Parenting: the trials and tribulations of a sleeping baby
Jessica Ward | 28th November 2022
As a first time parent, I’ve had to overcome many hurdles. From winding to weaning, poonarmi’s and colic, but by far the most difficult hurdle to overcome, has been the sleep.
As a newborn, my little girl was a dream. She woke twice a night for feeds (2am and 4am) and by three months she was sleeping through. Sounds dreamy doesn’t it?
Not so much. The part I left out was that she would only sleep in the bed with us.
As new parents we were so worried about the co-sleeping dangers that we would stay up the entire night, taking it in turns just watching her sleep.
We realised after about two weeks of this, that it wasn’t really that feasible going forward and that we needed to rest too. So eventually we caved and co-sleeping became the norm. It was easier and it meant we were all relatively rested.
Then as she got a little older, around the four or five month mark we managed to settle her in her next to me crib which was great, but by six months our active baby had outgrown the snuzpod and needed to go in her “big girl bed”, and that’s really where the struggles began, and what I’ll be focusing on in this article, the independent sleeping.
When we hit the six month mark I’ll be honest, I didn’t feel ready for her to be away from me. My partner and I would often take turns sleeping next to the snuzpod and I have to admit, those nights I spent on the opposite side of the bed, had me waking up in the morning and missing her like crazy. Motherhood is a funny thing!
So we persevered with the Co-sleeping a little longer than we probably should have and eventually we managed to get her sleeping in her cot, during the day at least. When nighttime came, the clingy baby came out to play.
We had our first family holiday booked just as Cecelia was turning 7 months, so we decided to co-sleep until the cruise and get her sleeping in the travel cot in the room with us as a go-between and to ease us all in gently.
The best laid plans never go quite according , do they?
Family holidays are a whole different ball game which we later found out. We booked a cruise, mainly to avoid airports. The thought of a young baby on a flight just didn’t seem fair to her, us or the rest of the passengers on board the plane. A cruise felt a lot easier, just a drive down to Southampton from Manchester (she slept the majority of the way) and around half an hour after leaving the car we were on the ship and in our room, our home for the next week.
I have to say I highly recommend a cruise for family holidays, but for the love of god, bring a grandparent along too!
We stupidly felt as though we would have a relaxing break and come back as fresh as a daisy, but alas that was not the case. Don’t get me wrong the cruise was fantastic and we would do it all again in a heartbeat, but Cecelia was going through one of those “sleep regressions” which meant even co-sleeping she would be wide awake in the early hours of the morning and up at first light.
Sleep deprived and an ear infection that she was later diagnosed with on board the ship meant that our week was rough. Don’t get me wrong we had an amazing time stopping off at all the different towns of Norway and waking up to the stunning views of the fjords was simply spectacular, but rest, alas we did not.
Long story short, the Co-sleeping continued throughout the entire trip and by the final days we just wanted to go back home and get back to some sort of normality.
I’d love to say that we got home, tried her in her own bed and that was that, but no, that would be too simple, wouldn’t it?
We disembarked the ship at 8am and we were home by 11:30am. Not bad going at all! However, upon arriving I took Cecelia upstairs to change her nappy in her nursery and the sight that met my eyes was utter chaos. The ceiling in the nursery had totally collapsed, destroying her nursery in one fail swoop. The smell of damp was overwhelming and we ended up having to rip the carpet out before we even unpacked.
Luckily our house is rented so we didn’t have the financial burden of fixing it. Things got worse before they got better as a few days later the artex ceiling tested positive for asbestos and her entire room needed to be sealed off.
As the week progressed we noticed mould forming in the kitchen and water starting to seep in from multiple places. In the end we made the decision to move out. We found the perfect house, this time in Congleton and we put an offer in and set a moving date. The next month was filled with packing, cleaning and living in a house full of clutter. We were a bedroom down and had no choice but to Co-sleep as Cecelia simply didn’t have a cot, or a room for that matter!
When moving day came it felt long overdue. The stress of moving and living in the house from hell was finally coming to a close. The timing wasn’t great as we did the big house move a week before another family holiday (which we had booked at the beginning of the year). Our poor baby girl had been through the ringer just like us, and was understandingly unsettled.
We didn’t even bother to try her in her new nursery that first week. I think as parents we were feeling guilty about the amount of upheaval she had been through. She was acting out and being a lot more clingy with me than she had ever been and I just didn’t want to traumatise her anymore.
I’ll admit I wasn’t looking forward to the trip to centre parcs, it felt too soon after moving and we hadn’t had time to settle into our new home. That said, I enjoyed every minute of it and this trip was far better as we had lots of family member around us to help ease the burden of parenting.
Credit to Cecelia, she took everything in her stride and was, for the most part, super chilled.
It was my mother-in-law who was with us in Centre Parcs (also a professional nanny) stepping in that really incited a change for us. She is a great believer in sleep training and explained to us that when Cecelia would scream in her cot it was simply because she wanted to be picked up. Having Grandma there helped us to let go and feel ok with letting her “cry it out”.
That said, we could finally get her to go to sleep in her travel cot but she would wake up a few hours later and end up in the bed with us, but it was a huge breakthrough for us regardless.
Since we returned home and settled into our new life in Congleton – asbestos free I might add, life has calmed and we are back to normality.
The sleep breakthrough has been in getting Cecelia to sleep. She now sleeps in her own bed in her brand new nursery. Yes there’s always some tears, but we have gone from 50 minutes of solid crying to less than five!
The old fashioned method of letting them cry it out, has been hard, but for us it has worked a treat. I must end by pointing out that the crying it out/sleep training method, is not for everyone and this is not me advocating any methods in particular, bar those that work best for you, this article is just a recount of my own personal journey. The best advice I was given, which came from a close mummy friend, was to do what worked for us, and that’s what we did.
For those looking for some inspiration to make sleep time a little easier, here are some of my tried and tested sleep aid recommendations that helped me along the way…
I love this cot! It came in so handy during our time in centre parcs. It arrived the day before we left and on first try it took mere seconds to get the cot up. This travel cot comes with wheels which for us came in extremely useful. It meant we could keep the cot in our bedroom in the evenings and during the day wheel it into the living area so it doubled as a play pen. Plus the cot is light weight and packs away with relative ease.
The Tonies have been making the rounds on social media lately, with celebrity fans including Giovanna Fletcher and Vogue William. They are essentially cubed speakers that come to life when a Tonie figurine is placed on top. I keep mine in Cecelia’s nursery and alternative between bedtime lullabies and natural nature sounds depending on how calm I need the environment to be.
I really love this sleepsuit as it is super soft and easy to get on and off, I have a very active baby who likes to fight every outfit change so not having to deal with a million poppers makes life a lot easier. I particularly like the double zip function which makes nappy changes a breeze.
On milder nights I can pop Cecelia in this sleepsuit without worrying about sleeping bags or blankets.
For those who have read my previous articles, you may have noticed I am a huge fan of this brand. I love the designs and this lightweight sleeping bag is great as Cecelia tends to run quite warm a lot of the time. I would often check on her only to find her covered in sweat, whilst inside the thicker bags so a lightweight sleeping bag for us is an essential.
One of the areas we struggled in was getting Cecelia to settle. She is a very active baby and wow this kid gives hyperactive a whole new meaning! I found using soothing bath products really helps to calm and settle her so she is in the right mindset for sleep. Little Butterfly have fabulous bath products which all smell fantastic and are organic and baby-certified.