WARNING – LONG POST!!!!
So if you have a baby that sleeps well how much would you say was pure luck and how much would you say was down to hard work?
I am not sure why, but I constantly find myself apologising for how well Baby OL sleeps and I often say (and am told) that I am just really lucky – which I know I am but how much was down to pure luck? I know you get babies that just don’t sleep well and their moms have tried everything. Thankfully Baby OL was not one of those. She has never been a screaming, crying baby. She might moan and niggle sometimes but I think I can count on 1 hand the times when she has actually cried. More lately now that she has figured we actually react to it.
The lucky part:
- She seems to be a sleepy baby!
- She still has no teeth and has not started teething (she is nearly 11 months)
- She is not a crier or screamer.
- She is at home with a nanny and has not had a cold or flu or anything much. She picked up a tummy bug from Mr OL once, but handled it better than he did. She has had a fever a couple of times but it does not seem to affect her sleep.
The hard work part – I read LOTS of books on routine, sleep and parenting. And then I threw them all out after the 2nd week, and then picked them up and read them again. The three that I used the most and kept returning to were Tracy Hogg: The Baby Whisperer – Solves all your Problems, Baby Sense and Gina Ford’s The New Contented Little Baby Book. In the end I chose bits out of each one that I liked and put that together and discarded the rest. I stuck pretty closely the Gina Ford routine. I feel that if you actually read the WHOLE book properly it clears up a lot of the misconceptions about her letting babies cry it out and letting them go hungry etc. She believes in neither and is adamant about feeding when hungry or at a certain time, whichever comes first. However the part on how to actually get your baby in its cot and to fall asleep I followed The Baby Whisperer.
Here is what I did:
(These are the things that I believe worked for me and I know they are not for everyone though, I know they don’t work with every child or baby. I only have experience with one – mine.)
- OWN ROOM: She was in her own cot in her own room from day one. I do have a double bed in that room and I would say that there were about 3 or 4 nights that I slept there. I have a Baby Monitor that I swore by and could hear every peep she made. It also had a sensor pad that detected her breathing. Thankfully no false alarms – until she could crawl around and moved off the sensor. I have now taken it out.
- STRICT BEDTIME ROUTINE: I followed/follow a strict bedtime routine. Nothing messes with it! Not going out, not visitors, not dinner – NOTHING. Well except Christmas… And the next day I regretted that. If we visit friends I will bath her at home and make sure we are there at about 7 and put her in her camp cot in a bedroom. Or if it is an afternoon braai (BBQ) or something I will still feed and bath and put her down at the same times at the friend’s house. When we get home I walk straight to her room with her and put her in her cot. It sometimes takes a couple of minutes for her to settle but generally she will go right back to sleep. If we go out for dinner I make sure her times and routine stays the same. I will make sure we are at the restaurant before 7 (if she comes with) and put her in her pram to sleep (she does) and if we are going out by ourselves I make sure we only leave after she is in bed. Yes, I do get comments that messing with her routine one night won’t hurt, but they don’t have a grumpy baby the next day.
- FOLLOW BABY’S QUES: During the day I put her down to sleep as per the routine, however I also follow her signs (Baby Sense), if she was tired or hungry before it was necessarily time I would put her down (or feed her) anyway.
- STAY IN NURSERY: After I take her into her nursery at night to sleep I DO NOT take her out again. Even if she will not go to sleep I would rather stay in the nursery with the lights off. (I am more lenient for day time naps). For her nighttime feeds I also did not leave the nursery or even turn the light on. The only time we left was the following morning.
- SWADDLE: I swaddled her till she was about 4 months old. As she got older I would only ½ swaddle. After that I tucked her in really tightly.
- WEDGE AND SLEEP POSITIONER: I had her in a baby positioner and a wedge. As soon as she was able to move around I took it out, however she then managed to get out of her blankets and woke up. I got a sleeping bag and now no problems there.
- PUT DOWN AWAKE: I try to put her down in her cot awake. This goes for naps and bed time. However if she falls asleep at night while having milk I would put her down asleep. There was no way I was going to wake her to put her down again. It was real struggle to get our nanny to understand why I did not rock her or carry her till she was asleep, but after a couple of weeks of insisting that she put her down awake she got the hang of it and realised exactly why I was doing it. I used Tracy Hogg’s “Shh, Shh Pat” method before 4 months and her “Pick Up Put Down” method after 4 months. I don’t believe in letting her cry it out, and often would stand just outside her nursery door so if she got upset I would go to her, pick her up and calm her down and then put her back in her cot. I learnt to tell if it is going to work. If not then sometimes then I will take her out (daytime naps only), read to her or something for another 15 minutes and try again. At night she happily goes on her cot after her bottle. I can hear over the monitor that it can take her 15 or 20 minutes to actually fall asleep but she won’t cry out. She just talks away to herself.
- WAIT: I don’t go straight to her when she wakes. I can hear on the monitor if she is awake or niggling. If it is not time for her to wake up then I will count to 15 before going to her. It is amazing how many times she will just put herself back to sleep before I get to her door. Obviously if she is crying I would not wait. In the mornings now she will entertain herself in her cot for up to 45 minutes before she starts to call out, unless she hears us moving around, then she wants out straight away – all the more excuse for me to stay in bed a bit longer…. Sometimes I can hear that she wakes at about 5, but will put herself back to sleep without calling out. I do love hearing her “talk” to herself over the monitor, so cute.
- BLACKOUT CURTAINS: She started waking earlier in summer so I went and sat in her room to see where the light was coming from. I already had blackout curtains. I now have the edges of the blackout taped to the wall, a clothes peg holding the curtains closed and a piece of blackout over the top of the pelmet. Her room is DARK! Not pretty, but dark. Yes, I know – extreme, but when you had a baby that slept till 7 and then started waking just before 5 and the only thing that changed was the time of sunrise you do these things. She now sleeps till 7 again….
So what do you think – lucky or hard work? Probably a combination of both! She is an absolute dream. I put her down at 7 and she usually wakes sometime between 6:30 and 7:30 the following morning. She is now nearly 11 months old and I have only had to go to her twice since I put her on solids, which was at 6 months. Even before that she slept really well, but was waking up a bit earlier. She slept 7 till 7 the first time at 9 weeks old and although there were a few time after that where she started waking at 4am she would go back to sleep after a feed. I would say that from about 4 months she has slept through, sick or not. The one thing I can say though is that she still has NO teeth, so I am not sure how that is going to affect the whole sleep thing!!! I guess it will be a wait and see.
About the reflux, she did/does suffer from reflux. I did not however put her on any medication. Her paediatrician recommended that I first cut out ALL caffeine and luckily that I found it worked for her. She still reflux but was not as uncomfortable. I could notice the immediate effect of caffeine in my diet. Even the tiniest little bit and she would be absolutely miserable for at least 2 days. It was just not worth it. Even white chocolate affected her. So NO coffee, tea, chocolate of any variety, soda’s or anything else that had cocoa or might possibly have caffeine in it. For some reason she did take well to caffeine free tea either??? I also had no citrus, onions/garlic or tinned tomatoes as I found she did not take well to those either.
For those of you who have “good” sleepers – what did you do? And to those whose babies won’t or don’t sleep through what would you say the reason is. Especially to those with more than one child, where one sleeps and the other doesn’t. Did you do anything different? I am just curious – how much is actually down to good luck? Only having the one child I have nothing to compare her to.