5 things that helped my toddler to sleep better

It was only a month ago that I wrote a blog post about how I was considering hiring a sleep trainer for E. I was at my wit’s end. She was waking up almost hourly, breastfeeding like a newborn and refusing to go back to sleep. Instead, she would throw herself around our bed, like a fish out of water, screaming her head off. Quite frankly, I’m surprised our neighbours haven’t yet called the police because anybody would think a murder was being committed in our house.

But I am pleased to report that things have changed dramatically over the last few weeks and we’re all getting considerably more sleep. I feel happier and brighter and able to parent better. And as for E, she is like a different child. She’s well rested and happier too.

So what changed?

1. We stopped co-sleeping.

E slept in our bed and had done pretty much since birth. She woke for feeds throughout the night and I just found it easier to have her in our bed for that reason. But even the little sleep I did get was rubbish because I had so little space, usually finding myself squeezed in-between a bed-hogging toddler and my 6ft something husband. (We had a bed guard on the side of the bed that E slept so she didn’t fall out.)

Putting E in her own room was the only thing we hadn’t tried and after several nights of having barely any sleep, I lost my sh*t and dragged E’s (at the time, unused) cot into the office (she’ll share a room with J eventually). That night, I stayed next to her cot until she fell asleep… and the next night and the night after that. There were tears from E (I never left her to cry, that’s not my style) and I was sad too, I missed her snuggles but after the third night, she got it. I can now feed her, put her down in her cot and she will wave at me and blow me a kiss as I leave the room. I genuinely can’t believe it.

2. We cut down nighttime breastfeeds.

Once E was in a separate room, she straight away began waking less often for night feeds. I guess not sleeping in a bed with my breasts inches from her face meant it was rather less convenient for her to wake up and have a sup on mama’s milk, so she stopped bothering (as much). I now feed E just before bed and again at around 10.30 but other than that one feed in the night, she sleeps through! I am planning to wean E completely later this month but that’s a blog post for another time. Watch this space!

3. We incorporated a nightlight into our bedtime routine.

On hearing all about my sleep woes, the folks at Lumie very kindly offered to send me a Bedbug Light Sleep Aid. “It won’t be the entire solution, of course – but it might help?” I had nothing to lose so decided we’d give it a go.

The Bedbug (which is endorsed by gentle-parenting expert Sarah Ockwell-Smith) offers fully adjustable bedside lighting to change, feed and settle your child ready for bed. I use the gradual sunset mode when putting E to bed, it takes about 15 minutes for the room to go from being brightly lit to dark. This is enough time for me to feed E and place her in her cot and exit the room whilst she finishes settling herself to sleep. If I need to pop in at any point during the night to feed or comfort her, I can turn on Bedbug’s orange nightime glow. This gives me enough light to see what I’m doing but doesn’t trigger wakefulness.

I really do believe it’s been instrumental in setting up a good bedtime routine with E and now we wouldn’t be without our Bedbug. In fact, I think I’m going to have to get one for J as she sleeps with her main light on because she’s scared of the dark!

4. We re-introduced white noise.

I bought Ewan the Dream Sheep when I was pregnant with E. We never bothered with any kind of white noise comforters when J was a baby but I’d heard good things about Ewan and so he ended up being one of only a handful ‘second baby purchases’ (everything else we’d kept from J). We used Ewan a fair bit when E was a newborn and he was relatively effective, but his batteries ran out and he ended up being forgotten about, hidden in a basket full of other soft toys.

But after moving E into the new room, I’d get her settled and asleep in her cot each night and as I’d go to walk out of the door, the floorboards would squeak and I’d be rumbled! I bought some new batteries for Ewan and started using him alongside the nightlight when settling E in her cot, the white noise seemed to help send her off to sleep quicker and if nothing else, it certainly helped to mask the noise of my steps across the creaky floorboards!

5. We started using Gro sleeping bags.

Gro bags aren’t new to us, we used them when J was a baby and they were fantastic. But because E shared our bed, I was reluctant to put her in any more layers other than her PJs and a cellular blanket, in case she overheated. Being the wriggly worm that she is, she’d often end up kicking her blanket off in the night and then waking up cold. As soon as we put her in the cot, we dug out the old Gro sleep bags and now we know she’s snuggly and warm all night long. One less reason for her to wake up at night! ;)

I don’t think that any one of these things would’ve made such a big difference on it’s own but the combination of all 5 has certainly helped us to get E into a better nighttime routine. We still haven’t mastered daytime naps (but you can’t have it all, right?), but for now, I am very pleased to be getting a lot more sleep. Fingers crossed, it continues…

Our bedtime faves*: 

Jenna xx

Related posts that you may also like to read:

Is it time to bring in a sleep trainer?
Bedtime Routines: The first baby vs. the second baby
10 things nobody told me about breastfeeding
A co-sleeping dilemma

 

{YouTube} {Twitter} {Bloglovin’}  {Instagram} {Pinterest} {Google+}

* This post contains affiliate links.

 

Elowen’s 5 & 6 month update

Eek, I feel terrible – I haven’t blogged for two whole months. Two months?! I think that’s the longest time I’ve gone without blogging since I started 3 years ago. We moved back to Bristol last month and things have been kinda crazy since then (the good kind of crazy, I hasten to add). I keep meaning to write a ‘Life Lately’ post to catch up on everything but finding the time is a struggle right now.

But forget all that, because today, today my baby is 6. months. old. HALF A YEAR, people!! How the flip did that happen? I missed her 5 month update (Sorry, E!) so I’ll do a bit of a combined update about the last two months.

Milestones:  

We have toothy pegs –

A week before E turned 5 months old, her bottom two peggies both appeared within the space of about 48 hours! She’s dribbling and gnawing like crazy at the moment so I wouldn’t be surprised if a couple more make an appearance very soon!

They see her rollin’… –

E started to roll at around 5 months (from her back to front) – but now she can roll back to front or front to back. In fact, she can travel quite an impressive distance by doing so! One minute she’s laying on her playmat, the next she’s grinding up against the wall at the far side of the room. She’s desperate to move forward but any attempt at crawling results in a skydiving impression at the moment. No crawling for a while, please!

Ommm…. –

We’ve recently started going to mummy and me yoga classes and it’s lovely. I haven’t really bothered with baby groups this time as our days revolve around a certain big sister. BUT now that Jasmine’s at pre-school two mornings a week, I thought it would be nice for us to do something a bit more mummy and baby focused. It’s mostly an opportunity for me to have a good stretch (and do some much needed pelvic floor exercises, heh) whilst E makes eyes at a gorgeous baby boy called Tobias.

Making a splash –

Last week we took E swimming for the first time. She looked SO cute in her little polkadot swimming costume. She took to the pool really well (it helped that it was a lovely warm pool) and we were in there for a good half an hour or so! I can’t wait to go again soon.

Grub’s up… –

We’ve started our baby-led-weaning journey this week and so far (aside from the mess) it’s been really good fun. E has been staring daggers at us every meal time for the last month or so. She’s very happy to finally be joining in with the family meal times and it’s fair to say she is LOVING solid foods. So far she’s tried, amongst other things, banana pancakes, shreddies, broccoli, kale and cheese muffins and various berries. I can confirm that she has even digested some of that, too. Ahem….

I’ve dug out my cookbooks and I’m planning to batch cook lots of yummy baby bites over the weekend.

Weight:

No idea. I haven’t managed to find out where the baby weigh-in clinics are yet. E is still in size 3 nappies. She has also outgrown most of her 3-6 month clothes. This week I dug out all of J’s old 6-9 month clothes and washed them ready for E to use. It’s still surreal to see her in Jasmine’s old babygrows.

Feeding:

As I already mentioned we’re now weaning onto solids. As far as milk goes, I’m still breastfeeding on demand. She doesn’t really have much of a schedule but I guess she feeds every 4 hours or so during the day. She will have 1-2 feeds during the night.

Sleeping: 

E will nap 3 or 4 times throughout the day, again, there’s no real routine as yet. If we’re out and about then she tends to fall asleep in the puschair, if we’re at home she may just stay awake (due to the very loud 3-year-old). She tends to fall asleep around 7/7.30pm, having a real fussy period before doing so and fighting sleep. She’ll then wake around 10pm for a feed and go back to sleep until 3am for a feed. Then it’s back to sleep until the morning, when I get rudely awoken around 6.30/7am by either being batted around the head or having my hair pulled. Such a cheeky monkey.

Likes: Being tickled, her big sister’s singing, walks in the buggy, food, swimming, pulling mama’s hair,tummy time, baby yoga!

Dislikes: teething, missing out on food and going to sleep.

my-signature

{ Find me on: BloglovinInstagramTwitter & YouTube }

 

Elowen’s 4 month update

General:

My little Smoosh is a pretty happy and content little thing most of the time. Despite the fact she is currently going through the dreaded 4th leap *gulp*, aside from a few fussy evenings, she’s been pretty chilled out.

She always falls asleep if she’s in the pram and it’s the best way to get her to nap if she’s fighting sleep. If she’s not snoozing when out for our walks, she looks up at me from the carrycot and gives me beaming smiles.

She’s fascinated by her big sister and stares at Jasmine intently whenever she’s in the room.

She’s also ‘found her voice’ this month. Holy moly, that girl can shriek.

As well as finding her voice, she’s also found her thumb – she’s a thumb-sucker!

She had her third set of jabs this morning – they are never much fun and I hate hearing her cry. Luckily, I was able to get a smile out of her a few minutes afterwards. At least that’s them done and dusted for a while!

Weight: 

I last took Elowen to be weighed on the 8th March (15 weeks +3 days old) and she weighed 13lbs 13oz. The health worker pointed out that E had dropped percentiles on her chart. I came home feeling really negative and a bit like I was failing her. I did a bit of research online and found out that those charts are based on formula fed babies. The Health worker didn’t even bother to ask me how I was feeding Elowen! Anyway, I’m less bothered about it now – E is healthy, gaining weight and outgrowing her clothes. I think she’s doing just fine. (Here’s one of the articles I read about the difference in weight gain in BF and FF babies.)

E is in size 3 nappies and 3-6 month clothes.

Milestones: 

I said in Elowen’s 3 month update that she had giggled… once! Well, it took a couple more weeks since that happened but now she giggles lots. Especially if I tickle her or kiss her neck. She has the cheekiest little laugh ever. I am in love with it!

I also mentioned that I thought her bottom teeth were coming through. They haven’t yet but they’re certainly making progress. She’s had some awful teething episodes over the last few weeks. As she was still so young I was limited as to what I could give her. My friend Daisy suggested trying some breast milk ice lollies to help take away the teething pain and they were a massive hit.

Elowen can now grasp at her toys and quite enjoys short periods of time laying on her playmat. She will grab the toys that hang down over her and will either shake them or try to put them in her mouth.

Feeding: 

Despite my ‘wobble’ last month, I’m still exclusively breastfeeding Elowen. I’ve pretty much decided that I’m not going to introduce a bottle or formula for the time being. I could be cutting off my nose in spite of my face but I just cannot be bothered with expressing and sterilising bottles. I’m not even sure if E would take to a bottle now anyway, I suspect probably not.

Sleeping:

Sleep? What even is that? I’m not sure if Elowen is having a growth spurt or sleep regression but it feels like she is up every couple of hours for a feed at the moment. It is slaying me! I’ve been going to bed about 9pm most nights just so I’m not a complete zombie the next day. She will have several naps throughout the day, her longest one seems to be in the late morning.

She still ends up in our bed most nights but that’s usually because I end up falling asleep whilst feeding her more than a conscious decision to have her in bed with us.

I wrote a post earlier this month comparing the differences between Jasmine and Elowen’s bedtime routines – it’s here if you fancy a read.

Likes: Booby milk ice lollies, Lamaze Mortimer Moose (a Jasmine hand-me-down), mummy blowing raspberries, bathtime, watching her big sister.

Dislikes: teething pain and immunisation jabs!

my-signature

{ Find me on: BloglovinInstagramTwitter & YouTube }

Breastfeeding success second time around
(and what I did differently)

My breastfeeding experience with Jasmine was short lived. We got off to a bad start and when she lost a lot weight my anxiety got too much to handle. I switched to combination feeding her expressed breast milk and formula for 6 weeks before switching to formula completely.

As soon as I fell pregnant with Elowen, aside from my fears of suffering yet another miscarriage, I was also fraught with anxiety at the prospect trying to breastfeed another baby, to the point I was having dreams about it every night. I went back and forth throughout my pregnancy on whether or not I even wanted to try again. In the end, I decided to give breastfeeding another shot. Jasmine had thrived on formula milk, if breastfeeding didn’t work out second time around, I knew that I’d be OK with switching to formula with baby #2. I had nothing to lose by giving it another go.

I’m really pleased to say that Elowen is now 3 months old and I am still exclusively breastfeeding her. Trust me when I say that nobody is more surprised about that than I am. It just goes to show that every baby is different. And I do think that has a lot to do with it. As mums we often blame ourselves when breastfeeding doesn’t work out but breastfeeding is a two-way thing. Jasmine wasn’t interested in feeding from me and was such a sleepy little thing. Elowen, on the other hand, was alert from the get-go and took to breastfeeding fantastically.

That said, there were quite a few things I did differently this time around which I’m sure helped us along the way on our breastfeeding journey.

They are as follows:

Having a physiological third stage of labour (delivering the placenta naturally)

When I originally wrote my birth plan I said that I wanted drugs administered to help speed up the delivery of my placenta. Partly because that’s what I did last time and partly because I was having a home birth and I was worried that the placenta might not come out, meaning I’d have to be transferred to hospital. However, a few days before I went into labour with E, I came across this article about a study that found a link between the drug used to speed up placenta delivery and breastfeeding problems. The news article is a few years old (2014) and was based on a relatively small study but it was enough to convince me to at least try for a natural placenta delivery. It took a little while (probably longer than it did to push E out!) but it did come out of it’s own accord eventually. I’ve no idea if it helped me have a more successful breastfeeding experience or not, but I think it did, even if only psychologically.

I had skin-to-skin contact and breastfed E when she was minutes old

I went an entire night before attempting to breastfeed Jasmine for the first time after she was born. Which, when I think about it now, is pretty shocking. I was too scared to attempt the first feed without the guidance of a midwife. Unfortunately, once I’d been stitched up the midwives all disappeared until the morning. Jasmine was fast asleep and I was exhausted so I took the opportunity to rest.  When I did get help the next morning, a midwife literally shoved Jasmine at my boob. I gasped when she latched on because of how painful it felt and the midwife grunted “Oh it’ll hurt until your nipples toughen up.” Great.

Elowen’s first feed could not have been more different. She was minutes old. The midwife who attended my home birth told me to go ahead and feed her how I felt I should, but assured me she’d be right there to assist should I need it. E latched right away and began to suckle, I don’t remember it being painful at all. (The pain came later on!)

I used nipple shields when the pain got too much

I was under the impression, after having Jasmine, that nipple shields were the epitome of all evil. At least that’s how certain midwives portrayed them, as well as most of the Internet. ‘They’ll confuse baby!” was the overwhelming opinion on them and because of that I steered well clear.

Between then and becoming a mum for a second time I’d read numerous blog posts from fellow mummy bloggers who said they’d never have been able to continue breastfeeding had they not used nipple shields. (Hannah from Budding Smiles springs to mind, as an example.) So I bought nipple shields before I’d even given birth and I’d already decided that if I felt I needed to use them, then I would. And to Hell with any midwife or health visitor who cared to argue with me about that.

In the end, it was a midwife who suggested I try the nipple shields to feed Elowen. It was only my second day post-partum but my nipples were in agony. I told the midwife over the phone how sore I was and she said if I hadn’t tried using nipple shields yet, to give them a go. I found them quite fiddly to use but they were worth the hassle as it meant I could give my poor nipples a break. I genuinely don’t think I would’ve carried on feeding E had it not been for the shields. I will always encourage other breastfeeding mamas to try them if they’re struggling with nipple pain/damage.

By the end of week four I’d ditched the nipple shields completely.

I had formula on standby

When I was pregnant with Jasmine, I was very determined to breastfeed her. Being a first time mum, and the first in my friendship circle to have a baby, I took a lot of ‘advice’ from people on forums. I’d read, several times, that if I were to really give breastfeeding my best shot then I should avoid having formula in the house as it would be ‘too tempting’ to switch to using it on a bad day. The night I broke down and decided I could no longer keep trying to breastfeed Jasmine, Stephen had to drive out to find the nearest 24hr supermarket to buy formula and bottles. I sobbed the whole time whilst watching Jasmine scream in hunger. Never, ever would I go through that again.

Second time around, I stocked up on ready-made pre-sterlised formula bottles (even packing some in my ‘just in case’ hospital bags). It took the pressure off me knowing that I always had a back up to hand which, ultimately, helped me to establish breastfeeding.

I knew where to seek professional help… and then got it.

There was a real lack of breastfeeding support available to me when I had Jasmine. It’s something I’m still quite bitter about. Because of this, I did my homework whilst pregnant with E. I found out where all of the local breastfeeding support groups were, I joined Facebook groups and I had a name and number for a local lactation consultant. I felt armed with information on people who could help me with any problems I may come up against. Elowen had a really shallow latch, which was what was causing my nipple pain. I decided I would go and see a lactation consultant about it. She spent a good 45 minutes observing E feeding, giving me advice, reassuring me that using nipple shields was absolutely fine and that the supposed ‘nipple confusion’ they caused was a load of BS.

I had a better support network in place

I had discussed my fears about breastfeeding with a lot of my friends (mummy friends, non-mummy friends, blogging pals, Instagram chums… whoever cared to listen) and because of that they went above and beyond to support me in those early days. They’d send me messages to tell me how well I was doing, giving me a little boost when my morale was low. Those who had been through this before gave me hints, tips and gentle encouragement. It all made such a big difference and for that I will be forever grateful.

I was more relaxed about breastfeeding

Like most aspects of parenthood, second time around I felt more relaxed, particularly in my approach to breastfeeding. If it worked out, great – if it didn’t, I’d formula feed Elowen and that would be that. Either way, the world would keep on spinning.

I took each day as it came…

I didn’t have a specific target in mind – I had no goal to ‘breastfeed exclusively for 6 months’… or a year or two! I decided to take each day as it came. Again, it took the pressure off.

3 months on and I’m very much still in that mindset. I’m enjoying feeding Elowen but whether it ends tomorrow or in a year’s time – that’s fine. Today I’m feeding her and that’s all I’m going to concentrate on right now.

Breastfeeding success second time around

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This post has ended up being a bit ‘wordy’ but I really hope it might help someone. Breastfeeding is bloody hard work and as I said at the start of this post, every baby is different. Whatever happens, whether you breastfeed or bottle feed, please enjoy your baby and soak up those newborn snuggles. I spent far too long feeling guilty and miserable because I couldn’t breastfeed Jasmine. I will never get those early days back to just enjoy my brand new baby girl without the all consuming guilt and sadness.

my-signature

{ Find me on: BloglovinInstagramTwitter & YouTube }

 

Theraline Mamma Pads {Review}

Theraline Mamma Pads Review:

There were a few things that took me by surprise when it came to breastfeeding. In particular, just how messy it could be. My boobs have leaked milk since I was about 22 weeks pregnant and now that I’m a little over 3 months into our breastfeeding journey, it’s still something I have to deal with daily.

In the early days, before my milk supply had regulated (I’m talking the first 8-9 weeks or so postpartum), I would often wake up in a puddle of my own breast milk. I wore a bra and breast pads at night but they’d quickly become saturated and soggy. If I’m honest, after a while it started to get me down. I often thought ‘there must be another way’. I couldn’t believe, in this day and age, this should still be a problem for breastfeeding mamas. As it turns out, there is indeed, another way…

I recently heard about Theraline’s Mamma Pads – ‘smart’ nursing pads that don’t collect leaking breast milk, but instead stop the leakage from happening in the first place. Hallelujah! The slim and discrete silicone pads temporarily shut off your milk ducts by gently pressing in the nipples.

Once the pads are removed the milk ducts open again and your milk can flow normally for the next feed. Mamma Pads will adapt to every breast shape.

These clever little pads sounded far too good to be true so I was very pleased when Theraline kindly offered to send me a pair to review. Here’s what I thought:

What I loved about the Theraline Mamma Pads:

I think it’s great that these pads don’t collect leaking milk, but instead stop your breasts from leaking in the first place. It’s so, so clever. It means I feel cleaner and there’s no milky wet patches on my clothes (which I personally find quite embarrassing when out in public).

They are so easy to put on and once they’re on I didn’t notice them. They don’t crease up or fall out of your bra like regular breast pads do. (You would not believe the amount of times I’ve had to scoop up my regular breast pads off the floor of a coffee shop!)

They’re more discrete than regular breast pads. (This means on those rare occasions that you get to go ‘out, out’ you won’t be limited as to what you can wear!)

Theraline Mamma Pads Review

I don’t have to wear a bra to use them. (Great if, like me, you prefer to sleep without a bra on.)

They’re easy to clean – just rinse them with soapy water and leave to dry.

… And that leads me on to my next point – they’re reusable (for around 150+ uses) so they’re cost efficient and better for the environment. :)

What I wasn’t so keen on:

The fact that they are ‘virtually invisible’ is both a blessing an a curse. After removing one of the pads during the night to feed Elowen, I’d end up losing it somewhere in the bed covers. Being half asleep at 3am and in the dark made it impossible to find it again until the morning. (I had the same problem with nipple shields in the early weeks of breastfeeding.)

The ‘sticky’ adhesive side of the pad often ends up collecting hair and fluff which, whilst it doesn’t affect their use, is quite annoying.

The pads (and ultimately my boobs) end up a little smelly if I’ve worn them all day.

You have to leave them to air dry after washing (by using a towel or similar to dry them you’d end up wiping off the thin layer of adhesive). This means that during that drying time you’d either have to go sans pads (risky), use regular nursing pads or invest in a second set of Mamma Pads. To be fair. at around £15 a set, they’re very good value. I’m planning to buy a second set for myself.

Final thoughts:

These are such clever, little pads and I only wish I had known about them sooner. Whilst they’re not perfect, I certainly prefer them to conventional breast pads for the reasons I’ve listed above. If you’re a pregnant or breastfeeding/expressing mama then I certainly recommend giving these pads a try. Best of all, if you’re not completely happy with them, Theraline will give you a full refund. You’ve nothing to lose! :)

You can buy them here*:

my-signature

{ Find me on: BloglovinInstagramTwitter & YouTube }

* This post contains an affiliate link.