Forget about good food, money, etc. The best feeling ever is when your baby is FINALLY sleeping through the night.
As I’ve previously mentioned in older blog posts, DJ has never had trouble sleeping through the night. I would hear mothers complain about lack of sleep but I just couldn’t relate until I had Drew. Wow! I had no idea some babies hated sleep this much. The first few weeks of his life, he woke up every 40 minutes! It gradually improved to every 2-3 hours and then eventually he was up twice every night which was a huge deal.
On the 30th of September, I moved back home after 6 weeks of living at my parent’s post surgery. I was excited to be back in charge and to put them on a strict sleep schedule. I believe I’m really easy as a mom but the two things I never compromise on are nap time and bed time. I never let them sleep anytime they like or go the whole day without a nap. Everything is scheduled. That’s the only way I can properly plan out my time and have some order and sanity in my life. This is not to shame any parent who doesn’t do this. If you would like to start, it’s not too late. Children can adapt if you can be strict with it. Just know that once they sleep longer, it will improve their lives, improve their mood and you will get to rest! Have you ever taken your kids out without a nap? Omg! It’s the worst! They are super cranky and irritable. Anytime we have to go out to an event or a playground, they would have to have breakfast, play, NAP and then we go anywhere. I never wake them up from a nap either, if we are late, we are late. Lol.
If you’ve read through my blog, you’ll realize I’m a huge sleep advocate. I have one rule. Never wake a baby up to feed. That’s my mom’s rule that was passed on to me. All her kids were breastfed but she said she would let us sleep for hours, once we were up, she feeds. It didn’t affect my weight gain because I was HUGE. My brothers weights on the other hand were considered “normal”. So this is what I’ve practiced.
Anyway, Drew had just turned 10 months when we moved back. My plan was to move his cot into the nursery so he shares a room with DJ. Up until this point, Drew had been sleeping in our bedroom (in his cot). I cannot begin to describe how hard that was for us. We couldn’t even cough or sneeze or breathe in peace. We would have to tiptoe to the bathroom and once the bathroom door was opened, he would immediately wake up crying. I always said that the minute my head hits my pillow, he would sense my comfort and wake up. He also hated being left alone for any reason. Obviously, we couldn’t always be in our bedroom so we would leave when we have to. I didn’t need a baby monitor to hear his loud cry from the bedroom once he wakes up to an empty room. I had to put an end to this and devise a plan. I knew anytime before ten months would be too young so I had to wait till it was time. My plan was to have him share a room with DJ, that way he always had someone there with him and hopefully he would copy his big brother’s sleep pattern. My only worry was DJ. He wasn’t used to having anyone sleep in there with him and I was scared Drew’s night cries would spoil his sleep especially on school nights.
Side note: When DJ was younger, (about 14 months) he would get a fever anytime he didn’t have enough sleep and by enough I mean about 10 plus hours of sleep. So even though he had napped in school already, I would make him take a nap once he got back from school around 4pm till 6pm and then he’ll go back to bed at 8pm till 7am the next morning. We finally stopped the late afternoon nap when he got a bit older ( about 18 months). This boy loved his sleep so you can understand why I was so anxious about Drew waking him up.
We moved Drew’s cot right beside a confused but excited DJ.
For the moms who have just one child without an older sibling, you can apply this strategy as well.
The First Night…
My plan was to sleep in there with them till they finally adjust. My bed was right by Drew’s cot so he could see me. Also this was to help me attend to him quickly, the minute he woke up so we didn’t disturb DJ. I put them both to bed and then pretended to sleep. I could feel Drew peeking through his net directly at me. It was so amusing. After staring for a while, he drifted off to sleep. After a few hours, like clockwork, he was up crying. DJ also woke up, sat up , rubbed his eyes a bit and joined in. Great. Now I had two crying babies and a headache. I rushed to the kitchen and mixed Drew’s milk with a bit of cereal in his bottle and headed back to the room. I gave him the bottle and then put DJ back to bed. I just rubbed his back a bit and he was off. Drew finished his bottle and nodded off as well. The trick here is not to do anything that will disrupt their sleep like changing their diaper, turning on the light etc. Usually most good diapers are able to last throughout the night like the pampers pant they were using so I don’t change them at that age. I also make sure I do everything in the dark. What helped is the fact that I didn’t have to carry Drew out of his cot since he could hold his bottle at this stage. So just as he finished, I just turned him over to lie on his tummy and then I quietly took his bottle out and placed it in the fridge. I came back to lie down and yes after a few hours he was up again. This time I decided not to get up. I lay still and pretended to sleep, hoping he would eventually give up and sleep. It worked. After a few minutes of no response, he went back to bed. Thankfully, DJ also didn’t wake up. If he did, I would still lay there because I was slowly teaching them how to sleep on their own. I did the same thing every night for 2 weeks. FYI pretending to sleep works but it demands A LOT of self control. If you wake up every single time they cry, they will never stop. Once they are well fed, diaper has been changed and their temperature is fine before bed, you should have nothing to worry about. I had to keep reminding myself as I lay there.
Now that he had gotten used to waking up once, I decided I would take it a step further. I would put them to bed, lay there but slip out quietly in the middle of the night. We had installed a very good camera in their room so we could watch them on our phones. It’s called a Victure Baby Monitor. We ordered it on Amazon. It’s super clear even at night, we can control the angles it focuses on, zoom, speak to them, watch them when we’re away from home etc. A few days ago, I found a page on Instagram that sells it
Once he wakes up crying, I would watch him through the camera. Again, he would cry a bit but would go back to bed. Sometimes, DJ would join in and they would both sleep right after.This happened for a few days till the they completely stopped waking up. Once Drew turned 11 months, he had completely adjusted to the routine and mama could now SLEEP!
Their bedtime is 7:30pm on weekdays and 8pm on weekends. Sometimes they sleep a bit earlier than 8 on weekends if I’m exhausted. Now, I simply put them on their beds, kiss them, put the net around their cot, turn off the lights and that’s it. Some nights, they would whine because they wanted to play a bit more and some nights, I wouldn’t hear a single sound. They sleep soundly till 7am in the morning. Now, they understand that once the lights are off, it’s sleep time. The tricky part is during the day when they have to nap. Even with the curtains closed, there’s still a bit of sunlight in their room. During the weekdays when DJ is away in school, Drew has no problem sleeping. In the morning, I would make sure he moves around, walks, crawls, plays etc to wear himself out. Once I put him down, he cries a bit but sleeps almost immediately. Weekends when DJ is around, they take a nap at 11 but play in their cots for a whole hour and by 12ish they are both asleep. The entire time, they are playing and yelling, I just watch them from the camera, but I don’t intervene.
Next thing you know, they are asleep. In school, DJ’s class takes a nap at 12 so I decided to mimic it at home so he follows that same routine.This would help Drew as well once he starts preschool in January.
I was worried this strict sleep schedule may affect Drew’s weight but on the contrary, this boy keeps piling on the kilos. An added benefit is, ever since Drew started sleeping throughout the night, he never wakes up in the morning crying. Once he’s up, he plays a bit in his cot. If DJ is up earlier, you bet I’ll hear his loud scream “Mummy! Come!” or “Drewwww get up!”
To sum it all up, if you are truly determined to get your child(ren) to sleep through the night, these are a few things I would like you note:
• You are the parent here, don’t let them bully you into what time they would like to go to bed. Be firm about bed time and be really consistent. They need it.
• Most kids do not want to go to bed…ever! They hate sleep especially when they start to walk and explore and play and destroy stuff. They want to stay up as much as possible so be firm.
• It is likely that as you put them down, they may not look or be sleepy but trust me, once you place them down, they have nothing more to do but cry. And guess what happens right after? Sleep.
• It is hard at the beginning but it gets easier if only you’re consistent. Key word here is consistency and then they also adapt.
• Please please please exercise restraint through this process and try as much as possible not to go in there anytime you hear them cry. This derails the process. Once they are well fed, diaper is changed, had their water before bed, you just need a good camera to watch them, they WILL be fine. If you keep getting up to pick them up, they will ALWAYS get up. It’s difficult but don’t over think it. They will wake up in the morning well rested and you will be too.
• Contrary to what you might have heard, kids don’t need to wake up to have kooko to “survive the night”. If this was true, I think my boys wouldn’t be alive lol. Try not to be too worried, they will be fine.
• You can feed them first thing when they wake up.
• All the above advice is for kids who sleep on their own bed/cot. I can’t speak for kids who co sleep with their parents because I honestly have no idea how that works. Maybe in the future I might get a mom who can share that experience.
ALL THE BEST!