It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
I honestly believe when Charles Dickens wrote this as the opening line in A Tale of Two Cities, he was writing about being a parent to a new baby.
It sums it all up for me. You love your baby with all your heart. There are incredible moments of joy that make your heart want to burst, like when the little one grabs your finger. Then your baby opens their eyes and smiles at you – what is better than that feeling?
But there are hard times too. For me what has made the last eight months with my second “the worst of times” is the lack of sleep.
When will they sleep through the night? The eternal debate.
I’m told some doctors say your little one should be on 10 to 12 hours by six months. Others tell me their baby is now two and still waking up at all hours.
I believe by the time baby is on three proper meals a day and around three milk feeds, they should at least do a stretch of 10 hours. But babies don’t understand my logic. My baby just knows that it’s 3am and she’s up for a snack.
Over the last few days my eight month old has slept until 5am. She did 5.45am one night. Me and my husband nearly held a parade down our street we were so thrilled.
Sadly though it has not lasted. Last night she reverted to her habit of waking at around 10pm, which I ignored and she thankfully went to sleep again, then 3am and then 4am. This has been her pattern for a few months now.
At least it’s better than the hourly wake-ups of the early weeks!
So what can I do to bring about the ultimate parental goal of sleeping through the night?
With that in mind, here’s some of the things I’ve tried to bring about the elusive 12 hours of sleep:
Cry it out
Sometimes just leaving her for five minutes does work. However when she is getting herself more and more wound up I just crack.
I’m not good at leaving my kids to just cry. I can do it when it’s a low level whinge, but the full-blown wailing is just too distressing.
Weaning has been going great. Yesterday my little one ate a whole portion of cauliflower cheese and half a banana for lunch and had spag Bol for tea followed by a yoghurt. This should be enough to put her in a food coma surely? Sadly not.
I’ve found what she eats in the day makes absolutely no difference to the frequency of night wake ups, they still happen and they’re at random times for random durations.
Bottle of formula
Ah the classic suggestion that irks all breastfeeding mums – “have you tried a bottle before bedtime?” Yes, I have. It makes no difference if she drinks Aptamil or the house white.
They say a tired baby will not sleep well at night. I’ve made sure my little one is having regular naps before she shows signs of being too tired. She doesn’t sleep after 3.30pm.
Her naps are not timed to perfection as I have s toddler who I like to get out with at least once a day. My baby is definitely not overtired, but she’s not sleeping through either.
An action-packed day
If I can get her loads of fresh air, amazing things to see and encourage her to roll around the floor, she will fall into an exhausted and deep sleep! Nope. This doesn’t help either.
After all this I’ve concluded there is nothing you can really do to make a baby stop waking in the night, and wanting food or comfort to get back to sleep. They are little human beings and all humans are different. I think you can reduce the number of night wakings by being a little firmer on giving in to just putting them on the boob every time they wake.
But we are a long way off a proper night’s sleep here. Dickens would sympathise, I’m sure.
So suggestions welcome on this one. When do babies sleep through the night? Can you influence when they do?
If you have no suggestions, wine will do.