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!

 

References

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