As all of you know that have followed my blog and Addison’s journey you will know that he isn’t a big fan of sleep. Goodness knows where they get the phrase “sleep like a baby” because I would hate to think if this was true.

Addi at his worst was waking up anywhere from every hour to even more frequently. The main issue was that he didn’t know how to settle himself to sleep. He became reliant on nursing to sleep, and this was pretty much all that would work to get him back to sleep. Anyone that has read anything about sleep knows that this is a problem, but how to fix it, well that’s another problem!

People have such a variety of thoughts on the matter and what you should and shouldn’t do and what works and what doesn’t. What I have discovered through this battle is that no one thing works for every baby. They are all different and what works for one person’s child won’t necessarily work for another.

What is right for you may not be for another person. For example our views on letting a baby cry themselves to sleep just isn’t what we think is an appropriate solution for a sleep problem. It may have worked for many families but after giving it a go (to some degree). We let Addi try to cry it out but we never left the room like some parents do. We remained with him the entire time and he just got more worked up and then was impossible to settle. So in short, crying to sleep just doesn’t work for Addison.

So what did we do. Well you name it, we tried it! But we were also very slack, we took the easy way out and put off a “real” fix for far too long. I don’t think we did it by choice but more as a method of survival. Our situation called us to do what we could each day to get by. Charles was working very long hours and wasn’t home all the time and so I did what I could to manage.

It all started back around the time when Addi was 4 1/2 months old. He had just had his immunisation and had a reaction to them plus I believe he just started teething. This is what I feel started the sleep problem, but being first time parents we did not handle it correctly. I guess they should focus more on what to do when your baby isn’t sleeping than worrying about how to change a nappy in anti natal classes! We thought that he might be waking himself up in his cradle so we decided to move him into his big cot (in hindsight it was maybe not the best timing to up and change his sleeping position). From this point he went from sleeping 7 or so hours to waking up after 5hrs, then 4hrs, then 3hrs, then 2hrs, then of course every hour. It just got worse and worse!!

It was at this point that I couldn’t handle getting up that frequently at night that we decided to start co-sleeping on a mattress on the floor of his bedroom and at the same time this was when the feeding to sleep happened. It was the only thing that would work. We tried the patting, talking, singing, rocking, walking around with him… all sorts of things to comfort him back to sleep but none of it worked. And when we did get him to sleep, he would wake up when we tried to put him back in the cot. Hence the co-sleeping! Not everyone agrees with co-sleeping either, but hey, you do what you have to so you can survive and no one has a right to judge until they are waking up hourly with a crying baby.

It started to get very hard to even get Addi to go to sleep. This of course caused more issues and other hurdles to jump. We of course played around with trying to get the correct sleep time, the perfect bedtime routine and sticking to it. It did help a little but not consistently enough that we could get him to sleep each and every night. He still needed to be nursed to sleep. We of course tried to cut him back with the feeding, unlatching him while he was still awake but drowsy. Cutting down the feeding time. But he would just get worked up as soon as he realised he was no longer feeding.

Next we started going for walks in the pram (to the point we were known at our local Bunnings, the shop we would walk to as the distance was perfect for him to fall asleep and long enough that he was in a deep enough sleep to keep him that way). Unfortunately we couldn’t even manage to transfer him from the pram to the bed still asleep, which you guessed it meant feeding him to settle back to sleep. When we couldn’t walk we would drive. Feed him, 30 mins each night in the car, transfer to the bed, feed him again because he woke getting him from the car into the house. Sounds crazy doesn’t it, but sometimes it was the only thing that would work.

We knew that we had to get him settling in his bed and cut out the walks and drives, but how?! Well we went back to the routine and trying to hang in there while he learnt to fall asleep without feeding. Sounds easy right, well it’s not. He was of course going to get upset by this, he wanted to feed but we couldn’t keep this up. So step one was to get him falling asleep on his own without the “props.” Oh by this point I was also pregnant. Addi had started chewing on me more than sucking while he breastfed which meant every single time I was in pain. It was becoming too much.

With a lot of patience we managed to get Addi to a point where he would have a feed, then find his spot on the mattress and go to sleep. Addison’s settling process was not what one would call normal. There was running and diving on the mattress, crawling around, rolling around, laying on us…doing all sorts of odd things. Eventually he would get to a point where he would just lay down and go to sleep. But usually after about 20mins of the crazy stuff first. We found that sometimes if he was really sleepy he would still fall asleep while feeding, so we decided that we needed to sit up and feed to try and keep him awake. Once we got him falling asleep after a feed, not during, we found that his best time was sleeping for about 4hrs before he would wake.

I had to continue feeding during the night to settle him but it wasn’t as often and our thought was that the more he learnt to fall asleep on his own, the easier it would become to get him to settle during the night/morning without nursing. I never just offered the breast straight away, I always tried to talk and pat and get him back to sleep first but it didn’t always work. The last thing we wanted to do was to get him so worked up that it made even feeding him not work. Some nights it did come to that, we had to get in the car in the early hours of the morning just to make sure he went back to sleep.

Considering that we went from feeding hourly to him waking an average of 2 to 3 times a night was a pretty amazing improvement. But of course we knew that there was still a long way to go! What to do next was the hard part and we really didn’t have an answer. It didn’t seem that anyone really knew what to do, even our doctor. The best they could suggest was for me to be taken out of the equation, but we knew that Addi would not respond well to that at all. It would mean a very rough few days for Daddy to handle.

It seems that when it came down to it, Addison was the one that solved the problem for us. He decided that he was going to wean himself and no longer wanted to breastfeed. But of course that also meant that he was confused and didn’t know how to get to sleep. We worked out that we could calm Addi down enough by talking to him about anything and everything, all the things he liked and everything he was going to do and the fun things he just did. We stuck very strongly to his bedtime routine and eventually we had him finding his spot on the bed and laying down with us, falling asleep on his own – even without any crying!! We could settle him back to sleep by just talking to him, not every time, but most. He was still very attached to his Mummy and despite all his efforts Daddy just couldn’t get him back to sleep some nights. Not all, but some.

Addison is now nearly sleeping through the night. He goes from 8.30 pm to about 6 – 6.30 am, then sometimes goes back to sleep for a little while longer until about 7 – 7.20 am, but sometimes wants to get up for the day. What a huge change to waking every single hour of the night!!!

He’s not perfect, no baby is. Every child has moments when they can’t get to sleep, hell, even adults have those nights. Just last night we had to hop in the car as he had a panic and wouldn’t stop crying. Every time we went near his sleep room (oh that was the other thing we did, we created a completely seperate area for sleep that wasn’t where he played or did anything else, just sleep) he would burst into tears. But then tonight, not a problem at all. Laid down and went to sleep.

Now nap time is a whole other story. It’s not fixed in the slightest, but I guess that’s just the next battle we have to face and at the end of the day we should be proud of how we hung in there. Sleep is by no means Addison’s favourite thing, he would rather be up playing and learning but we did everything we could to make sure that he got what he needed, even when it probably wasn’t the best way to deal with it, and it meant very broken sleep for us all. There is a lot more that I haven’t put in this article that we tried but really I could write hundreds of words and probably still not cover everything.

In short, this is just some of what we tried, and a snap shot of what we did to try and fix the problem, and what eventually worked for us. It might or might not work for you, but one thing I do know is that you are strong enough to deal with whatever God throws at you. He never gives you more than you can handle. In the end things do work out for the best. Many people were concerned for me, with a baby on the way they questioned how I was going to cope. But we stayed strong and worked through it. Now I’m very confident that we will be just fine, and hopefully manage to not make the same mistakes the second time around.

Categories: Life's Fun & Games

2 Responses so far.

  1. GRAN says:

    Melissa, I really appreciated reading your thoughts here and I want to say how proud I am of you and Charles. You are such loving and committed parents and you have sought to solve the sleep problems always with Addi’s best interest in mind. You have all learnt much and I’m sure you will do some things differently next time. But so may your new little one! It has been hard for you to keep going when you were so tired out and I’m glad it’s getting easier now most nights. Remember the best gift you can give your children is to love their other parent (I didn’t make that up -it’s a famous quote from someone.) I love you all so much.

  2. admin says:

    It was very hard to remember everything and write it as accurate as possible. I’m considering including a list of all the things we did try that didn’t seem to have any effect on Addison such as white noise, cuddle blankets (lovey) etc etc (all the things that people suggest that just didn’t work for us). We sure did try everything that we could within reason. I just really hope that we don’t have problems next time around but I want to make sure we are equipt to handle them if they do arise. Squiggle might be totally different to Addi, I guess we will just have to wait and see. I hope this article might help some other people in the same position, or at least make sure they know that they are not on their own. So many people go through what we do and face the exact same issues, it’s just there isn’t a quick fix like some make out.

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