If you follow me across social media, especially on instagram you will know that I like to talk about sleep. A LOT. Like most new parents or parents with babies, sleep is something that I talk about often and think about often. I’ve been on a very different sleep journey with our baby boy than I did with our girls. While of course they woke up when they were newborns and we had the usual broken sleep, by the time they were six months old they were in their own bedrooms and pretty much sleeping through the night. They’ve been amazing sleep wise ever since.
From day one I knew this little boy was going to be different. Even as a newborn he was always happiest when he was in my arms. From those very earliest days where the only way he would settle would be to lie on my chest, those days when he was small enough to curl up like a frog and he would lie there on me most of the evening, to when he was a bit bigger and felt that his co-sleeping crib next to me was too far away, preferring to be snuggled up in the crook of my arm. He’s always been the most settled when he was with me. I don’t know what it is, whether it was because he is our last baby or maybe because in hindsight I know just what I would give to go back and have one last snuggly cuddle with my girls as newborns, but I have been a lot more relaxed when it comes to sleep this time around.
However this relaxed attitude didn’t necessarily do me any favours to begin with, that said I wouldn’t change even a single moment now. What started off as co-sleeping just in the very early hours when he wouldn’t settle at 5am soon became coming into our bed at 11pm, to eventually not even bothering to put him in his crib at all. It was ok for a while but essentially we just began disturbing each other. He went from going every 3-4 hours as a newborn to every 2-3, to eventually every 1-2, sometimes just feeding on and off all night long. I don’t look back and regret a single second of it, I knew I wouldn’t, although there were nights I have to admit it was really tough. On more than one occasion I sobbed to Jon in the night saying ‘I can’t do this’, although of course we do, we just carry on and get on with it. But sleep deprivation can be so hard and night time loneliness and anxiety is so difficult at times.
About a month ago now we decided enough was enough. As much as I adored the cuddles and the thought of him no longer snuggled up next to me was enough to make me get tears in my eyes, we realised it really was time to put him in his own room. At nearly ten months he was well over due his own space and we were most definitely disturbing him in the night time, leading to multiple wake ups and broken sleep. After finally sorting out his nursery and getting it ready, it was soon time for his first night in his new cot. I spend most of the night outside his bedroom door panicking but it went so well. The first night he did 7pm till 2am, the longest stretch of sleep we had experienced since he was born. Of course I didn’t sleep all that time as I was wide awake and staring at his video monitor but it was still a start. The next night he did 7pm-3am, then the night after that till 4am and then the night after that he did a full 7pm-7am. We honestly could truly not believe it, it was like a different baby.
He then got a little under the weather, whether it was with a cold, teeth or tummy ache I just don’t know but soon his sleep started to get a little broken again. He started waking up a couple more times in the night and it was a bit hit and miss for a while. Now he has got into a pattern of sleeping until at least 5.30am every day, which to be fair is pretty amazing after ten months of broken sleep, sometimes waking up at around 2am but we just let him moan a little then he settles off back to sleep. Although I miss him snuggling up next to me in bed, I still get the best of both worlds as he still comes in for cuddles in the morning and also I know deep down that it is for the best, which makes it an easier pill to swallow.
I’ve had a few people message me and ask me what we did to make his sleep better. I have no idea what caused this turnaround in sleep for us. I think obviously the main thing was the fact that we were obviously disturbing him when he was in our room and as soon as he went in his own one it stopped him waking up as much, but another huge factor as well was the fact that a couple of months before we taught him to self-settle. Rather than feed him to sleep like I had been doing before, I put him down awake or semi awake for nap time and bed time. Occasionally he would get a bit grizzly but only for a couple of minutes and then he would be asleep. Now he can go down wide awake and settle himself down to sleep really easily. This has really helped I think so it is definitely worth persevering with it if you are thinking of trying it.
Having a good night’s sleep is crucial for a baby, it’s when important brain development occurs, and they process everything they have learnt during the day. In fact the brain reaches 75% of an adult’s size by year 1 which I find a little crazy really (it’s also crucial for parents to stay happy healthy and alert!).During the night a nappy has to deal with a lot. There is far more liquid to cope with than during the day, as a baby will wee approximately 3-4 times during the night. As the night goes on, the nappy poses an increased risk of disturbing the baby through wetness and bulk, which makes them uncomfortable.
Through my work as being part of the #PampersBabyBoard I discovered that Pampers has 3 absorbing channels, which are designed to help spread out any wetness really evenly in the nappy so your baby doesn’t wake up feeling really uncomfortable with a horrid bulky nappy. They are also able to absorb 30 times their weight in wetness, and keep it away from your baby’s skin for up to 12 hours. We have never had any problems using Pampers on the girls at night, I have always been a firm believer in leaving their nappy overnight (unless it is ridiculously wet or a poo of course) because I think that changing it often wakes them up too much, and we found that Pampers nappies never leak, nor does he wake up ridiculously bulky.
I find that babies sleep routines and patterns can change so regularly. No sooner do you think you have cracked it then they get poorly, or a developmental leap happens, or you go on holiday, or something else changes and it means that it all changes again. I’ve learned not to relax and think that anything is certain anymore because it can all change so quickly. For the moment I am enjoying and appreciating the relatively good nights we are having and will be keeping my fingers crossed that it stays this way.
I love this photo of him.
NB: We are working with Pampers over the course of the year, but all words and opinions are entirely my own. Pampers has loads of great advice online, check out the website for more details www.pampers.co.uk