As Arlo approaches one year old (I know, where did that go!?) there is lots of reflecting going on (although that seems to be my January theme too at the moment!!). A massive one has been about the past years sleep, or lack of it. I have always loved my bed and sleeping. 8-10 hours a night is what I found necessary to function, if not more. I’ve always been an early to bed kind of person too – in bed at 9/10pm would make me happy!! When children come along that of course changes. What a shock to my little sleep obsessed system!!
Woody’s sleep as a baby seemed ok. Really tough at times, but he seemed to get into a rhythm. Of course it was tough when teething got bad, or during regressions. But as I said, there was some kind of rhythm.
When Arlo arrived, it was a shock to the system all over again. Those early newborn days are hard. When he just wanted to feed, and the evening feed didn’t finished until like 2am…ahhhh!!! I would feed him on demand, and this often meant multiple times through the night. He would settle and go back to sleep though and so it was ok. And in the back of my mind I knew it wouldn’t last forever. I kept telling myself it would get better after the six month mark…
Just before he turned six months, thinking maybe he was hungry and that was why he wasn’t sleeping, we started weening. Hoping those bowls of baby rice, porridge, vegetables would help him sleep a bit longer. It didn’t. We also tried different beds- moving from his Moses basket to the travel cot to his cot bed… didn’t work. We put a teddy in with his for company/ comfort… didn’t work.
The six month mark came and we went on holiday. Sleeping happened on holiday and it was amazing. He would fall asleep as about 10pm, wake at 5am for a feed and then wake at about 8am. That long night stretch felt amazing for the 10 days of our holiday. I had everything crossed for us coming home and this continuing. It didn’t continue. We came home and it went straight back to multiple wakes during the night, and at times long awake times. He also wasn’t great at napping. 30-45minute naps were the norm, and I couldn’t hardly ever get him to have these in his bed.
The eight month mark came and the back of the mind thoughts of heading back to work with disrupted sleep. I kept telling myself that he would get there and that he couldn’t have disrupted sleep forever, but I was in a downward tired cycle (remember – I NEED 8-10 hours a night!!!!!). The week I went back to work seemed to be the worst week yet. He would go down to sleep at 7pm-ish – totally knackered. He would then wake every 45 minutes until about 10pm. Each time we would go in and settle him with milk and lots of pacing and jiggling. If we left him to cry it would get high-pitched and hysterical. You learn your babies cries, and know when something isn’t right, and those cries meant he did not want to be left alone, and was struggling himself with sleep.
There was a lot of change in those first few weeks when I went back to work. He started going to nursery four days a week, with lots more interaction and stimulus. But he still wasn’t great at napping. After a few weeks back at work I stopped breastfeeding him and he was moved completely to formula milk. If him waking had been down to a comfort habit, then this might help sleep? Or maybe formula may fill him up more (although I never had any doubt my milk wasn’t filling him up – he isn’t a teeny baby!!!!). I also started taking him to a Chiropractor to see if there was anything they could do to help – and I think this gave us the improvements we were looking for.
We had read about how an osteopath / chiropractor type person could help with sleep, and so I asked my own chiropractor about it who said it was definitely worth a try. I was also at the end of my tether!!!! She recommended a paediatric chiropractor, and I got us booked in. In the first session she said Arlo was very tight down the right hand side of his neck, which could be disrupting his sleep. After 5 sessions, with advice on how we should lay him down to sleep and also giving his probiotics (incase it was his tummy waking him) and Vitamin D (to help the snotty nose), we had a little boy who could sleep!! He started making it past the 45minute sleep cycles and started giving us 11-13 hours sleep a night.
I knew sleep would come one day. It became all I could think about though. Persistent tiredness was all consuming of me! As so much changed for him at once, we will never know completely what made him sleep through the night and nap for longer, but I do believe taking him to the chiropractor was completely worth it. I wish I had done it earlier!!!!