6months · baby · mum · mummy · parent · sleep

Gentle Sleep – Our Way

When you have a baby, you aren’t told how to parent, you aren’t told how to make your baby sleep, how to keep them sleeping and you soon learn that there are many judgements in the world of parenting and no matter which decision you make, someone thinks it’s the wrong way. Well, I just want to say, sod it… do it your way who gives a shit. I’m going to share with you our bedtime routine and what I have done to have a good night-time sleeper.

Naps Are Key

I believe that Fletcher is a good night-time sleeper because I insist he has solid naps daily. He is so reliant on his naps and if they don’t go well, night time is a challenge, and then the following day is also affected and I have an extremely grumpy child suffering from sleep deprivation… As am I.

Fletcher is almost 7 months old and he has 3/4 naps a day (he is currently seeming to be cutting this down to 2/3 a day) A successful day is when those naps are longer than half hour, however I do have a catnapper unfortunately, and so sometimes he has frequent short naps rather than long ones less often. He has good days and bad days, but who doesn’t?! When at home, he naps in his cot, we put him in a blackout room and play lullaby’s and have stars on the ceiling just the same as if he’d sleep at night and he goes down like a dream. If I attempt to make him nap in a well light, noisy room with shit going on, it’s gonna be a fight and it’s not fun for either of us, so I stopped trying. I’d rather remove myself from a situation and have a happy baby and happy mummy than both stress out. He will sometimes nap in the pram or car when we’re out, but he’s just too nosey and loves to watch the world go by. Can you blame him, it must be fascinating to the little chap!

Huckleberry Sleep App

So I was trying to get some advice on sleep when Fletcher was being a bugger. Catnapping, screaming at every nap time, unpredictable, night waking and all that jazz. I heard of this app called Huckleberry and thought, I’ll try anything once and love a bit of research and intelligence behind why my child is being a dickhead.

To break down what the app does, basically you input your child’s sleep, every nap, the start and finish times of their sleep in general. You record 3-7 days worth of this and then you answer a lengthy questionnaire all about them. Asking things such as, what helps them sleep and what they typically do etc… You then have to wait a few working days for sleep consultants to analyse your data. It all sounds a bit bullshit to some people I know, don’t be a critic… No-one likes a know-it-all. I just liked the idea, and thought well.. if it changes my life I’ll be buzzin’. I was desperate. There is a monthly cost of Β£12.99, so I thought, I’ll do one month and see how it goes, if it’s shit… Then I’ll cancel.

So, data all set and I am waiting for my results eagerly! I get sent a lengthy description of what I’m doing right (such as routined bedtime) and also a sleep schedule. This basically gave me set times as to when I should be putting Fletcher down to sleep. Giving the option of 3 or 4 naps. As well as this you’re given a checklist of things to begin trying which may help. Such as, check room environment, increase calories in day, be boring during night waking.. and many many more. All being tailored to the data you initially gave them. You can select on the app what you need help with, less night wakings, longer naps, more predicable schedule, night weaning etc.. I chose less night wakings.

I could go on about this app, there’s so much to it, if it sounds interesting to you then perhaps do a little more research into it don’t just take what I say as gospel. I personally thought it was good but not for a 4/5 month old who was just generally teething, developing and just finding his own way really. I found the free part of this app most helpful, you can get the app free and input their sleep and it will tell you the next best time to get them to nap again “sweetspot” it’s called. This was brilliant, it was bang on for Fletcher and prevented me having an overtired baby. At the end of the day, it’s down to you and what you feel. I just wanted to give it a crack. I didn’t keep it up, and cancelled the next month because a few of the advice given I disagreed with, mainly the idea of allowing Fletcher to fall asleep unassisted.

Unassisted Sleep – why I don’t agree

I know this is something that works really well for a lot of parents, and if that’s the case then well done you! You parent your way, I ain’t judging. I just wanna share my opinion… Look at me… treading on eggshells ain’t I?! This is 2018 parenting for you… Must. Not. Upset. Parents. Or your the worst… Soz.

Okay, so basically… I disagree MASSIVELY with “cry it out”, and anything that basically means a baby is left crying, on their own in a room until they sleep. I know that your supposed to check on them and comfort them in like 5 minute or 10 minute increments or whatever the rule is, but that just don’t sit right with me, soz. Some parents don’t even do that and it’s called something else where they just let the baby cry till they sleep.

Put it this way…

How do you feel when your husband/partner isn’t home for the night. You go up to bed alone, and get into bed without them and you feel a bit… Lonely. Every noise in the house is more noticeable and a little bit frightening. I mean.. that might just be me but, when my husband isn’t home, I really struggle to sleep, I feel scared and alone. And for me… That’s how I imagine my little baby feels if I’m not there to help him sleep. He’s came out of my womb and now he’s expected to just be placed in an empty space, because nowadays toys are dangerous and blankets and pillows and all the comfy stuff. Which I totally understand, my baby has an empty cot all bar his comforter, because yes… I don’t want him to suffocate in his sleep. But still… I cannot honestly expect him to just lay in his cot alone and be cool with that. Some babies are, and I guess you could say you’re lucky. But I think myself lucky too, I think myself lucky that I get to cuddle my baby to sleep and he loves it. If I have to sit upstairs with him for over an hour because he won’t let me put him down then so be it. I would most definitely be the type of mother who would lay on the floor, with my hand through the cot to hold his hand while he sleeps if I had to. I wonder what weight the cot bed can handle… I might need to look into that…

I just feel like if I was to walk into his room after leaving him to cry for a bit, I’d be giving him a false sense of security. Like hey baby mummy’s here, actually no I’m not, I’m going to walk away and leave you again. Bye. No sorry, it’s just not for me. I will stay with him until he’s asleep, and then whilst he sleeps, I’ll watch the monitor like an eagle. Sometimes he wakes, because of a noise or whatever reason and I wouldn’t hesitate to run up and be there to comfort him, as if I never left him. Often, a reapplication of dummy or comforter in hand is enough, sometimes it’s not the case and he needs a little cuddle and he’s zonked again. I will do this even if I’m hanging out if my ass, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I say this.. but this is a rare occasion, he is usually flat out and typically stays that way until he wakes for a night feed.

Bedtime Routine

At almost 7 months old, I would say I have a great sleeper. He has his off days, which is normal. He is still a catnapper but I’ve accepted that, as long as he’s had a few of them it’s all good. The only times he wakes in the night more than once is if he is teething of having a developmental leap. (Wonder weeks for more info). He sleeps anywhere from 6/7pm – 6/7am. He will wake once for a feed still at around 5am, which has started getting closer to his usual wake time so I’m hoping this goes completely soon. As it was 3, then 4 now 5… So he’s naturally pushing it closer to 6/7am, I hope!

At 6pm we start his bedtime routine, which is as follows:

  • Book
  • Bath (every other night)
  • Moisturizer (just to massage and soothe him)
  • Bottle (typically 6/7oz)
  • Cuddled to sleep then put in cot.

When we walk into a room that’s dark and start playing his lullaby he will immediately drop his head on my shoulder like he knows it’s bedtime. Once Fletcher has had his bottle he’s usually flat out anyway, whilst winding him he will just be fast asleep over your shoulder and will do like a half-arsed, sleepy burp. He has his ways though throughout this process, he will hold his comforter whilst taking his bottle and tickle it across his nose. He doesn’t like it if you stop patting his back, even once you put him down you have to keep patting him a bit so he thinks you’re still there. This doesn’t last long, he usually rolls over with his comforter and then you know your safe to leave him to it because he is happy and sleeping. Some days this isn’t the case (not often), you can put him down and he will instantly wake and cry. In this case, instinctively we continue to cuddle him to sleep or offer more milk if he didn’t drink it all until he is zonked. Bedtime routine usually takes around 15 minutes to half an hour. Once he’s down.. he’s down for good.

Helpful Tips

  • Dark Room – we use the gro anywhere blind which is amazing, and can be removed and used anywhere.
  • Lullaby – we have a soft toy rabbit that plays music for a certain length of time, we use this for all naps so he knows when it plays it’s time to sleep.
  • Comforter – something I hestitated for a while due to safety, cus I’m a paranoid worrier. But he just loves having his rabbit comforter, and you can tell he genuinely finds it to be a helpful sleep aid.
  • Star light – we have a night light that projects stars on to the ceiling and this is just to make a dark room mess daunting, adding another sleep aid into the room.
  • Full belly – I personally find he sleeps best when he has had some milk. Although I may have created a sleep association and he struggles to nap without milk, if it helps… Then who gives a shit.

All of these things are what work for our baby. They may not work for yours, some people swear by white noise, Fletcher wonders what the hell is going on when I try that. Looks at me like… What. The. fuck. Also bare in mind that babies will always struggle with sleep if they are teething. I’m not kidding when I say I feel sorry for them, because I had a wisdom tooth coming through and shit man…it ain’t nice, so I imagine they feel pain like that too! Developmental leaps and growth spurts are also a huge part of why your baby might be struggling. These reasons are why I will always comfort my boy if he is upset and struggling to sleep. Something might be hurting him, frightening him or he just generally might want to be beside someone to feel safe and warm and if that means I’m gunna lose sleep, or have my baby in bed with me… Then so be it. I never want my baby to feel alone, and if that means he climbs into our bed when he’s older too, then hell yes, bring it on, because I love a snuggle!

Judge me go on… I’m an over obsessive, worrying, attached, “gentle” parent and I LOVE it!

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