It’s finally here due to popular demand…the road to a full night’s sleep. Who doesn’t need that?
Now the first question is; Has this recipe really been tried and tested all over the world? Yes, it has, for centuries. We have simply added some optional methods and products that have made this sleeping through the night business a WHOLE lot easier, for us and many others anyway.
Babies and toddlers are the most curious, daring and brave little creatures AND the MOST teachable creatures on the planet.
If you are one of those who firmly believe that because babies are different, babies will only sleep through the night when THEY are ready, this blog post is not for you.
We have concluded in depth research, in collaboration with a Paediatric team and early childhood development professionals and here we share our recipe that works for us, it works for everyone, IF you do it right. There are many conditions such as consistency, everyone must be on the same page, no use mom has different methods to dad. This confuses the child and causes more damage than good, to name one example.
So, how has the sleep been with Poppet since birth to date?
In the beginning, she woke up three hourly like normal newborn babies do and a bit later we got her into the 6 – 10 – 2 – 6 routines. Her dad took responsibility for the 2AM feed/nappy change and I did the rest at first. A bit later on we started changing it up a bit and by the time Poppet was 3 months old the nanny also took some responsibility during the day.
Poppet first slept through the night when she was 9 weeks old. Sleeping through the night is defined as bedtime till 4AM in our home. Most Paediatrics define it as 5 hours of straight sleep. Poppet was a premature baby and by 9 weeks she no longer needed a feed during the night. She managed to go through the night, sometimes till 6 or 7AM.
It wasn’t always plain sailing, sometimes she was a bit ill and there were of course exceptions.
Other times, if she woke up, we told ourselves she’s not sleeping so well because she’s teething. It turns out that this is also only lies we tell ourselves and we start believing. You know the vibe I’m talking about here, people ask: “Is your baby sleeping through the night yet?”, and that makes you feel that something is wrong and you think of all sorts of reasons why she doesn’t and then start blaming teeth and all sorts of nonsense.
And when she was 7 months old she started waking up 2 – 3 hourly. Some people like to refer to this as sleep regression. I personally believe that “sleep regression” is a myth. There is no regression, only progression.
Babies DO NOT teethe any more at night than they do during the day, it’s a 24h process for those teeth to cut and it works in a cycle until the tooth is out and then the next one comes. If your baby is coping well enough with the teeth during the day, there is no reason he shouldn’t cope well enough through the night.
Sleep regression is simply progression. Babies are discovering and learning every day. They are learning to babble and talk, to sit, they are reaching milestones and exploring. When they wake up from light sleep, they are aware of these new skills.
When Poppet was only 7 months old she was already standing up in her cot, before she even crawled. This kind of skill excites a baby. They are aware of their new skills when they wake up at night. They are progressing, not regressing.
She was able to put her own soother in her mouth during the day from really early days, I forget how old she was. When a baby can put his own soother in his mouth during the day, he can also do it at night.
The one and only reason why healthy babies DO NOT sleep through the night is because they DO NOT KNOW how to put themselves back to sleep after waking up from cycles of light sleep. The good news is that they can be trained, they are so very teachable.
(This of course does not apply to newborn babies and what I like to call the beautiful fourth trimester, to be cherished because it passes too quickly)
One of the top reasons healthy babies DO wake up at night during cycles of light sleep is because they are either too hot or too cold.
Other reasons include a million things and I obviously can’t list all of them.
Minor aches and pains, a temperature, illness, too much light exposure in the room, too much of any stimulus like sound or a sudden bang on the door, a poo nappy, etc.
There could be a medical reason for baby waking up, which can only be treated by a medical professional. Babies who have a UTI can wake up every time they urinate because this is very painful.
If you and your partner are only getting one to two hours of sleep with one toddler for example, there is something wrong, it could be reflux, a or a problem with baby’s ears? In cases like this, I highly recommend a visit to the Paediatrician or Paediatric clinic for accurate diagnosis in conjunction with the natural treatment of Hydrotherapy sessions at the Life Baby spas. www.lifebaby.co.za
Assuming that baby or toddler is perfectly healthy, he is simply waking up because;
- He has gone through a light sleep cycle and then;
- He doesn’t know how to put himself back to sleep.
There are many, many companies selling programs, offering night nurses, giving sleep talks, the list is endless. You can spend thousands if that’s your thing.
We got our program on an A4 piece of paper from a Paediatric professional where the consultation is around R200 and the sleep consultation is included, 100% guaranteed to work, if you do it right.
The bad news? Most sleep programs, if not all?, involve the crying out method, but hear me out on my objective view.
The good news? Baby only cries for 2 – 5 nights and then it’s peaceful sleep for the whole family. Poppet cried for less than an hour at a time, two nights in a row. Very strong-willed kids and older kids could take 5 nights to train.
You’re doing everyone including your child a favour, trust me.
Babies who are not sleep trained by 9 months fall into a habit. They know that every time they wake up, somebody is going to come running with a bottle of milk, water, a soother, a cuddle or something to help them to go back to sleep. This habit can last until they are 5 years old. The older the child, the longer the training.
Now, in my personal opinion, grumpy, sleep deprived parents can also become a grumpy and bad habit. I don’t personally cope well with sleep deprivation and I believe that my family deserves the best version of me. And so do I, I deserve the best version of myself. We deserve the best version of each other.
Poppet sleeps for 12 hours sometimes and she is such a happy baby and SO well rested.
I’m almost a hundred percent certain that she still wakes up at night, but because she knows how to put herself back to sleep, she doesn’t wake US up and that is all that matters.
Every time the baby has been sick, the program has to be repeated for half a night to get him back into the groove.
The crying out method is HARD, it’s tough, I think I cried more than she did, but I cannot tell you how much reward we have reaped.
*You will need to follow a physical program of your choice to train. If you decide you think you know how the crying out method works and you’re going ahead based on what you’ve read here, I almost want to guarantee that the method will fail and do more harm than good. Programs tell you the finer details of how parents need to be on the same page, how to guide the baby to the soother and one really, really needs this support. It is NOT as simple as ‘cry yourself to sleep’. Your baby deserves the comprehensive guidance and should not need to cry for longer than necessary.
Now, because there are other things that contribute to baby waking up, I wanted to address as many of them as possible. I don’t want to train my baby to go back to sleep by herself and then she’s actually feeling too hot or too cold but she knows that she must go back to sleep by herself. I don’t feel that that’s quite fair.
I will list the optional contributors that we use for our peaceful sleep recipe:
- A monitor.
A monitor that indicates the ROOM temperature. The outside temperature is completely irrelevant when dressing the baby accordingly or choosing the sleeping bag. We initially used the monitor to track her breathing as a newborn, but it turns out that this was one of our best investments because it indicates the temperature for us and we also enjoy waking up to her singing in the morning. We’ll continue to use the monitor for as long as possible.
- A Sleeping Bag.
Sleeping bags are a great way to maintain baby’s temperature because it’s not a blanket that they can kick off. I believe it also creates a feeling of security because it’s snug. Sleeping bags are also considered much safer for newborn babies and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome which can be prevented in some cases by omitting unbreathable bedding such as fleece blankets, etc.
Choose your sleeping bag according to ROOM TEMPARATURE and NOT thickness or seasonal indicators.
We have a discount code at the end of this post from our preferred brand, because their sleeping bags are recommended and indicated according to temperature.
The sleeping bag alone is not going to solve the temperature experiment. You may need to try long baby grow with vest, without vest, etc. to see what is most comfortable for baby.
- Teething Aids
We like to keep things as natural as possible so we use a combination of a Baltic Amber necklace and occasionally Pansoral teething gel.
You can find our review on Ambre here
What we like most about this necklace is that it doesn’t have a screw joint to attach, it’s in our opinion the safest local teething necklace.
The thing about Baltic Amber is that is a natural pain remedy for ANY pain, not only teething. Even a bracelet helps, the natural succinic acid is absorbed through the skin (by the blood stream) and aids with a whole lot of things like a tummy ache or headache, too many other things to mention here.
Poppet is now at an age where she is old enough to be pulling and jerking at these products so they don’t always stay on, and she’s not quite old enough to see it as a novelty and wear it proudly yet. But, when she started teething this really helped us a lot, she was blissfully unaware of how these products were helping her.
There is a competition where you can win a bracelet from Ambre as well as a discount code at the end of this post.
- Consistency in Discipline and Routine
This is SO important for babies when they are discovering and pushing the boundaries with all the different care givers to test us and to see which rule applies where and whether everybody will follow through. This is actually not an optional extra, it also forms part of the program.
We are three care givers; mom, dad and nanny. We all have very different styles in discipline but we stick to the same rules and we are always on the same page.
It is vitally important that the day time nap routine mirrors the night time bedtime rules. If baby is being rocked to sleep during the day by the nanny and then mom puts baby to bed with only her bottle or soother at night it confuses the child and makes matters worse. Baby must be put to sleep in the same way and in the same place during the day. Routine is important for small children, and as far as possible we stick to the same supper time, bath time and bed time. This is of course flexible when we are out on weekends or go away and it fits into our lifestyle, baby is not the boss of us. But, for the most part, she knows what to expect. That is the security that routine promises for babies.
- Friendly and Fun Greetings
We have fun with Poppet when she wakes up, first thing in the morning and from day time naps. (This does not apply to a 4AM wake up where she just gets given her bottle in the dark and we leave the room and then she will still go back to sleep until 7AM).
Sometimes we crawl into the bedroom on all fours and this has her in giggles the very second she sees us. We enter the room singing songs, we dance, do high fives, etc. She has a positive association to sleep and while we refrain from over stimulating her before bed time with things like screen time, we do sometimes play her favourite songs during bath time and we often use bath time as music time and kill two birds with one stone. It’s a ball of fun and she knows what to expect. She knows she is having quality time with one or both of us before she is left to her own devices to sleep.
And she knows that when she wakes up, someone is going to come to her and greet her in a loving and friendly manner. Hence the singing that we hear from the monitor in the morning.
When she was a bit younger (seven months) and went through this mythical sleep regression just before her training, we loaded her diet with protein. I like to believe that this initially helped a lot to achieve those long hours of sleep. For us, protein was part of the training. It was a kick start, to help her.
We mostly try to pack in her protein at lunch time and she has a lighter meal at supper time. But now that she’s a toddler and approaching terrible two’s and three’s prematurely, it appears the diet doesn’t make too big a difference to her night time sleep. Some days she eats us out of the house, other days she doesn’t want to eat anything at all, as toddlers do.
It’s also a myth that the time of her day time naps affect the duration of her sleep. When she has her afternoon nap at 4PM, this makes no difference to her sleep at night. The duration of sleep during the day also does not affect her sleep at night.
- Dark Room
Before she was born we invested in block out curtains. (The lining of the curtain reflects the sun.)
We did the same for our bedroom. Having raised three kids between us but not knowing what to expect with this one, we got block out curtains for both our room and hers.
I’m not personally a believer in co-sleeping, purely form a safety and marital values point of view but these are personal choices and unpredictable to a certain extent. It just so happened that Poppet was born prematurely due to congenital pneumonia and she slept right next to me (in a Moses basket) for seventeen very long and stressful nights until the monitor was installed underneath her mattress to track her breathing. If a baby was to stop breathing next to me while I’m asleep, how would I know? I personally prefer the sound of a fire alarm (by the monitor) from the nursery to kick my butt into CPR.
The curtains provide a dark room for day time naps and promise a longer sleep, regardless of the seasons and time of sunrise.
- The Dummy
- Don’t forget the magic that is the pacifier/soother or as we like to call it, the dummy, you can read more about the importance of a dummy in our feeding product review here
The topic of the dummy will most likely be included in the program that you choose to follow, the programs are not designed to be cruel, they are designed to help your baby as best possible and thereby helping the whole family to achieve a better nights sleep and ultimately a better lifestyle.
With Love and Gratitude,
*Research is concluded with professionals and articles are written from personal experience.
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