time flies when you're being a mum

Time for Mum tagged with 'baby sleep'

if you’re anything like me, you find it difficult to even find time to have a wash, there’s always something more pressing. Here I’m hoping to encourage myself and you to put yourself first a bit more!

04 Jan, 2013

I know this must be getting insanely boring for any lovely readers out there, and I know I said I was going to relax and accept that Reuben is going to wake up… BUT SERIOUSLY, I don’t get it. Last night we were back to 5 wake ups! He self-settled 3 times and I went to him twice but, all in all, Mike and I had a really bad night’s sleep.

Perhaps it’s judgement…Mike sent me this article called Don’t get up if your baby cries in the night (I can’t believe I now get information on scientific studies from the Daily Mail! Please don’t judge me) and I recon Reuben could tell. The highlights of this study from Temple University, Philadelphia (and they studied 1,200 babies from 6 months to 36 months) are as follows:

– 66% of babies at the age of 6 months sleep through

– The majority of babies who wake in the night are boys

– The mothers of said babies are more likely to breastfeed and/or have post-natal depression.

Well that’s a given for the latter point…with pals of mine, including lovely Alice who writes the blog, more than toast, ‘coming out’ all over the place. Alice wrote an amazing post, Confessional, a few days ago that pretty much sums up how countless women are feeling across the land. Myself included. Alice has mentioned in the comments of my last post about baby sleep (you know, the one where I said I’d stop worrying about sleep, or lack of it, and go with the flow?) that her little Hux is only just sleeping through at 8 months…maybe these boffins are onto something?

Anyway, what they say is to leave your baby if they wake in the night because self-settling is the key to a good night’s kip. You should also put baby to sleep at the same time every night and allow them to self-settle.

I hated self-settling to begin with but now it’s my saviour as it’s the only way to get Reuben to sleep during the day and saved me literally hours at bed time. He’s just not a jiggly me/cuddle me to sleep baby. If there’s something to look at, he’ll do that rather than sleep and just gets crosser and crosser that he is tired! And, if he does fall to sleep he wakes the minute you put him down.

I read this article by the Sleep Lady early on about sleep coaching. It ‘gave me permission’ to use gentle methods of getting Reuben to sleep while he was still so little. But on his 3rd month birthday (if there is such a thing), we were both ready to try again. I put him in his cot and left him to self-settle at 9:15am (for his first nap) and he’s been doing that ever since. And, we’re both much happier. It was tough though so if this isn’t the method for you, this is another good overview article by the Sleep Lady about the different methods of sleep coaching.

Reuben, according to the Temple University study, is what one would call a transitional sleeper – baby sleep cycles are between 1.5 and 2 hours and the babies that sleep through will wake but go back to sleep without crying out. Little Reubinator, the sleep exterminator, does fall back to sleep without much bother but sometimes likes to let us (me) know that he’d like a little cuddle and more importantly a bit of boob.

The funny thing about the study is that they found transitional sleepers tend to be crankier! You may think I am biased but Reuben is honestly the happiest little baby when he’s awake – he looks at anyone who will give him time of day like this…

The good news is a) the tests were for 6 months onwards so we’ve got just over a month before he’s officially one of the statistics above (there’s hope, so time to relax!) and b) I’m going to stick to this methodology of letting him self-settle as much as possible (including at night). As the experts say – consistency is key.

So, that’s it…I promise that I’ll not mention sleep again (apart from at the weekend when, if we get the curtains sorted, we will move Reuben into his own room), and certainly no more sleep experts or tips, and I WILL just go with it!



12 Dec, 2012

Reuben turned 4 months today! And, he’s still not sleeping though. I’m sure someone told me recently that the sleep patterns of your baby from 2 months to 4 months will dictate how they sleep until they are 4 or 5. Dear Lord, I seriously hope that isn’t true! So, as I continue on my quest for a full night’s sleep, I’ve hunted out some tips (from the 2 books I’ve read!) that apparently instruct on how to get your baby to sleep through the night …

I took this on a rare occasion when Reuben slept for 2 hours straight during the day…

1. Routines

The experts say that if you want your baby to sleep through the night it’s all about routine…So, in my last post I talked about our inability to get into a routine.

Yesterday, Reuben woke up by chance at 7am (the time he is meant to wake up and have his first feed) so I was able to try out the routine I mentioned in my last post, when do babies sleep through the night? So I fed him, played with him until 9am and then put him in his cot for a nap…by 9:20am his grizzles had turned into yells so I went and got him. He was so pleased to see me and then had a massive feed! The rest of the day went to pot and ended with him having a final sleep on me whilst feeding because he was so tired. He hasn’t done that for weeks so it was quite nice to cuddle (rod for my own back, I know!) and I watched that Tom Hanks film, the Terminal. As an aside, I nearly switched it off because he had a stupid accent. So glad I didn’t, I loved it.

Anyway, today I decided to move his nap forward half an hour to see if he’ll settle (I did this once before and he slept for 2 hours!) – he did settle and slept for 45 mins. I have a catnapper on my hands! But at least he slept.

A few people have come back after the last post to say their babies were in a good routine and they still didn’t sleep all night. Others said they let the routine be dictated by the baby – this is what my health visitors have also advised. One even said “Gina Ford hasn’t even had children!” True. But I guess then it’s easier to be objective? On the other hand, I read a lovely post by fellow Nuby blogger yesterday called raising your kids with love – she points out that babies aren’t little clones of each other. Good point! So, what I’ve taken from this is, if one thing doesn’t work try another.

2. Night feeds

a) keep the lights dim, don’t talk to baby or make eye contact. Seems harsh (especially when I can see him grinning away at me out of the corner of my eye) but I think this is what made the difference for us and frankly I need my sleep. If I do this even at 6am Reuben will settle himself back to sleep because he knows it’s still bedtime.

b) only change his nappy if it’s absolutely necessary. In the early days, it’s hard to avoid changing nappies because they poo every few hours but once this stopped I stopped changing him until the morning.

c) if they wake up anytime after 5am (but before 7) don’t be tempted to get up with them, apparently babies don’t know the difference between 5am and 3am so if you get up at 5, you might find they start waking earlier and earlier – god forbid!! Reuben would often be completely wide awake and ungodly hours. I’d feed him, he’d fall asleep and then the minute I put him back down his eyes would pop open and he’d smile at me. I’d put him back on for a feed, he’d fall asleep, I’d put him down and he’d wake again. Eventually I just left him to it and got back into bed. He took a while to settle and sometimes still does but he does settle and rarely cries now.

3. Nighttime temperature

Apparently making the room warmer can help a baby sleep through. It’s suggested to heat the room to 20degrees and add some extra cotton blankets. We now sleep with the heating on and because we’re at the top of the house the system is noisy, which is most annoying and I can’t say Reuben is really sleeping much better. I’ll try some extra blankets though as his hands are often like little ice cubes.

4. Daytime sleep

There is apparently an amount of sleep that each baby needs during the day so that they avoid being overtired when it comes to bedtime, and therefore harder to settle and more likely to wake. The amount of daytime sleep your baby should have differs from one sleep expert to another –

Gina Ford says the following:

Birth-4 weeks: 5 hours

4 – 8 weeks: 4-4 1/2 hours

8 – 12 weeks: 3 1/2 hours

3 – 6 months: 3 hours

6 – 12 months: 2 1/2 – 3 hours

12 – 15 months: 2 1/2 hours

18 – 24 months: 2 hours

Tizzy Hall says babies generally have more than this but she also says that if you’re baby isn’t sleeping through until 7am that you should try cutting this amount…I would love to try cutting this amount but Reuben is certainly NOT getting anywhere near the 4 hours and 45 mins a day she suggests. So I guess I need to tackle his cat napping and see if that helps. More to follow on that.

5. Hunger

If your baby hasn’t eaten enough during the day, they will wake up hungry…guess it makes sense and I think this might be what we’re suffering from as Reuben will wake and have a good feed. Gina Ford suggests that a baby aged between 6 weeks and 6 months should have 4 to 5 feeds between 7am and 11pm. A baby’s ability to sleep through apparently also depends upon how much weight they are gaining per week (between 6-8oz per week) and breastfed babies will wake more if they don’t get enough at the 10pm dream feed. I’m not entirely convinced on this one as I have friends whose babies are not gaining that amount and they are sleeping like logs through the night!

6. Dream feeding

Leading in from the last tip, I’ve a few pals who swear by dream feeding (i.e. the 10pm feed) so we have tried it but with limited success. Mike used to stay up and then give Reuben a bottle around 10:30/11pm and what he found was that either Reuben wouldn’t wake up enough to drink or he would wake up and then not settle again until 1 or 2am. Not much fun (for him, I was sound asleep)! So we abandoned this.

Tizzy Hall says if your baby is waking at 12 and 4am, introducing a dream feed could be all he needs to make it through until 7am…this is what Reuben is doing so perhaps it’s time to try again. Here is her advice for dream feeding:

“Gently pick up your sleeping baby, place the bottle or breast on her lower lip and allow her to drink, taking care not to wake her. When finished, sit her upright for a few minutes to allow wind to escape…do not try and leave your baby in her bed while you do the dream feed.”

We tried it last night at 11pm and he fed fine but he did stir for quite a while afterwards. I’d just doze off and he’d make a little squawk, then I’d doze off again and he’d do it again! He didn’t sleep all night, however, but I feel like it could be progress so we’ll try again tonight.


Any thoughts? Any special tips you think really made the difference? Please do share with your sleepy friends!



Save Our Sleep: Helping your baby to sleep through the night, from birth to two years – Tizzy Hall

Gina Ford’s Top Tips For Contented Babies & Toddlers – Gina Ford

05 Dec, 2012

So, when do babies sleep through the night? Ah, the age old question… after last week’s blog (yes, that’s how infrequently I’m blogging these days!) about combining bottle feeding with breastfeeding was posted on the Nuby facebook page, if there’s one thing I learnt from the hundreds of comments it’s that all babies are different! My experience (which has resulted in a sweeping generalisation) of people who have bottle fed their babies is that the baby sleeps through from 6 weeks. Turns out this isn’t true! Who’d have thought.

There were people who have exclusively bottle fed with babies who didn’t sleep through until they were 1 and others who were breastfed and slept through from day 1…so apparently it’s not down to the type of milk.

Reuben isn’t so bad, he goes to bed at 7pm and wakes between 6:30 and 8:30am. He’s down to about 1 wake up in the night but sometimes it’s 2 or 3 times… From the  books I’ve read (all 3 of them), it’s all about the routine. Now, every time I’ve tried to put Reuben into a routine it’s ended in tears (mine). From the book aptly named “Save our sleep”, Tizzie Hall believes if you get them in a routine they’ll learn to sleep through. Here is the routine Reuben should be on now he’s 3 and half months old (up until he starts weaning):

7am wake and feed baby (even if the last feed was at 5:30am)

9am put your baby down for a nap (let him self-settle)

11am wake (!)* and feed your baby

1pm put your baby down for a nap (let him self-settle)

3pm wake (!) and feed your baby

4:30pm put your baby down for a nap (let him self-settle) – some babies only sleep every other day at this time. We’re encouraged here to put baby in the pushchair and go out for a walk to encourage them to sleep in places other than their cot…

5:15pm wake baby and give them a bath

6:30pm feed baby

7pm put baby down to sleep

10:30pm dream feed

* I say wake (!) because there is literally no way Reuben would still be asleep 2 hours after self-settling in his cot!

Before about 2 weeks ago, Reuben wouldn’t settle himself in his own bed so I found the whole routine thing very distressing as he would only really sleep on me or in his car seat. Then we had a breakthrough. One morning at 9am I looked out for the tired signs, I put him back in his sleeping bag, and I put him in his cot. He chatted for a bit, he shouted for a bit (oi! Mum! Where did you go?! That kind of thing), he cried for a bit, nothing too distressed, then he went to sleep for half an hour. Just like that. Then I tried it again at about 4:15pm and it worked again. And, then again at bedtime. We had cracked the self-settle! So, I then felt I could at least attempt a routine…

However, this is what Reuben’s routine looks like:

Between 6:30 and 8:30am Reuben wakes (if he wakes anytime before 6:30, even if it’s 6:29, I’ll feed him with the lights down and pop him straight back into bed!). He’ll then feed within around half an hour of waking but often he’ll not have a proper feed.

Around 9:30 – 10, if he woke between 6:30 and 7:30, I’ll give him another little feed (just to make sure he’s not hungry because I’d hate to put him down and him be crying because he’s hungry) then put him down in his cot (or the car seat if we’re off out) and he’ll sleep for about half an hour.

Between 10 – 10:30 he’ll wake (if he’s slept), and I’ll then try to stretch him out to wait for a feed at 11am.

This often doesn’t work so between 10:30 and 11:30 he’ll have a feed (this is now a bottle of formula).

This is when it get’s a bit hazy…any time between 12 and 3 he’ll have some kind of a sleep. This can last anything from half an hour to 3 hours and it’s nearly always in his car seat because Reuben has more social engagements than the Queen.

Between 4:30 and 5:30 Reuben has a feed. If he’s asleep, I don’t let him sleep past 5:30pm (I read somewhere that you’ll struggle to get them into bed for 7pm).

We then play (we’re playing all day but this is the only definite scheduled play time) until 6pm when it is time for the bathroom. Reuben loves the bathroom so if he’s really grizzly I’ll take him there earlier to distract him until…

6pm is baby massage time. He’s not mad keen on too much massage but he likes having his legs done so I’ll massage him until he starts to grizzle again and then it’s straight in the bath. Once he’s out of the bath, he decides he wants to be fed and in bed IMMEDIATELY, even if he has a bath at 5:30 (which is why I stretch him out until 6:15), so he has a quick dry and dress.

6:30pm I’ll feed him and then put him in his cot nearly always awake, and nearly always before 7, so he can self-settle.

I don’t dream feed him, we tried this with Mike giving him a bottle around 11 and it really didn’t work! I can’t help thinking that this was when he was much younger so perhaps we should try again…but then I’d still have to wake up in the night as I go to bed around 9! So, I’ll wait until he wakes, which can be any time between 12 and 4, see if he’ll self-settle (he sometimes does if I put the lamp on), then feed him and put him back in his cot, often still awake, and he settles himself again.

Now I’ve seen this written down I can clearly see what I’d be told by the experts to do – get him in a routine. “Babies like to know what to expect” I can hear ringing in my ears. It’s just so hard when you’re out trying to get things done, going to baby classes, exercise, etc, etc. And, this starts at the beginning of the day… Unfortunately, if I’m feeling particularly knackered, which is every morning at the moment, I just can’t peel myself out of bed at 7am! And, certainly not by choice if Reuben is happily still asleep.

But, on those days that we all sleep until 8:30am, I feel like we start the day off on completely the wrong footing, and I spend the rest of the day not knowing what Reuben wants, when he wants to eat, or sleep, or if he’s just sick of my face and wants to go out! So, by the end of the day, actually by lunch time, I vow to start the routine tomorrow! We never do, unless Reuben wakes at 7 by chance.

What do you think? Do you think going whole hog for the routine will help him sleep through the night or do you think it’s more of a developmental thing? Maybe he would sleep through if he were in his own room? Mike thinks Reuben knows I’m there and so just wakes for a little cuddle. Bless him, but mum wouldn’t mind a longer sleep!

And who wouldn’t want to cuddle this little chap?!