Before I continue I need to stress that I am no expert when it comes to getting a baby to sleep. I have simply guessed with both kids, googled methods endlessly, messaged my friends, and picked the brains of mums everywhere. I know many of you struggle with getting your babies to sleep through more than one sleep cycle, or to sleep through the night…so I thought I’d share what I did with Vinnie. My methods either work, or I just lucked out on having 2 babies who sleep like their father. A baby who cat naps and doesn’t sleep through affects everyone in the house. I don’t know about you but when I have a full night sleep I’m in a much better mood. I truly empathise with the mamas out there who have children over the age of 1 who still wake during the night…you must be fucking tired.
The first 3 months or as it’s commonly known the fourth trimester
I personally feel that expecting to get your baby into a set routine before 3 months is a waste of time. I’m all for implementing a bed time routine (which I did) but just don’t expect it to take effect until they get a little older. In the meantime try and enjoy the cuddles! Those three months go in the blink of an eye. I remember pulling my hair out at times because Vinnie REFUSED to nap during the day unless he was in my arms…thankfully he slept during the night fine but gosh it was difficult. I tried everything, every white noise I could find, every teddy on the market, putting him to sleep with my shirt that smelt of breastmilk, but nothing worked…he just wanted me. In order to somewhat function I found a solution (kind of). I ended up investing in a Chekoh baby wrap early on. It gave me back my hands so I was able to play/clean and move. Yes it was hard, but I had a baby to love the shit out of, not put down in their bassinet every chance I got. In 10 year’s time no mother is going to regret holding their baby, but they are going to regret not holding them. Myla (my first born) did sleep through before three months, but I think I just got lucky.
Months 3 to 6.
From 3 months is when I started to focus on getting Vinnie to nap in his cot. He was still sleeping in our room in his bassinet at this stage (or in between us) so I thought that I would ease him into his room by starting with cot naps. The first few days were hard. It was a lot of bum tapping, shushing and going in and out. If you are at this point I recommend not going anywhere for a few days. Being at home and repeating your technique is key. I’m not one of those mums who can let their baby cry themselves to sleep. I think it’s a little mean to be honest. A baby is innocent and isn’t maliciously thinking “I’ll cry so she comes back in here whenever I want”. They are babies! Of course they would rather be with their mamas…they spent 9months inside us! They just need that reassurance that you aren’t abandoning them! And not to mention there are studies that show holding a baby actually makes them more independent later in life. I’d save that tough love approach for toddlerhood and beyond, when they actually need to be disciplined (just my opinion).
The first few days of training Vinnie to nap in his cot were very repetitive. His routine at that time was eat, play then sleep. His awake time was 2 hours total. Once it was time for his nap I would put him in his sleep sack or swaddle, turn on his white noise, give him his dummy and walk away. Of course he ended up crying once I left, so I would go back in and start resettling him by shushing, inserting his dummy and tapping his butt until he settled. I would again leave the room, he would cry and then I would repeat the above until he finally fell asleep. When he was learning it would sometimes take half an hour for him to drift off, whereas other days he would sleep straight away. I even resorted to putting a rolled up blanket behind him so he’d feel like he wasn’t alone. The main thing that I tried not to do was put him to sleep fully. I made sure that he was still somewhat awake when I’d resettle him, as I wanted him to learn to put himself to sleep. It surprisingly didn’t take long for him to learn how to nap alone. The first few days were the hardest then after that, he got it. Once he mastered the art of sleeping in his cot I then had to tackle the catnapping.
I learnt with Myla that babies have sleep cycles. Basically the first cycle they go through is a lighter sleep, they wake from this first cycle and aren’t able to put themselves back to sleep…so my job was to teach him to self soothe. All I did to tackle this was go in once I heard him stirring and resettle him. My resettling techniques were the same; dummy, shushing and bum tapping. I eventually eased off the butt tapping once he started napping through cycles…but in those early days a butt tap was needed. If he ever got so worked up that he cried I would pick him up, calm him, then put him down again. WARNING: IT’S GOING TO BE MENTALLY DRAINING. It’s repetitive, exhausting and feels like it will last forever…it won’t. They learn surprisingly quickly, just stay strong! Once they do learn, it’s soooo worth it.
6 months to the present.
Myla slept through very early on, I was spoiled, I know. So when it got to the 6 month mark and Vinnie was still waking up once a night (and eating)…I was annoyed haha. You can virtually punch me in the face if you think I’m ungrateful; but I was used to a great sleeper. At 6 months most babies are meant to be able to sleep through the night without a feed…my idea to try and encourage Vinnie to sleep through was to introduce the dream feed.
A dream feed means doing your late night feed while your baby is asleep. To do the dream feed, you gently pick up your sleeping baby, place the bottle or breast on his lower lip and allow him to drink, without waking him. Vinnie would wake at 2 to 3am every night, so I dream fed him at 10-10.30am in an attempt to keep him full and hopefully sleep through that early morning feed. I had no luck. I did this for approximately 2 weeks and he still woke for that 2am feed so I stopped. Some mums swear the dream feed works, but it didn’t for me. Instead, I decided to drop the night feed altogether and resettle him.
The first few nights required a lot of resettling by using those same day time techniques. I had been putting off dropping the night feed for this very reason! At 2am the last thing anyone feels like doing is sleep training…but he learnt, and quickly! After a few days it went from hard to a quick dummy and shush machine. Two weeks after I dropped that night feed, he started sleeping through. From 6pm to 5am. HURRAH! Those 3 nights of resettling was worth it.
He did go through a period of waking at 4-430am which was WAYY to early. My solution…simply leave him in his cot until it hit 5/530am. He didn’t cry or scream when he would wake at 4, just complain if that makes sense. To ensure Myla didn’t wake up too, I purchased a white noise machine for her room. Having it on drowns out Vinnie’s morning chats and any other night time noise e.g. dogs barking.
Vinnie currently sleeps approximately 11 hours during the night (6pm to 5am), and naps for about 3-3.5hours during the day (over 2 naps). According to all the experts he is spot on with the recommended sleep. Yes, 5-530am is an early start but it’s a small price to pay for a full night sleep. I have thought about slowly pushing his bed time back but the hubby and I have always loved having that kid free time together.
Well, I hope this helps at least one sleep deprived mama out there! Please do let me know if you try any of the above and if you have success. I absolutely LOVE hearing other mama’s experiences as I’m constantly learning. If you have any questions or suggestions comment on my Instagram, so our little community can see and learn too.
Note: Our bedtime routine has always been bath around 6, massage with Tiny Tonics oil and feed him in dim lighting/the dark. I did this with Myla and she has always been an amazing sleeper.
Note 2: I highly recommend purchasing the baby shusher. This thing was and still is a godsend. It would make a great baby shower gift too!