occasionally makes a bit of a cry but then moments later settles back down again. If she cries in distress, a very different cry, or keeps crying I go to her of course, but this is now hardly ever.
Poor Miss Rose was waking up cold for a while. She had been used to being cuddled up in bed with two large adults and a small furry dog, so suddenly being on her own was a shock in terms of temperature, let alone everything else. Her usual sleepsuit didn’t compensate for the lack of external heat. So she now has a vest, a fleecy onesie, a baby quilt and a fleece blanket. We also leave a heater going outside her bedroom to keep the air temperature warm without over heating her. This means she stays toasty warm and never wakes up because she’s chilly.
The last changes we made were to adapt her bedtime routine. She has had an excellent bedtime routine in place for a few months now. She enjoys it, looks forward to it, and settles beautifully because of it. The timings on this are variable, sometimes a little earlier, sometimes a little later, depending on how she is, but this is approximate.
545: Dinner. We sit together at the table as a family and eat the same meal. We chat and eat and she enjoys it, and is more inclined to eat a good meal.
600: Nudey rudey: we go to her room and strip down to our undies/nappy. She clambers on us, plays with her toys and looks at her books. It burns the last bit of the days energy and gives her skin to skin contact which she loves. She also loves to blow raspberries on her mummies belly flab.
620: Bathtime and teeth. We bath together in warm bubbly water and she splashes around playing with her toys. She loves water and it also relaxes her.
635: Bed: I dry us off and into pyjamas. Then she’s tucked into bed with her bottle whilst I read her bedtime story. The lights are off and she relaxes and dozes off happily as I read. Unless I read Zog which thoroughly over excites her and has been banished from the bedroom, now a day time book. She is usually happily asleep by 7.
The day starts early, usually 530, but that’s fine. She is a much happier little person for a good night’s sleep, and I feel much more able to handle the day for a good sleep behind me too. It has actually made a massive difference to us both and I am so delighted that we got to this point. It feels natural, it feels right. She is never abandoned to cry, so I know this has come about naturally for her because she’s ready.
I hope this offers hope to those struggling with sleep. It does happen. Maybe these tips will work for you too, but if not don’t panic, every child is different and every child eventually sleeps through… eventually. It’s just a matter of patience, time, and experimenting.
You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.