My first born son didn’t sleep through the night until he was 17 months old. For the first year in particular he woke a lot at night. I was working, getting up through the night with him and was pretty much a zombie for much of his first year and a half.
Of course, I read all the advice I could. I spoke to people, read books, asked professionals. I spent countless hours Googling:
“3 month old baby won’t sleep. 6 month old baby won’t sleep through. 9 month old baby doesn’t sleep through. 12 month old baby still doesn’t sleep through. Does a 1 year old still need milk in the night?”
I was the desperate and exhausted parent staring at articles at 3am or 4am desperately hoping someone could help me to get my beautiful little boy (and me) to get a great sleep each night.
No miracle happened. Oliver got a tummy bug at 17 months so wasn’t taking milk for a couple of nights. I then made the decision that I wouldn’t give it to him again, switched it for water and underwent a difficult couple of nights where he cried for milk. But on the third night, he decided the water we had given him instead wasn’t worth waking for and he started to sleep through.
I Prepared Myself Mentally for a Difficult First Year with My Second Son…
My second born son arrived in March this year. He’s 3 months old now. I had prepared myself mentally for the same sleepless year.
But Ethan first slept through the night (from 11pm to 6am) when he was 2 months old (9 weeks).
Now, at 3 months, we bath him and put him in his Moses basket upstairs in our room with the monitor on at around 7:30pm. He’ll typically sleep right the way through to 5 or even 6am and then take a feed and go back down for another hour or two.
Want to know how I got my 2 month old baby to sleep through the night? Want to know what I did?
Wait for it.
The miracle solution….
The magic cure for babies not sleeping…
The massive change we made…
I DID NOTHING DIFFERENTLY.
In fact, in the very early days we had to wake Ethan for feeds. After a couple of weeks when we stopped doing that, he would wake up once between 11pm and 7am for a feed. Just once.
In other words, he was already a better sleeper than Oliver before he was home from the hospital – before we had any opportunity to establish habits.
What’s the point in me telling you this?
Because one of the biggest causes of stress for me with my first child not sleeping through was the fact that I thought I was doing something wrong. Now, I’m more inclined to believe that some babies simply sleep well and others don’t.
And yes, I accept that as they get older, you can do things to help them learn to sleep better. You can try to help them to self-soothe or try and separate milk from sleep. Some of those things really do help with older babies.
But some babies don’t need it. Some sleep just because they sleep.
As Ethan has gotten a little older, things are different for him. While Oliver was picked up at every whimper, Ethan has got competition. While he might be whimpering for something, my toddler might be trying to get his hands on something he shouldn’t have and making him safe is the priority!
But his better overnight sleeping habits started from day 1.
And you know what? At some stage he’ll probably regress, have bad nights or decide he’s simply not sleeping. And it’s all normal.
If your baby isn’t sleeping, it’s not your fault
I can take about as much credit for Ethan sleeping well from the early days as I can for the fall of the Berlin Wall or the end of the Second World War: None. He just sleeps better.
So by the same token, if you have a bad sleeper, it’s probably not something you’re doing or not doing.
If you’re the parent reading this at 3am…
If you’re the parent who is reading this at 3am having Googled something in your exhausted state about getting babies to sleep, then I’m sorry that I don’t have the answer for you.
If you’re scanning through looking for what I did with my second baby that you could do with the one in your arms crying right now, then I sympathise completely.
I’m sorry I don’t have a solution for you. But it’s not something you’re doing right or wrong. And it does get better with time.
Don’t Blame Yourself!
I’m not saying that experts are wrong. I’m sure some of them could come in and help your child to sleep better. I didn’t try getting someone in. And I also opted against Controlled Crying. I’m too soft for it ha!
But I do believe that some babies just sleep better than others and that there isn’t something you can do right or wrong to get babies to sleep through from early on.
“Have you tried….”
When Oliver wasn’t sleeping, I lost count of the different snippets of advice I was given?
- “You should just let him cry!”
- “Why don’t you try a night light?”
- “Maybe put him to bed later?”
- “Maybe put him to bed earlier?”
- “Maybe give him something to eat immediately before bed!”
People mean well, but a year in and having tried everything, it wasn’t helpful at all.
And you know what else wasn’t helpful? Listening to other Mums talk about how well their angel slept and tell me it must be because they’d been taught to self soothe so early, or because Mummy never nursed him to sleep, or because they played classical music at bed time or something else.
If you’ve got an angel sleeper, bragging to the Mother of a bad sleeper about how “well,” you did, isn’t helpful.
There are resources out there I did find useful as Oliver got older. This book in particular was amazing:
We have used aspects of this book to help keep Oliver in good habits since he started sleeping through.
And Ewan the Dream Sheep has proven helpful for us in settling Ethan on the odd night he doesn’t seem to be ready for bed at 7pm!
Now go grab some shut eye…