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?!