I first published this article back in 2012 after I had my first baby. Due to the sheer popularity of the article which resonated with so many mums, I have republished it – and also given an update at the end of the article after having baby number 2.
Rhian’s “my baby won’t sleep’ story – 2012
After having a baby who has never slept very well I thought I would share my experience with other mums who are having sleep issues too.
And firstly, I must say that I really don’t like it when mums judge other mums for anything and I think everyone has different experiences and methods and I believe that you should do whatever works for you so please take this as just my own experience as opposed to be saying what should be done and I think the most important thing is to find something that works for you.
For me, ever since my baby was first brought home, he didn’t sleep well. Well when I say he didn’t sleep well, I mean he woke up constantly to feed – which is totally normal for a new born. But because of what we read and hear other mums talk about all the time I think a lot of mums get caught up in the “I must get my baby to sleep through” and “I must get my baby to self settle” – situation and it drives us mad!
Me and my hubby were always relaxed about our bub. We are not routine people and neither of us wanted to start getting into a strict routine with our baby so we just went with the flow and fed him when he was hungry, cuddled him all the time, let him fall to sleep when feeding and always got up straight away when he cried. We both felt happier about doing it this way rather than getting into strict routines or doing the controlled crying lines.
But when my bub was around 3 months I started having friends and mother groups mums telling me I should really get my baby sleeping, self settling and into a routine and with enough people going on at me I started getting into a panic. “He will never learn to self settle” “You need to move him into his own room now” “He will always have sleeping issues if you don’t do it now” “It will be worse to do the later you leave it” “I will lend you my Tizzy Hall” “I will lend you my Gina Ford”- these were just a few of the comments I used to get and in the end I cracked.
So I got the Gina Ford book and tried to follow the detailed routine in there. And all I can say is that it was HIDEOUS! Every hour is mapped out and I actually found it extremely stressful trying to do everything and at one point screamed at my Hubby for feeding our baby at 6.00am as this would stuff up his scheduled feed at 7.00am. It made me loopy and I can 100% say that it wasn’t for me.
Next I arranged for a Tresillian nurse to stay at my house and it cost a small fortune but I thought it would be great to get an experts help on why my baby wakes up so much. And she told me he was waking to feed and it was normal for his age (then around 3-4 months) to wake up 2-3 times a night and ‘sleeping though for 10 hours was very rare indeed. She also told me to do the patting bum and ‘ssshhhh’ routine to get him sleeping in his cot in the day time (up to this point he was only sleeping on me in the day time or in his pram) as we were still rocking him to sleep each night.
So for about 4 weeks I nearly drove myself MAD with putting his cot in a darkened room in the daytime, blasting up the baby sleep music and bum patting – which never worked!!
So after trying and failing to get my bub doing what babies are ‘meant to do’ I decided to stop all of it and going back to what worked for us. Which was rocking to sleep, feeding to sleep, getting up 2-3 times a night and stopping trying to force my baby into something he did not want to do.
And shortly making this decision I met up with the fantastic Pinky Mackay and I interviewed her on getting your baby to sleep and I was delighted to hear that Pink advocated an approach which was very similar to what I was doing – all hail Pinky and her methods which are all about Parenting By Heart and not by methods like controlled crying – which I personally did want to do.
So for the next 8 months or so our baby would get rocked to sleep in his pram in the day time and in the night time rocked to sleep then moved into his cot and we were a happier household for it! He also continued to wake up in the night and on some nights he would wake 3 or 4 times and others just 1 or 2. We just got used to it and I actually stopped being tired and my body adjusted.
I did worry sometimes that I would be still rocking him at 2 years old but I figured that when he was ready he would go to sleep on his own when he was good and ready.
And I am happy to report that when he reached the 12 month mark he started falling asleep on his own in his cot – without being rocked. And now the days of rocking to sleep in his pram are long gone and I am so happy that he now goes to sleep all on his own for his day time sleep and his night time sleep.
So if you are in a similar position and don’t want to go down the strict routines and controlled crying methods I would say just to go with the flow, don’t stress and accept that babies are dependant on us so don’t feel pressured to get them to stick to a routine before they are ready and when all they want is to be close to mum.
And if you do follow Tizzy or Gina Ford or use the controlled crying method I know that it works for so many mums – it just didn’t work for me, my personality and my baby.
[pb_vidembed title=”Pinky Mckay on sleep & settling” caption=”” url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j0d7tZSfqo4″ type=”yt” w=”550″ h=”485″]
To see Pinky Mackay’s tips on settling your baby click here
Rhian’s update 2015
I had my second baby in December 2012 and me and my hubby had our fingers crossed that our second one would sleep better.
But this time we didn’t even bother trying to get him to sleep on his own and we embraced from day one his want for constant cuddles. We called him our little Koala bear.
He slept in bed with me and then in the day time he was attached to me or hubby like a little Koala. Super cute and super cuddly.
We also invested in a rocking chair as he loved the motion – so we never got away from the rocking 🙂
And again at around the 12 month mark he transitioned really well to sleeping in a cot. Firstly it was a cot in our room then after a while we moved it into his room.
But both me and my hubby have adjusted to life on reduced sleep – we have two enormously energetic boys who like to wake up at the crack of dawn and do tend to wake up once a night for cuddles – but we love the cuddles and even though a full and unbroken night sleep is a distant memory, we wouldn’t have it any other way!
So if you are rocking in some way, shape or form, don’t stress. From my experience it won’t be forever and if it makes it easier for you to get your little ones to sleep then do what works for you.
And if you are getting BAD sleep and are going slightly out of your mind, check out our list here of the top foods to boost a tired mum’s brain