“O sleep, O gentle sleep

Nature’s soft nurse, how have I frighted thee,
That thou no more wilt weigh my eyelids down
And steep my senses in forgetfulness?”

Oh, a correction, “how has Henry frighted thee”?

I’m an idiot. A moron. A prize pillock. Because 3 months ago, I made the mistake of posting a Facebook status along the lines of “Wow, how different can two children be? At one year, Evie was still not sleeping through the night. At 6 weeks, Henry is asleep from 10pm to 6am. Hurrah!“.

Like I said… idiot!!

Sleepy, Henry? Then SLEEP!!!

Who tempts fate like that? Gah, I could beat myself over the head with a wet fish for that. So stupid.

Because now, my Facebook status might read: “Wow, how different can two children be? At 4 months, Evie was only waking me once in the night. At the same age, Henry has been waking me at least 4 times a night, for the last 6 weeks. Hurrah!“. Or maybe “Harrumph”.

So forgive the lack of posts for the last few days, and excuse any glaring grammatical or spelling errors within this latest update. I am not myself. I think I lost my mind somewhere between 11pm on Thursday night and 4am on Friday morning. Around the same time I came out with “WHY WON’T HE SLEEP? Someone, anyone, please help me!!!”.

Yep, as I said. I lost my mind for a while there…

The lonely hour

It’s an wonderful thing, though, having this extended parenting community at your Facebook fingertips. Everybody does want to help. Or, at least, they want to share what helped for them. Even people who I know still aren’t sleeping through the night themselves, cared enough to proffer advice. Advice that includes some of the following key tidbits:

Nurse him to sleep

Don’t nurse him to sleep, whatever you do, he needs to learn to self-settle

Let him cry it out

Don’t let him cry, keep him calm at all costs

Start weaning, he’s obviously hungry!

Don’t wean yet, he must have reflux – new foods will make it worse

Lie him on his back

Lie him on his front

Bring him into your bed for some peace

Don’t bring him into your bed – it will make him want your milk

Read Chapter 5 of The No Cry Sleep Solution….

Well meaning, wonderful friends that they all are for taking the time to offer me sympathy and solutions, I’m not sure I came away any the wiser.

I know that “cry it out” does work, eventually. I know that you have to be strong, and endure around 3 nights of hell before it does, though. And…I’m not feeling particularly strong right now, I’m afraid.

I adore my little guy. He is the happiest, silliest, most contented little chuckle bug during the day, and I just can’t bring myself to let him cry to the point of hysteria. Maybe I’m my own worst enemy, but if a baby sounds distressed, I can’t help feeling that he is distressed. And I don’t like it. I’m pretty desperate, but I don’t feel like I’m there just yet.

Chuckle bug!

Incidentally, I’m not, in any way, judging anyone who does choose to take the route of “cry it out” or controlled crying. Because that’s exactly what we had to do with Evie, when we started approaching her first birthday (and my imminent return to work), and we still weren’t enjoying restful nights. We had tried the softly, softly approach. We had tried having her in our bed; in a crib next to our bed; in a moses basket and in her own cotbed in her own room. I had tried dreamfeeding, instigating strict routines, taking her swimming to wear her out, playing music, keeping her room silent, using a night light, using blackout blinds. The final straw was my attempt to instigate The Baby Whisperer’s “Pick Up, Put Down” method – which only resulted in me developing tennis elbow, and enduring months of physical therapy. That beautiful little bugger wore us down, mentally and physically.  After 11 months of all that nonsense, controlled crying seemed the only possible solution.

But the fact that we did do it with Evie is the very reason I want to avoid doing it with Henry. It was…horrid.

There has to be a better way. There must be!

But…what?

I would say “Please tell me what worked for you”, but I’ve already done that. And I know that there just isn’t a “one size fits all” sleep solution for these darned babies. Yes, maybe, a few more days of this and we might take the Cry It Out route. Not yet, though.

I am well aware that it’s also terribly unfair on Evie, having a sleep-deprived zombie for a mother. Zombies aren’t great at taking you to the park, and they’re certainly not much good at finger painting, playing dress-ups or just messing around and being silly. I really don’t want to spend the winter months employing The Disney Channel as my full-time babysitter for Evie, while I stare dejectedly at the baby, willing him to rest his eyes. On the other hand, it has only been 4 months. It feels like an eternity when you aren’t getting any rest, 24-7, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s no time at all.

So, for now, I’m choosing to focus on Henry’s daytime naps – something I can do more rationally, more patiently, and more consistently. Until this week, he was the King of the Catnaps. 10 minutes here, 10 minutes there. Definitely never more than 30 minutes at a time. They say that sleep begets sleep, so this daytime pattern was never going to bode well for our nighttime snoozes.

Last week, I did ask for help. One more time. Another desperate “What did you do to get your son to nap? Exactly?” to a fellow mum. And she thought about it. She scratched her head, she dug deep into her hazy memories of sleepless times gone by, and….. RESULT!!!

That, there, is a sleeping Henry. A blissfully quiet, cosy and contented sleeping Henry, lulled to dreamland in an electric swing. Or, as I like to call it, my very own gift from the gods (via an incredibly generous friend!).

In the last 2 days, thanks to the rocking wonder, my darling son’s naps have increased from 10 minutes to 90 minutes. He takes 3 naps a day. He’s happier, I’m astounded, and my dear, patient Evie finally got to enjoy some proper, quality, mummy and me (and no annoying baby brother to interrupt us) time! We got the paints out, we baked a cake, we blew bubbles. It was perfect.

So, maybe I will ask again. And again, and again. Because, that one time, I got an answer that worked. Our daytimes are suddenly saved. Now to battle the nights….tell me – what worked for you?

Winner gets a packet of Smarties – because, as we all know, “only Smarties have the answer”!

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12 Responses to “O sleep, O gentle sleep

  1. Kerstin Pepper says:

    A lot of my lovely readers left their support and advice on my Facebook page, so I’m taking the liberty of reposting them here. Please let me know if you’d rather I removed your words, and I will do so without hesitation! Thanks everyone, you’re all fabulous – Smarties for all! 🙂

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  2. Kerstin Pepper says:

    You’re right, they’re all individuals so unfortunately there isn’t one magic solution that fits all which is incredibly inconvenient! ;0) H has just put herself in a routine which is very nice but I’m under no illusion that it could change at any time xxxx

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  3. Kerstin Pepper says:

    The fact that you’re cracking the naps may mean the nights will follow. When A went through a period of bad sleeping (albeit she was over 1 at the time) it was overtiredness. We’d been putting her to bed later and later to try and make her tired enough to sleep longer. On advice we did the reverse and pushed her bedtime earlier and within a couple of nights she was sleeping back through.

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  4. Kerstin Pepper says:

    Essentially, I think having a strong routine worked for us. If he does wake/cry we ignore for a few mins, but if it continues we go in, put him back in bed, kiss him and say “night night”, then leave. He’s mostly been good sleeper, but we have had about 2 or 3 rough patches, with him waking and just shouting all night and not going back down. When this happens, we take the “cry it out” route, going in every 20-30 mins to make sure there isn’t really anything wrong with him, and to calmly put him back in bed per above. NB: we never let him “cry hysterically”. Everyone knows their kids, and I know that when he’s had these funny episodes of waking and shouting in the night, that’s all it was. Shouting, for attention. If he’d been crying himself into a hysterical state, not sure I could/would have taken the same route. L has had same routine, and sleeps well, waking usually just once for feed. Just 2 or 3 times she’s woken for longer, with back arching/crying which we put down to either colic (in earlier days) or constipation since starting solids. Sadly, in these cases all I could do was pace up & down and/or nurse her to calm her. She wont eat when in pain, so as soon as she starts to nurse, she’ll then fall asleep and that’ll be it til morning. Sure this is no use, but – as you say – there’s not one key that fits all. I guess the routine thing provides strong base, but if they wake all you can do is go through the checklist to find what the issue is, and deal accordingly. I only let him “cry it out” when I know all he wants is attention. At Henry’s age, I don’t think they’re that calculated yet, so he probably has a real issue upsetting him, i guess it could be collic/gas, so maybe try those remedies??? Hope it’s short-lived and he sleeps like a dream soon.

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  5. Kerstin Pepper says:

    Been wanting to post to say we are still up x4 times a night with A and she is nearly two!! Tried every trick in the book. She needs very little sleep it seems and never slept for more than 40mins however it is true to try and make them sleep longer in the day as it encourages more sleep at night. Try waking him around half an hr into sleep to put him into the next sleep cycle! Good book called no cry sleep solution. I conclude they all get there but in their own time and no amount of routine, crying it out or feeding helps. A only ever sleeps through the night and thats when we leave her with family!! It’s so annoying and what does that tell u?!!! Good luck I know how ur feeling xxx

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  6. Kerstin Pepper says:

    You’ve just reminded me! For the first few months, I gave infacol before each feed and it prevented any wind issues I think which meant she slept better xxx

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  7. Kerstin Pepper says:

    I feel your pain… I too have a ‘magic swing’ !

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  8. Kerstin Pepper says:

    After a week of multiple night wakings I am really missing my sleep right now!

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  9. Kerstin Pepper says:

    I just can’t believe how different each night can be with phoebe, she has had a cold but Saturday night we has the worst night ever since she has been born, she just cried all night, there was nothing I could do to settle her. Then Sunday night she slept through from 8pm till 6am, then last night she woke up once at 3am lol, we can never predict what it’s going to be like xx

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