The Baby Forgot How To Sleep

From fairly near the beginning with both of our children, we have been blessed with good sleepers. Alexandra slept through from a few months old and has never, aside from the odd night of teething, looked back. When Max followed suit we were pretty pleased and, although I’d still been getting up to express and we had the eternal ‘putting the dummy back in the baby’s mouth’ momentary stirring regularly, things seemed like they’d all gone the right way again.

Then about two months ago, Max started getting up in the night. And by getting up in the night, I mean sometimes being unsettled for an hour or two at 10pm, sometimes being awake for three hours from 1am and sometimes never really settling for the majority of the night. He had a bout of bronchiolitis, we knew teething was starting and he was also rapidly outgrowing his Moses basket so we thought it was a combination of all of those. Knowing what to do wasn’t easy: you try the usual teething gel, more blankets, fewer blankets, rocking, shushing, patting. He spent a fair amount of time in our bed. It then came time to put him into the nursery his sister had just vacated – we wondered whether it might make things worse because he does like the comfort of being near to someone, or whether not having the disturbance of us coming to bed or getting up for the loo would make things easier for him.

Well the result wasn’t great. He had a few of his worst nights when we put him in his own room (he also had another cold, about his fifth of the winter, which wasn’t great timing but he was about to burst out of the ends of his Moses basket and if we waited until Max wasn’t snotty he’d have been in with us for years). I read an article one morning at 4am about the timings of naps and concluded that his afternoon nap needed moving backwards so he was waking around 4pm and that we needed to ensure he was in bed by 7.30pm at the latest. The first few nights of this new routine were much better, we were only up to him a couple of times in the night and that was just to replace his dummy rather than spending an hour or two trying to calm him with every and any baby soothing method we can think of.

Then two nights ago (Sunday), he didn’t have a great night. Last night was pants too – he was up for a while around the time we went to bed and then again in the early hours then there were about three hours where I never got the chance to get fully back to sleep in between getting up and down to him.

I’ve read articles saying if you can get them to self soothe then they’ll sleep better. Not so – Max now goes down sleepy but awake and gets himself to sleep almost immediately. But if he wakes up in the night then he needs us to come and settle him back down. I wonder whether weaning him off the dummy would help but I think it might make things worse at this point – and I really can’t face the few days of awful, awful crying that we know it’s likely to take to break the habit.

I wonder whether it’s related to the fact he has a lot of colds so his nose is blocked a fair amount (although we use Snufflebabe, nasal spray and have his cot at an angle in an attempt to help), whether it’s reflux (which is fairly under control on his meds although we tried to reduce them last week on the doctor’s advice and have gone back up to three doses as he’d started being sick more), whether it’s teething (two have popped through and he’s potentially showing signs number three is on its way), whether it’s separation anxiety (although he’ll sleep for the first few hours of the night absolutely fine on his own) or whether it’s his allergies (in which case we’re doomed until he grows out of them!).

Of course, the alternative is he read the article I wrote for the Motherload about baby sleep and decided to make me look a fool.

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

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