I’m back!..for a bit..then I may disappear again, probably. That’s as much consistency as I can promise 😉 Busy work and home schedules aside, I don’t often have anything that interesting to post so I’d rather not write at all.
Anyway, last night, as I was leaving Frances’ room after putting her to sleep, it hit me how much our bedtime routine, as well as our night sleep, has changed [evolved?] over the past couple of years so I thought I’d write about that.
First 3/6 months – The utter blur
I still have painful memories of evenings spent bouncing a screaming baby from 6 to 8/9pm [purple hour(s) anyone??] and dreading the moment that my husband would text me saying that he was going to be late from work. That wasn’t bedtime, it was pure survival.
Sleep was [very] broken but I somehow remember the night feeds [and night-time online shopping!] quite romantically. The downside was to have to hold Frances upright for half an hour on end because of her bad reflux.
6 months to 1 year old – The sleep training phase
6 months was a turning point for many things, including transferring Frances into the cot in her bedroom. By that point, we had managed to create a bit of a bedtime routine involving a nice relaxing bath and quiet play and she was falling asleep at the breast [and at the bottle from 10 months onwards] around 7pm and I would then put her in her cot.
She was still waking up 2/3 times a night but it wasn’t even hunger anymore. She was starting at 11pm and on/off throughout the night, so our levels of exhaustion were an all-time high. Most of the time she wouldn’t go back in her cot or she would wake up the moment we’d move towards the door so we had to keep her in bed with us, raised on a foam pillow, and my husband would, more often than not, sleep in the guest bed, as he was too scared of rolling over her in his sleep.
After reading anything we could find on sleep training, methods and pros + cons, we set our mind on controlled crying [don’t judge us!]. Ah, the hope! Ah, the guilt!
It did work pretty well for us initially, although towards the one year mark she started waking up again during the night and we resorted back to bringing her into our bed in the middle of the night.
1 to 2 years old – The co-sleeping phase
A couple of months after Frances turned one, we went on holiday and had to share our room with her again. She really didn’t like the travel cot, which was only a few feet away from our bed, and after 2 nights of transferring her from there into our bed, we just put her in the big bed from the get go. And we made a very important discovery..we could sleep all night (ish) without having to even get up!
Needless to say, once we got back home we carried on with that routine. Just imagine how many times I heard the phrase “you’re making a rod for your own back”! Our nights weren’t entirely peaceful and uninterrupted, especially once Frances started pinching my eyelids for comfort (!). Even without that painful practice, we’d still be woken up by her asking for water twice a night. On the flip side, we didn’t have to do our zombie walk at any point in the night to go pick her up and take her into bed.
Bedtime was still around 7pm, or even earlier on very busy days at nursery, and she was, more often than not, falling asleep at the bottle or she would ask to be walked to sleep.
2 years old – Present – The big independent girl phase
On the eve of her second birthday, just a few months ago, we decided to let Frances sleep in her cot. On and off for a few weeks before, she’d been asking to be put into her bed once half-asleep and then we’d still move her into the big bed once completely asleep.
Leading up to it, we bought a bed guardrail and on the night before her second birthday we put her down after she fell asleep at the bottle and didn’t transfer her into our bed. That first night she woke up around 3am and at that point I went to pick her up and brought her in bed with us. I didn’t want to go back to the old ways when she’d fall asleep in her bed and we’d then bring her in bed with us every night so over the next few days, I let her play in her bed with the guardrail folded down and that taught her how to get on and off the bed herself. That did the trick and since then we’ve had a good balance of sleep through the night and middle of the night wakings when she’s walked into our bed herself.
The bedtime routine has also changed quite a bit. First of all, she now goes to bed a bit later, between 8 and 8.3opm, unless she’s completely knackered after nursery. Whilst before she’d have her milk whilst sitting on my lap and then walk into bed, now she wants to sit in bed with a pillow propped up behind her back and she has her bottle whilst I read a story. More often than not, she just rolls over and falls asleep as soon as she’s drunk all the milk but in the past couple of weeks, she’s wanted me to ‘lie down’ next to her [basically just my head !] when she finishes the bottle and keeps me in a headlock until her body goes all floppy and I can escape!
Who knows what’s next in the magical world of bedtime..One thing I know is that my little girl is getting more and more independent every day and that’s reflecting in all aspects of her life. I used to spend so much time wishing for the ‘next phase’ which I always thought would be better and easier but now I truly wish I could slow time down and savour the days when my little girl still ‘needs’ me.