Sleep. That illusive beast that all new parents seem to obsess about. I have to admit, I love my sleep. Before I was a mum it wasn’t unheard of for me to sleep for 12 hours or more (at least at the weekends when I didn’t have to go to work). I can nap pretty much anywhere and any time. Long car journeys or flights are no problem for me – I just sleep. So sleep, or lack of it, was one of the things that worried me most about being a new parent.
In in the early days there definitely was a lot of sleep deprivation…
I’m going to get this bit out up front, and if you hate me for it then I totally understand if you don’t carry on reading. Toby is almost 17 weeks old and has been sleeping through the night for the last 5 weeks or so. And when I say he sleeps through the night I mean from about 6:30pm until about 8am (or sometimes even later). No waking up. No dream feeds. Just sleeping. And then he doesn’t even cry when he wakes up. Just lies there sucking his thumb and chilling out until one of us goes to get him up. This is what we are usually greeted by in the morning…
To be honest I think most of this is just down to good luck. We did start a bedtime routine of bath, feed, bed quite early on and we moved him into his own room when he was about 6 weeks old which helped us stop disturbing one another. We have always tried to put Toby into his cot awake so he has learnt to go to sleep on his own but apart from that I think we have just been lucky to have a baby who sleeps.
This wasn’t always the case though. Until we got Toby’s reflux under control with the proper medication his feeding and sleeping were all over the place. He wouldn’t feed very much in one go and so needed to be fed every couple of hours day and night. But once he could feed comfortably and take more at each feed he could go longer between feeds and his night time sleep started getting better. We did briefly experiment with a dream feed when we went to bed but then I read The Sensational Baby Sleep Plan** by Alison Scott-Wright which pointed out that waking a baby to feed him when you are trying to get him to sleep is somewhat counter-productive. I know dream feeds work for some people and I’m all for doing whatever works for you but it never seemed to make Toby sleep any longer anyway.
So, however we managed it (or rather Toby managed it!) we have a baby who sleeps fantastically at night. We have our evenings to ourselves and we get a full night’s sleep. And for that I am eternally grateful. But now we need to work on the aspects of Toby’s sleep that aren’t so great…the day time naps.
We do quite a lot of different activities during the week – Baby Sensory on a Monday, Bookbug at the library on Tuesday, swimming on Wednesday, meet another mum for a walk and coffee on Thursday – and this has meant that I haven’t really given Toby any consistency in his day time naps. He sleeps really well in his buggy or in the car but I really struggle to get him to nap for more that half an hour or so at home. Seeing as how his night time sleeping seems pretty sorted (although I am prepared for the fact that we might well go back to square one when teething starts) I’ve decided to try and get some sort of regularity into day time naps. We are starting with a post-lunch nap at about 12pm. My plan is to feed Toby, take him upstairs, clean nappy, curtains closed, into sleeping bag and then hopefully sleep! I was prepared for this to be quite hard work but actually for the last two days the plan has gone like a dream. Yesterday I put Toby down and he slept without any fuss for 90 minutes. As I write this he has been asleep for just over an hour! I’m sure there must be something wrong though – it can’t be this easy! Fingers crossed though that he is just going to accept this new nap and I’ll actually get an hour or two during the day to get stuff done.
So does sleep come easy in your house? Do you have a routine of bedtime and nap times or do you just let your little one take the lead? I don’t want to get into such a rigid routine that we can never go anywhere or do anything but I think I need some structure to the day and Toby needs to be given the best possible chance of sleeping when he needs it.
**I picked this book up in a charity shop and bought it because it has a great chapter about reflux but the sleep advice is pretty common sense and I found it quite useful too.