Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tips for getting babies to sleep from a Mum who has come out the other side.

The other night Immy woke early, around 4.30am, she screamed out so loudly that Popps woke too. At 4.40am our bed was full. Mr H got out and went to the spare room. Popps went back to sleep in 3 minutes and Immy decided to party on.

As I lay there trying to encourage her to sleep I realised it had been weeks if not months since the last time I had been woken through the night, when it was not due to snot, middle ears or barking coughs.

I touched wood all day not to jinx myself as I thought, “I think we have made it”. We have got through the sleepless nights.

They may still take awhile to get to sleep, but once they are, both the Little Huey’s will, 95% of the time, sleep til morning.

I still remember crying as Mr H went off to night shift and I knew I would be up all night. There were days I thought I would never ever sleep all night again.

There were months on end of struggling to get through the day. Weeks of eating takeaway food or straight from the freezer for nights on end, and I don’t mean meals I had made and frozen, I mean pre packaged food straight from a packet.

As Popps was from the scream-all-day-party-all-night variety of baby, there were also countless apparatus purchased that promised to settle babies, to soothe them and prepare them for sleep. We would have been better off putting those thousands of dollars to a nanny that allowed us to sleep.

I am sharing the next image in the interests of showing how bloody tired we were. I look totally awful. This was on a holiday to Freycinet in Tasmania. I should have looked relaxed and happy. It was freezing, we hadn't slept for weeks. We returned home with the decision that we would never have another child. Ever.

I hope this post gives some hope. Sleepless nights will end. 

One day. 

It may take a couple of years to get there.

This is the only way Popps slept for a bloody long time.

If you are walking the floor all night, pushing the pram around the streets in the wee hours of the morning? Eating frozen lasagna again tonight? It’s ok. It won’t last.

Here is a list, from a mum who has certainly been there, been on the phone to the baby sleep centre and had the baby checked out by doctors to confirm she is normal. Here is my list for those that are currently looking for the sleep solution.

  •   The CD of the washing machine  and vacuum noises will not work.
  •    The $500 highchair that swings and sings – it wont work either (let me know if you want to buy mine though – going cheap!)
  •  Playing the one song on repeat for 4 hours – it can work and if you get even one hours sleep you will be happy
  •  If you have not given in to the dummy – get on it! Babies like to suck, that is how they self soothe, do not fight it, if you do you only have yourself to blame for no sleep, not the baby.
  • Feeding to sleep is a good thing. If possible, lie down yourself (think Miranda) close your eyes and nap.
  • Do not listen to other Mums who have babies that sleep, they can’t help you because they don’t know how tired you are and that you have already tried everything they do. They are just lucky, they don’t have secret powers and you are not doing anything wrong.
  • Do not read the books. The Contented Little Baby will make you The Crazy Little Mummy.
  • Co-sleeping works, especially with toddlers, don’t fight this one either, and don’t stress, you will not find your teenage son still co-sleeping with you in ten years, no matter what the old folk say about rods and backs.
  • It is highly unlikely that the Bumbo will assist you. (Also going cheap)
  • Baby sitters do not really like the scream all night baby, they will ALL call you to come home, even the grandparents, so planning nights out is not recommended. Try a daytime sitter and get an afternoon nap instead, be quick, some last less than an hour.
  •  Again, if you find something that works for you, like feeding, dummies, co-sleeping, singing, patting, rocking in prams, babywearing (my fav for Immy) than go with it. Do not listen to the rods and backs rubbish. 
  • Babies will need assistance to get to sleep, some just need lots more than others. 
  • We broke every rule in the good parenting books and guess what – all is still ok!

 If you have any other real tips, add them to the comments section.

and Good luck!


  1. God bless you, I have a photo just the same. Such a lovely post. I wish I had read this when I was in the thick of it, thinking I was the only one with a baby who wouldn't sleep. Sharing these kind of stories are so important and so supportive.
    I have nothing to add to your tips apart from drink loads of water and never ever count the hours of sleep you do manage to get. It's best just not knowing...and focus on the fact that it does eventually end.

  2. Ok... I made it through this without crying. Just.

    That list is genius and I wish I had it when I was sitting in the hall crying at 8am when my husband left for work and the baby started to cry again.

    But, I made it through, I broke all the 'rules' and I have two children that sleep all night as a rule, and have done for the past five years.

    The only thing I'd add to the list is when someone starts telling you about the virtues of controlled crying, take the chance to glaze over and snooze with your eyes open. A baby who doesn't sleep won't sleep after crying, they may vomit though. You will cry and the neighbours will also now be sleep deprived.

  3. I wish more Mothers knew they don't have to listen to other peoples' advice when it comes to their own children!

    Each child and baby is different to get to sleep. Something not many of us find out until we have more than one.

    Loved your post. Blame Naomi for pointing me in the direction of it :D

  4. I remember being so sleep deprived I felt like I was rotting on the inside.... that I just was slowly dying. I can so relate. It's been years since I had babies but I will never forget feeling like I was not getting what I needed to basically stay alive. It sucked. Hang in there. A-M xx

  5. Great post. Master J now 3 sleeps beautifully (will definitely wake tonight now I said that!) but as a babe - we fed to sleep, co-sleep and used the ergo ALWAYS. Now Little Miss E just 1, wakes multiple times a night and screams (something new, excellent), but I know it will pass. It is so hard when you are in the thick of it though. Love what was said about controlled crying - so true.

  6. OMG you hit that nail hard.
    So when are you writing a book or e-book about this topic?!
    The Contended Little Baby was such rubbish I burnt it rather than gave it to charity. Yep, bullshit radar was obviously down when I purchased that shit.

  7. Great post! Very interesting. A whole new world to me. I am just realising how helpful your blog will be when I start having kids :)
    Heidi xo

  8. Yes, you look exhausted, love. Meanwhile, baby is looking uber-cute and loving life! Typical.

    Great list. Rods and backs be damned. You do what works for you.

    As to the dummy issue. I tried and tried. And tried and tried and TRIED to get both my boys to take one but alas, in their opinion, my nipples were far superior. Sigh.

    Here's hoping baby number three is one of those crazy babies who just loves to sleep.

  9. During the multiple times I get up in the night and wish I didn't have to, the one thing that keeps me going is that one day it won't be so bad. In fact, I've recently gone from sleeping in 2-hr blocks to 4-hr ones and already I'm so happy I could cry xo

  10. Bloody genius - you need to laminate it and pass out to every new mother who leaves hospital!

    Now if you have any tips on how to help a toddler get over his issues (10 months later) from taking his dummy, I'm again all ears!

  11. Love your work Claire. My first one slept all night and still does. The Bowler....not so much, although he is ok now! All the books drove me crazy too x

  12. So agree with you about the Contented Little Baby Book.

  13. I was one of the annoying ones who had full nights' sleep (although I kept that quiet in fear of being lynched!).... until teething hit. Oh my goodness. Teething.

    I gave in to everything I said I'd never do, just to try and get some precious sleep.

    Sleep is the most important thing ever - whatever works is good.

  14. I am too busy giggling at that photo of you to make any serious comment!!!! LOVE it!!!!

    I thought I had all of the baby sleeping things sorted - toddler sleeps 11 hours a night and the perfect, amazing, darling 1 year old was such a "good" baby that I would need to wake him up some mornings at 9:30am after 14 hours sleep!!! Well, it turns out after a scary few days in the childrens hospital last week that included a brain MRI under a general as well as millions of other tests, my darling boy has a form of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) where he crashes extremely low after 9 hours of fasting. So now I am no longer a smug mother of sleepers. I am a guilty mother who should have known it wasn't right for a baby to sleep that long! : (

    Happy, healthy babies are most important and it can take some time for their bodies to develop their metabolisms & maintain their blood sugar levels for long I've learnt!

    Love this post Claire.xoxoxo

  15. This post should seriously be given to all new mums (just like Donna above has suggested)
    I was one of those people who was "NEVER" letting the baby have a dummy, who wouldn't have the baby in our room & who didnt want to feed/cuddle/walk with the baby just in case it lasted forever.
    I have a 'good baby' she is 12 weeks old & we only do 1 or 2 middle of the night feeds, but to get to this point I have done everythign I said I would never do.
    All mums need to hear that its ok to change your mind & sleep is the most important thing ever (for both you & bubs)

  16. Oh, I hear you! Any advice to a new parent would be to 'do whatever works'. Our sanity depends on it - literally. I especially agree with not reading the books - they can be helpful, yes. But no baby is textbook.

  17. Love the list, all so true... You can put Save our Sleep on the torture a parent list as well. My first baby was a shocka and I have many similar photo's looking like shit. Amazingly baby number 2 sleeps during the day but for no longer than 2-3 hours at night. We are breaking every "rule", dummy, feeding, co sleeping this time and coping so much better. I am sure he won't be in out bed in the teenage years and will turn out just fine.

    Cheers C

  18. I'm so glad I read this. Thankyou thankyou.

  19. Excellent advice.
    We're *almost* at the same stage, after 4 years of complete and utter sleeplessness. But we just had a setback with croup. It was good to read this and remind myself that all that chanting of "this too will pass" actually DOES.
    I love that your baby looks soooo happy and chirpy in that pic, and you look (no offense) so, not. ;)

  20. I TOTALLY get it! Thank you for writing this. My daughter is now 8 months old and is sleeping decently now, but it had been terrible on the sleep front. I would not allow her to cry herself to sleep--to me, that is the ultimate form of rejection--but nursing, co-sleeping, and baby wearing worked for me, too. These are the harder, more labor-intensive methods,but they have resulted in a really happy, well adjusted baby.

  21. Perfect list. for the imperfection that is being the parent of children under age of 3. You survived = It Can Be Done

  22. Beautifully encouraging post, Claire. It's so important to know that one day you WILL get to sleep, it just takes time and I am particularly fond of the 'whatever it takes' approach to sleeping.
    Even if you have to wean a baby off a dummy or whatever else it's not that bad and you need sleep!
    I am sharing this on FB right now!

  23. THANK YOU for posting this .... I reckon every mum could relate to the feeling of total and utter exaustion, just unfortunately some more than others. My brother & his missus talk of their "lightbulb" moment when it hit them that their 5 year old had finally slept through the night for the first time. Think happy dance!! My first was a huge struggle to get to sleep with colic but slept well at night when she did. No.2 has less colic, but I'm averaging 4 hours sleep a night right now. But I just have to wait for it to pass and dream of happy dances when it does. And yay for responsive parenting .... how could it be wrong to cuddle and sooth a distressed baby? If the "rod for your own back' theory was right, I'd still be running a marathon every night with my first.

  24. The last two nights have been sleepless ones here and I read this post nodding all the way through. Because having gotten used to sleeping through the night the last year or so I am EXHAUSTED right now. This list is brilliant and so bloody true. Especially the last point.

  25. I haven't slept properly in over 3 years. I'm hoping that day comes soon. I great list of ideas.


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