What to do when your baby won’t sleep

What to do when your baby won’t sleep

Like the majority of parents I know, we have had many periods where we’ve struggled to get our son to sleep or to stay asleep. In my two year period as a mother this is what I’ve learned and what to do when your baby won’t sleep. I’m sharing in the hope it might help other parents, particularly those new to this challenge. It also applies to toddlers.

Warning : this post contains some sarcasm which some people may find unhelpful.

1. Buy a spare phone charger and leave it in their room, you’re going to need a full battery if you’re going to be scrolling up and down Facebook all night, or googling products guaranteed to help baby sleep (save your money, they don’t)

2. Memorise the location of every creaking floorboard in your house so you know which ones you need to avoid as you back out of their room like a ninja

3. Practice your faux smile – you’ll need it when someone tells you how they never had any issues getting their little one to sleep

4. Order every book on contented babies and getting them to sleep from Amazon

5. Read every one of these books, rip them up and throw them out of the window

6. Keep headphones in your dressing gown pocket at all times. Even when baby is dozing off or nestled in to you, you can stick these in and listen to some music or something

7. Subscribe to a podcast or audio book service – seriously

8. Get a subscription to a TV service like Netflix or Now TV. Honestly, if that baby is going to be keeping you awake at hellish hours, you may as well watch an episode or two from a box set

9. Keep food and snacks hidden in your child’s room or next to your bed. At 3am when you’re feeding them or they’re just drifting off in your arm, you don’t need to be gasping for water for battling hunger nausea

10. Do whatever you need to get that child to sleep. Others may rant here but honestly if it takes singing, walking, having them sleep in you and then transferring them into their cot, just do it. It won’t be forever. Besides, who benefits from an exhausted mum and baby? Nobody.

Image of a child stood in a cot and looking around, with the post title - How to cope if you have a baby that doesn't sleep
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40 Comments

  1. 10th July 2018 / 11:20 pm

    I love this, it’s all so true. Especially the floorboards! My one year old twins are finally getting slightly better – my record was getting up 18 times in one night – but now my toddler’s sleep seems to have taken a nose dive. Great!

    • 11th July 2018 / 6:49 am

      Oh no! Sleep regression is a killer and I swear it’s more tiring once you’ve got used to a period of sleep. Our son was an early riser and we got used to that. It took him till two to sleep through the night and it took moving him to a double bed of all things! The things you do to get some sleep.

  2. 10th July 2018 / 9:28 am

    Lol, yes anything that works is best. I’m just thankful that N was a pretty good sleeper. Now it’s just the early mornings but at least he gets himself up.

  3. twotinyhands
    1st March 2018 / 4:34 pm

    I could have cried when my son rejected my boob to sleep. It was essential for good nights sleep. I was 8 months pregnant at this stage and he was 2 so I got a good run!! I now have to sit I his room and watch him fall to sleep! Sigh. ‪Thank you for linking up to the #familyfunlinky‬

  4. 9th February 2018 / 9:59 am

    I remember finding a love of las vegas jailhouse, police interceptors etc whilst Ben was a newborn…. it makes the sleepless nights a bit more acceptable! Why did I choose to do it again? hahah! #sharingthebloglove

    • 9th February 2018 / 10:40 am

      I discovered Homes Under the Hammer. It’s addictive.

  5. 7th February 2018 / 9:41 pm

    This made me giggle, especially the floorboards. I am an absolute pro at avoiding sneaky floorboards in our house now! Great post, massively relatable from a Mum whose 1st didn’t sleep! Thanks so much for linking this up to #thursdayteam

  6. 6th February 2018 / 11:57 am

    Children and sleep just don’t go together and I thought that I would be getting to a place where they both slept all night every night, but sadly that isn’t the case! Thank you for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

    • Helen Treharne
      Author
      7th February 2018 / 5:41 pm

      I’m planning on sleeping when he’s sixteen now. Only another 14 years to go. He’s got to be in a proper routine by then surely? I’d just take him sleeping past 5am if I’m honest.

  7. 5th February 2018 / 9:01 pm

    That’s a really good plan having two phone chargers, why didn’t I do that when my phone would constantly run out and it would be in the other room. Also having headphones is a great idea, something else to listen to, other than wishing your baby to sleep or to not make any noise. Thanks for linking up at #fortheloveofBLOG. Claire x

    • Helen Treharne
      Author
      7th February 2018 / 5:42 pm

      Hindsight is a wonderful thing though isn’t it? I wish I remembered that I had them in the room half the time though…. that’s the sleep deprivation for you!

  8. 5th February 2018 / 3:47 pm

    Oh, I remember these days so well. You think they are never going to end. This is a lovely humourous post lovely and a sense of humour is needed when you’re a sleep-deprived parent! Thanks for sharing at #TriumphantTales, hope to see you again tomorrow.

  9. 4th February 2018 / 11:38 pm

    I can so relate! Sleep was never my Little Man’s best friend – in fact, he now tells me that “sleep is so boring” (gasp!).
    Love point number 1 – thank heavens for FB and Twitter to see us through those long nights.
    #ThursdayTeam

  10. 4th February 2018 / 10:33 pm

    I’m really really sorry, and I accept the faux smile; both mine slept through from 12 weeks… Alrhough I do totally agree with the floorboard thing because the club foot of the house (him, not me) has woken them on several occasions with a misplaced toe! My eldest tends to wake around 2am and wander up to our room these days; we’re so used to it now that we don’t usually realise until morning! #ThursdayTeam

  11. 2nd February 2018 / 10:37 pm

    As the mum of two boys, neither of whom slept through until they were two and a half, I can definitely relate to most of these! In the end the thing that got me through was just accepting it, and realising that they will sleep in the end, you just have to leave it up to them to decide when it’s going to happen! #ShareTheBlogLove

    • 3rd February 2018 / 8:04 am

      That’s sound advice Sarah. The more worked up you get the worse it is.

  12. 2nd February 2018 / 10:09 pm

    This made me smile, I love the sarcasm! I remember scrolling through looking for reasons the baby wouldn’t sleep and finding lots of posts like “don’t rock them to sleep” and all I could think was I’m rocking them if that’s the only way to get them to sleep! Ha ha #TriumphantTales

  13. 2nd February 2018 / 10:00 pm

    Love your warning at the start! Zach is currently causing sleep deprivation in us all the only thing that works is me lying next to him on the floor (very uncomfortable but worth it for a few hours of peace) #triumphanttales

    • 3rd February 2018 / 8:03 am

      Totally relate. Small Boy will only sleep if I put him to bed, or go back to sleep if he wakes up, if I get in with him. This is a new thing but after a month it’s getting a bit much! Considering getting him an adult single bed now as that toddler bed of his is a bit tight! I know it’s not ideal but three hours of screaming and crying if I leave the room if his dad is away isn’t great either. I just keep telling myself “this too will pass”. It’s like a tape playing on a loop in my head.

      • 11th February 2018 / 9:38 am

        popping back from #sharingthebloglove to let you know it has got marginally better, now only waking once a night! Yay!

        • 11th February 2018 / 12:09 pm

          That’s a brilliant result!!! You must feel like you’ve had a day in a spa. Small Boy slept till 6.30am today – that’s a first in almost three months.

  14. 2nd February 2018 / 7:19 pm

    This is where I am right now – I could cheerful shake the next person who tells me they have a great sleeper, or that I’m ‘creating bad habits’. We are desperately struggling and doing whatever we can to get through, habits or not. I need to work on my faux smile I feel! Thanks for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

    • 2nd February 2018 / 7:36 pm

      I always say I’ll worry about the problems I create in the future then, right now we all need some freakin’ sleep. Two years now and we still have a boy who wakes at night sometimes and it can takes hours to get him back to sleep, even if we do have a good run he might still wake up at 4.30. I hope you get some respite soon. Do whatever you have to to get some sleep xx

  15. 1st February 2018 / 9:48 pm

    This is absolutely perfect – I love it! The only thing that I would add is to accept that babies don’t sleep so stop trying so hard. Eat the chocolate. Watch the box sets. Scroll all the social media. It will pass. #TeamThursday

  16. 1st February 2018 / 8:39 pm

    I could have written this post! Totally relate. I have snacks and phone chargers hidden all over the house! And Netflix is my go to suggestion when new mums ask what they really need! #sharingthebloglove

  17. 1st February 2018 / 5:05 pm

    Oh this is so real. It’s always the perky mom at brunch who is raving about her baby sleeping for 16 hours last night when you’ve been awake for 3 days straight. Those smiles are the hardest to come by! Thanks for sharing!
    #Sharingthebloglove

    • 1st February 2018 / 5:15 pm

      I know. Grrr “oh my darling Johnny slept right through the night from day 1! You just need to train him.” I just feel like shouting “listen lady, I haven’t slept in chunks longer than 5 hours in two years, I’m not the woman you want to preach to right now!”. My mother in law gave me some good advice once. She said, “you will hear some people say there children sleep through, eat anything and never have a tantrum. Just remember one thing…. they’re lying 😂”. While I don’t think that’s always the case I do think time can make you remember things through rose tinted glasses.

  18. 31st January 2018 / 9:37 pm

    Love this! The food and drink ideas are brilliant!! Wished I would have thought of those when we needed them! Haha! Xxx

  19. 31st January 2018 / 6:36 pm

    I had a really hard time with my youngest. I felt every time I closed my eyes she knew. She would whimper immediately. It was awful. I won’t lie. But I both through it. Now I appreciate sleep more than anyone will ever know. Unless they had a non sleeping baby.

    • 31st January 2018 / 6:39 pm

      I wish I’d appreciated sleep more. We have had so many sleep regressions I don’t know if I’m coming or going half the time. We are mostly into a routine now and sleeping 7pm- 5am, but very often he gets up at 4am and there is no settling him back. He got up at 3.30am and had a little wander about. He can open baby gates so we have to be super vigilant. I’m always listening for the gate to click, especially as we are in a town house and our rooms are in different floors.

  20. 31st January 2018 / 10:21 am

    oh my goodness this should be given to every new mum! Seriously I did memorise every creaky floorboard in our home, sadly when Aspen was born almost 14 years ago TV was terrible, nothing was on at night we didn’t ahem Netflix or Facebook, or wireless internet I WISH i had something decent to watch all those nights I was up with her. Love this post so much!

    • 31st January 2018 / 10:24 am

      I still have a pair of headphones and an old smart phone hidden in Small Boy’s underwear drawer in case I’m stuck in there during a “bad night”. Thankfully not many of those now, just still lots of early mornings!

      • 1st February 2018 / 6:29 am

        Early mornings can be so painful too! Thanks so much for joining us for #ablogginggoodtime

  21. 31st January 2018 / 10:16 am

    Oh gosh i can totally relate – Nobody benefits from an exhausted mama and baby – its no fun! Loving the sarcasm approach though!

  22. 30th January 2018 / 11:08 am

    aw i remember these days when logan was going through the transition of not having milk at night at it was a struggle as he just wanted a drink but it came to a point when enough was enough x

    • 30th January 2018 / 11:26 am

      I’ve reached that point with a few things. Stopping the milk at night was definitely one. Another was saying goodbye to the dummy and the bottle. Sometimes you just get to a point when you feel “enough is enough” now . I’m sure they pick up on that now. It’s never been as bad as I though these transitions would be.

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