How I got my babies to sleep through the night
It all started with baby no.1. I was never big into reading the books or asking every mother I came into contact with for advice, but I was a googler! I don't even want to look back over my google history, I'd either be arrested or put down! BUT good old google has that no judgement policy. She promises not to roll her eyes when you type in 'how do i get baby poo out of the carpet?' or run and tell her mates that you asked her 'would I be arrested if I leave baby in the car whilst I paid for petrol?' You can literally ask her anything and she will immediately direct you to a bunch of other like minded poor souls going through the same shit. Sad but comforting. With your first baby even the most relaxed of humans become panickers. The smallest whinge or grunt, you are there hovering over them, checking all vital signs, prodding and poking, making bottles in a mad panic that baby may cry before its ready. Little do you know you are only encouraging them to be tiny miniature demanding dictators that will rule your life for the next 20 years. I can not promise my blog will prevent that from happening as some evil dictators just can't be stopped but it worked for me and lets be honest, if your reading this its because you have tried everything else.
Nell was a good baby and by this I don't mean she held off from armed robbery but she fed, slept and repeated, occasionally pooing. We were lucky, no colic or reflux (good job as I didn't even know what these words meant until baby no.2. Shout out to Ted for teaching me). I quickly figured out that leaving her to self settle from an early age was key, this is not always easy when you have 5 billion visitors (although this is a lot easier when you have your second because no one cares and no one visits) but when possible I would. Self settling teaches baby that they don't need milk or a boob or mummies heartbeat to fall asleep. There are brilliant products available now that can also encourage self settling. We used the white noise app on our Withings Smart Baby Monitor for Nell and by the time Teddy came along Ewan The Dream Sheep was available. Ewan is great because he plays different noises, one mimicking the noise from inside your womb (not YOUR womb but A womb) which is all your baby heard for the past nine months so you can imagine how comforting that could be. Ewan is also super soft so baby can cuddle up to him for extra comfort. We found this worked perfectly for Ted and at only £29.99 its not a bad price for a sleeping baby. Self settling is phase one, you have to put the ground work in in the beginning or you are setting your self up for a long road ahead. It's a lot harder to break a bad habit than to never start one. I'm not saying never hold or cuddle your baby, you should do this to excess but when it's time to sleep, let baby sleep on their own.
People scream and run when they hear the phrase 'cry it out' but for me, cry it out does not mean; putting your baby to bed and then leaving them to get so wound up they vomit everywhere so then you have to go and change the sheets and the protest poop he did whilst screaming, then they are hungry again so you have to repeat dinner time and eventually you all fall asleep on the sofa and get up with sunrise. NO, this is bad! DO NOT DO THIS. You want your child to enjoy naps and sleeping, and see his crib as a safe happy place. Some people don't like the idea of a 'lovey' or 'comfort toy' something they have usually had since birth. It normally smells like sick and snot and you can never get it off them to wash it without a melt down, but items like this are perfect for comforting. Both Nell and Teddy had a Rabbit from Jellycat Store. Jellycats are super soft and come in all different colours and animals. To this day I have never seen fear in my 6ft7 rugby player husbands eyes as to the day he left Bunny at Nursery. Other items such as Ewan, or even Mum and Dads worn t-shirts, babies are highly comforted by smell and your smell at that. Also think of what you find comforting? I like a soft pillow and duvet, so therefore that is what I get for my children. The Little White Company do some gorgeous bedding for cribs. Or try baby sleeping bags so they can't be kicked off in the night. Nell likes her owl night light from John Lewis where as Ted sleeps better in the dark. Nell likes to take a drink to bed, we use these amazing no spill Miracle 360 Trainer Cup absolutely perfect for taking to bed, as they really don't spill. Once all this is in place, then you can begin phase 3.
As a parent, you know if your baby is waking up in the night for a feed or just out of routine. There is no age mark on when they should be sleeping through or when to start sleep training. Take it from your instinct or when you have had enough of getting up 10 times a night. Nell was slightly older than Teddy (Nell at 9 months Teddy at 6months) when we started her sleeping training as you are always more cautious with your first but this also meant it took slightly longer with Nell than Teddy. My routine would be key, a good routine is basically saying to your child, 'Right we are having dinner and then a bath and then a story and milk and then you will sleep for 12 hours'. No matter how young your baby is, a set bedtime routine is always a good idea. Bedtime is at 7 for us. I would take baby upstairs to bed, (when they were this young they both had dummies) with dummies and Bunny, I would normally talk about what we had done that day or what are plans were for tomorrow and saying words like 'time for a big sleep' ,'Night night'. I would then lie baby down, give him his dummy and his bunny, turn on Ewan or other white noise, cover him up with his duvet, give him a kiss, say goodnight and leave the room pulling the door too behind me. Sometimes he would be standing up in his crib before I even left the room but it is important the goodnight is not dragged out. I would also advise NOT to sit outside the door and torture yourself with listening, go downstairs, do some jobs keep busy, you will still be able to hear him (believe me). After 5-10 minutes if he is still upset, go back into babies room calmly lay him back down and just say 'its bedtime now, night night'. You repeat this leaving longer gaps between each trip, same rules apply if waking in the night. It took half an hour the first time I did it with Ted and over a couple of days. Now he waves me goodbye smiling in his crib.
It is not long enough for baby to get too distressed and he can see you are still there. Some babies throw there dummies and bunnies etc out of the crib in protest, this doesn't matter just pick them up when you go up and pop them back in but remember they do not NEED these objects to sleep it is not the end of the world if they throw them out, they have just cottoned on that you will run to them if they do this. This is the start of miniature evil dictator. Also don't feel bad, babies are much happier on a full nights sleep and so are you, you are doing this for good reasons not be be mean.
The key to this sleep training is persistence. If you break the routine and cave in to give the a snuggle or let them in your bed then it will have to be started all over again and you are only causing more upset. My advice to you is pour a big glass of wine and put a box set on you really want to watch as a reminder that you want to be downstairs not swinging baby from wall to wall singing Twinkle Twinkle. 'You time' is so important and if your baby is awake all night then how can you have that?
So there it is, my tips, tricks and advice... but lets be honest, if you have not typed 'how do I get my baby to sleep through the night' into google at 3am then are you really a mum anyway?
*This is not professional advice, it is what I did to get my children to sleep and it worked for us.