Right from babies we are all different. Some sleep effortlessly through the night from just weeks old while others find they are still having disturbed nights until age 5 or beyond. I believe part of this is luck, like adults, some children simply need more sleep than others. However some behaviour can be influenced by introducing routines and consistency. I am not writing from any scientific reading but simply from my own experience with 6 very different children, all with different natural sleep patterns.
Establishing a bedtime routine
This is so important. It is not the only factor but a regular bedtime routine is great for establishing a good sleep pattern. I found this bed time routine worked a treat from around 6months to 5 years:
6.30 CBBC with the lovely “In the night garden” Is that still going?
7pm story in bed and lights out.
Clueless and Paying the Price
With my 1st child, I can honestly say looking back now that I was pretty clueless and totally inexperienced. He was by far the hardest to establish a good routine with and I do believe this is thanks to the mistakes I made so early on. I followed the bedtime routine but relied on baby monitors to alert me of every whimper, fed him whenever he woke and saw to his every need as any dotting 1st mother would. It was my pleasure as his Mummy. However in hind sight I think it did him and me more harm than good. I had to wean him off night time waking before I returned to work full time at 6 months as I knew I couldn’t function at that level without sleep. Anyone who has tried controlled crying will know it is really tough to do, without my husband to be the logical one and stop me from going into my crying child (who was perfectly OK) I know I would have given in. It worked in just a week, but felt so much longer at the time. By the time my 2nd came along I was determined to be stricter from the start and not have the pain later.
Learning from Experience
Perhaps it was me, or may be the different nature of my subsequent 2 children, but I never had the need for controlled crying again. From 6 weeks I moved the cot out of our bedroom and turned the monitor off at night when we were next door so that I woke to a serious cry but not every movement. I would bring them into bed for a feed in the night if they woke (stopped around 4 months) and then put him straight back to bed after a good burp with no extra cuddles and chat and I think that was the answer.
By the time my triplets came along I had the experience of 3 children and while night feeds took a long time with three, I did established a pattern fairly quickly just as I had with one. The main difference with the triplets was that as soon as one woke at night for a feed I would wake them all to feed. It would take about an hour and a half in total to get them all fed and settled but then I had around 4 hours sleep , without which I would not have coped .
Changing Bed Times with Age
At around age 4, my children were all pushing their bedtime and trying to eke out another story, a last drink, or any other delaying tactic they could muster. School was great for pushing us back into the 7pm timing as they all found it so tiring in the 1st year. However as they became more familiar with school from year two, I found the bedtimes once again extending. Holidays in the summer are the worst with light evenings, children playing here at Coombe Mill and no school to tire them out! From around age six I began to trade off the 7pm bedtime for the morning lie in. Now at age 7 – 13 I find I am struggling to get the youngest into bed before 8.30 – 9pm on a school night and often they are still up at gone 10pm at the weekend and holidays! This change in pattern has come much sooner for the younger ones who emulate the older ones in everything for better or worse!
What time is Bedtime O’Clock for your children? Did you have any nasty sleep patterns you had to break?
“Tales from the farmers wife” shares the funny and interesting happenings on our lovely holiday farm with Farmer Nick and our 6 children. A behind the scenes look on balancing family, farming, the holiday business and cooking for all.