Your baby will sleep…….I promise

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Baby Sleep
Thanks so much to Sovereign for sponsoring this post.  As part of their #lifetakecharge campaign Sovereign have identified sleep, along with eating well, exercise and happiness, as four essential pillars to well being and I couldn’t agree more!

Sleep (and in many cases, the lack thereof) can be all consuming, markedly more so when you are juggling your own sleep requirements with those of a baby or toddler!  Being awake {usually multiple times} in those strange, dead hours of the night is weird, it wrecks havoc on your brain and body which desperately needs rest and recovery after the physical, emotional and mental strain of welcoming your new baby.  Tending to your child with some degree of parental prowess after being screamed awake at 3am is surely one of humanities most under-rated tasks, though new parents are blessed {?} with that instant hyper-alert awakeness that only your crying child can evoke.  I’m 10 years deep in this parenting gig, and the sound of my eldest son stirring in the night can still wake me from twenty paces I kid you not.

When I think back 16 short months to Nixon’s hazy newborn days, the one thing I regret is stressing so much about how much sleep he was getting, or not getting.  With some hindsight, and a slightly less foggy brain, I have realized that his wee micro-naps of half an hour here and there suited him perfectly in that transitional first three months.  He has always been an excellent sleeper at night (except for the first month post-op) and a hyper-vigilant somewhat rubbish sleeper during the day.  Obsessing and counting the minutes he slept did nothing to help either of us move past each difficult sleep regression and milestone.
What did help in the early days was a pencil and notebook.

I started recording the basic details of his day; wake up times, feeding times, alert times, sleep times.  What emerged was a pattern that I recognised immediately as our eldest son had blissfully nursed himself to sleep for the best part of his first 6 months, every nap and every bedtime.  This worked beautifully for Ethan and I but it wasn’t working with Nixon.  I switched things around to a pattern of wake, feed, play, sleep – with only a small comfort nurse before naps and bedtimes.  This ensured that Nix went to bed awake and quickly settled himself to sleep.  Previously his hyper-vigilance would result in him waking after around 15 minutes if I popped him to bed after falling asleep while nursing.

Figuring out a daytime schedule that worked for us set us up for wonderful sleep patterns at night – mostly.  I fully believe that sleep encourages more sleep.  To this day Nix will have a disturbed, unsettled sleep at night if he has not slept well during the day.  We definitely went through some rough patches where Nixon would wake every two hours wanting to nurse back to sleep, and these nights were the  l o n g e s t  and hardest of my life.  I cried and I totally bitched at Dave because he couldn’t do a damn thing for a baby that only wanted me and my milk.  

By 9 months I knew Nixon was old enough (and I was brave enough!) to start cutting down those dreaded night feeds.  Dave and I made a plan, we woke together, watched the clock, knew how long we would let Nix attempt to settle himself and we knew what we would do if things weren’t going to plan.  Four days later and we had a baby sleeping through the night.

This all went out the window after multiple hospital stays and Nixon’s pull-through operation, but we revisited our night-time strategy and within a week, bub was back on track and we were once again getting an acceptable amount of sleep.

As I mentioned previously, getting Nix to sleep during the day used to cause me so much anxiety.  It’s taken 16 months but I’ve pretty much got it under control, this week anyway!  Before naptime we read a book, change Nixon’s nappy, get the cot and sleep sac ready, pull the blind and settle down for a quick breast-feed in the same spot.  Every.  Single.  Time.  Nixon knows what’s going on, there are no surprises and sleep usually follows.  

Finding a good routine is hard, and trying to adhere to one can sometimes make you feel like a big, boring stickler, but I truly believe that a consistent routine helps babies, toddlers and big kids sleep and sleep well.  

Bon nuit xx