Sleep Training – Preamble

V’s sleep patterns have evolved a lot.

At first, we thought we were very lucky, with a tiny little girl who was happy to wake up once a night for a feed and drop right back off to sleep.

Then things got better. She started sleeping through at about three months. The first time this happened we were a little concerned. Was she sick? Was she overtired for some reason? Given the nightmare stories we’d heard from our friends we thought it unbelievable that a baby would sleep through the night at the age of 3 months.

Then things started to go the other way.

V would wake up once or twice during the night, looking for attention, wanting to feed, needing to be soothed back to sleep.

Then it was three times each night.

We have our theories as to why this might be:

  • Mother’s milk is rapidly digested, and V is now at a stage of development where it no longer keeps her satiated for a full night
  • V is much more curious and interactive than she used to be, and when she awakes, she needs some human contact and some reassurance. She’s no longer content to stare into the distance and fall asleep again on her own

We’re as likely to be wrong as to be right. There’s a wealth of overconfident, under qualified advice floating around and I won’t add mine to the mix. As a parent you can’t help but speculate as to what’s going on with your child, but there’s no one-size-fits-all explanation as to the gradual changes in their behaviour that’s worth the digital paper it’s typed on, and you mustn’t mistake experience for expertise, and even less for authoritative knowledge.

We’ve therefore booked a sleep consultant – yes, that’s a thing – who will come around next week to help us get V into a better sleeping routine.

The metaphor I have kicking around in my head is that getting a baby to sleep is about getting a bunch of things right, and to do that efficiently, it’s good to have help and advice from someone who actually knows what all those parameters are.  I expect we’ll have to look at

  • Daytime napping schedule
  • Set feeding times
  • Settling ritual
  • Sleep training method (crying it out, soothing or gradual distancing)
  • Predictable daytime schedule

But I’m happy to be guided by the consultant. I’m not hiring someone who’s supposed to know all about this to then overrule them on every little detail. It’s like following a diet. You follow a diet set by some third party because that way you don’t have to think about it, you just know the rules you have to follow.

Our desired outcome is that V sleeps 11 to 12 hours per night, which apparently would be normal. If she can go to bed around 7pm and wake around 7am, that would completely transform our lives by freeing up between 3 and 4 hours every evening for us to not only do all the things we’ve been neglecting, like preparing for the day ahead, cleaning the kitchen, writing to our friends, cooking tomorrow’s packed lunches and taking the occasional long, leisurely bath, but also give us a little time together as a couple without our attention being totally focused on V.

That would be a huge improvement.

I’ll write again when we’ve seen the consultant.

Photo Credit: Anna Langova, from PublicDomainPictures.net – this is not a picture of V.

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