I’ve recently started teaching Cameron to link his sleep cycles during the day. I’m fortunate in that he usually sleeps for 45 minutes during his day naps, but I’ve noticed that he’s often still tired when he wakes up so I’m trying to help him learn to sleep for longer. The Sleep Sense book that I’ve been using has some very helpful tips, and incredibly, the first time I tried to get him to link cycles he did. Of course that was three weeks ago and he hasn’t done so since! But we keep persevering.
Probably unwisely, I started this process while we were on holiday earlier this month. Cameron wasn’t sleeping well anyway and the challenge became one of getting him to sleep at all, never mind about linking cycles! The situation soon deteriorated into a battle of wills and we found ourselves playing a not-terribly fun game of Sleep Survivor.
Step one in the strategy is to give Cameron a chance to self-sooth. After all, he’s not going to learn new skills unless he’s given the chance to practice them. So come nap time, I wrap in a blanket, give him his bunny (we’re trying to teach him that it’s a sleep soother), put him in his cot and leave him to it. Occasionally, after a few minutes of muttering to himself, all goes quiet and I peek around the door to find a sleeping babe. More often though, it’s on to step two …
Being cognisant of the fact that Cameron is starting to develop sleep associations, I try not to pick him up if he hasn’t fallen asleep by himself. So step two is to put my hand on him and sing softly to try and ease him into dreamland. It is vital at this point not to make eye-contact! However, the harsh truth is that if step one has failed, step two is rarely successful and we move onto step three.
This is no holds barred involvement. Often by this stage Cam has moved into over-tired mode and I have to resort to rocking him until he is incredibly drowsy, if not fast asleep. As he now weighs over 7 kilograms and this process can take up to half an hour, this is a serious endurance test. But as in Survivor, this last endurance challenge has the grand prize at the end of it, so one just knuckles down and does whatever is necessary to go the distance. When we were on holiday, Col’s sister counted to 200, as many times as necessary. Col takes his mind off it by watching TV with the sound on mute, and I usually prop my Kindle up and increase the font size so I can read at a distance!
At the moment Cameron’s sleeping patterns are all over the place so this post is by no means a report on a successful campaign. Due to the high prevalence of allergies in my family I am trying to breastfeed exclusively until Cameron is 6 months old. However, his appetite is growing and the 6-7 hour stretch he used to go at night has shrunk right back to 3 or 4 hours. This regression back to newborn sleeping habits means I’m becoming increasingly bleary eyed as the days progress but as I’m not working I feel this is a sacrifice I can make. Happily, he is occasionally taking longer naps during the day, but there is no pattern to them yet. Sometimes it’s the first nap, sometimes the second, other days not at all. So it’s all a bit of a guessing game right now, but one I’m hoping will start to settle down when I start him on solids in four weeks’ time.
The hardest part of the process is that there are no hidden immunity idols for me and at the moment I feel like I am spending my life trying to get Cameron down for naps. But my cousin sent us this cute little baby grow from the UK, and I’m hoping that by the time Cam grows into it, it’s message just might be true!