As new parents, or even second or third time parents. We all at some point will come to the struggle of having a child that doesn’t sleep. Now I don’t mean that they don’t sleep full stop.. but it can certainly feel that way.
Being a first time parent, and wanting to breast feed and all the research I had put in, I went into mother hood with my eyes open. Fully expecting to have a sizeable period of time that my son would not sleep through the night and wake frequently for feeds.
Little did I know, 8 months on, Zachary would have slept through the night only twice, and both times being complete flukes.
I have mostly accepted the fact that Zachary doesn’t sleep though the night, and it may be a very, very long way off. but that’s okay, and we will get there eventually.
I won’t lie and say it’s easy having a baby that doesn’t sleep, because it’s bloody hard work. But it’s just one of those things and I can’t change that.
There have been times its made me irrational and lose my sanity, but that it what happens when you don’t get much sleep.
But here’s my story with a baby that doesn’t sleep..
I have found that the pressure of making sure you have a ‘good’ baby and helping them sleep through the night can often be all too much. Especially when you have a baby who prefers to spend more time awake during the night, than sleeping.
The first few months, and for some people, possibly even years – you will hear “ooh, does he sleep through the night yet?” an awful lot.
And for me it’s a question that many a time has made me question my parenting abilities. Wondering if I have been doing something wrong for him not to sleep through the night, or even for longer than 4 hours solidly.
The truth is, there isn’t anything that I have been doing to stop him sleeping through the night. He just doesn’t do that. No matter how many dream feeds I’ve given or routines we have tried to implement, nothing has changed the fact he doesn’t sleep through.
In the first 4 and a half months of Zacharys life, he would wake every hour – hour and half for a feed throughout the night. He wouldn’t go down in to his own cot or crib until gone 11pm or else he would wake and scream.
When we hit 5 months old he started to go to sleep at around 9/10pm and would stay there until just before midnight, and the hourly/ two hourly feeds would start from there until morning came.
When we hit 6 months his sleeping wasn’t much better, but we did start to get a nice 7/8pm stink until 11pm which actually allowed Mat and I to finally spend some quality time together on an evening and even just do the simple things together like sitting down for a meal that wasn’t rushed or cold because I’d had to sit and feed Zachary at the exact same time my food touched my plate. And then he would wake every two to three hours and be in my bed feeding until morning from around 3/4am.
And now at 8 months, he has regressed a little with his sleep. He won’t go down until 10/11pm and on a bad day gone midnight. He wakes on and off from around 2am and ends up in my bed feeding from then.
But I have started to just make the best of things and try and get as much sleep as possible whilst he is in bed with me and safe. Be it light sleep.. very light sleep. But a little non the less.
Aside from the newborn stage, I have been quite unfortunate in the napping department too. Zachary has never settled into a napping routine and will often quite happily go without one, and still not go to sleep until gone 11pm, sometimes midnight. And many a time that has been for maybe an hour or two, and he’s been up again.
It’s incredibly draining and it can actually be physically and mentally exhausting too. I remember incredibly vividly in the first few months, alongside struggling with feeding and a whole load of other bits, the lack of sleep made me feel like I wasn’t myself. It made me feel foggy and forgetful, it made me nit pick and argue over anything and everything. I remember standing at the foot of our bed, desperately trying to rock and sway Zachary to sleep after his 5th feed of the night. It was 3:15 am and I was crying, swaying from side to side just willing him to go to sleep. i remember resenting the fact that Mat was laid in bed, sleeping peacefully whilst I was going stir crazy from the sheer lack of sleep. It wasn’t a good time and I think probably was one of my lowest points, especially struggling with my supply and feeding being difficult at the time.
I haven’t ever been one to ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’. I have maybe only napped four or five times when Zachary has, and they were in the very early days because I always felt like I needed to do something whilst he did sleep.
It’s a little easier now as he does actyually sleep for a solid 4/5 hours on a good night, and I can just about deal with feeding him in bed with my eyes closed until the morning comes. But I have accepted that this is what it’s like for us, and at least it isn’t as broken as it was earlier on.
When I was really struggling with feeding and sleeping I found I had quite a lot of comments that were just completely uncalled for and very unhelpful.
“Well I had my baby sleeping through from 6 weeks old in their own room.”
“You should just give him formula on an evening to make him sleep.”
“Try a rusk in his bottle to send him off for the night.”
“Just let him cry when he wakes, he’s only doing it so he can come in to your bed/ be cuddled and you’ll make a rod for your own back.”
Thank you for your advice and unsolicited opinions. But my baby does not sleep, and that’s okay.
Early on, particular in his first 4 months of life, I found these incredibly hard and upsetting to hear. I can brush them off now, and that’s fine, but there was a time that I would hear these and cry.
I didn’t want to give Zachary formula (and to this day haven’t given him a single drop due to my determination to breastfeed) and I would have never left him to cry or given him ‘fillers’ to sleep longer.
And i’m so glad I did it my own way and persevered through those sleepless (and still sleepless) nights. Because I know he’s waking for a reason and a need, and I can for meet that need and make sure he has everything he needs and is as happy as possible.
It’s incredibly hard, but I wouldn’t change him for the world. I’ll look back in years and see that I got to spend more time awake with my little baby boy in his yearly years!