This blog post is dedicated to all the mama’s out there who haven’t slept in they don’t know how long…🙈 all the opinions in this blog are my own & all the things I talk about are things that I have tried & tested & have worked for me so I really do hope they help you out in anyway possible!!
So if you follow my Instagram you would have seen that I have been reading the MOST helpful & interesting sleep books I have ever read by the author ‘Sarah ockwell smith’ called ‘the gentle sleep book’ if you don’t know what gentle parenting is & gentle sleep methods then check it out online before you continue to read ☺️
Before I start I want to make you awake that Jude hasn’t slept for all of his life. That’s literally not an exaggeration! For 2.5 years me nor him have slept. He woke on average anywhere between 8 to 18/26 times a night. Every night. He suffers with night terrors as well & since we have been doing these simple solutions he barley has night terrors. He’s ha them for over a year now as well. Jude was also having anywhere from 4-8 8oz bottles every night and since we have being doing so if these things he has 1-3 bottles at night. Even when he was in our bed with us. We honestly tried evening to get him to skew and nothing has worked other than what I’m about to tell you.
I would just like to say that most of these things I talk about, I have tried over and over again as I don’t think you can do something once, when your baby is 9 months old for example, that doesn’t work & then never try is again when your baby is 17 months old because ‘it didn’t work before’ so I do strongly feel that you have to be persistent & try & try again with sleep solutions, the same as you do with food when weaning a baby…I will be giving tips that have helped me out and tips that I have discovered through my book…also I want to say that there are no rules or guidelines to sleep training. It’s what’s totally individual to your babies needs. Just remember that some of these solutions are not the norm and won’t be found on any guideline website or magazine…but who made these guidelines up anyways? And why are their guidelines when every child is different? Why do we feel like we’re bad parents when we haven’t followed these guidelines or followed what everyone else does? Don’t feel like what’s said in western society is the norm and because it’s the norm you have to do it..do whatever the hell you want. It’s your baby and no one knows that baby like it’s mama!
OK, so that’s enough blabbering, let’s get to it shall we…
Ok so a little background on Jude, seeing as he is the reason I’m writing this post & the reasons for me having spent endless hours reading books, watching documentaries, YouTube videos & seeing doctors & also resulting in me spending most of the last 2.5 years (all of his lifetime) awake! Ok so Jude is 2.5 years & he was birthed pretty disturbingly, but that’s another post all together, he also has a non IGE cows milk allergy & also can’t tolerate wheat & gluten (he’s currently being tested for celiac). We didn’t find this out until Jude was nearly 5 months old & he wasn’t on the correct formula until he was around 6 months old, as we had to try a few to see what worked best for him. Jude had 3 big Infant cephalohematomas on his head due to forceps delivery. Now I honestly think one of the reasons why he cried so much as a baby was because he had a constant headache. The doctors told me babies didn’t get headaches but I beg to differ…anyways, from day 1, literally from the moment he came out of me, he cried. Day. Night. Day. Night. And the crying never stopped. So therefore the sleeplessness never stopped. I remember taking him to the ER as he cried continuously for 3.5 hours straight, no calm or quiet period & nothing soothed him. It was traumatic to be totally honest with you all. I was thrown into motherhood over night & I had this baby that wasn’t like all my friend babies, because, you know, their babies slept ALL night long..please ✋🏻 we all know babies don’t sleep all night long from day 1! But back to the point, the crying stopped as Jude’s head became better & when he was on the correct formula BUT the sleeplessness NEVER stopped 😩 so from when Jude was around 6 months, I got a book, I read it & I was prepared for anything, until that 1st night…it was heart wrenching. We tried the ‘cry it out’ method which is totally not gentle but at this stage of my life I didn’t even know ‘gentle parenting’ existed! So we done this ‘letting him cry’ and we go in every 5 minutes then 8 then 10 etc for about 3 nights & by night 3 he was still the same. He would never ever give in & he would make himself sick. Jude was around 8 months old when we started the whole ‘sleep training’ as that was when he could hold his own bottle & I felt like he ‘should be sleeping through the night’ also, not going to lie, other than the fact that I was desperate for sleep, I also had people telling me all the time that their babies sleeps 12 hours & never cries & i would always get asked that dreaded question ‘how does he sleep’ or ‘does he go all night long’ & when someone asks you that, & you’ve only had 3 hours sleep, don’t you just want to punch them in the face 🤷🏻♀️..or was that just me 🙈
Anyways so Jude still being 8 months old & having tried the ‘let them cry’ method & that not working or feeling right to me at all I then started to try and take away his milk at night a little more. Jude was having up to 6-9 8oz bottles every night. Jude has never been a big eater and can and will go days and days without food and just have milk so I always felt guilty taking his milk away at night as I knew he must be hungry. Jude wouldn’t have a dummy either. He rejected it himself at 6 months old. Taking the bottles away didn’t work. We then tried watering them down & he was very clever & knew they didn’t taste like his normal bottles so he would trow then at me or at the door as I walked out and he would tantrum until he got what he wanted, because I would always give in. Partly because I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer and partly because it was too hard hearing him cry and cry.
All of that aside, we have had the same bedtime routine for Jude since he was around 12 months old and we still have it to this day. I tried changing it soo many times thinking that it was a problem & the time wasn’t right & that maybe having a bath before bed wakes him up more…everything but he still has the same bedtime routine now that we had first off all so there was no need to change it at all. I tried feeling him later & i tried adding baby rice to his bottles to fill him up more before bed I tried porridge before bed, nothing I seemed to do worked. I’ve learnt now, from reading my book regarding his bedtime, that I needed to change the time of his bed time as the time differs for different ages. Jude has dinner, bath, book, bottle & then bed every night around the same time (between 6:30 & 7pm)
When Jude turned 2 I really started to knuckle down on his sleep. I started to try the ‘let him cry’ method again, only to fail at it again. We tired watering his bottles down again, only to have them thrown at me again, but this time with more force 🤦🏻♀️. We tried giving him water instead of milk again and even tried giving him juice instead of water, only to have this launched at me too, repeatedly through the night. He would scream & tantrum and make himself sick nearly every night we done any of those ‘methods’ I even went to the doctors for advice & they told me to leave him & let him ‘cry it out’ for one night and he won’t wake up again. I was shocked & that just didn’t feel right to me at all. I even went to the doctors asking for a sedative to give Jude as I was SO desperate for sleep I was actually willing to drug my precious baby. I did try the sedative but they said it will either go one way or the other meaning he will sleep or he will be hyperactive & as my luck would have it, he went hyperactive & THIS is when it dawned on me that I needed to change things badly. I didn’t know how to change them & I didn’t even know what to do first but I know I had to do something for my on sanity. Then it when I discovered gentle patenting & I read only amazing reviews about the book I have so I bought it & it’s changed my life!! I hope it can change yours too!
Jude also suffered & still does suffer with silent reflux. He is now back on his ranitidine 3x a day which helped so well for a few nights and then he went back to being Jude again.
GENTLE SLEEP SOLUTION NUMBER 1 -bedtime routine!!! I literally can’t express this enough. Children like to know what’s happening. They thrive off of routine. They like to have little triggers to let them know things are going to happen, for example, once they have eaten dinner, they get straight out of the high chair and into the bath. If you do that continuously every day for a few weeks (maybe even days) your child will then learn that’s how their routine goes etc. With a bedtime routine you have to keep it consistent! That is key, in my opinion!Also look into what is the correct bedtime for your child’s age as they vary depend on this. For Jude’s age which is between 2-3 they say to put them to bed for 8pm as melatonin is naturally released around 7:40pm (that was discovered & proven by scientific research studied on children of that age) and I can honestly say, since Jude has been going to bed between 7:30pm & 8:00pm he has far less awakenings at night! I know it’s lovely to have an evening to yourself with your partner, but that comes at the price of being woken up 85 times in the night 🤦🏻♀️ so find a bedtime routine that works for you and stick to it for 6 weeks (that’s what the book says) and see if you notice any difference and if it helps in any way!
GENTLE SLEEP SOLUTION NUMBER 2 –
Blue light/home lighting –
Blue lighting – ok so this will be the hardest I think for people to try out. I too struggled with it but I’m SO happy I’ve managed to stick to it & it’s really opened my eyes to how much time we spend on our phones or letting our children on iPads or leaving them to watch the tele so they are occupied and out of our hair for a while so we can cook dinner in peace. I know that feeling mama’s & it’s such an easy solution to think ‘pop them in front of the tele & you can get stuff done without them interfering’ but it’s actually only making matters worse for the both of you. The blue light that is admitted from devices like the iPad, phone & tele prevent melatonin being released, therefore keeping your little one awake longer & causing them to have a more restless nights sleep. Also, monitor what your children watch. Jude loves paw patrol but there is a Halloween episode he watched and now he’s petrified of ghosts. I didn’t even think he was mentally old enough to develop fears but he definitely has one or two, ghosts & spiders & I have paw patrol to thank for that. Even though the programs are aimed at children just monitor closely watch kind of programs they are and if you think they could be causing nightmares or night terrors for your little one. In the book it says to stop all blue light activity 3 hours prior to bed time. We have stuck this like glue & it’s worked a treat. I really feel this is one of the main reasons he sleeps so much better. If your going to try only one of these solutions, then please try this on and see how it can effect your child for the better! So Jude actually went 3 days without the tele and slept amazingly and was a much nicer toddler to be around. I gave him his iPad the other morning out of a ‘quick fix’ desperation moment & oh my gosh it was a disaster. He totally changed. He was horrible to me & screaming, kicking & smashing things up when I asked for it back. It was too much so I’ve now sold the iPad and we’re getting him a LeapPad instead. I’m honestly so happy about him not having an iPad anymore. We have also told him the tele is broken so I just turn it on when I feel like I need it on or when he’s feeling poorly and doesn’t want to do much other than lay on the sofa and watch some tele.
Home Lighting – through the book I’ve learned that having energy saving lights in the home are more effective of causing sleep disturbances than a normal glow lightbulb but that aside, having lights on in general can cause sleep disturbances. Think about it, it’s more common sense really, but I think new mums and mums that don’t get much sleep 🙋🏻♀️ lack a little in the common sense areas because were too busy trying to stay awake and stay sane 🙈 but when you think of sleeping you think of darkness and low lighting then you bath your baby or toddler in a bathroom before bed that is lit up like an airport runway! We expect our babies to want to go to sleep after their bath but they have just spent half an hour in a brightly lit room playing with their toys. Their not going to want to go to sleep and all that light resulted melatonin levels so they won’t even feel tired anymore! See, totally common sense right 🙈 anyway, bath time has always been my favourite time and it’s definitely Jude’s favourite time too. Now he loves it even more because every night he gets to have a candle lit bath..yes, you read that right, my toddler, not me, gets to have a candle lit bath. Every. Single. Bloody. Night. I on the other hand am lucky to get one once a month…a bath I mean haha. Candles are a rarity when it comes to my bathes haha. Think that’s just how motherhood goes, who knows 🤷🏻♀️ BUT anyways…Jude loves his baths so much more now & he loves blowing the candles out & the smell of them & I really do believe they make a massive difference to his sleeping! We also add lavender bath salts to his bath every night and have been doing this for about a year now but I think they work much better in a candle lit bath than a well lit bath. He also has a night time lavender bubble bath and wash by neals yard that we have been using on him at night since he was born. I think all of this things we do for Jude at bath time work well together and don’t have much or even any benefit when used alone, they just become a wast of money as I’ve realised over the years.
With regards to lighting in the house, once the sun starts to set we use small lights such as fairy lights in the house and little lamps etc to avoid bright lighting & we started this the other week too when we started the candle lit baths and I’ve noticed that even me and my partner sleep so much better!! We also try to have no phones 1 hour before bed but it doesn’t always work 🙈
GENTLE SLEEP SOLUTION NUMBER 3 –
Lovey/snuggle toy – In my opinion I think this is a great idea if your toddler or baby takes to one as not all children do. This is a reassurance to your baby or toddler that they are not alone. In the book it says that this has to be something that the child chooses them self’s & usually something that smells like their mama which is their favourite smell & is extremely comforting to them which will help soothe them when they awaken in the night or day from a nap. Jude has a bunny & sheepie that he’s had since he was about 6 months old and he loves them and the come everywhere with us and I have spare ones as I’ve lost me before and it was total hell! I didn’t wash them much when he was little so they would keep their scent which is what he loved so much about them but now he’s older he has them for total comfort, not so much smell, so I can actually wash them now haha. I did notice when Jude got a real bond for his bunny, as that was the first one, he did settle back to sleep a lot better. It never kept him a sleep but it always helped him settle down and still does now to this day.
GENTLE SLEEP SOLUTION NUMBER 4 –
Bedside cot/co sleeping/bed sharing-
Beside cot – Snuzpod – Personally I LOVE having Jesse is his snuzpod next to me. It’s attached to our bed so I just open my eyes and he’s there! I don’t breastfeed so I don’t need him right next to me in my own bed, but I wouldn’t want him too far from me, so having him in the bedside cot is amazing. I think this works wonders for newborns as they can hear you and smell you and you can get to them in a split second to comfort them when they need it at night. We done this with Jude and it was great. He didn’t sleep any better or worse, as I said before, he cried and woke no matter what. But with Jesse he loves being right there and I honestly think he sleeps better because I’m so close to him.
Co sleeping – This is when you share a room with your baby/toddler. Either they are in your room in their own bed or you are in their room on the floor etc. We never brought Jude back in our room as I was too worried that it would cause me more problems in the future and that I would be ‘making a rod for my own back’ but now, looking back, I wish I had bought him back in our room, in his own bed, and I might have got more sleep sooner! I think it’s a great idea and it’s done all over the world, it’s just that western society has made it seem that, from 6 months your child has their own room etc so that’s what people do. They follow the guidelines, What the magazines says and what their friends say but their baby isn’t yours so do what you feel is right. I have made the decision to keep Jesse in our room until he is 1 years old as I feel it’s necessary to his needs and his emotional support. I’ve read amazing benefits of keeping your baby in the same room as you and next to you at night etc Plus I love waking up and looking as his adorable baby face every morning. Who wouldn’t want to wake up and look at their babies little face 🤷🏻♀️
Bed sharing – this is obviously when you share a bed with your little one. This helps in some cases and can be a what is necessary to help your baby/toddler feel comfortable and confident enough to move from their into their own bed in their own room. Just unfortunately still woke up and still does when/if he comes in our bed at night. I think it’s a pain having him kick and wiggle all over the bed but I know that he’s safe and he’s calm because he knows we’re there for him. I think, personally, sometimes it takes a little longer for some children to feel confident in their own bed in their own room so they need you to let them in your bed for reassurance that you are there for them and they are safe and eventually they won’t feel the need to come in your bed anymore…that’s the goal anyways 🙈 I think this worked for Jude. We let him in when he wanted to come in, yes it was a total pain & I hated it most nights, but after a few months he now will sleep in his bed either all night long or until 4/5am which is amazing and so much better than him coming in at 11pm 🤦🏻♀️ just do what works for you and your baby and family.
GENTLE SLEEP SOLUTION NUMBER 5 –
Music/white noise – This is amazing! So for the last week or so, as recommended by my book, I have been playing baby sleep music from Spotify in Jude’s room all night long on a portable speaker & he wakes up WAY less than he ever normally would! He has a white noise sheep but it doesn’t have the same effect as the music in his room all night. I don’t know exactly how it works on him but it’s definitely doing something to him. He even wakes up happier. It’s crazy! Definitely worth a try! Jesse has the Whisbear white noise machine and he loves it and it definitely helps sooth him back off to sleep!
I got asked a lot of questions regarding reflux so here are my answers –
If like Jude, your baby has reflux/silent reflux here are some ways that I felt really helped Jude sleep a little more comfortably:
• using an anti colic pillow or wedge under his mattress to elevate him a little.
• sitting him up for 20 minutes after he was fed every bottle. Day and night.
• feeding him so he was near enough sitting up, never laying down.
• I would lay Jude on his side to sleep as he slept better on his side than on his back.
• I never put Jude on his tummy as he hates it and I think it made his reflux worse.
• he would never lay flat in the day and this seemed to help his reflux ease off a little at night
• I used Philips avent anti colic bottles and found they were the best ones
• Jude has ranitinde which is a medication to help reflux and this works wonders for him. This has to be prescribed by your GP.
That’s it for part 1! Part 2 I will cover – diet regarding sleeping – dream feeding – swaddling – activities and how they effect sleep – day time naps & getting a good bedtime routine established & I’ll be answering all your questions that haven’t already been answered.
I really hope you enjoyed part 1 & a massive pat on the back of you’ve made it this far!!
Thank you so much for reading mama’s I really appreciate it ✨