Thursday 8 October 2015

SLEEP: The top 5 tips that worked for us

Sleep is a hot topic for most parents, as it's something you inevitably lose a lot of when you become one. Those early days weeks are really tough, you're running on adrenaline with the lack of understanding on how you are even functioning on such little sleep!
That tired, weary voice in the back of your head is telling you that it won't last forever - your cute little bundle of joy will sleep through soon. Yet night after night you're awake every couple of hours feeding, rocking, singing and doing generally anything you can to get your baby back off to sleep. It's tough, there's no denying it.

We were extremely lucky when it came to Isabella sleeping - she was sleeping through the night from 11 weeks and did consistently for the over 7 weeks. She slept from 9.30pm-7am. Then she hit about 4.5 months and it all went down hill for a good 7 weeks - I'm blaming a combination of moving into her own room, the four month sleep regression and teething. As you may know Isabella now has two teeth and when the second one was coming through she would be too uncomfortable to sleep. Teething is hard, any parent will tell you that! We are just coming out the other side of the horrible sleepless nights and I actually feel worse for the increased amount of sleep, not refreshed. Anyone else get this?!

I'm no means a sleep expert, however I find it really helpful reading other people's hints/tips for various aspect of parenting, so I thought I'd share mine.  

1) Consistency - As with most things when it comes to children, consistency is key. Doing the same thing every night, creating your own bedtime routine. We didn't sit down and decide what our bedtime routine would be, it kind of just happens every night so I guess you can call it a 'routine'. In short this consists of a bath, book, bottle, bed - the 4 b's! With the added addition of brushing Isabella's teeth every night now too.

2) Teaching the difference between night and day - This has been key to getting Isabella to understand the difference between day and night. When babies are born they don't have any concept of night and day, so it can be helpful to teach them the difference from pretty early on. We have always kept things light, noisy and busy during the day and quiet, calm and dark at night. We don't put her down for a nap in a dark room and never tip toe around her during the day. Just like we keep the room dark, quiet and free from anything stimulating when it's night time. I really think this helped her get into a good routine with sleeping from a young age, she's always slept longer at night and for shorter periods of time during the day. 

3) Feeding a bottle before bed - This could be formula or expressed milk. We've found that giving Isabella a good size bottle before bed (we use the guidance on the side of the aptamil box - currently 220ml) has helped her be full enough to sleep through. Formula milk is more filling because it's harder for babies to digest, therefore keeping them fuller for longer. But we've also given Isabella a bottle of expressed milk and it filled her up enough. The reason we give a bottle is because then we know how much she's taking, obviously when I'm breastfeeding I don't have a clue. But as a guidance when I was expressing it would take me around 40 minutes to express around 200ml. I'm almost certain that Isabella gets more from one feed when we bottle feed than when I breastfeed her. 

4) Ensuring her temperature is right - We've found it hard to get Isabella's temperature just right, as the weather has been so variable. We have to keep swapping between a sleeping bag and baby grow, just a baby grow, just a vest, vest and sleeping bag etc etc. However when she's just the right temperature she always sleeps better, which makes complete sense I guess!

5) Minimise communication - After Isabella has had a bath, book and cuddle we minimise communication with her, as to help create the calm environment. I feed her a bottle without the cooing, smiling, chatting that I usually do during the day. I then kiss her goodnight and put her down in her moses basket. I try to do this when she's still awake, so that she learns to self soothe. She's getting lots better at this, with usually only a minute or two of moaning (not crying) and then she's asleep. If she does cry I never leave her for more than a few minutes before picking her up, hugging her - again no interaction - then placing her back down in her moses basket. It sounds mean but it's really helped her know when it's time to sleep and not time to play. I read somewhere that when a baby learns that there's nothing to be awake for at night then they will start sleeping better. I'm not sure how true that is but minimising communication at bedtime has worked really well for us. 

What are your top sleep tips?

Feel free to leave a comment :)

Helen x
Mummy and Monkeys


  1. These are great points. Definitely consistency, and at night make it dark, boring, and quiet. That helps teach the pattern.

  2. We do all of these and it's worked a treat! Especially consistency. The more you stick to routine, the easier it is. We've found that sometimes now if we are still out when it's bed time or it's a special occasion, Evie will still go to sleep, fuss free, as soon as we get in if we do the last 5 minutes of our routine. If we weren't consistent then it would be a lot more difficult to do things spontaneously on occasion. This is a great list. x #picknmix

  3. Exactly the same pretty much as I did with both of mine! They both slept through from 8/9 weeks...partly due to heavy sleeper genes but mostly because of consistency and getting them to associate sleep time with being in their cot + never sneaking around.
    Even now you could hoover my boys' room + they wouldn't wake! Thanks for linking up to #Picknmix
    Stevie x


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