Up until now, I have been cuddling, feeding and walking my baby to sleep for his naps and at bedtime and when he wakes in the night. Those of you who know me might be shocked to hear this as these are all things that I advise against. But I also say that the first few months with a new baby are about muddling through and doing the best you can while bonding and enjoying your time together. When sleep becomes a problem, that is the time to do something about it. So until now, we have been having a lovely time, snuggling in bed for naps, or going for long walks with Luca in the sling, or just lazily feeding while he naps on my breast. YES I HAVE BEEN FEEDING TO SLEEP AND I LOVE IT!
Unfortunately, the bliss doesn’t last forever, and while he was sleeping really well at night, and just waking once, feeding and then sleeping through until morning, that has stopped happening and we have been waking several times a night, which is killing me!!!
This is why I decided that it was time to make changes and put into practice what I preach on a daily basis, when I am seeing families who are being broken by their babies’ and toddlers’ sleeping. My lovely Sleep Fairy, Sarah, has offered to come and hold my hand, but I woke up and decided that it was time to start and Sarah was otherwise engaged…
I decided to start gently because Luca had always been snuggly or moving while falling asleep and I wouldn’t usually advise to go directly to our tough method in this situation.
I put him on his floor bed, sat down beside him, stroked his head, chatted to him, picked him up if he cried, and shushed him until he peacefully drifted off to sleep.
Amazing. But, as they say, Rome was not built in a day and he was awake 4 times in the night!!!
I started out the same as Day 1 but planned to sit back and do less of the stroking and soothing. However, Luca wasn’t having any of it. Today he just smiled and laughed at me and bounced his legs up and down. My presence at his side was utterly useless as he was clearly tired but wanted to entertain me with his loveliness.
I sat back on my bed, a couple of feet away from him and ignored him. Eventually he started shouting and then crying. I shushed him occasionally and tried to soothe him with “there there”, but he cried and thrashed and thumped his legs more and more. I picked him up a few times and he did little burps then smiled and cooed at me. Each time I put him down and sat back, he cried louder.
Eventually after three 15 minute rounds of Ewan the Dream Sheep, I heard the front door, and went downstairs to have a cup of tea with my lovely mother in law. Thankfully she is fully supportive of me doing this and helped me to focus on the cross baby on the screen of our video monitor, who was desperately tired and needed to sleep. And within 25 minute (during which time, I headed towards the stairs several times but was beckoned back) he was asleep.
He only slept for about half an hour, and then woke grumpy, clearly needing more sleep, but we got him up because by then I felt that he’d spent enough time trying to calm down. And I needed to give him a big cuddle!
Over the rest of the day, he had a couple of “Grandma naps” and a good sleep in the pushchair.
At bedtime, he went onto his floor bed, cried for few minutes and went to sleep. He then woke after 15 minutes and cried for a few minutes, was picked up for a burp and went back to sleep again. Unfortunately he woke again after 20 minutes and went, what many of my clients call, “totally bat shit”. So I picked him up and gave him a lovely snuggle until he was sound asleep. I’d had enough for one day.
That night, he slept until 1AM, I fed him and he then slept until 7.15, stirring a few times and then going back to sleep.
In my opinion that wasn’t a bad start….
The morning nap started the same as Day 2 with smiles and giggles when I stayed in the room, so I left him after a story and a cuddle and within a few minutes he was having a good shout, but it only lasted about 8 minutes and then he was asleep. And he stayed asleep for just over 45 minutes. Amazingly he woke happy and lay in his bed chatting until I went to him after 5 minutes. Clearly he’s not traumatised by being left to cry or by waking up on his own.
Unfortunately I was out for most of the day so he slept in his pushchair, on me at the cafe, and in the sling on the school run.
Bedtime was almost identical to Day 2, but with less fussing when he was left to fall asleep. The biggest problem is that he gets windy, thumps his legs up and down and cries. If he’s picked up, he burps or farts and the goes back to sleep. But he has always been a windy baby, which is why we’ve got into the bad habits that we have, as he screams when he has a burp stuck.
We will see what the night holds and update tomorrow….
Days 4 to 7
It has been a mixed few days as we’ve been out quite a lot at family things which have lasted all day, so it’s not been possible to always put Luca on his floorbed for naps or put him to bed awake. But when we’ve been home, I have tried and generally had a good response. He will usually wail for 5-7 minutes then thump about for a few minutes and go to sleep.
His naps in bed have mostly been 30 or 45 minutes but he’s slept well at night, waking only once and last night he slept through to 6.45!
The wailing has been very difficult to deal with, so I tend to busy myself with a shower or doing the laundry (rock’n’roll) and that’s given him enough time to fall asleep.
On night 5, he fell asleep after about 7 minutes but woke after 20 minutes and went nuts, so I gave him a quick cuddle and tried again. The same thing happened twice more so I fed him. For some reason, he’s was really hungry and I’d misread his cries!!!! I was wracked with guilt but he slept well, woke once more and then slept until morning. It’s not always easy to work out why babies cry, and sometimes you need to try different things to work it out. And if you get it wrong, it’s not the end of the world as long as your baby’s not sick or in pain.
Toddy has been a good day! Luca fell asleep at his nap after 7 minutes crying and me checking him once. His other naps were on Grandma so I didn’t hold much hope for bedtime. However, he has gone to sleep without a fuss. Like NO CRYING!!!
Let’s see what the night holds……