One of the things I didn’t anticipate about having a baby was the sheer amount of sleep deprivation I would experience. Just kidding. With the number of times people told me ‘YOU WON’T GET ANY SLEEP AGAIN EVER’ I pretty much gathered that snoozing a lot wasn’t on the new-mum menu. But what I really didn’t expect was just how difficult it would be to get my little one to go to sleep in the first place. A newborn is an evil little genius. They lull you into a false sense of security in the beginning – oh hey, look at me, I’m a tiny little baby and I can go to sleep anywhere anytime, no worries! And you think, Okay, awesome. Go you, smart little newborn. Then you make it over the 12 week hurdle and you think, Hey tiny human, why are you not just falling asleep anymore? I’ve bathed you, read to you, sang to you…now you’re supposed to go to sleep and then wake me up again at some ungodly hour…Right?! Guess again, sucker – welcome to the horrendous world of ‘navigating your way to a baby sleep-time routine’. Luckily, I found one product that actually worked for getting baby to sleep, with pretty much zero-effort on my part and no tears.
Except the tears of happiness when you realise you can watch The Bachelor in peace.
I preface this post by saying that I don’t really follow any particular style of parenting. I’m a little bit AP, a little bit Spock, and a whole lot of ‘I-have-no-idea-I’ll-just-do-this’. I wasn’t really interested in trying the cry-it-out method, but nor was I interested in having Lila on my chest all night. My method ended up being somewhere in the middle, for no reason other than – it worked for me.
When Lila was a newborn, my bedtime routine for her was pretty much what they taught me to do at the hospital. I bathed her around 9, I fed her, watched some tv with her on my lap and she’d drop off to sleep and I’d put her in the bassinet. If she woke up, I’d just cuddle her again until she fell asleep, generally after three-five attempts she’d stay sleeping (until her 1am/2am feed.)
When she left the newborn stage, I would try the same routine, but she’d just scream when I put her down. I would end up either rolling her around the house in the pram, (didn’t work) holding my hand on her chest in the cot while saying SHHHHHH a lot, (didn’t work) rocking her and swinging her (didn’t work) until I’d finally give up and just sit on the couch with her until it was time for me to go to bed, where the entire thing would start all over again. Fun times.
I did a bit of googling, and came up with a few reasons as to why she wasn’t going to sleep.
1. Bath-time that late was too stimulating
2. I wasn’t making the mood ‘sleepy’ enough
3. I needed a mobile above the cot
4. She would sleep easier in a sleep sack (which I deliberately hadn’t bought because I thought they looked like giant diapers – silly me, didn’t realise they had an actual purpose)
So, armed with my new information, I made a game-plan and went on to trial Operation Go To Sleep for F’s Sake. I tried giving her an earlier bath. That worked the first night, but I think that was only because it confused her so much that she went to sleep by way of dealing with my craziness. I dimmed the lights in my room, put on some bubbling-brook-piano-soothing-enya music. I even burnt a lavender candle. All this did was make me sleepy – Lila didn’t seem to care. Then I went to buy a mobile to put over her cot, but my mothers group nixed this suggestion saying that it’d be too distracting.
There was one more approach left. The sleep sack. (Even the name is unappealing. Seriously, sleep sack?!) Since this was my last option, I made sure to research which ugly sleep sack would be the most appropriate. I came up with the Love to Dream Swaddle UP. It was on the seriously pricey side so I bought second-hand off Ebay (Mum tip: I do this with 99% of the stuff I buy for Lila. Half the stuff that people recommend doesn’t work for her so I’d always rather buy second-hand, try it, then if it doesn’t work I’m not bothered)
The swaddle is actually a bit cute looking – it has wings!
That is, until you put it on your baby and realise they look completely ridiculous and like they’re in some kind of strait-jacket device. But don’t be fooled. This completely ridiculous strait-jacket device is absolutely genius. The first night I used it, I gave her a bath around 9.30 PM. Brought her into my room and fed her. Zipped her up, read her a story, placed her down into the cot and she went out immediately. Like eyes closed, mouth half-open, blissed-out baby. I left the room, made a cup of tea and tried to relax. It was difficult though because she wasn’t doing her usual wake up and howl routine so I kept going and checking on her. What was going on? Was she breathing? Turns out she was sleeping. Go figure.
Night two: Bathed her, fed her, zipped her into the suit and she was asleep before I could even open the story book. Put her into the cot, and not a peep out of her until her 3AM feed.
Night three: Bathed her, fed her, zipped her up and once again she was asleep before story time. I put her into the cot, left the room and made myself a cup of tea. I knew she’d woken up before I’d even heard her cry. I thought, I knew it! I knew this swaddle wouldn’t work! Went back into the room and she was wide awake, flailing her little wings and looking at me like what the hell, mum? I put her dummy in her mouth and decided I’d just try leaving the room for a little bit to see if she’d go back to sleep, which never happens ever with my baby, she just goes completely nuclear.
But five minutes passed, then ten…I went back in to check on her…and she was sound asleep. AND SHE SLEPT UNTIL 5 AM. That’s TEN PM to FIVE AM. I mean….WHAT?!
I should note at this point: I had stopped swaddling Lila sometime around three months of age, because no matter how tightly I swaddled, she would end up with the blanket over her head after a few hours. She just no longer seemed to like being swaddled, and it just pissed her off more than lulled her to sleep. I was so apprehensive about the Love to Dream Swaddle because I thought no way was she going to appreciate being all bundled up like that. But she loved it. So even if your baby has moved on from swaddling, I wouldn’t count this product out before at least giving it a try.
So there we have it, the weird looking sleep sack that single-handedly got my baby off to sleep without a shhh or a rocking motion in sight. Since Lila hasn’t started to roll yet, I’m still able to use the UP swaddle without having to change to the 50/50 that has zips on the arms. But when that time rolls around (see what I did there?) I’ll be purchasing the 50/50 without hesitation. Having my nights back to relax, recoup, and catch up on trashy TV (naturally) is the best.
(PS – this post isn’t sponsored in any way. Promise!)