A solid five?

Five hours sleep is not enough for me. At all.  Yet according to the “experts”, your baby is sleeping through the night when they pull a solid five hours, from after 10pm – 11pm through to 4am – 5am. When my son was born, this made me happy, because hey presto! He was already doing that from five days of age. We’ve got this nailed.

Until we brought him home from the hospital. He instantaneously started sleeping from 7pm – 2am and then he’d be awake every half hour until 6am, when he’d finally collapse back to sleep. Right in time for my daughter Lucy to get up and start her day. You don’t get to sleep when the baby sleeps when the baby isn’t your only baby. For a few weeks, I dealt with it. What choice did I have, he was preemie, technically he should still have been “on the inside”, so I could hardly shove a sleep routine onto him now!

The problem was, his only wakeful periods EVER were between 2am and 6am each morning. Great for him, but brutal for his parents. While husband was off work, we took it night about which helped. But once he went back to work I was adamant that unless I was sick, I would get up because he needed to actually function, while I could easily schlep around in PJ’s 5 out of 7 days a week, and nobody would care.

I researched sleep routines, tricks of the trade you name it, I tried it. Oliver has routinely clusterfed in the late afternoon since he was a newborn, which I was happy with. I figured if we upped his caloric intake during the day he would sleep longer at night having had his nutritional needs met before he went down. It worked, to a certain degree. So then I decided to introduce the dream-feed.

What a mistake! I tried for three nights to DF him. The first night I got him up at 10.30pm, nice and quiet so as not to wake him. He slept right through it, except he was so asleep he didn’t drink. He did when he woke up and hour later. And the hour after that. And that. And that. I chalked that up to a night of beginners fail, and decided to try again. Much the same deal that night, except he managed to get about 30ml down before he stopped feeding altogether. He was up every hour, on the hour for the rest of the night.

I figured I’d give it one more go, after all I have lots of friends who swear by dream-feeding, it had to have merit, right?

That night he woke up as I picked him up. He’d been down for four hours, and apparently that’s all he thought he needed. He didn’t go back down until close to 4am. That was the end of the dream-feeding.

Out of all the mothers to babies I know, only myself and one other have ever  had problems with the dream-feed. It just didn’t work for our babies. I went back to clusterfeeding Oliver of an afternoon, and by the time he was 12 weeks old, he was sleeping through the nights.

There are many things you can do to help get your baby sleeping through the night. And I mean REALLY sleeping through the night. Five hours to me, isn’t a full nights sleep. I define “sleeping through” as being nine hours or more. There are routines for feeding and sleeping you can follow, there are relaxation techniques, dedicated sleeping baby music. There is a lot of options.

But the truth is, until your baby is ready to do it, none of them will work. Because ultimately it’s up to them when they start sleeping all night, all you can do is make it easier for them with consistency and love.



5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. caspette
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 21:36:20

    My little munchkin does not sleep through the night. He actually cluster feeds at night. We still do the rough 4 hour sleep then feed then sleep. but at least he rarely fully wakes.

    I agree though sleep routines that force feeding and sleep times dont really work. We have a bed time routine which to me is different. It works to get him down but not stay down.

    This week has actually been a bad week and I am struggling with lack of sleep again. Diet Coke has been my bestest friend of late. Maybe I need to take up coffee?


    • tamking11
      Mar 17, 2011 @ 07:14:23

      Does he take a full feed when he wakes? Oliver only used to take 50 – 90ml overnight, for us that meant he was waking through habit. We stopped offering a bottle, and started using the dummy to help re-settle him.


  2. Rainbowg
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 22:50:07

    I always wondered how you could call 5hrs “sleeping through the night”, makes no sense if you put them down to sleep at 7pm. Lucky for us, after a few nights of trying to feed a heavily feeding baby, dream feeding does work. Although I sometimes think that perhaps we have created an extra feed for no reason. Even then we usually have one wake/feed around 4am. Is there anything in particular you did to get your little one sleeping through the night?

    I’m beginning to think we just have to do the hard yards and just try to settle instead of feed at that time.


    • tamking11
      Mar 17, 2011 @ 07:18:56

      I don’t let Oliver sleep beyond two hours of an afternoon (at once). He goes down at about 12 for a nap and if he hasn’t woken by 2 by himself I get him up. I let him have half an hour at about 4.30 – 5.00. He has a bath at 6, bottle at 6.30 and into bed at 7.

      Oliver goes to bed wrapped, but at night only. If he wakes we resettle him with his dummy and only offer a feed if we think he really needs it (at this point, never. He rarely even wakes). He starts stirring at about 5am, but he’s not ready to be up then. We put his dummy in and he’ll usually doze back off until 6 to 6.30 before he’s ready to be up, and feeding. Even then he never drinks a full bottle after going all night without one! (Oh! And Oliver is fully formula fed, in case that makes a difference).


      • caspette
        Mar 18, 2011 @ 21:31:30

        Our little munchkin is just a restless sleeper. He usually requires a cuddle or feed or something to get him to sleep properly again.

        He is still 50% breast fed. He only gets formula at day care. Before bed though he is full as he gets his finger food, then puree then a final breast feed.

        I figure in his own time he will eventually sleep through. In the mean time I mostly enjoy my night time cuddles.

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