My first baby friend and to this day my bestie baby friend, in fact, the one who got me drunk and convinced me having a baby was a good idea, used to tell me tales of how her daughter wouldn't sleep. She’d never slept through the night (bare in mind we met when her daughter was about 1). I knew nothing about babies sleep patterns but by the way she spoke about how bad it was it made me think her baby was something out of the ordinary! Why wasn’t her baby sleeping? I wasn’t even pregnant at this point nor read a single baby book so my advice was dumb but I wanted to at least pitch in to show I cared ‘Have you tried a blackout blind?’ ‘Have you tried no TV before bed?’ Yeah right like she hadn’t tried doing that, what was thinking.
As time went on and I became pregnant and began reading all these baby books, her daughter got older and still wasn't sleeping through the night - I couldn't believe it!! 'Have you tried getting rid of the dummy?' 'Have you tried putting her down drowsy but awake?' Yes, yes and yes to anything else I might suggest.
I sit here now, with a 9 month old child... has he slept through the night? HEEEELLL NAAAAW! How naive and dumb was I pre-baby to be thinking it was something my Baby Momma friend was doing. Kids just don't sleep! They don't! And the ones that do! Their Mums really ought to STFU.
As if my Baby Momma friend hadn't tried everything under the sun to get her baby to sleep. That extensive list of desperation is something I've made my way through much the same in an attempt for better sleep.
Black out blinds. White noise. Loud white noise. White noise with ocean sounds. White noise with rain sounds. White noise with rain sounds and lullabies on a piano over the top. Lullabies with the sound of a heart beating. Night lights. No lights. A fan. A humidifier. A moving star projector. A stationery star projector. A late bedtime. An early bedtime. Self soothing. Boobing to sleep. Rocking to sleep. Dummy. No dummy. Bed sharing. Side crib. Big crib. Own room. Our room. Calpol before bed. Calpol in the middle of the night. 12 hour nappy. Nappy change at 3am. Grobag. Blankets. More blankets. Less blankets. Amber teething bracelet. Calpol plug in. Sleepyhead deluxe. Sleepyhead grande. Extra mattress. Blanket that smells of me. Breastpad that smells of my milk. Baby massage. 'Sleepy' lush lavender body lotion. Lavender bubble bath. Calm bath before bed. Exciting bath before bed. Story books before bed. Dad putting him to bed. Me putting him to bed.
YOU NAME IT. IVE TRIED IT. And in the grand scheme of things has any of it made a huge difference? NNNNNNOPE!
Along with trying to get your child to sleep comes with all the pain in the ass advice and morons delivering guilt trip advice. "Don't feed your baby to sleep or he won't learn to self soothe" "Don't give him a dummy he'll never get rid of it" "He needs to learn to fall asleep by himself". If it works - DO IT! Recently I've thrown a deuce up to any of these sayings and just thought you know what, you don't see 15 year olds being breastfed to sleep. You don't see 12 year olds with Dummies. You don't get an 18 year old waking up every 45 minutes. These things are all things babies grow out of with or without your input. So stop wasting all of your energy on doing what you 'should' be doing, and just get the damn kid to sleep no matter what it takes!
We give these babies far too high expectations. A baby has constant attention all day long. They need fussing over every tiny little thing, help with everything they do, to be taught how to do something over and over. Why should that be any different at night? Why do we expect a tiny baby to be ok with having the door closed on them for 12 hours and see you in the morning! (Granted if this started happening I'd be so thrilled. Adios Amigo.)
Even if Oscar did sleep through from a young age, I'd worry about him. I'd miss him. Is he getting hot under that blanket? Has he wet through his nappy? Is his bedroom too cold? How would I know all this if I closed the door and didn't see him ’til morning. I keep reminding myself this every time I go in to comfort him. That it's a chance for me to check everything's OK. That his blanket hasn't been pulled over his face, that he hasn't sunk down into his GroBag, that the white noise maker hasn't imploded and set the room on fire.
Oscar has always been a ‘good sleeper’. But what does it mean to be a 'good' sleeper? YES he sleeps for 12 hours, is it in a row? No. Is he up several times? Yes! But he is in his crib for 12 hours, tired, wanting to sleep and I think that's pretty damn good. Only on the odd occasion (maybe 5 times in his life) has he woken up around midnight and wanted to ppppaaaartyyyy. These times are not good times. I don't do partying anymore. Least of all at 12am. So yeah, he may not sleep through but he goes back down every time I snuggle that MOFO or give him the ol' boob.
Oscar has been a good sleeper because he goes to sleep. It took a while to realise but if he doesn't want to sleep, instead of trying to force it, give him half an hour, 45 minutes downstairs playing and try again and he’s much more inclined nod off. He goes to sleep at 6:30pm and always has! He’s always done a really good stretch at the start of his sleep and then from about 2pm it goes out the window and he’s up every hour! This has always been the way. My Mum’s always said I should put him to bed later and that long stretch would be further ahead in the night meaning I could get some sleep, but I really value my baby-free evenings with Luke where we can have adult conversation, a peaceful dinner and a break from the annoying songs baby toys make.
Oscar started to sleep really well and when he woke up at 6am he would be awake for an hour and go straight back to sleep for another few hours - ahhhh those were the days. I wouldn’t leave bed in the mornings and could have a morning cat nap and feel human again ready for the day. It wasn’t long before the 4 month sleep regression hit. It hit us late, about 5 months old and suddenly he was waking like a newborn. He was feeding every single time he got up and some stretches were only a mere 45 minutes before he was up again. It was then that we decided to put him in his own room, when he was 5 and a half months. It was really tough for me and took it as a huge deal and the first night I was really anxious. I hated having no one next to me in a little crib and it meant I couldn’t wait for him to wake up because I missed him so much, which helped soften the blow of all the wake ups!
From the 4 month sleep regression we never looked back. It was pretty shitty from then. Not forgetting the hideous phase of 5:30am wake-ups - Oscar, what the hell was that about??
Now, at 9 months, we’re finally getting somewhere! I think we went straight through hell with the 4 month regression, nothing improved and we went right through the 8 month regression to find ourselves here. With a blackout blind, white noise, in his own room, a 6:30 bedtime and yes he is FED/ROCKED to sleep. He now, sleeps from 7pm and wakes about 2pm and 5pm and will be up for the day at 7pm. I can’t complain!
And as for my Baby Momma friend, you’ll have to ask her over at www.Momish.co.uk cause that hoe blogs too! (Spoiler alert: still not sleeping through but HEY thank God we have wine)
So if you’re reading this and your baby sleeps through, go pour yourself a glass. If you’re reading this and your baby doesn’t sleep, you deserve a bigger glass! But stop feeling the pressure to stop yourself doing what you ‘shouldn’t be doing’. The most important thing you can do is survive. Get naps in wherever you can to catch a break, follow my sleep deprivation tips https://www.oscarsmum.com/blog/2017/8/14/survival-tips-sleep-deprivation and stop listening to the BS you hear from other Mum’s that make you feel worse about your baby’s sleep.
WE CAN DO IT!