As soon as you embark on the role of parenthood you know that the word sleep is never going to be your friend again. To be honest, whether you have a good sleeper at the start reality is at some point shit is going to hit the fan. Sorry to be depressing but rather be real than lie right?
We have been rather blessed with Mason. His sleep has always been pretty good but even when we thought we had it pretty good it of course changed. Children go through insane changes in their growth and if it’s not sickness its teething or if it’s not either of those its a leap or some other change in their development. I decided it was time to share how we go about sleep, including our daily routine, our night routine and any tips and tricks that we have found work. Feel free to ask any questions in the comments below but I’m no professional. This is just our journey and what has worked for us.
So from the beginning I pretty much knew I wanted to just roll with it. Parenting of course has its challenges and isn’t a walk in the park when it comes to working out children’s needs. Even though it’s a slight blur now to look back on and try remember Masons first sleep patterns what I do remember is he was usually pretty consistent.
Roughly the first three months:
Newborn babies really aren’t up for long so we found that Mason usually got tired after being up for about 1 hour to 1.5 hours at a time. The pattern was often wake, feed, change nappy, feed, play for a bit then prepare for bed again. As we all know swaddling is essential within those first weeks/months. We used big, thin muslins and even gave lovetodreams a go too.
As Mason started showing tired signs I would cuddle him in my arm with the dummy, giving him a gentle rock. As he started to get sleepy and close his eyes thats when I would swaddle him and then hold him until his eyes were opening less and less. It’s then that I would place him into bed and stroke his forehead until he fell asleep.
Alongside this I would turn the shusher on and I would use a blanket to tuck him in as I worked out he loved to feel secure. Mason slept in his moses basket up until about 3/4 months and as I began to see him getting a flat head I made the decision to sleep him on his side, between a sleep wedge. I really believe in trusting your gut and I knew he was safe this way as he wasn’t a baby to move.
I will be honest, Mason wasn’t one to sleep for that long during his day sleeps. The most we would usually get out of him would be around 45 mins and he would really struggle to move into the next sleep cycle. I gradually worked out when he began to stir though and entered the room quietly just before 45 mins was approaching to support him in stretching his sleep longer. I would ensure the dummy was in, restart the shusher if needed (it only goes for max 30 mins at a time) and I introduced a cuddly early on too.
Trying to catch him before he woke didn’t always work. When Mason woke he was awake and especially seeing me didn’t help getting him back to sleep. A lot of people swear by black out curtains, we have blinds in our house so definitely not anywhere as dark as it should be so I did consider it but in the end I realised he was still sleeping and I didn’t want to get him use to only sleeping in the pitch black. In those very early weeks Mason would happily and easily sleep in the lounge with the curtains open and the light naturally coming in. I’m a big believer in children getting used to sleeping anywhere.
Mason is long so growing out of his moses basket happened rather quickly. Sleeping in his moses basket next to our bed was where I loved him to be but I decided to start getting him used to sleeping in his own room during the day at least within the first couple months. The moses basket was placed inside the cot for him to get used to his surroundings and he had no issue with it.
Three months onwards:
At 15 weeks old Mason was sleeping completely in his cot. As he was still being swaddled we continued to use the sleep wedge but before long this was no longer working. We found he began to get himself out of the swaddle and move himself up the bed on his back. Thats when we decided that a sleeping bag was what was now needed, we chose the 3 seasons Woolbabe.
This sleeping bag has truly been the best, warm but not to hot and is from 3months to 2 years so plenty of use out of it.
Alongside this we purchased a safe t sleep, I tell you now this has saved my life. I shall talk a bit more about it in the night routine section below. As Mason has always had a dummy I was always a little concerned he was going to get so attached that he wouldn’t fall asleep without it. Self-soothing is a tricky one and I knew that it was something that ideally needed to end up happening but for me I never really looked into it and I just lived by the motto – roll with it and whatever works works. It all is a bit of a blur now when it comes to Mason learning to self settle. I have been asked quite a bit for advice on it but I really feel like I didn’t do anything amazing for it to start happening.
Mason would lie in his cot quite happily playing when I lay him down for a sleep over time. I remember pottering around his room as I waited for him to get somewhat sleepy as I always needed to go in and put the dummy in a couple of times for him to eventually drift off. As I was pottering I watched as he either played with his dummy or cuddly. He even would just stare and play with his hands for ages. Next minute I turned around and the cuddly was over his face, he was asleep under it and it was from here that the self-settling began. From then on I would leave him in his cot at his sleep time and knew he would gradually unwind. If I no longer heard noise coming from his room I would go in and remove the cuddly off his face which is how he fell asleep quite often. If it wasn’t this is would be that he would begin grizzly crying and I knew he was ready to sleep so in with the dummy, he turned his head and out to it he was.
We played music for Masons day time sleeps for so long. As soon as he was put into bed the music went on. For a long time I was using the shusher alongside the music. The shusher only being 30 mins long at a time I used when I noticed Mason was not linking his sleep cycles. Any time between 30-45 mins I would sneak in and switch on the shusher, I found it helped him to continue through to his next sleep cycle without waking. No it didn’t work every time but majority of the time it was my saving grace. Mason hasn’t been a baby that is just easy to get back to sleep. In the early days it was of course a lot easier but for many months now once he’s awake he’s wide eyed and reaching out to be picked up. If not that he will actually happily lie in his bed awake for ages playing or chatting to himself but if he says me at all he’s instantly upset and keen to be up and out. My approach on it – whatever works! I’m not one to battle my kid to sleep. One I don’t have the patience, two it’s so much harder to get a kid back to sleep then it is to get them to sleep. If Mason wakes to early from his sleep these days then I just ensure I give him an extra sleep that day if need be.
Our daily sleep routine now looks like this:
Awake by 7am (although lately it’s been earlier ugh.)
Morning sleep 9.30am til 10am (sometimes its earlier if he wakes for the day earlier or if we have to be somewhere)
Midday sleep 12.30pm til 2.30pm (sometimes he goes down any time between 12 and 1 depending on his morning sleep)
Afternoon sleep doesn’t really happen anymore but if he hasn’t had a 2 hour midday sleep then he may have a half hour nap from 4.30 til 5pm.
Before Masons sleeps I always check his nappy, take extra clothes off if need be, talk to him about it being bed time and give him some milk depending on how the day has been going/the current situation. We now use white noise for all his sleeps including day and night. I also have made a hut over his cot with blankets to make it darker without having to buy black out curtains. He sleeps with two cuddlys, his dummy taggy, in a Woolbabe sleep bag, wrapped into his safe t sleep and tucked in with a blanket.
Roughly the first three months:
I actually find it so hard thinking back this far, it feels like it was years ago in ways! Mason slept right beside us in his moses basket from day dot. I loved having him close. He was a baby who woke roughly every 2-3 hours at a time and thankfully he was pretty consistent for a long time. He was swaddled each night with either the muslin wrap or a love2dream swaddle and then tucked in with a blanket.
We weren’t super routine based at the beginning cause again we just rolled with whatever worked for us but what did end up occurring was Mason cluster feeding to sleep each night. He’s always been bathed almost every night and reading stories was something we tried to do as often as we could. Before he started cluster feeding as much we found he needed a dream feed once he went down to bed. This would happen around 10pm and this would help him stretch out to at least 2pmish if my memory is correct. Mason almost never got put down to bed at night awake, he fed well off me til he was asleep, he was then swaddled and placed in bed usually without any problem at all.
Once we worked out that cluster feeding Mason for as long as possible (pretty much until he stopped sucking or was just nibbling) was filling him up we slowly realised a dream feed was no longer needed and instead only about 2 feeds would happen during the night. At 6 weeks old we made the tough decision to start sleeping Mason in his cot but still within his moses basket. Just like how we had been doing within the day. I felt so heavy hearted doing this but I really think it helped Mason sleep even better. He stirred less during the night cause he couldn’t hear us I believe. That’s when we started using the monitor at night.
At every wake up I would feed Mason in the lounge and back into bed he went after. It became quite a routine that he would wake at around 2am and then again around 4/5am. That last wake up of the night was hard though as I found it was a lot harder to get him back to sleep and when I did he would only sleep for about half an hour before trying to start the day. I believe it was because of the sun beginning to rise and us only having blinds so in the end I started bringing him into bed with me to feed and sleep more until around 7-8am. In fact this was happening even when he was still sleeping in our room!
Three months onwards:
Bam, just past three months Mason made sleeping through a regular thing. 7pm til 5am was now someones routine and I couldn’t believe how he did this himself. I questioned cluster feeding to sleep a lot because I figured he should be able to fall asleep from being awake but as he was doing this during the day I wasn’t phased at night. If it helped him sleep through I wasn’t ruining that. Waking around 4/5am every night for his one feed was and still happens in our bed and thats where he stays until we wake for the day by 7am.
As I said at the start of this post nothing ever stays the same and there comes times when shit hits the fan and sickness did that to us unfortunately. Mason getting a very bad chest cold and ear infection meant that he didn’t stay in his bed much at all at nights, he worked himself up to the point where it was heartbreaking and together Nath and I decided that having him in our bed was the best option. Something we always made sure we did though was put him to bed in his own bed. As he still to this day cluster feeds before bed we put him down to sleep in his own cot and only bring him into our bed if he wakes and won’t resettle at all unless he’s on the boob or with us. I’m a big believer in babies on being little once and as long as you and your partner are on the same page then there shouldn’t be a problem. For us we want Mason to be able to sleep in his own bed and know where his own bed is. Sleeping in our bed is all depending on the situation but I’m happy to have him in there every night from 4am onwards.
Mason’s sleeping has been pretty up and down since the sickness. We have thankfully had a large number of days where we have only had the one wake in the night but we still have had moments of at least two-three wake ups as well which is why I resort to co-sleeping cause there is only so much getting up and down this mama can take. Plus I don’t have the patience to lean over a cot all night long…
Our daily night routine now looks like this:
Solids at 5pm
Milk feed straight after (this isn’t normally long just as many feeds to fit in to fill him)
Baby massage, essential oils and dressed in room where he stays for stories with Dad 6.15pmish
Cluster fed to sleep in room 6.30pmish
In bed by 7pm roughly.
We never use to use anything during the night with Mason sound wise. If he stirred during the night occasionally I would turn on the shusher if need be but otherwise usually if he stirs now he will either resettle himself or majority of the time he just needs the dummy put in and back to sleep he goes. Mason goes to sleep now with white noise playing the whole night. He sleeps in a wondersuit, in his Woolbabe sleep bag, is wrapped into his safetsleep and then a blanket tucks him in over top. He has his two cuddlys and dummy taggy too. We also leave up the hut made of blankets to keep it that bit darker in his room due to natural light from outside coming in. Extra sidenote – I don’t change Masons nappy during the night unless he wakes extremely upset and won’t settle otherwise I only change it at his 4/5am wake.
Overall tips and recommendations:
1. Purchase a Woolbabe. These sleeping bags are the best. They come in a range of options one being a duvet style and then a 3 seasons style. We have used both but due to Mason being a hot blooded kid he has enjoyed the 3 seasons one most. Its made of merino and cotton which makes it snuggly and allows them to still feel secure even with their arms out.
To get 15% off any Woolbabe (it has to be one that isn’t already discounted) use the code SIGLOUISE at checkout. Discount valid until Sunday 23rd September https://www.thesleepstore.co.nz/shop/sleeping-bags/woolbabe-sleeping-bags?utm_source=sigourney%20louise&utm_medium=blog&utm_campaign=woolbabe
2. Safetsleeps are worth investing in. Mason moving up the bed and out of camera view in the monitor freaked me out. The safe t sleep has helped me feel so much more content having Mason in a different room to me. I know he’s safe in it and its simple to use. What’s also fantastic is they aren’t just made for tiny babies, they have a houdini strap to prevent them from getting out and they come in two different sizes. The classic which fits all the way up to a single sized bed and then the large which can fit all the way up to a standard king. They also do a sleepwrap too! To get 15% off any sleepwrap size use the code siglouise18
3. Don’t be afraid to use music or white noise. There is going to come a day when your child turns around to you and says Mum or Dad I don’t want that on anymore. White noise in particular is something I believe they don’t even know if happening cause its just natural sound so I say do whatever works! The shusher can be purchased from shops such as Babycity and white noise can be found on youtube, its as simple as that.
4. Buy swaddles (muslin) that are a decent size and quality! Kmart swaddles aren’t ideal for swaddling, they are to square and small. I find the best swaddles are decent in size, stretchy and light. I loved the ones I purchased from babu, burrowandbe and hearmeroar.
5. Purchase a dummy taggy, its another game changer. Thanks to little_e_boutique we were gifted a beautiful taggy to attach the dummy to. I’m sure many of you know by now how hard it is for little babies to find their dummies in bed and I found Mason would cry often when he wanted it but couldn’t find it. Simply attaching the dummy to the soft taggy blanket has allowed him to now find the dummy himself and resettle on his own! To get 15% off your own dummy taggy blanket just mention my name – Sigourney when you make an order with Sariah. https://www.instagram.com/little_e_boutique/?hl=en
6. Do what you feel comfortable with. If you are going to co-sleep just be safe about it, ensure blankets aren’t going to cover the baby’s face and pillows are positioned correctly. If you know you move loads in your sleep it may not be the safest option for you. If you wish to use white noise, a dummy, cuddlys go for it. Whatever works.
7. Ensure your wee babe is really full and topped up before going down for the night. It may just help them sleep through better. Also consider the solid food they are consuming, it maybe making their gut react or some foods actually create babies to wake a lot so keep and eye out for those triggers.
8. Experiment with different tricks. Having your baby in the same room with you (cot in your room etc) maybe nice but if night sleeps aren’t working moving the wee babe into their own room could be worth a shot if it’s going to help you all get more sleep. Again you do what you are comfortable with and no harm in trying.
Now, I hear my bed calling. I wonder how much sleep I will be allowed tonight…