Achieving Sleep

I make no secret of, or apology for, the fact that we nursed The Boy to sleep until he was gone two years old. Yes that was a long time, and yes I do (partly) wish we hadn't, so you at the back over there reading this with your judgemental face on can cut it out! Walk a mile in my shoes and all that!

It didn't start out that way; I intended for him to go to sleep independently from the word go but babies make a habit of falling asleep in your arms. And in my defense he was always put down fully awake in his cot at bedtime, he'd fall asleep under the mobile and everything was fine and dandy. A series of colds over the course of his first Winter saw us slip into the habit of nursing him to sleep and, in all honesty, it was just too damned lovely to break the habit.

However, one day enough was enough, and with the advice of a sleep expert (from Pampers originally) we developed a routine to get him to go to sleep by himself without the use of the dreaded controlled crying that I detest so much. This started to go well but unfortunately she was no longer at hand to help out and that's when I found Jo Tantum on twitter. I actually think she may have found me first and I glanced at her profile thinking she was more than likely one of those people using twitter to promote and not actually help. How wrong I was! I asked a question to the general twitterverse one day and she answered it. Ever since Jo has helped me out with queries about sleep training, potty training and reassuring me about whether to start night-time training or not. She's friendly and non-judgemental, genuinely.

I want to share some information with you about babies, parents and sleep that has been collated by BabyHuddle. Their survey has shown that "nearly 70% of parents are rocking their babies to sleep in order to get some well-earned rest." I can completely understand that, although I will hasten to add that The Boy was never a bad-settler at bedtime. However, the hands-on approach (like mine) seems to be the preferred option for new parents rather than a non-contact approach like "pushing the pram round the house, driving the car around the block and singing nursery rhymes."

Now being honest, I would rather not be walking around the block or driving around and around (like my own parents had to) at midnight, and luckily I never needed to (before the nursing began). However, The Boy's mobile was a Godsend and it was the reliable method to help The Boy get to sleep, even now.

Jo (who has written ‘Baby Secrets’) says:

“Rocking a new baby to sleep is beneficial for bonding and breastfeeding, but as your baby gets older it leads to the baby needing that same sleep prop every time they want a nap in the day, or in order to sleep at night. If they wake up in the night, they will need that rocking again then, and since the parent is the one who has provided it, it usually leads to sleep deprivation and exhaustion in Mum and Dad, not to mention a bad back as your baby gets older and heavier!”

And she's right, because it took us a long time to break the habit of nursing him to sleep. We did manage to through the programmes and support we were given by two sleep experts. And not one tear was shed (apart from mine at my baby growing up)!

I'd like another baby and the question that has crossed my mind is, "Would I do bedtime differently?"

"Yes!" is the answer. While The Boy now goes to sleep by himself, if he wakes in the night he is ill equipped to get back to sleep without one of us nipping in and reassuring him; we're all a bit shattered to be honest!

More on the survey can be found on You can follow Babyhuddle on twitter or Facebook.  To find more on ‘Jo Tantum’s Spaced Soothing Technique’ visit or follow @jotantum for free advice on twitter.

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  1. From fun to mum says

    OMG! You're amazing!
    I just can't function on broken sleep so we sleep trained G at 5 months and, come cold or flu, she is mostly able to resettle herself to sleep.
    I don't feel guilty for the tears as I know that, without them back when she was tiny, I would not be sane today.
    Like they say, different strokes for different folks x

    • TheBoyAndMe says

      I'm intrigued as to why you say 'amazing'?

      And yes, like you I believe that 'different strokes for different folks'; it has to work for your family in the easiest way possible.

      Thanks for commenting!

  2. Susanne@babyhuddle says

    You know, I have such conflicting experiences. My eldest slept through from 5 weeks old and was nursed to sleep until she stopped breastfeeding at 7 months. Then we used a sound and light machine to settle her back and after a couple of nights she was sleeping through again. My son was a totally different story. I could not let him cry at all as he suffered from such terrible reflux. I would stay with him soothing him as best i could as he fell asleep and some nights I would literally be in his room all night. He still sleeps badly. When Bella was born I couldn't bare the thought of staying in her room like that again but neither could I bare the thought of leaving her to cry. She now sleeps in with me and I am beyond shattered. She feeds all night. I have not had more than 3 hours sleep in a row since she was born. I cannot find a way to stop her nursing to sleep, at night it is the only way she settles. So while nursing and rocking to sleep is instinctive and natural, it can only work if it is the right thing for everyone. Now, I need another way to get her to settle and I wish I could find out what it is!

    • TheBoyAndMe says

      You need Jo Tantum 😉

      Sorry not helpful!

      You really have had every type of experience going. After your terrible time with Luka I'm not surprised that you were reluctant to experience that again. And as a breastfeeding mum I suppose that is the easiest option, but you must be exhausted!

  3. Debbie says

    We've had completely different experiences. The boys have always settled themselves to sleep and like their big sister are really good sleepers. Oh yes, that's me- starting with the positive! Big sister still is a nightmare to get to sleep. If she's tired it's fine. Otherwise she just has us under her thumb. I am the guilty parent. Missing so many bedtimes I do pandering to her when I'm home. I just cherish every moment… despite knowing I should be changing things now. I will probably be revisiting this post after Christmas!

    • TheBoyAndMe says

      It's really hard isn't it? I wonder how many second children settle themselves independently to sleep while their elder siblings are nightmares? I think mine might be guilt about him being in hospital at three weeks old; mother's guilt has a lot to answer for!

  4. Tammy says

    My 4 yr old still needs me to lie on his bed next to him until he falls asleep, we had a few brief months where he went to bed on his own. That was until we had to go visit nanny in spain because she was very Ill in hospital with mrsa. This really upset and unsettled him so when he was crying when we got home I went back to lying next to him my mistake that I thought it'd only be for a few weeks that was may :/. My 2 yr old gets rocked to sleep with a dummy stupidly I made the same mistake twice rocking both boys to sleep as little ones then not being able to break the habit.
    My 11 week old girl self settles, she has from birth with or without a dummy. She even self settled when she was in hospital on oxygen cause she had whooping cough, some people might say I was selfish or uncaring but she had cuddles while she awake just as she does at home but also had to lie awake in her cot as she does at home because I didn't want her getting into the being constantly held, and rocked to sleep habit

    • TheBoyAndMe says

      The advice I had from Wendy (and then Jo) was to sit on a chair next to The Boy and then every three nights we moved the chair an inch or two nearer to the door. In the end we were out the door and sat on our bed, then a few weeks later we were downstairs after ten minutes. It worked really well and no-one ever cried.

  5. says

    I was so smug when we managed to "sleep train" Brodie until he slept from 7pm until 7am at 6 months.
    We had another child, convinced we could put our experience to good use. Big mistake!
    Blake was a completely different kind of kid. Stubborn til the end. We were so worried about him waking his brother, we ran through to settle him every time he cried.
    Now he's 4 and I can still expect him to get me up once or twice a night.
    I have a friend whose daughter woke at 4am every day, and would only go back to sleep in her mother's arms, while her mum sat on the floor, propped up by cushions, falling asleep. She did this until she was about 3.
    I've learned every child is different. And parents do whatever they can to get their sleep. Nobody should judge.
    We would often do things differently with hindsight, but when you're desperate and tortured by sleep deprivation you do whatever works.

    • TheBoyAndMe says

      I couldn't imagine sitting up like your friend; the 'worst' that we've ever had to do was bring The Boy into bed with us because we all need sleep and I refuse to sit up for hours on end. But then, is it worse that we bring him into bed with us? No-one should judge anyone, just help each other achieve what we want. Thanks for commenting.

  6. says

    I think it's so easy to fall into a habit like this (not suprised that the figure is 70% tbh) and night on impossible to break it… like this is invaluable to new parents, it's then that people need to hear this stuff. I was so paranoid of making a rod for my own back that I didn't do this but we did fall into the trap of dummy addiction….every time that fell out we were getting up to put it back in! I know people that are still up and down even now, or letting their child get into bed with them at the age of 11!

  7. says

    Agh the holy grail that is sleep. My first was born 3 weeks and a day early and was never a great sleeper-would feed all night, had colic, it was tough-he also suffered literally years of ear problems so whenever he got into a routine and slept well it would be ruint soon after with fevers etc. Once he had grommets put in and the ears improved and literally when baby No 2 arrived, he started sleeping through. The second one was put in the big cot from night one and can get himself off to sleep. We did things differently with him (we never let him cry it out as too young and we didn't need to nor want to) and I also think it's down to personality too. I didn't sleep through myself until school!

  8. says

    Ooh will definitely look I to his further- my 15 month old feeds to sleep mostly – although he can settle himself occasionally! Need to start putting a better sleep plan together tho, as he still wakes several inks a night, and I am knackered! First two had weaned themselves by now- this one is quite different!

  9. says

    I think I need Jo Tantum!!!! I still hold Z whilst he falls asleep….he's going to be 2 in a weeks time…Gawddddd….. he does sleep through now but there are night he wakes up and gets in our bed straight away. I would love it if he could fall asleep by himself.

  10. says

    I tried controlled crying once with my odest and ended up in tears myself so knew it wasn't for me. All three of my children have slept in bed with me until they were 1 as I felt more comfortable with that. It did cause a few problems with getting them into their own beds but my oldest two are now 6 and 5 and they sleep in their own beds all night. I forced the issue a bit more with my youngest and I used the pick up put down method with him. It took two nights of hard work and he has been a brilliant sleeper ever once. He goes down awake at 7.30pm and sleeps until 7am. I don't know if it's because I tried harder with him to get him to do this or if it's just because theyre all different. All I know is sleep deprivation is a nightmare! Jo Tantum sounds like she was a great help.

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