2:23 am and my 3 week old daughter is still wide awake! I was too tired to feel anything but frustration. I’d tried everything in the book to get her to sleep but soon realised that my baby just didn’t like being put in her crib and would squeal if I tried! So there I was, taking turns with my husband holding our precious new bundle of joy while she stared up at me with bright eyes!
Sleep – such a deliciously beautiful word! Yes, those adjectives precisely describe how I feel about sleep! I remember fighting with my parents as a teenager, wanting to stay up late just because it was something all my friends were doing! All those hours when I could’ve slept, wasted!
It took me three whole months before I decided to do something about it!
Here are a few things (tried and tested!) that I did to get my daughter on a good bedtime routine!
1. Three month olds have longer spells during the day where they stay awake and want to play or look around. So I made sure my daughter’s last nap of the day did not go beyond 5pm! That made her tired enough for bed!
2. Moving her bath time to evenings gave me a lot of time to bond with her. Once we fell into a pattern, I could see that she looked forward to our little pre-bedtime routine gurgling away as I gently massaged her little body. A warm bath later, with lots of toys in her tub, she soon knew what was coming next! I learnt that babies are creatures of habit and though we still had occasional crying spells (Yes, my baby was colicky!) we stuck to this routine!
3. Babies find it hard to stay asleep for long if their little tummies weren’t full enough so I made sure that she had a good meal before bed. Of course, this is much easier said than done and there were times when she’d fuss or refuse eating but as she got older, she soon was hungry enough for her dinner!
4. By month 5, my daughter dropped her 4am feed and would wake up at around 5:30am which gave me a full nights sleep! We still had good and bad days and I just learnt to take it in my stride or It would’ve wrecked my mental state of mind! I took one day at a time and told myself that this too would pass! (My all time favourite quote!)
5. By month 6, there was quite a change in my daughter as she started solids. I noticed that she had mastered the art of sleeping a good 12 hours at night but would fuss during her day time naps sometimes fighting sleep or crying her lungs out if she was forced! My days were full and exhausting what with catering to the demands of a cranky 6 month old and running the house, I had absolutely no time to breathe! I was close to breaking point when I chanced upon an article that talked about sleep training your baby! It was called ‘The Ferber Method’ or controlled crying!
From then on began a series of long crying sessions, the longest of which went on for 45 minutes! (Heartless, I must say!) For those folks who haven’t heard of this method, let me break it down for you!
- You decide what time is nap time for your baby. (Most babies are ready for a good two hour nap about two and a half hours after they wake up in the morning!)
- Let’s say nap time is 9am assuming baby wakes up at 6:30am. That gives them enough time for play time and breakfast!
- Put baby in her crib at 9am. No rocking or comfort feed required.
- Baby will definitely fuss and cry the first time wasting most of the two hours given or falling asleep out of sheer exhaustion, but I was asked to try it out for at least a week before I gave up. It was so hard. I would go into her room every 15 minutes just to soothe her and let her know that Mommy was just outside but I DID NOT pick her up!
- Baby will eventually learn to self soothe and fall asleep!
That was the longest week I’d ever had and it drained me out more than it did my daughter. There were times I’d find myself crying along with her or plugging my ears with my earphones just to block out the noise! It did work for me though and I’m grateful I had my mum who was with me so I could vent!
The points I’ve listed above may not work for everyone. Each baby is different and Mommy knows best. Some mums might’ve breezed through breastfeeding and getting their babies to bed on time, but it was different for me. Every phase was a challenge but I have learnt a tremendous amount from having Leanna as my daughter!
It has been 14 months since her birth and we’ve been on quite a journey having good and bad days, learning and loving together! Looking back, I don’t have any regrets and wouldn’t change a thing because this experience with her has been a unique one which has shaped me to be the person I am today!