Those who have been reading my blog for a while, I suggest you sit down before reading this. I am about to write something I have dreamt about writing for a long time. It may shock you. RAFE SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT FOR THE FIRST TIME. I know. Shut the front door. AND he napped in his cot for ONE HOUR TEN MINUTES. ONE HOUR TEN MINUTES. I cried. For a serial catnapper and baby who has never slept through the night this is what I imagine it feels like to win a Gold medal. Did I sleep through? Did I have a productive one hour while he napped? Nope. Kept waking up to see if he was okay and kept saying to myself: “He's still asleep. He’s still asleep. I can’t (insert appropriate swear word) believe he’s still asleep.” And during the nap I pretty much held my breath and starred at the monitor the whole time. I mean he’s never repeated either again so I am frantically trying to retrace my steps to see what I did differently to achieve such a miracle. So what did I do? Whiskey on the gums. JOKES. Gin. JOKES...
So this week has been a mix of first times – and same old same old times. Although we’ve had nap success and a full night’s sleep for Rafe. AMEN. We’ve still had nights of multiple wake-ups and total nap refusals. But the one thing that has been consistent and I think has helped, is getting him to self-settle at bedtime again. It was tough to begin with – took at least 40 minutes. I used the pick up put down method https://www.netmums.com/baby/sleep-training-techniques---pick-up-put-down but tailored it to how I know Rafe settles. So I did the whole pick up when he was crying. And when I’d popped him down once he’d stopped crying (sleepy/awake) and he wasn’t settling I’d tap his back (he settles on his side, I know they advise babies to sleep on their backs till they are one but since he’s been in his big boy cot I can’t stop him rolling over!) and say “it’s sleep time now”. I’d then sit next to his cot and basically wait for him to fall asleep – and settle him if needed but always putting him back down once he’d stopped crying. Or if he was just being a bit fussy but not crying I’d just try and leave him to it. But never leaving his side. Like I said it took a while the first time but as the nights went on the time it took to settle was shorter. Last night he just needed a little shush and he was down within ten minutes. Hurrah! I’ve still had to settle him a bit in the night if he wakes and has fed, but that’s more for my own sanity and to get back to sleep as soon as possible! And he seems to love waking up at 5.30 but I can’t have it all can I?! But the night he slept through, I got him down using the pick up put down method and through the night if I heard him stir, I just quickly put Ewan the sheep on and held my breath. (He's still in with me as at my parents until we get our house sorted) I woke up every couple of hours and checked he was okay, as the time got closer to morning I started to think something must be wrong but he was just knocking out z'ds like a pro. So he went from 6.30 to 6. Imagine of I’d just slept! I woke up just before 6 and I was so scared to check the time but I knew from the raging pain in my boobs that it must be past 4am. I had to go to the sink and express some milk as they felt like they were going to explode. Then the little champ woke up! And I cried out of joy. He’d hardly napped during the day so don’t know whether he was just really tired but I'm hoping it’s a sign of things to come! Hanging on a thread of hope here as last night wasn't great but still bloody chuffed he slept through! I wish I could give everyone a miracle method I used but I literally did nothing special – apart from self-settling. And I’m hardly no sleep guru - or gloating - as he’s only done it once but those who have been reading my blog for a while – it’s a bloody achievement isn’t it? I would say self-settling is maybe the key though. I know getting baby to self-settle is as fun as sticking pins in your eyes but I’d give it a go. Just requires patience and make sure you have tequila on standby.
Another mum and reader of my blog advised I listen to a podcast https://www.preciouslittlesleep.com/category/naps/ about naps which I did on one of my many walks in the pram this week. It was quite an eye opener. Although it did repeat a lot of what I’d read from my furious googling at 2am, it really honed in on stopping sleep associations, the science of sleep and trying to get your child to settle themselves. And spoke about routine – so trying to get baby to nap in the same place everyday. Which can be hard but I thought I’d try to get him to always have his early morning nap in his cot. So instead of going in with the normal attitude of “fuck this is never going to work" I popped him in his sleeping bag and said “it's nap time now.” He screamed and rather than getting stressed the fuck out, I just did the pick up put down method, sat next to him and shushed, pattered his back and although it took over half and hour – he bloody fell asleep! Without much intervening from me. So I snuck out, had a quick cup of coffee and expected him to be awake in 30 minutes. Nope. 40 minutes nope. This can’t be happening. One hour and ten minutes. I was walking around the house thinking what the actual fuck? What sorcery is this?! Literally never happened since he was a teeny tiny tot. Again I’m not gloating here - it’s genuine disbelief, hence I’ve written a while paragraph about it!! So again, it’s not like this is happening everyday – but I just flipping hope it’s a sign of longer naps. Like now I know he can do it. I’ve still had to walk for miles in the afternoon to get him to sleep in the pram but swings and roundabouts and all that jazz. So again, it’s not like I can say I'VE CONQUERED NAPS!! I wish I could. But I hope it gives people some hope that my serial catnapper, pram lover, managed an hour in the cot. Please do it again son.
I’ve been reading about the nap transition from 3 to 2 naps. I mean I don’t think it’s going to overly difficult as it’s not like he’s a great napper and sleeps three naps everyday but just wanted to see how people manage it? There’s been times this week that he hasn’t had his middle nap so I thought he might be ready but you can see he’s so tired. And some days between naps if he hasn’t had the middle nap it’s been four hours between naps and he’s wrecked. So if you’ve gone to two naps a day – when do you tend to do them and how do you manage if baby still catnaps? Oh, and how many months was your baby when you dropped the third nap?
Another success was taking 6oz from a new cup. The Tommee Tippee sippy cup is good for water but quite messy so thought I’d try a MAM starter cup with soft non-spill spout and he latched on and took it better than he ever took a bottle. I couldn’t believe it! It helps he can feed himself I think - and he can chew on the teat if he wants - and he just seemed to be quite comfortable with it. I don’t know whether it’s because the teat is quite big maybe – don’t know what that says about my nipples haha! He did get quite fussy near the end and wanted me to feed him and had about 4oz but when my mum tried he took 6oz really well. I'm going to keep trying everyday for the 10am feed and see how we get on. So Rafe's been a bit of a legend this week. Kind of…It's like he is teasing me of what he can do - just no consistency. Like yesterday, he pretty much refused all naps. How very unreasonable of him.
So sorry, I know I haven't exactly solved sleep or naps but maybe there is light at the end of the tunnel for us sleep deprieved mums. Even if it just happened once...it means it will happen again right?! GOOD LUCK! Sending virtual wine and patience to anyone attempting self-settling. It’s fucking emotional x
P.s Rafe has got my death stare down to a tee!!
Royal Marine Wife. Mum to Rafe.