We did it! As Jackson was due to turn 14 months we finally removed the final piece of baby sleep paraphernalia from our own bedroom. That may seem excitable but it was bittersweet because waking up with my bug was lovely, but the time was definitely right to complete the full move.
Here’s how it went…
Jackson’s sleep has always been a rollercoaster; the highs of him reaching a solid seven hours for a few nights were always swiftly followed by waking every hour, or wanting extra feeds, or just general fuck-around-erie in the early hours for the remainder of the week.
While he’s always hovered around being ok he’s never been a consistently good-or-bad sleeper, though I’m thankful we haven’t ever had any bad long stretches of no sleep. Basically there’s never been any terrible desires of wanting to pull my own eyelids off, of which I am ever-grateful. Even so, I have frequently been envious of peoples’ babies being tucked in their own beds doing 12 hour snoozes from four months old.
The worst thing sleep-wise was Jackson waking for a feed anywhere between 1am – 4am every night without fail. No matter how late he had his last bottle, no matter if it was padded with rusks, no matter how deeply he was sleeping he’d still wake up demanding mid-sleep milk. I had visions of him outgrowing the Next2Me and migrating into bed with Brad and I until his 14th birthday, milk bottle clutched ready for a drink in the night.
At Jackson’s 12-month check our health visitor advised a switch to water, suggesting he wasn’t actually hungry or thirsty, rather just habitually ready for that milk. I smiled and nodded, thinking there was no way in hell this kid could be fooled so easily…lo and behold by the third night he’d decided water wasn’t worth waking up for and went a full 8 hours. From that point onwards he’s never once woken for a bottle.
All of this was progressing as Spring began, which brought along its own irritants. No blackout curtains coupled with a sunrise-facing bedroom meant Jackson began to wake at around 5am as the light mornings crept in. His ‘big boy’ bed was ready in his own room but I loved having my little boy asleep next to me so it took a couple of weeks to put him in there; I figured we’d cracked the milk problem so it was time to move on. In he went on a Saturday night after a rendition of The Very Hungry Caterpiller and we haven’t looked back since. I kept the Next2Me in our bedroom for a week ‘just in case’ but he’s never cried, woken in the night or been restless and we’re now over two months in to a good 10 hours of sleep each night.
So what’s our routine now? It’s not exactly the same every day but Jackson’s bedtime routine generally begins with a bath at around 6pm. Once he’s in his bedclothes he has his tea no later than 7pm – Brad tends to feed the boy most week nights as it’s a nice way for him to spend time being Dad – then we’ll let Jackson’s food settle for 20 minutes or so either by letting him play with toys/reading to him/singing/playing with us/watching TV, etc. After that time’s up he winds down in his own bed where he gets a book read every night with lots of hair strokes. Jackson has the understanding that once the story is finished it’s time to sleep and gets comfy with his soft bunny. On the rare occasion he’s not fully settled and in snooze mode we leave him to self-soothe and he’s usually away within 10 minutes.
I truly believe we’ve lucked out because Jackson is such a chilled out happy soul he’s never been problematic, clingy or whingy (bar some intense teething patches), so him being so good at bedtime makes perfect sense. We’ve been pretty baby-led when it comes to sleep because if a child wants to be awake they’ll be awake and that has happened on a couple of occasions. I’ve never left Jackson to cry it out, but there have been nights where I’ve heard him talking to himself or tapping on the wall at 11pm and that’s ok too. It is hard but I resist going in to check on him constantly; I remind myself that if he needs me he’ll let me know and if he’s happy singing to himself and Bunny then that’s fine as well, it’s just that’s what’s making him happy at that precise moment.
To paraphrase the one and only Jay Cartwright: Baby sleep? Completed it, mate!