“Mid-morning? What is that?”

This is what Sam would say if he could talk. 

He seems to have settled into have a long (2-2.5 hour) nap each morning and neatly misses most of the day between breakfast and lunch. This, I think, is the definition of winning. Sleep, wake, eat, play for an hour, sleep, wake, eat. It’s not a bad life! 

I’m glad of it today because I’m not feeling 100% and it’s given me time to relax…after doing a wash, sorting all the clothes – 20% ours, 80% Sam’s – showering and sorting his change bag for the day that is! 

We’re off out to visit my cousin Thea today and I can’t wait to see her. Sam will have a field day trying to touch all of her and her boyfriend’s amazing work (they are very talented blacksmiths – check out their website), as well being incredibly excited at seeing their cats. I might be wrong, but I foresee quite a lot of hands-on work keeping him away from it all! I’m therefore grateful that I’ve had a chance to rest up this morning. 

When awake, he loves nothing more than helping with the hoovering!

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The boy naps

It’s happened, we’ve had the final breakthrough. This actually started a couple of weeks ago but I didn’t want to say anything until I was sure. 

Follow his bedtime routine and he will fuss for a few minutes and then go to sleep. Not always for long, but he did sleep for 45 minutes this morning! If this continues into the new year then I will start making use of the time but for now, especially since I’m not feeling great (another story), I’m putting my feet up and watching a snippet of ‘A New Hope’ – it’s only right! 

I’ve said this more times than I can count, but I never thought we would get to this stage:

Sam is tired…

Warm a bottle for 3 minutes. Put him in a grobag. Feed him as much of the bottle as he wants. Lift him up in case he needs to burp. Lie him down. Walk out. He’ll fuss for 2-5 minutes and then go to sleep. 

In and out in less than 5 minutes, once the bottle is warm. 

3 weeks ago I started a Facebook group for the parents of babies who don’t nap, so we had somewhere to rant. It seems I might need to leave my own group. I only hope that the other babies follow suit and learn eventually. We’ve never tried to force Sam to fall asleep on his own, this has all happened very naturally. (Which is why it’s taken so long!) 

Keep smiling all! x

Where to start?

We’ve come on in leaps and bounds over the last couple of weeks, but where to start? 

Today’s happy “we’re getting somewhere” post concerns the big S: ‘sleep’.

A couple of weeks ago, Carl found a way to give Sam a bottle he would drink. After all these months, what did magical trick did he do? 

He gave it to Sam while the water was still warm.

Of all the things we didn’t try in our bottle quest, who would have thought that a baby would prefer a nice warm bottle of milk!? D’oh. 

Sunday before last, we decided to see whether Sam would accept a warm bottle before bed and then be able to go to sleep. At this point he was still having a breastfeed and usually falling asleep while feeding. Since I was due out on the Thursday, it was important that we find a way to help him get to sleep without me there. While Sam had his bath, I prepared the bottle and had it warmed ready. As I handed him to Carl, Sam started crying; immediately sensing something was afoot. I backed out of the room and retreated downstairs to wait it out. 

Carl was downstairs 10 minutes later and greeted me with a cheeky “I don’t understand what all the fuss is about!” as he showed me the monitor so I could see a peaceful, drifting off Sam. 

I couldn’t believe my eyes! He’d taken the bottle, pushed it away when he was done, Carl stood up with him so he could burp if need be and the moment Sam leaned his head in to rest on Carl’s shoulder, he put him down in the cot bed. And Sam went to sleep on his own. 

Two things I never thought were possible happened at the same time! We’ve done that every night since and both of us have been able to put him to bed after a bottle, with him going down awake and falling asleep by himself. 

Sam is 9.5 months old now and some might say it’s late for this step, but we have never tried to teach him to fall asleep. 

I was once told that a baby will learn to sleep via one of two methods: time or tears. One will teach the baby quickly but can be stressful for all involved, the other is more peaceful but can take – as in our case – months. I was also told that babies have to be taught to fall asleep, they can’t learn on their own…which is clearly rubbish. I’m not starting any sleep training debates here, I know many people who have happily used various training techniques and they and babies are all very happy. We simply knew it wasn’t right for us. 

So here we are nearly two weeks on and Sam takes a bottle before bed and falls asleep on his own!! He can lie there awake for up to 15 minutes, but he just looks around and rolls from side to side before drifting off. 

Who knew we would ever get here! 

Blame it on the boogie 

On Friday night I went out with a three of my girl friends. We popped into the local wine bar and I had a lovely glass of bubbles. Much deserved and savoured! Over tapas and more wine (for them) we laughed and talked and laughed and gradually got louder and louder, as only a group of women can do. Luckily the bar held the sound pretty well so we weren’t echoing off the walls…too much! 

After dinner, the cry was to go a couple of doors down for a dance. Carl had text letting me know that Sam was still sleeping (with a photo of the monitor screen to prove it!) and told me to relax and have fun. Although I resisted the girls telling me to get a taxi home rather than drive, I did have pretty shoes on and pretty shoes need a dance floor!! 

Off we went, to find we were the only people in there. Who cares!? 4 girls and 1 dancefloor; we were happy. As we boogied away, I realised that it had been a long time since I last had a night like this. Even though I had a good dance at our Christmas party, I was 7 months pregnant and unable to bust out some of my best (worst) moved. I needed Friday. I didn’t even realise it until I was out and laughing and dancing with the girls.

To go out with people who knew me before I was pregnant, who I used to see all day every day and laugh with all the time…well, it made me feel wonderful. It was up there with Kate’s burlesque birthday party in the summer. 

Sometimes, as much as you adore your children, you need a couple of hours ‘off’ and to be ‘you’. Not so-and-so’s mum (or dad!). 

I wrapped up my night at about 11.30pm and set off home. 

Sam was fast asleep, but Carl’s evening had been tricky. He’d woken 15 minutes after I left and it was 2 hours before he settled again. Luckily, with Carl’s perseverance, patience, rocking, trying to put him down, hugs, offering the bottle, Sam had ‘eventually’ fallen asleep on his own. When he woke an hour later, he cried for a few minutes and fell asleep on his own again. 

This is very new. It happened for the first time on Thursday night when we’d left him for a couple of minutes before Carl went up to settle him…but Sam fell asleep before he opened the door. Maybe he is beginning to learn to fall asleep on his own, without us doing any ‘sleep training’, leaving him to cry or anything else. He’s 8 months old now and maybe he is simply starting to get it. 

Roll on December, when Carl and I have our Christmas party and a night out together…watch out dancefloor!! 

How short our memories are

It was only around 2 weeks ago that Sam began consistently sleeping 10-11 hours a night. It was a magical time. Evenings were adult time, I didn’t have to get up in the middle of the night. 

Last weekend, Mum and I set off back to Wales for the weekend to see my grandparents again. Sam surprised me by settling into the cot there for the first time and sleeping up to 7 hours straight (even if it did take over an hour to get him to sleep one night). I had a whole double bed to myself although I, of course, ended up curled up hanging off one side of the bed. 

Then, on Saturday a little tell-tale sign of things to come. The return of the drool. 

After the drive home on Sunday, it took a while to settle him but that was to be expected; he hadn’t seen Carl in 3 days and was overjoyed to see him. However, over the last couple of nights he has started waking more frequently again and last night he woke at 10.35 and took an age (1.5 hours) to get back down again. He then slept until 6.30am but the cats decided we were missing the 5am wake up call and turned feral at that time to ensure we woke up. 

The grim green nappies have returned. 

The chewing is in full force.

His sleep is once again unsettled.

…you know what I’m getting at… 

Hurry up tooth number 3!!! 
What amazes me is how quickly I’d forgotten this! His first 2 teeth came through and settled a month ago and suddenly his sleep (to name the biggest change) really came on leaps and bounds. When he woke on Monday night, I looked at the phone, hoping it was after 5am so I could bring him in with us (my/our ‘rule’). I was totally shocked to see it was 2.30am. 

2.30am!? My baby doesn’t wake in the night!

Oh wait, for 7 of the 7.5 months of his life, yes he does wake at night. 

How quickly we forget… 

Sam loves Wales!

 

Pinch me, am I dreaming?

A small (huge!) miracle occurred last night… 

As usual, Sam went to bed at 7.40pm after the usual feed to sleep and waking after 25 minutes, before being fed to sleep again. Carl and I had a lovely evening with a glass of wine and generally put our feet up. We never learn, so it was gone midnight by the time we finally went to bed. 

At 4.45am we heard Sam wake and start fussing. Shattered, we didn’t move. After 5 minutes or so, he went back to sleep! He then slept again until 6.05am. 

10 hours and 25 minutes. 

Why didn’t we go to bed early to get a decent night’s sleep!! 

Goodness me, I never thought this would happen. As ever, I accept that it may be a while before this occurs again but, as I always say, it shows he can do it. It must be said that I was about to explode after such a long time between feeds… obviously, he had a huge feed when he woke, thank goodness! 

What a step forward. 

Food, warmth and tummy time…I love you all

[I wrote this post on Thursday. Obviously, we had an awful night last night as if to prove me wrong! I will however still post the below since I do believe we are getting somewhere.]

On Wednesday night, Sam slept for nearly 8 hours! This is a milestone we never thought we would reach and a symbol of how far we’ve come. It may be a long time before it happens again, but we now know it’s possible. I may even be able to go on a night out soon!

Much improved sleep

It is still difficult getting Sam to sleep, and we are continuing to rock or feed him to sleep each time, but that is something we will deal with in the future. However, he now seems to be consistently sleeping for longer stretches; even in Wales he often slept for the entire evening. Considering the weeks we went through where Sam woke hourly, this was unimaginable not so very long ago. 

Weaning is going well

We’ve always said Sam is hungry and has a big appetite. We were both weaned early since milk wasn’t enough (this does happen, not everyone’s milk keeps up!), so this didn’t surprise us. We started giving him baby rice at 14 weeks and introduced fruit purees at 17. 

For everyone who told us that his sleep would improve once we started giving him food, there was an article or someone else telling us that food makes no impact on sleep. 

At 26 weeks (somehow, I managed to hold off until the magic 6 months), we began giving him ‘proper’ purees; meals that have been blended up. It took me a week or 2 to get going, but in Wales I cooked up batches of salmon with carrots, potato & cheese and leek, potato & peas, which he really took to. Since being home, Sam has been having 2-3 meals a day with a fruit & yoghurt pudding, alongside his usual feeds. 

He is a big fan of food! 

It may well be coincidence and I feel that a lot of factors have come together, but his sleeping does seem to have come along a lot. There are more contributors though, I’m sure…

Staying warm

We have realised that although colder temperatures are better for a baby’s room, Sam doesn’t sleep well at all in the cold. As soon as we realised this, his sleeping improved. I’m not saying that we ramp up the radiator and pile on the blankets, but a fleece sleepsuit and a grobag seem to have done the trick. 

22C seems to be a good temperature for him. 

This is a bit warmer than is ‘ideal’ but we bear in mind that when Sam was tiny and the weather was cold, he was cosy in our room and mainly in our bed. During the summer, our house really retained the heat and we were all sleeping in temperatures in excess of 26C sometimes. Now the house has cooled off again, it took us a couple of nights to realise that he might need the grobag again. Instant improvement. 

More settled

He also seems much happier in his cotbed, which is an enormous help! I put him in it during the day so he can play with his cuddly toys. He has a little roll around, picks up and plays with his toys. Thank goodness this seems to have helped and he quickly moved on from crying whenever we took him into the nursery. 

Tummy time 

I’ve often maintained that Sam would sleep better on his front, and he seems to be neatly proving my point this week. Every night, he has either immediately rolled onto his front, or done so shortly after being put to bed. Thank goodness for rolling!

Phew

All in all, the picture is much improved from a few weeks ago. I would never have believed we would get to this stage!

Sam’s first trip abroad

Yes, it might be pushing it a little to describe going on a bridge over a river into the Land of Song as ‘abroad’, but it’s the closest Sam will come for a while so I’m sticking with it.

 

Wales

We are just inland from Cardigan

 
We arrived in leafy Pembrokeshire last night after a 4.5 hour journey along the picturesque M25 and M4. Astonishingly (and I don’t think this is too strong a word here), Sam fell asleep on me at home, slept as I put him in the car … and remained asleep until we reached Blaenffos, the closest village to our destination! Even then, he only whinged a little rather than launching into a furious tirade. 

Overall, the drive couldn’t have gone better and it was a marked improvement on the last trip when I was 7 months pregnant and incredibly uncomfortable sitting for that long.

He slept well last night; we kept him in with us to help him adjust, but tonight he’ll be in the cot. As for naps, for now I’ll feed him to sleep at nap time and let him lie on me. When he’s more used to it here, we’ll attempt to put him in the cot for naps but, since this is a fairly recent step even at home, we’ll see how we go. We’re here for over a week so hopefully he’ll settle into his usual routine during that time. 

So here we are! We survived the journey and my grandparents have finally met their cheeky, energetic great-grandson. Sam seems entirely happy here and has skipped his usual shy, quiet period where he susses out his new surroundings, instead opting for jumping and shouting just as much as at home. 

I already miss the jumperoo.

Return on investment 

I’m all about a good ROI, so when it takes 50 minutes to get Sam down for a 15 minute nap, it really doesn’t seem worth the effort. 

Overall, sleep has been improving and although we generally have a couple of wakings before we head up to bed, Sam now usually sleeps 3-5 hours at a time between 10pm and 7am, after being in bed by 6.30/7pm. 

Naps are more hit and miss. He’s a fan of the 20-40 minute nap, and it can be pretty quick to rock him to sleep if I get the timing right. Not always though, as today has reminded me. It’s tiring when it takes such a long time and then he doesn’t have a decent sleep! I’ll try again at 3.20pm (the 3 hour mark) and hopefully he won’t fight it so much then… Unsurprisingly, he’s pretty miserable and tired now.

I do envy mums whose babies enjoy 1-2 hour naps! 20-40 minutes in his cot is better than when he slept on me, but I wouldn’t mind having a relaxed shower or leisurely lunch one day.

However, sleep is getting better so I very much hope that naps will follow. I couldn’t have imagined that we would even be at this stage a couple of weeks ago! We go to Wales next week and when we get back it’s time to start looking at how to teach Sam to fall asleep on his own. We know he can do it, so he needs to remember that he can and realise that there’s no need for crying and whinging and fighting sleep! 

On a different note, I can’t wait for our trip to Wales. Sam will finally get to meet my grandparents! Here’s hoping he doesn’t start crawling while we’re there….! 

We have our room back!

I’ve been putting off writing this post, since I didn’t want to ‘jinx’ anything…but last Wednesday we took the plunge and moved Sam into the nursery. The first night was far better than expected, the second was very unsettled but, fingers crossed, since then Sam has been sleeping much better. 

After the rolling incident in our room, we decided it was time to move Sam to the safety (and space) of his cot bed. When we initially put him in there, we thought he would struggle, having probably grown accustomed to taking up much of our double, but he adapted pretty quickly. In fact, he now seems to prefer curling up into the side. It hasn’t stopped him getting onto his front (and obviously getting stuck there), but it’s definitely less frequent – or maybe the novelty has worn off for him. I notice that he does sometimes sleep on his front for a couple of hours, but he often remains on his side.

From waking increasingly regularly in our room, he now (touch wood) will sleep up to SIX HOURS. This was unheard of and a dream I never believed would happen. Night before last he slept 7-11 and then 11.10-5.15, at which point I brought him in with us. My rule is that if he wakes any time after 5, I bring him in for the final quick feed and nap. He wakes between 6 and 7 anyway, so this maximises the amount of sleep I get before he is ready for the day!

On Friday, a small miracle happened…I managed to get him to NAP in his cot! Right now, he is fast asleep in his cot enjoying his first nap of the day. He will generally sleep 20-40 minutes, 3 times a day. It’s very helpful knowing roughly how long I have and being better able to predict when. The first is usually 90 minutes after waking, the second 90 minutes after waking from that nap. The third and final is around 3pm, or 3 hours after waking from the second nap. This means he then has a 3 hour stretch to bed. 

  Sussing out naps is entirely thanks to the book I found (The 90 Minute Baby Sleep Program) which focuses on baby awake cycles, rather than sleep. I bought a used copy off Amazon for a couple of pounds. It struck a chord for me since Sam often got tired after an hour or so. This works on the premise that baby’s awake cycles are in multiples of 90 minutes. It’s a fascinating read and also one of the few books that doesn’t recommend teaching your baby to self settle before they’re able. It advocates rocking or soothing them (by any means except feeding) until they’re 6-8 months old, or ready to learn to go to sleep on their own. 

If they cry hysterically, they aren’t ready.

So, it seems we may finally be making some real steps forward. It’s wonderful having our own space back, along with our evenings since he now goes to bed between 6 and 7. It’s a shock to my system getting up at 6-6.30 most days, but it means we have breakfast as a family and Sam has a nap by 8, giving me time to shower and get ready for the day.

If you’re struggling with sleep and nothing seems to be working, keep reading or listening to your instincts. I already ‘knew’ that Sam needed naps after these short intervals, but it took me reading the book to reinforce that I was right. Taking the plunge and moving him out of our room is helping all of us sleep better. 

Do whatever works for you – if your baby needs to feed every hour, then keep them in with you. If your baby needs rocking to sleep, then do it – I don’t for one minute believe we’ll still be rocking Sam when he’s 18! If your baby keeps you all awake and needs more space, try moving them out. 

You’ll figure it out and find what works best for your family.