Over the last thirteen months, I’ve become intensely acquainted with sleep — not having enough of it in our lives means I read up on how to get more of it. I also experience ups and downs with our littlest Button, and as much as I dread the late nights I’ve become educated in why we have late nights.
If BB is hungry, he’s hangry. If he’s hangry, he isn’t going to settle and sleep for me, although I’m lucky (or unlucky, it’s a diversive point at the moment) that I feed my son to sleep on breast. I enjoy being able to cuddle with him, and as I’ve already covered in previous posts in the series while it is something that causes me and baby to be up multiple times a night I’ve made my peace with that. But if your child isn’t settling, it might be worth getting a boob or a bottle out and checking if it’s hunger keeping them awake.
I know, this seems to be completely the opposite of what you’d expect but it’s true. If he skips a nap, sometimes that’s the reason he’s up at 9.30pm and watching Little Baby Bum with myself or Mike!
This is usually when we’ve had a stimulating day, as long as he gets either a morning nap of an hour or an afternoon nap of an hour we are okay. If he misses both, I’m doomed. If he has both, it’s okay as long as it’s only an hour!
Upset to the nighttime routine
Our boiler broke down, causing chaos with our nighttime routine a few weeks ago. This really did teach me that a routine is essential for my son! Dinner at 5pm, followed by some singing or play, then a bath at 6pm. After that, he’s free to fall asleep, I try read a book with him but it isn’t always possible. He usually comes to me whinging and pulling at my top to let me know he’s ready. Once he’s asleep, I carry him upstairs and there he stays until he wakes for good in the morning — any feeds I do in the meantime I do in the dark in his room. It works for us, and it’s been this way since he was weeks old.
Being too stimulated
When Mike comes in from work late and BB hasn’t seen him all day, he gets excited and we have a battle to get him to sleep. Poor Mike usually has to go upstairs to have a nap while I settle the baby, which works for them both!
Changes in environment
I only experienced this once, and that was when we moved house. BB was seven or eight months old, and he went from a cot in our room to a room of his own, which was a big change.
It impacted us for a few nights, but because he had been in his cot previous to moving I think we got away with it a little — I managed to keep some familiar items around his cot so he could see them through the bars, which helped the transition.
Being too hot or too cold is pretty self explanatory — if as adults we face the same dilemma, we have a fretful night too. In the peak of summer I dress BB in a vest and nappy. Winter, we’ve recently started on pyjamas as he has an oil heater in his room that keeps it at a comfortable temperature during the night.
Separation anxiety is a thing! If me and Mike go out on a rare date night, BB will be awake when we get home no matter what time it is. As soon as I’m there, he’ll feed and settle — even when he had formula he didn’t want to settle for other people.
Colds, teething, you know. I find colds the worst to tackle nights with, as when congested BB (and all little ones) find it hard to feed as they can’t breathe through their noses. I have a whole arsenal of ammunition upstairs next to my nursing chair to tackle colds — vapour rub, tissues, a snot sucker, saline drops… All because I know how hard nights are when he has one. A trick I have learned is to put a small pillow under his mattress, so that he sleeps slightly elevated — this helps him breathe better when he is struggling with the snots.
I’m a firm believer and follower in the ‘Wonder Weeks’ developmental milestones. They’re usually a week early for us, but the signs and such are absolutely correct. These usually cause havoc, with hour long periods of sleep all night long no matter what I do. These are the sleep blockers I can’t fight, and just have to fill our cupboards with coffee for those weeks.
Those dreaded late afternoon naps..
Every parent has a ‘cut off time’.
You know, that time in the day when you know if baby hasn’t had a nap, you’re in the danger zone. Ours is 2pm at the moment, any nap later than that results in us being awake until 9/10pm — when this Mum often scrapes herself off to bed at 9pm, it’s a tough night when that happens!