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top tips for creating a "good" sleeper

(143 Posts)
iskra Wed 28-Sep-11 10:47:28

DD1 was a terrible sleeper, I fed her to sleep/bf on demand throughout the night/got up every two hours etc until we cracked at 15 months & did controlled crying.

DD2 is 10 days old. Obviously I know this is far too young to do anything about her sleep, but what are your best tips for the future?

I have the NCSS somewhere in a box (just moved), hopefully that will surface & I can re-read it...

Ktay Wed 28-Sep-11 11:06:23

Congratulations! I hope you have an easier time of it this time around, I think a lot of it is down to luck. But a couple of things that I am going to try and bear in mind next time:

- do a consistent bedtime routine but keep it brief. A sleep consultant told me (and I am now like broken record with this) that if it drags on longer than 30 mins, you lose the brief window of sleepiness that a regular routine induces

- keep any interaction to a minimum when dealing with night wakings. When a HV told me this I thought it sounded a bit harsh but the sleep consultant was hot on it too - said just to keep to a couple of stock phrases like 'sleepy time' - and I found you could do it without coming across as uncaring, which was my initial reservation

verysmellyeli Wed 28-Sep-11 11:24:55

I think it IS luck! And the personality of the child.... But I don't blame you for wanting to try and get a bit more sleep this time around. I have a DS aged 7 (sleeps very well, has to be dragged out of bed, in a routine from birth) DD aged 3 (terrible sleeper, still up 2 or 3 times in the night, in a routine from birth!) and DD2 aged 12 weeks (cosleeping, demand fed, completely 'spoilt' and somehow manages to go from 7pm to 1am and then wakes smiling at 0645)

I agree - bedtime routine - short but sweet. We do bath, book, feed, cuddle and then have always put them down drowsy but awake so that they 'learn' to drift off. They have all required different amounts of cuddling and patting, but it seems to work. And in the night we just have a tiny nightlight, and don't do nappy changes unless major poo explosions happen. I have also learnt this time around not to feed at the first sign of wriggling and grunting as occasionally they do drift off again!

Good luck! and congratulations. But please don't try to be too 'strict' this time around - I think you can still demand feed and co-sleep and do all the other anti-routine things and end up with a good sleeper like my DD2, or be on a strict feeding and napping schedule and end up with a wakeful one like DD1.....

titan Wed 28-Sep-11 11:26:24

DS is 13 months and an excellent sleeper. My tips would be to get into a bedtime routine early. We have bath, bottle, bed at same time every night and play the same lullaby CD. I have also always given a massive bottle of milk just before putting him to bed so he doesn't wake up hungry or thirsty. Initially this was EBM but now it's formula. Also did a dream feed when he was little, around 11 pm when we went to bed. I think we stopped that around 5 months but I can't clearly remember!

Agree with Ktay - low key in the night. Little talking to baby, low lights, only do nappies for poos, no night lights. And I fed at the merest hint of a snuffle or waking up noise - such that they never really woke properly IYSWIM.

Quenelle Wed 28-Sep-11 11:55:35

Am reading this with interest. I'm expecting DC2 in May and have been thinking about this a lot already.

DS has never slept well, he's 2.4 now and there has been one issue after another with him since he was a newborn. I'm pretty sure we made mistakes we shouldn't repeat but I don't really know what they were. We had a bedtime routine almost from birth, we never made any noise/turned lights on for night wakings, although he would poo twice at every feed so nappy changes were necessary and frequent.

CavemanDave and verysmellyeli give opposite advice about feeding at the first snuffle so is it a case of trial and error?

My friend was so determined to have a good sleeper second time around that she started controlled crying at 10 weeks with her DS. Her DH would even leave him to CIO by 13 weeks. Thing is, he sleeps 12 hours a night at 18mo and will sleep through a house party so they have no doubts whatsoever that you can 'make' a good sleeper and it's not just down to luck. Please tell me they're not right.

Congrats on your new baby by the way iskra.

duchesse Wed 28-Sep-11 11:55:48

I would say it is largely down to luck once you've established a calm, reliable routine that gives the babies all the right signals. There is no more parental merit in having a sleeping child than a non-sleeping one.

I laughed hollowly (inwardly) when my sister claimed to have "taught" her PFb to sleep through at 3 months and implied that my parenting was to blame for the fact that mine didn't. Was vindicated in hollow laugh when her second turned out to be sleeper from hell, along with 3rd. Her fourth sleeps very well.

FWIW mine have all slept through reliably at 18m to 2 yo but first was a bugger from 4-24 months. Last one is as tricky as the first again, although she slept through the night for a few months from 1 month to 4 months old (which was very nice for healing after the birth). Child 1 did same and then also started waking up at frequent intervals. Ho-hum. They all sleep through eventually. <stares hard at DD3>

BullyBeefBadgers Wed 28-Sep-11 12:11:24

My 5mo DD sleeps 12 hours currently however this is due to accident! Being exhausted due to latching difficulties, regular night time feeds and growth spurt stuck-on-the-sofa syndrome at 6 weeks I slept right through one of her feed times without hearing her crying. The next night she dropped that feed doing six hours. As she got older the "long stretch" increased until at 3 months she did 10 hours and now does 12.
This also taught her to self soothe and I can now pop her in bed at 7pm without a routine and she just goes to sleep. The down side to this was that she still needed 3 hourly feeds until 2 weeks ago to get enough milk during the day, and when younger I used to get paranoid she'd dehydrate and would do a dreamfeed.

worldgonecrazy Wed 28-Sep-11 12:12:14

I think a lot is down to luck of the draw. We have a good sleeper. We just used the fact that babies love to copy adults, so we coslept and I had a lot of early nights when she was a baby. I would lie down next to her and go to sleep and she would copy me and do the same. We also bf so I didn't have to wake for night feeds.

Yes, I'm one of those smug mummies who has always had 8 - 9 hours sleep a night and as a bonus, DD also has learned that weekends are for lie-ins so we don't get woken early on Saturdays or Sundays.

Now she's older one of us will lie with her for 5-10 minutes, or occasionally we just leave her to it and she goes off by herself. The truth is we love our snuggles though so the former is preferable.

AWimbaWay Wed 28-Sep-11 12:12:15

Always make sure they're awake before settling them into cot or moses basket. It seems mad, but if they fall asleep during a breastfeed gently wake them before putting into cot, this way they learn to self settle early and don't expect feeding / rocking to sleep. Also agree with others on establishing a bedtime routine early. I breastfeed dc3, put her into her gro-bag, read a short story then sing the same song as I put her into her cot.

Having said all that dc3 was a terrible sleeper until she hit 6 months, but that was frequent waking for feeds which I don't think you can do anything about when they're that young.

LifeOfKate Wed 28-Sep-11 12:20:27

Quenelle - I am here to tell you that your friend and her DH are not right, in that you don't have to do CC or CIO to get a good sleeper and a lot of it is down to luck. DS was never ever left to cry and has reliably slept through for 12 hours a night since he was about 15 months old (he's now 21 months old). We didn't really do anything to make him like that (and had a horrific time with him from birth to 6 months), it's just the way he is.

TheBride Wed 28-Sep-11 12:37:48

Ds was pretty good and still is (12mo). It might have been sheer luck and what I did might well be completely coincidental, but FWIW

- Dont feed to sleep. I bf but he never went into the basket/cot asleep. I prob would have if he'd let me, but swaddling him always woke him up anyway.
- Swaddle religiously until 3mo
- bedtime around same time every night (as in, within an hour or so)
- Shush and pat but the pat is more a "press" than a "pat"
- Moses basket from birth. Own room from 6 wks (in cot. immediately dropped down to one night feed)
- Pacifier from birth
- Start discouraging night feeding around the 6mo mark if not dropped already
- Zero tolerance on "early waking" Pre 6am DS does not get up, even if I have to sit in his room in the dark with him.

As I said, no idea if any of this worked as can't see my alternative reality. However, most of my friends with 1 yr olds followed similar patterns and all have good sleepers.

Quenelle Wed 28-Sep-11 12:38:15

Thanks LifeOfKate I know they're not right, I was there the night he was left to cry on his own for an hour, at 13wo sad But he's slept 12 hours a night since he was three months old and his parents believe they have conditioned him this way.

He is a lovely, lively, happy little chap by the way.

goinggreennotgrey Wed 28-Sep-11 12:38:23

When DS1 was born we didn't have a bedtime routine as such. We used to have him in the living room until his last feed then take him upstairs with us at our bedtime. When he got to a few months old we 'tried' a bedtime routine but he screamed when we put him in his cot. So we would rock him to sleep. He always woke crying at around 5am and didn't want to sleep again. In other words "it was a nightmare!" We ended up following the Baby Whisperer techniques to get him to sleep. It was no fun for anyone! He was always an early riser until around age 3.

DS2 was born 2 years later and we followed a routine from the start. I felt I had to because seeing to a 2 year old and newborn seemed really daunting. Plus the memories of DS1 were haunting me! So they both got bathed, stories told and DS1 got a feed. I swaddled DS2 with one of those Miracle Blankets (loved it) and settled him into his cot. He fell asleep on his own. I did a dream feed in the dark, changed him if necessary and re-swaddled. He hardly ever cried. I would hear him shuffling around in the morning usually 6 or 7am!

I'm not kidding when I say he slept through the night from 3 months and is still great at bedtime and in the morning aged 4. He never cried or had a fuss at bedtime. I can't remember when I stopped swaddling, but I did it for his naps too when possible, but kept the room light so he knew the difference.

Get yourself a miracle blanket.
HTH X

nethunsreject Wed 28-Sep-11 12:39:17

Ncss is good yep.

But it is essentially luck I'm afraid.

Ds1 slept amazingly well, ds2 doesn't. I've treated them the same.

wigglesrock Wed 28-Sep-11 12:40:02

Its down to luck - dd1 was a fab sleeper, right through at 9 weeks, no trying anything she just did it, dd2 finally stopped waking through the night at 3.5 years, yes that's right years and dd3 (7 months) is in-between. With dd2 I tried everything, absolutely everything, all she wanted was to sleep with me.

Kveta Wed 28-Sep-11 12:41:01

so far as I can tell the best tip to get a good sleeper is to have been one yourself, and for the father to have been one too...

Not, as my sister tells me, feed formula, and leave baby to cry from the start.

[Her DS was prem, too, so from the minute they got back from the hospital, they would leave him to cry for 15-20 minutes when he woke to see if he'd resettle - before he was even at term. He's 5 months now, and sleeps 4-5 hrs at a stretch reliably (my DS is 2 years, and, um, doesn't! however, we are using the 'Teach Your Child To Sleep millpond book, and last night he went 11 hours!! so, one day, he might do that consistently!). I'm desperately trying not judge her loudly, even when she judges me loudly ('breastfeeding is disgusting past 6 months' being one prime comment...), but it's difficult at times.]

nethunsreject Wed 28-Sep-11 12:41:29

I am shock at the people described who left a wee baby to cio. Ffs, why bother having one? CC for older babies, if you need to, is one thing, but Jesus, not a wee baby. sad

TheBride Wed 28-Sep-11 12:42:33

so far as I can tell the best tip to get a good sleeper is to have been one yourself, and for the father to have been one too..

V true. Dh and I both sleep like the dead.

Quenelle Wed 28-Sep-11 12:44:04

Hi Kveta I wonder if there was something in the air last night, DS slept 11 hours too, extremely unusual for him.

TheBride Wed 28-Sep-11 12:44:06

I disagree with CC/CIO for little babies, but I do also think there's a difference between grumbling and crying, and I dont think there's any harm in waiting through a few minutes of grumbling to see if they resettle before leaping out of bed, boob at the ready grin

Kveta Wed 28-Sep-11 12:44:06

oh, and Thebride - we couldn't swaddle DS - from the minute he was born, a swaddle would make him scream until he was bright red, and he would just fight fight fight to free his arms. It was a total pain! Likewise, moses basket - he would scream as though caged against his will. It was frustrating, but he was much happier in a large cot bed than in his basket.

and shush pat just pissed him off too. little bugger.

TheBride Wed 28-Sep-11 12:45:15

Kveta This is the thing- I think of it is just luck/ hitting on the right thing for that child. DS used to resist the swaddle, but when it was on, he'd visibly relax. I'm worried he might want to be an escapologist when he's older

Kveta Wed 28-Sep-11 12:45:21

hi Quenelle - let's hope it's in the air tonight too! and congrats on DC2! We're in the 2WW now I think, but mc sent my cycle a bit barmy. we shall see what happens.

Maryz Wed 28-Sep-11 12:46:24

It's luck, so don't think there is a miracle cure, or a "right" way to do it. ds1 slept 12 hours a night from 9 weeks (yes, really, he did - we used to wake him for a midnight feed, but couldn't manage to wake him up so left him). I thought it was due to routine and me doing it the right way [preens].

Then I had dd, and she didn't sleep for more than 2 hours at a time for about 2 years, and then woke a couple of times a night and very early (5.30 ish) in the morning until she started school.

I have no idea what I did "wrong", so I decided it was purely luck. ds3, by the way, was in between.

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