How to cope with a baby that won’t sleep

It’s worth every minute to read Michelle’s story on 4 years of broken sleep. Also, lots of practical measures when your toddler is not sleeping.

BABYBJÖRN Magazine – Baby not sleeping – two happy, wide-awake siblings in a crib.
I can’t remember the last time I had a week of unbroken sleep, Michelle says.
Photo: What Mummy Thinks

Broken sleep for the past 4 years

We were never ‘lucky’ enough to have ‘good sleepers’. Isabella didn’t start sleeping though the night until she was 9 months old and Benjamin still isn’t sleeping through the night and he’s 14 months! He will USUALLY only wake up once (unless he’s ill or teething), but that can be any time from 9:00pm – 4:30am.

Newborn sleep – facts and helpful advice

There’s no pattern to it and therefore we are always anticipating a broken night’s sleep.

But more than this, Isabella, now 3, can sometimes wake to go to the toilet, or because she’s having a night terror or even cry out in her sleep. Luckily for us they don’t usually wake each other up.

But it certainly means our sleep has been broken sleep on and off for the past 4 years. I literally can’t remember the last time I had a week of unbroken sleep. I never feel well rested.

All about sleep regression at 18 months

A mammoth struggle

I fully empathise with those of you who are in the same boat, when your baby won’t sleep. It really is a mammoth struggle and some days I really don’t know how I function, especially on the days I have to go to work and teach.

Somehow though, we manage, we survive and we thoroughly enjoy the moments in between the lack of sleep. But what, apart from ranting about it, can we do about the lack of sleep?

Sometimes, a good moan can get us through the day.

Well I do believe that united whinging can really help – it’s what unites us on the most difficult of days. We aren’t moaning about being a parent, we still love our children unconditionally but sometimes, a good moan can get us through the day.

Is your baby not sleeping – practical measures

  • More practical measures though are investing in really good memory foam pillows so we get as restful a night as we can! I pinched my husband’s memory foam pillow when I was pregnant with Isabella and never gave it back, it really helps me to get comfortable and fall asleep quickly.
  • Next we purchased a toddler clock to help Isabella identify when it’s night and morning. She’s was only 18 months old when we introduced it and it worked to a degree.
  • But the thing that we found worked even better was a pretty lamp on a timer. Isabella chose a flower lamp and it comes on at 7am. This was more visual for her and worked a lot better when she was younger too as she seemed up understand the concept a little more.

A bedtime routine with a definite end.

  • A good bedtime routine will always benefit in the long run too. Even if it sometimes feels that it isn’t making a blind bit of difference, a short and incredibly consistent bedtime routine with a definite end will help signal to your baby when it’s bedtime. We have always kept the same bedtime routine and have now introduced it to Benjamin too.
  • Try some sort of comforter. Just make sure you buy two (or three) as soon as your little one has latched onto one. Because Benjamin has fallen in love with Isabella’s one which is now nearly 4 years old, I can’t find a duplicate anywhere so we don’t have a backup bunny just in case it ever gets lost – I have nightmares about it getting lost!!
  • Sometimes a nightlight can help if your child is waking and is now scared of the dark.
  • But my final tip, if all else fails, is that I bring them into our bed. Yes, I said it, I used to bring Isabella into bed with us and I’ve also done the same on occasion with Benjamin. Before I became a parent, I swore I’d never share my bed, but sometimes it really is the only way for anyone to get some sleep and I would do it again and again.

Michelle Haslett

I’m Michelle and I’m a parent to a three year old little girl, Isabella, and a one year old little boy, Benjamin (which by default also makes me a coffee addict). I first started blogging at What Mummy Thinks about three months in to my maternity leave with my eldest, something else to focus on other than dirty nappies. Three years on and I still love sharing my experiences of motherhood (good and bad) and all thing family.

Try this if baby isn’t sleeping

  1. A toddler clock to help your child identify when it’s night and morning.
  2. Or a pretty lamp on a timer that comes on when it’s morning.
  3. Some sort of comforter. Make sure you buy two (or three) as soon as your little one has latched onto one.
  4. A short and incredibly consistent bedtime routine with a definite end.
  5. Bring them into your bed, sometimes it really is the only way for anyone to get some sleep.

This also helps

  • Moan about it.
  • Invest in really good memory foam pillows to get as restful a night as you can.