Sleep is a wonderful thing. I never realised how much I missed sleep until I had children. In fact I never realised what bone tiredness was or that thing they called dog tired. The constant feeling of sleep deprivation was absolute torture. The days were long, and felt even longer when I reached that post afternoon slump leaving me longing for bedtime. Or at least time to rest my eyes for an hour.
Just like my first child we hit the four month sleep regression hard. In fact Bertie had never slept for more than 3 hours since he was born. The constant wakings during the night were beginning to impact on my ability to look after two children during the day (and night), manage my home, my blog, my social media business, and hold a conversation. It was all becoming a bit too much coupled with the brain fog. Does this sound familiar?
Then a miracle happened and we were asked by Katy who runs Slumbertots if we would like to sleep train Bertie and I jumped at the chance. Being totally transparent here we were gifted a sleep training programme in return for this blog post and social media shares. I can honestly say that the experience has been life changing. And I mean life changing!
It was a life changing experience
Here’s how it worked for us. By email Katy sent me a questionnaire to complete that would contain my answers about Bertie’s current sleep patterns, his feeding routine, whether he was crawling and rolling, and his current bedtime routine. The next step was Katy putting together a 10 day plan and this was talked through over the phone one evening at the very start of the 10 days. This call lasted an hour, and it quickly flew by as Katy is simply the loveliest person and doesn’t make you feel bad in anyway if you’ve created some bad sleep habits for your children. Her job is to unravel them and sort them out for you.
My 10 day sleep programme focused on three set daytime naps, and a complete shake up to the bedtime routine. We decided to go all out and stop feeding during the night. At first I was really worried about this as Bertie was very reliant on a feed to get back to sleep and his food intake during the day was quite small still (he was only 7 months old at this point).
For the purpose of this blog post review I’ll explain what we did, but I won’t go into detail on bed and nap times as these will vary depending on your child and your approach to sleep training. The key thing for us was to break the cycle between feeding and sleeping, which meant creating a gap between having his last feed of the day and going to bed.
Once Bertie was in bed I would spend time either patting or shushing him to sleep and then leave the room. The approach I took here was very much dependent on how Bertie reacted to being placed awake in the cot. As the programme progressed it quickly became apparent that I didn’t need to stay in the room I could just leave him to settle himself to sleep in his cot.
Everyone says that the first night of sleep training is the hardest and they are right. The first night was really tough. He woke up a lot and he was awake for long stretches, often over an hour. During this time I would repeatedly enter his room, pat him, shush him, and then leave. I would be sat on the stairs outside his door watching the countdown timer on my phone before going back to settle him after 5 minutes. I was worried about our neighbours hearing him screaming or Freya waking. But we got through that first night and having spoken to Katy the following day the pattern and long wakings were normal.
The next night was even better and he managed a really long stretch of sleep.
And by the third night he was sleeping through. Hooray! As I mentioned earlier in this post I was worried about his calorie intake particularly because he was feeding so much during the night, but as the days went on he quickly increased his daytime eating.
In terms of the daytime naps I have found these the hardest to do, partly because I have a daughter who is three and she can’t be confined to the house all day, and also because of our home renovation project. Where possible he has three naps in his cot, and I always try to make sure the first nap of the day happens at home. I do find that as Bertie is sleeping through the night I don’t feel that I have to be 100% strict on the daytime naps, I just need to make sure that they happen.
Overall sleep training Bertie has been a brilliant thing to do. I knew that I couldn’t go on being woken every one to two hours at night, and neither could he.
It’s not only us that are tired, it’s also the baby who is tired as they aren’t getting an adequate amount of sleep that they actually need. So sleep training isn’t just for us, it’s for them as well.
For anyone who is struggling with their baby or child not sleeping, I promise you it is worth investing in sleep training. At least to get advice on what to do, to get a programme that works for you and your child’s needs, and ultimately makes you feel that you are not the only one struggling with sleep deprivation.
We were gifted a sleep consultant and sleep training package for the purpose of this blog post review and social media shares. I would also like to say a huge thank you to Katy at Slumbertots who has honestly changed my life and made my days and nights so much more bearable. The best thing about sleep training is that I have regained back my time, and I am no longer watching the baby monitor dreading the next wake-up.