Babies and sleep, how much sleep they have, how to get them to do it, and how long they do it for are all hot topics for parents-to-be, new parents, and weary-eyed parents. Other people also seem to be interested in babies and their sleeping habits too. A baby is often deemed a “good” baby or not in regards to how much they like to sleep. And I have to admit, a sleeping “good” baby contributes significantly to whether you feel like you are a “good” parent or not – untrue as that may be. So please join with me as I jump for joy with excitement, enthusiasm and, well, joy (!) as I announce to the world…Pippa has finally worked it out. Yes, that’s right. It only took about 8 months of practice but she now knows how to sleep. And an extension of that is, you guessed it, that now I (and Paul) can get some rest and sleep too. Mind you, it still feels like there is a possibility that it may all just change again, but here is what happened and why I am currently enjoying the benefits of a sleeping baby!
Cracking down on routine
During the Semester break, sleep was getting worse. After our tiring (yet brilliant) trip to Japan, and with Paul and I both being at home, there was not much of a routine for Pippa. We had always been fairly strict on an eating and sleeping routine with Heidi when she was a baby, and she always did sleep well, but we had let things slide a bit with Pippa. So as we headed away for some family time for 5 days at Phillip Island, we decided to really make a big effort to help Pippa sleep during the day. She generally has slept well during the day, but only when at home. She isn’t such a deep sleeper that she nods off the moment the car or pram moves. Which makes for some hard decisions: go out, have fun and Pippa misses her sleep, or stay home, be bored and at least Pippa sleeps. Up until the time away I had generally been choosing the first option. But when, as we intentionally gave Pippa solid time and opportunity to sleep, it really helped. She began having 2 naps each day of about 2 hours each. That’s a good amount of sleep! But the big change was a baby who slept in the evening!!
Evening sleep had been ever elusive
Pippa had never slept well in the evening. Prior to the recent ‘crackdown’ I could have literally counted on one hand the amount of times she had slept for longer than 30 minutes in the evening (roughly 7-10). This might not seem like a big deal, but when you are up with your toddler and baby from 7am or so everyday, and then you put said children into bed around 7pm, that evening time is precious. Time to yourself, time with your spouse, time to clean, time to relax…oh those few special hours before bed are golden. And we had been enjoying them for quite some time when it was just Heidi in the picture. And then picture all of those golden moments of blissful peace and quiet being snatched away…that’s right, go get some tissues! The first half of this year rather than enjoying that time of the night, it was the dreaded black hole of the day. Time no longer existed, life just seemed to get sucked out of me, of Paul, and Pippa just whined and cried and whinged and…you get the picture. And then it happened! Once, then twice, and then, most of the time! We found that the old adage is true.
Sleep is conducive to more sleep
When Pippa began getting good sleep during the day, she began to sleep well in the evenings. And, she also began sleeping well overnight too. As did I! I am not really sure at what age this principle ends. I am guessing there comes a point where too much sleep is just too much sleep, but for babies it seems that the idea of keeping baby awake so that they will sleep at night would be a disaster. They need sleep to sleep. And Pippa definitely proved this point!
Food and more food!
Just after we began seeing some amazing changes in the way that Pippa was sleeping, they stopped again. It had maybe been 6 nights and then she began waking up a couple of times each night, screaming and screaming. We tried letting her cry a little, but nothing helped except for a drink of milk from Mummy. We couldn’t work out what was going on. Then at our routine Maternal & Child Health Nurse appointment, the nurse noticed that Pippa hadn’t gained quite as much weight as might have been expected. She recommended more food. And then I thought about it. Yep, she was a slow eater. And we weren’t giving her enough time to eat. The next night when I really paid attention, she ate for at least an hour at dinner, and ate more than I had seen her eat before. Way more! And she began sleeping again.
So it continues
The drastically improved sleeping has continued. She sometimes wakes for milk in the evening around 9 or 10pm, but now she often sleeps from 7pm-7am. It is like we have a different baby, and it has given me new energy, new enthusiasm for life! I feel fresh and ready for the day when I wake up! Well, maybe not everyday, but definitely a whole lot more than I did before. Pippa is a happier baby, and I am a much happier Mummy/wife/human being!
In saying all of this, I am not giving specific advice but merely sharing with you what has helped my family, specific even to Pippa. She has settled into a great routine, and sleeps well consistently now, rather than consistently badly as she did before. There is often no easy solution for helping your baby to sleep, but perhaps trying a couple of the things that helped us might help you too.