If you're reading this you possibly responded to my insta poll asking if you wanted me to elaborate on how Amandine is sleeping through the night, I couldn't fit it all into a post, so let’s talk sleep!
I have covered the topic a lot on the podcast so do have a listen to series 2 & 3 if you have a newborn (and if you're reading this pregnant...series 1 is the place to start)!
Amandine is SLEEPING THROUGH and has been now for 15 nights, she is almost 8 months. This has happened completely out of the blue, in fact I was only chatting about the night feed dropping topic with a few friends a couple of days before she dropped it by herself. A slept one night until 5am completely out of the blue (I had been feeding her once around 2.30/3am), the next evening I pushed it until 6am and haven't looked back!
So, what did/do we do? I say we, because now it is we (my husband and I), however for the first 6 months I was the only person who could successfully put A down to sleep for naps or at night.
A goes to bed around 7pm after a bath (every other night), book with Papa and feed (breast milk straight from source). I then feed her again at 10pm (this used to be 10.30/11pm but I have brought it forward as I cannot keep my eyes open) either boob or expressed breast milk in a bottle. Since writing the insta post I have noticed that she will sleep all the way through, no gurgles around previous feed time 3am/3.30am if I give her expressed milk in the bottle. If I feed from the breast she will go in and out of sleep but with the bottle she has to wake up, it is more effort and she absolutely takes more milk, around 3.5oz. We eventually succeeded with Minbie bottles, however I don’t think it was the brand of bottle/ teat type, I believe it was the dedication and perseverance (we were trying with the bottle twice a day every day for over a month before she would take it properly). A will then sleep until 6am pretty much on the dot! I’d love to get to 7am eventually but by 6am she is pretty hungry, I can't even change her nappy before feeding!
As I mentioned in my post, I do believe there are a few things we have done that have played a part in getting here and also A's character.
From very early days I put A in her cot for naps to get her used to her surroundings which meant transferring from my bedside into her own room was no problem at all. Since she has been in her own room I haven’t yet had to go in, she seems very happy. There are however pros and cons to napping in her cot of course, she doesn’t nap in her pram, but for us and our life that isn’t such a big deal. I’m not so fussed about the morning nap or the afternoon nap, they can be in the car if needs be but the lunchtime nap I like her to be in a cot and I think she likes it too! I say ‘a cot’ because she will go down easily in familiar places, my mum has a cot for her and she loves it.
When A wakes in her cot after a nap we leave her. In the beginning we would rush to her the minute we heard her gurgle but I quickly learnt that actually given the chance she would have gone back to sleep, 45 minutes later she would be grouchy and asking to go back down for another nap. Now when she wakes after a nap I leave her to gurgle for around 10 minutes and if she doesn't go back to sleep I will go and get her. In fact as I write this A just woke up, gurgled, rolled over and is now asleep again, all within 5 minutes.
I put A into PJ's and a sleep bag every time she naps. I know this sounds extreme but I truly believe the minute I started doing this she started napping like a pro. Imagine if you had to jump into bed fully dressed after seeing bits of the world for the first time, with no time to wind down and were expected to go straight to sleep....I know I certainly would lie there for quite some time not able to sleep. In my experience those 10/15 minutes of changing into PJ's in a darkened room, perhaps a calming singsong, perhaps a little milk is absolutely key to getting them ready for sleep. It also helps to build a routine, they know after a while that when this happens its sleep time. A calms the minute we walk into her bedroom and the room darkens, she is comforted knowing she is going to get the sleep she needs and is therefore happy to go to sleep.
A's room is completely black, aside from light coming in around the door frame. I have duck taped all little lights and have turned off anything with a light that I can. We use continuous white noise. We were using the myHummy but I found I was changing the batteries every week due to leaving it on all night. We bought this plug in one by Marpac which is fab, click HERE (not sponsored). Her bedroom temperature also ranges between 17.5 and 19 degrees.
When A was younger she always fell to sleep when I was feeding her and therefore I would put her down in her cot when she was asleep. Sometimes she would wake up and cry because she was confused, other times she would wake, realise where she was and then go back to sleep. Naturally she grew out of falling to sleep on my boob and she now goes down awake, sucks her thumb and goes to sleep. We had a few days of nap times were we would put her down awake and leave the room as quickly as possible, if we lingered too long she would realise what was happening and start fussing. But now we put her down, give a little kiss and leave, sometime she will babble a little and then fall to sleep, other times she is straight out.
We have never used a pacifier, A found her thumb at the crucial point and she self soothes so so well sucking her thumb. I was worried when she first showed interest in her thumb but if you are finding yourself asking the same question, thumb or no thumb.....in my experience let them have the thumb!!
Due to the thumb sucking A's sleepy cues are really clear now. Thumb goes in the mouth when she is tired and she wants to snuggle. The minute I see that or even before..she does have a tired look, I check the clock and if it is around the right time for her nap off we go. Her naps are certainly not to the minute, we go by awake times. I have covered what I mean by these in many a podcast but below should make it as clear as these things can be;
Wake at 6am
Awake time 1: 2.5 hours
Nap 1: 1-1.5hrs
Awake time 2: 2/2.5 hours
Nap 2: 2 hours ( A will nearly always wake up around 45mins in, babble and then go back to sleep - due to sleep cycles I think)
Awake time 3: 2 hours
Nap 3: 1 hour (at almost 8 months I think she is showing signs of dropping this one)
Awake time 4: 1.5 hours (this really short period works for us at the moment which is fairly against most sleep expert advice I think)
I am fully aware every night will not be perfect and we will have a rocky night soon I am sure. We had a slightly interfered night a few nights ago when I had to replace our baby monitor due to a fault and the new one I received had red lights within the actual camera. When A woke at 4am and would normally roll over and go back to sleep the camera caught her attention and kept her attention for about 2 hours...I was watching on the monitor! I didn't go in, and the following day I went back to exchange it for the same brand and camera we previously had, all was well again! My point in telling you this is the smallest things can change everything...they notice EVERYTHING because it is all so new. More on baby monitors on @mumtalkpodcast instagram page under the SUPPORT highlights, do have a listen to learn from my mistakes!
It makes me quite uncomfortable sharing our progress with sleep, some say we have an 'easy baby' and for some reason that makes me feel bad. We do have a chilled baby (I prefer the word chilled) but we have also worked pretty hard to get to where we are. We have by no means got here the fastest or used uncomfortable ways of getting here, it has all happened very naturally and we are always lead by Amandine. I hope from reading this you may be able to draw something helpful from our experience. Every baby is so very very different and what has worked for us may well not work for you or you may be laughing/crying reading this absolutely knowing none of this is possible!
If I can help with the very limited experience I have please do direct message me on instagram @mumtalkpodcast. If I can't help you maybe we can find someone who can!