Disclaimer: this post is in no way a ‘how-to’ guide on how to sleep-train your children. I am no expert; just sharing what worked for me. 😉😎
One of the reasons why I’m not a huge fan of pregnancy and everything it comes with, is the lack of sleep. Don’t get me wrong, I love my children but I don’t particularly enjoy the process of bringing them into the world and caring for them. Before I got pregnant with my daughter, I read extensively about sleep-training babies and putting them on a routine. When I had her, I now truly understood what it meant to be sleep-deprived. New mum, trying to figure things out with your baby, not getting enough sleep, constant headaches, breastfeeding incessantly and healing from a CS. It was tough the first few weeks. But as time went by and I understood her pattern of sleeping and eating, I decided to put her on a bed time routine. She usually had a bath every evening, but it wasn’t always at the same time. By 3weeks old, I had figured out her feeding and sleep pattern. She would sleep from about 9 – 11pm, eat, change her diaper and be back to bed by 12ish – 3am, eat, change, back to bed by 4am and wake up by 6am.
During the day, I fed her on demand, which was every two hours, and she would sleep for another two or so, on a good day. This was exhausting to say the least. The small pockets of sleep I was getting wasn’t helping. She was also a very difficult sleeper, even till this day! 😭 I had to rock her constantly before she would fall asleep; It was hard. One night, I was so tired and sleepy and she was also very cranky, crying and refusing to sleep. I carried her, put her on my bed and I cried my eyes out. It was a very melodious chorus in my room that night. I wiped my tears, picked her up and rocked her to sleep. I realized I couldn’t keep up so, I had to strategize. We got consistent with her evening bath time, which was about 8 – 9pm. After her bath, I would breastfeed her to sleep and rather bottle feed during the night because I realized it was faster. The downside with that was, I would wake up with engorged breasts. As soon as I was up, I had to immediately express the milk because the pain was unbearable.
By 6weeks old, she was sleeping for a longer stretch, from 11pm – 4am. Gradually, the time kept extending to 5am, then till 6am. Eventually, by 2months old, she would sleep from 10pm-6am. Finally, I could really catch some sleep. Pure bliss! I strongly believe that she sleeping on her tummy also played a major role in that. Yes, I know, ‘THEY’ said babies that young have to sleep on their backs till they can roll over before putting them on their tummies. However, another school of thought also insists it is better they sleep on their tummy. So, whose should we believe? Alright stop, collaborate and listen; I did what I felt was right. Doctors and nurses, please don’t come for me.
With the boys, I prayed fervently that they would be better sleepers and would sleep throughout the night like their sister. The need for a routine was even more apparent with the twins than with my daughter. I was so adamant on exclusively breastfeeding but my milk flow was doing ‘shakara’ and they were two, so I had to introduce formula. I realized with them, it was easier to bottle feed them to sleep instead of breastfeed and also to bottle feed in the night. We adopted the same evening bath time routine but it seemed that the boys were reluctant to adhere to it. There were days when they would comply and other days when they would stay up from 10pm till 2am before finally falling asleep. And guess what? They would be up by 6 am sharp! Gradually, they warmed up to it and once again, my boys were sleeping through the night by 2 months old. However, on the tummy sleeping part, I hesitated a bit before letting them sleep like that. I don’t know why, but I just had this inkling to wait a bit. The Lord knows best. When I finally did, I won’t lie, I used to check them to be sure they were still breathing. I know I’m not the only mother who does this. 😜.
@Mamasnursery on the cots
One thing that really helped a lot with all three children was that, I didn’t co – sleep with them. From day one, they all slept in their cots. The boys, however, shared a cot till they were 6 weeks old. They started moving and MJ was too feisty and wouldn’t sleep straight. I would put them down straight and would later come and find MJ horizontal with his legs hitting PJ’s head or both of them hitting their heads together. We would only co – sleep on occasions when they were sick or had had their immunization shots and were very irritable and cranky. I know it can be hard to leave them in their cots, you may want to cuddle, snuggle and love on them. I know it’s also easier when they are by you to just shove your breast in their mouth while you comfortably lie down to breastfeed. Mother, Sister, Auntie, trust me, you’ll thank me later if you don’t co – sleep with them. I really thank my husband for insisting on that.
Another thing that helped, I’m not sure whether it’s a blessing with a curse in disguise, was them sucking their fingers. With my daughter, her grandparents taught her how to suck her fingers and we couldn’t stop her. With the boys, I didn’t want a repeat of that so I was so bent on taking their fingers out of their mouths. I wore them mittens all day and they would still find a way to take it off and suck their fingers. I tried giving them pacifiers but they rejected it every time. My friend @stylecradlebyw, gifted us pacifier clips and I even bought orthodontic pacifiers but still. They would suck it a bit and spit it right back out. They sha won the battle. But I won’t lie, the sucking of the fingers helps them put themselves to sleep. Fingers are much easier to manage and I don’t have to be waking up because one is crying that their pacifier fell out of their mouth. Funnily enough, all three children suck their third and fourth fingers. I read that we have to let them stop before they turn four or else, they would have an overbite. Dentists please is it true? What can I do to stop my daughter from sucking? I used to suck my thumb till I was 7 and I wore braces for that. I’ve heard people say to put plaster, coat her fingers with bitter things and the like but knowing who I have as a daughter, ko le werk. It’s funny how she will try and stop her brothers from sucking theirs while she comfortably sucks hers. The irony 🙄.
Thankfully, the boys aren’t such difficult sleepers so, I don’t have to rock them as much. From four months, I stopped bathing them in the evenings. Because why? “The weather is cold and they’re too young.” – Anonymous. Our bedtime routine now is to change them into their pyjamas from 7pm, bottle feed them breast milk by 7:30pm and they are off by 8pm. By 5:30 – 6am, our day begins…Shout out to the Momsconnect breastfeeding gang, I hail you. This is why I don’t join you Ama. #MoNeYo