Thursday, 28 March 2019 | Mummy and Little Me
Adjusting our lifestyle
Before having a baby, I’d heard so much about the importance of having a routine; how it helped other parents out and the benefits it had on a child’s wellbeing and development. I’d even given basic advice to other parents who’s children I’d cared for within nursery settings, however I didn’t fully understand the impact of a routine until it was time to put one in place in our household for Jesse.
Before I begin, I must add that pre-baby our house, and lives were the least routined; we did as we pleased, pretty much when we pleased! Our daily routines were very basic; if something needed doing, we’d get round to it – eventually, but by no means in any orderly fashion!
With Jesse hitting the big 6 months old, our lives had already changed in the obvious ways – nappy changing, night feeds and bottle prepping had (almost) become the norm for us. But I just felt something was missing, or I wasn’t quite getting something right.
6 months old – moving baby into his own bedroom
Jesse has always been a fairly good sleeper (touch wood), especially as a newborn but as he was growing, he was beginning waking regularly, having an ounce or 2 of milk, then would settle back down for sleep, several times a night. After a little research, and some advice from a friend of mine, who is a sleep consultant, I decided to make a few tiny changes to Jesse’s bedtime in order to encourage him to self-settle and drop his ‘midnight snacks’.
Our first point of call was to try to move Jesse into his own bedroom, which had been beautifully set up since before he was born, but only ever used for nappy changes and the occasional story in the rocking chair we put in there. We began by putting Jesse down in his own cot for his day time naps, before this point he’d slept in his next to me crib, however I feared I was actually waking him up by checking on him, and our annoying squeaky mattress every time I moved definitely didn’t help!
Jesse loves to hold something, usually a muslin blanket or soft toy as he falls to sleep, he also has a dummy and we’ve used white noise to settle him since birth, so I made sure I had all of these to help him to settle in his new surroundings. I lay Jesse into his cot, and placed my hand on him whilst “shh-ing” him for a few moments, as Jesse began to drift off, I removed my hand, he fell asleep all by himself and we continued just putting him in his cot for naps for daytime sleep for around a week. Each day I was able to move slightly further away, until he was able to settle himself to sleep in his cot. We then decided to trial this for his evening bed time too… should be easy, right? Wrong!
The big move!
Although we had ‘conquered’ day time sleeps, or so it seemed, I still felt extremely anxious about Jesse’s first night in is own room. I dreaded not being able to peer over my bedside to see his little face sleeping, and it suddenly dawned on me that he wasn’t that new born little baby who was so dependent on me anymore, he was beginning to grow up already. Worries aside, deep down, I knew how important sleep is for babies development – and a parents sanity too! We did exactly the same as we had been for day time sleep, except he had his milk, and bath before bedtime, as he always had, and thankfully Jesse fell asleep no problem at all – that was, until around 1am, when he decided he wasn’t too sure on his new room, and I also decided I wasn’t ready for this, so spent what was possibly our worst night yet, sleeping on that lovely rocking chair in Jesse’s bedroom, whilst he woke hourly! It’s safe to say that night 1 of separate bedrooms didn’t go to plan.
Let’s try again!
I again, researched (through very tired eyes) the following day; I read up on controlled crying, getting rid of dummies, the ‘chair’ method, ‘shh-ing’ and patting, and many many more recommended techniques. All of these techniques seemed to have pros and cons to them, as with everything, and to be honest at some point over the last 6 months I felt like I’d tried bits of each of them. I personally, didn’t feel ‘crying it out’ would work for Jesse, or me, as a Mum, the idea of us both being distressed by sleep time just didn’t sit right with me, although from reading other people’s experiences, it seemed to be the method that worked so well for so many other families. On reflection of the previous night, I soon realised I wasn’t helpful in this situation – every noise Jesse made, not even a cry, I was there trying to settle him, which in fact woke him up, and didn’t even give him a chance to self settle! After settling him down for the evening, my husband and I made a pact, we would check on Jesse as usual, but only go to him if he was crying, and distressed. We settled Jesse again as always with his bath, bottle and bed, around 7pm. He woke a couple of times, with a little whimper, but I stayed put, and he managed to get himself back to sleep. What a superstar! Jesse managed his first night of sleeping through!! Thankfully, he mostly continues this now, unless he is under the weather or something is wrong, but I feel confident enough in our routine and parenting skills to know the difference in when my son is unhappy, unwell or just stirring!
Take each night as it comes
Throughout this whole process, one thing I have certainly learnt is that each night is different – it can take Jesse anywhere from 2 minutes to 1 hour to dose off, some nights we’ll hear from him 5 times, and others, not at all. But it’s the same for us adults – we don’t have the sleep pattern every night, I can be wide awake at 3am or feel like I haven’t slept at all after 9 hours solid sleep!
I’m no sleep expert by any stretch of the imagination, but in my experience I have also found that consistency is key, as is a little routine, no matter how small it may be, ours is simply – bath, bottle, bed – along with white noise and a little song whilst I dress Jesse for bed – this teaches him that it’s night time and sleep time too.
When choosing a routine, make sure it works for you, as a family, and remember as long as you’re doing you’re best in this crazy world of parenting you’re doing good- even though it may not seem that way at 3am!