Sleeping Like a Baby!!

Sleep has got to be one of the biggest issues for new parents!!  It’s not something I was ever really that bothered about when I was pregnant.  I’m not someone who needs 8 hours a night or I can’t function.  Sean on the other hand, was concerned about the lack of sleep ‘we’ would be having!

Turns out, it hasn’t really been that bad at all!!!

Ella has been a good sleeper from day one.  When she was a newborn, she pretty much only woke up once in the night for a feed.  Luckily, the middle of the night seemed to be when my milk was at its most abundant, so feeding didn’t take too long – about 10 minutes max – and she’d go straight back to sleep after.  There’d be the odd night when she’d wake 2 or 3 times, but all-in-all we lucked out!

We did have a bit of difficulty getting her settled in the early days, which I realise now is because she was going to bed hungry (see the issues with my milk here!).  When we got home from hospital, I was absolutely exhausted.  I think from the day before having her, to the day we brought her home over a week later, I’d probably had a total of about 10 hours sleep, no exaggeration!  Nothing to do with Ella!  All to do with being in a noisy hospital ward, with a baby on the ward that screamed all night!  So, Sean took charge for the first few days at home, trying to get Ella off to sleep.  She would eventually give in and fall asleep and then wake the once in the night to finally get her belly-full!

This soon passed once we clicked on that I didn’t have enough milk and started giving her a bottle of formula before bed.  She slept for 6 hours, then another 4 after that the first time she had formula!  Problem solved!  She had a bottle every night before bed from there on in.

I read a book, which suggested using 5 s’s to help settle babies to sleep – swaddling, shushing, swinging, sucking, and side/stomach position.  This book suggested that when the baby is younger than 3 months, they are in the 4th trimester and favour conditions that they had in the womb.  We did swaddling, which worked fab for night and naps!  And, Ella has a bear (she doesn’t use it any more!) called a slumber bear, that has an actual recording from the womb (shushing) that plays for 5 minutes when she cries or kicks it!  It was amazing!!!  You’d literally hear her kick out and cry, it would go off, and she’d go silent and back to sleep!!!  They’re about £25 but well worth the money!  It’s safely stowed in the loft for next baby!!!

All swaddled up and fast asleep at about 3 weeks old!
All swaddled up and fast asleep at about 3 weeks old!

I really do see her sleep being completely related to her feeding.  She slept better once we introduced the bottle of formula before bed.  And, once I had to introduce more bottles during the day, it was starting to become obvious that she was having enough milk during that day that she shouldn’t really need any at night.  So, once I completely stopped breastfeeding when Ella was 11 weeks old, I decided to also stop night feeds.  Instead, I started putting a dummy in her mouth when she woke in the night.  Up to this point, Ella wasn’t really in to the dummy, so I thought it wouldn’t work, but luckily it seemed all she wanted to do was suckle back to sleep, so took the dummy straight away and went back to sleep.

What made this phase really hard though was that she’d wake up every time the dummy fell out until she was in a deep sleep.  So, while previously I might be up for 10 minutes in the night, I was now up for about an hour and a half.

The other thing that developed at about this stage, was that she’d wake every night at 1.30am exactly.  It was complete habitual waking!  I read in a book (will definitely do a blog at some point about reading!  I’ve got loads of great advice from baby books!) that you can solve the habitual waking problem by using a technique called ‘wake to sleep’.  This meant waking Ella very slightly, not to the point where she’d actually open her eyes, by lifting her slightly about an hour before she was habitually waking.  After 3 days of doing this, the problem was solved!  She stopped waking up at half 1!  I think it readjusts their sleeping clock or something!!

And, after about 10 days of putting the dummy in instead of feeding, she slept through for the first time, at 12 weeks old!!!  For about a week, she’d alternate nights between waking and sleeping through.  And, from then til the present day, she started sleeping through every night!!  It’s been fab!  Stopping night feeds was definitely the right move, and persevering with the dummy in to help her get back to sleep.

The other thing that has helped with sleeping through has been the ‘dreamfeed’.  This means that at 10.30pm, Ella has about 4ozs of milk that sees her through the night.  She doesn’t wake up for it.  I lift her out of her cot and she naturally eats when the teat goes in her mouth!  I’m hoping to drop this soon, but it seems to be working so well, I’m not sure that I’m ready to just yet!

Ella has also been in her own room since she was 11 weeks old.  I think she sometimes woke up because she knew we were there.  She’s slept so much better when in her cot on her own!  There’s no snoring or stirring waking her up, and I wasn’t tempted to put the dummy in at the smallest noise like I would if she was lying next to me!

And I think another factor that has really helped her sleep through has been putting in place a bedtime routine that we stick to every night.  So, at about 6pm we get her ready for bed, bathing her every other night or just changing her in to her sleepsuit.  Then she has her last bottle about 6.20ish and is in bed for 6.45/7pm.  She’s just too crabby if she’s kept up any later.  And, I know this will work in our favour when she’s a toddler who’ll happily go to bed without a fight!  We literally put her down wide awake and leave her, and she settles herself to sleep within minutes.  We’ve been doing this since she was about 7 weeks old, though it used to be more like 7.30pm that she went to bed then.  It also means we get the evening to ourselves, which I think is really important too!

So, I’m realising now that this blog sounds like a bit of a lecture!  Do this, do that, and your baby will sleep through!!!  I’m sure every baby is completely different!  We’ve really lucked out with Ella that we’ve never really had any sleep issues.  I’m just waiting for the next phase now and for all this to go well out the window!!!

Sleeping soundly at 4 months old!
Sleeping soundly at 4 months old!

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One thought on “Sleeping Like a Baby!!

  1. I’m glad you had an easy time, it makes all the difference. You sound like you had a very similar experience to the ones i had with mine. I’m sure my easy ride was down to putting them to bed with a full tummy and settling them while they were awake. I bottle fed all mine. Ha ha your advice doesn’t sound like a lecture though, not like mine, i sounded like i thought i was a rite know it all. i enjoyed reading about your experience. x

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