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In my previous life BC (before children) I was the type who languished in bed on weekends, enjoying a blissful lie in.
My husband would attempt to separate me from the duvet at about 11am, pleading that I was wasting the day.
He could never sleep beyond 8am, and would hang around our flat, waiting for me to surface.
So it’s little wonder I’m now obsessed with retrieving control of my sleep patterns, although it’s not likely to happen for at least a couple of years.
My pregnant self believed losing sleep would be a pleasure once I had children – that gazing into their little eyes at 3am, I’d be filled with love and wouldn’t mind I’d been pulled from my warm bed to settle a screaming child.
Once baby comes along, it’s almost competitive among mummy friends, to see who’s offspring is sleeping through the night first.
You kick yourself, wondering what you’re doing wrong when others brag their child is dozing happily by 6pm, and doesn’t wake until 8am the next day (and yes, one of my friends was lucky enough to have this with her son).
The reality is that on average we can expect 10 hours by the time our baby is three months, and 12-15 hours by six months.
While I established the same bedtime routine for both of my sons, Brodie has happily slept through from six months old. Blake, however, has a stronger will (and perhaps we’ve been less inclined to let him cry himself to sleep, in case he wakes his brother).
Now at two years old, I don’t think Blake has ever made it through the night. We’re getting better. I generally get disturbed twice, when I’ll give him a drink of water and tuck him in, and he’s asleep again within minutes.
But it’s frustrating to go to bed, knowing I’m likely to be up a couple of times between 2am and 5am. And while the little one is safely returned to the land of nod, it can take me forever to get back to sleep. Then he’s up a good hour before his big brother in the morning.
We all follow sleep-training techniques,and I’ve done all the things recommended by the experts.
But I bear in mind the differences between my husband and I.
Some of us are morning larks, like he is. Others, like me, are almost allergic to early starts – until parenthood forces us to drag our weary selves out of bed.
I believe we’re getting the best we can out of our youngest son, and he will get better.
In the meantime… excuse me while I go for a little lie down!
Here are a few tips to help your child get the best sleep he/she can manage:
1. Fix a bedtime and give a warm bath 30-40 minutes before, to promote sleepiness
2. Avoid stimulation before bed. Have a quiet story, give a milk drink, keep the lights low and pick a soothing lullaby before tucking in
3. Invest in blackout blinds to keep the nursery dark. Leave a nightlight if your little one seems afraid
4. Put your baby to bed drowsy – but not asleep
5. If your child is over six months, there’s no reason to offer milk through the night. Give a little water if you must, and tuck straight back in
6. Don’t be tempted to cut daytime naps. Your baby needs quality sleep during the day, for this to follow through the night
What are your sleep stories? Do you have any hints/tips to help sleep-deprived parents?