Until about 4 months Baby Ninja was great. One night waking, quick feed, back to sleep. Bingo. Then it went very badly pear shaped waking gord knows how many times a night and feeding possibly three times. We were just exhausted.
I started to bring her into bed with us so I could lay down and feed and at least not feel like I was fully awake, we’d obviously fall asleep together and she settled better so we started to co-sleep more regularly. Baby Ninja’s Dad wasn’t too chuffed about the idea because he worried about rolling on her so for a couple of months he was banished to the spare room and had nights full of blisful sleep. Ahh, bless.
Obviously this wasn’t doing anything for our relationship and by that I mean, the poor fella couldn’t as much as yawn without me jumping down his throat, “so you think you’re tired do you?”. Anyway, he made a bed rail and we started co-sleeping as a family again in a baby, mummy, daddy configuration and things seemed to work for about 4 months, we certainly got more sleep than before, still nowhere near enough but more. That is the most important thing in a sleep deprived household. Plus there is the fact that I love it. There really is nothing better than laying facing your sleeping baby and feeling their breath on your face, to hear their tiny sleeping noises and to wake up in the morning and get a big noseful of that gorgeous warm baby smell. That look of recognition on their face as they wake, the first stretch pushing their tummy to the ceiling and the giggles and kisses. All worth waking at 5am for. Lovely. Every parent should do it.
However, in the last few weeks Baby Ninja has become a wiggly, crawly baby which is much more difficult to sleep with. She was turning upside down in the bed, crawling litteraly underneath me and generally causing more sleeplessness with her movement than with her genuine wakings. I was also waking her moving her back into position. That, coupled with the fact that I’m such a light sleeper and wake to a slightly deeper drawn breath, I was becoming a zombie again and it just wasn’t working.
I don’t want to do controlled crying so it had to be gentle. Luckily baby Ninja has always gone to bed in her own room for the first part of the night so it was a case of trying to keep her there. First couple of nights her daddy stayed with her and when she woke he reassured her, stroked her, held her hand and then slept on a matress next to her cot. It was hard, there were tears and she wanted (and got) cuddles but some nights we had tears and she was cuddled next to me in bed so I’ve learned that nothing is a fail safe guarantee. The fact is, when she did sleep it was for a good chunk of time so it felt right.
I took over on the third night and she slept until about 3 in the morning which is unprecedented. However, she didn’t really settle after that, crying out every 15 or 30 minutes. I stayed, held hands and stroked. She responded and it was fine. Fourth night was similar so even though we’re still up half the night, I feel that we’re starting on a road of consistency that we need to stick at for the time being. It feels like we’re making small progressive steps and it seems the kindest option. I couldn’t just abandon her especially as we’d spent the last 5 months co-sleeping but we’re trying to gently change the habits and breaking the cycle of her waking to come into my bed has to be the first.
As I’ve said before, she’ll get there in her own time. I may have to sleep in her room for a few months to come but I’m confident we’ll get there in the end. I don’t think I’m doing anything to stop her waking or teaching her how to sleep for that matter, I’m just providing the best environment in which to have a full and undisturbed sleep. I’m hoping that that’s all it’ll take and the rest is down to age and time. I’ll keep you up-to-date on any progress.