Toby is not a good sleeper. That’s about the crux of it really, he never has been and I do think that his reflux is partly to blame, however it is not the whole story. Even as a teeny squishy newborn, Toby didn’t sleep as much as we had expected a newborn to and certainly didn’t reach the 18 out of every 24 hours that various emails and apps quoted! He would, and still does, cat nap on and off throughout the day but lately even this has been fading.

When I was still pregnant, my husband and I kind of decided that we wouldn’t enforce a rigid routine for our baby, especially if I was breastfeeding as I did until very recently. We’re now 15 weeks in and we do stick to a bedtime routine at night but everything after that is on a wing and a prayer! Come 7pm we get Toby changed for bed (sometimes after a bath but not every night due to his dry skin) then we sit in the dark bedroom together and sing nursery rhymes as Toby has his bottle. Burp, cuddles and kisses, bed, sorted. Then the guesswork begins. Most nights, Toby will sleep until 11pm-midnight then get up and have a small feed but other nights he skips this. Some nights he’s up again at 2, or 3, or 4am for another small feed and sometimes he’s then awake again at 5, or 6 or 7am… Keeping up so far?! Basically, on very rare occasions he will settle for 5 or 6 hours but generally he’s up every 2 to 3 hours and he pretty much always wants a feed, yet he absolutely will not take more than 5oz per feed and it’s normally closer to 3oz.

We get up at about 7am and Toby has his reflux medication followed shortly after by another 3oz but one day he’ll then nap for 15 minutes and another day he’ll stay awake. On the odd day he’ll nap for an hour, but those days could be counted on one hand since he was born! Throughout the day he seems to be in a constant cycle of small feeds, playtime and absolute refusal to take a proper nap no matter how utterly exhausted he becomes. I try to respond to his tired cues, honestly I do, but he grins at me when I try to get him to sleep and by the time I’ve tried a number of times he’s then overtired and screaming blue murder. I then feel like an awful mother for apparently not knowing my own son. I feel like I’m letting my gorgeous little man down.

He will have short naps in his sling, in his pram if we’re out walking or in his bouncy chair if I’m bouncing him for the whole nap, but these only last an absolute maximum of half an hour and require constant movement to be provided by yours truly. So then I don’t clean, tidy, cook or eat thus I also feel like I’m letting my husband down when he comes home from work to a messy house and no supper. Phil, of course, is amazing and totally understands, but it doesn’t stop the guilt on my part. I really have tried, please believe me! I’ve tried in his crib, curtains open, curtains shut, music on, house silent, in the room with me, in his pram with the Snooze Shade on… Nothing works!

If we’re out of the house for the entire day then Toby will nap better and generally a better night’s sleep will follow from that, but obviously it’s not practical or possible to be out of the house all day every day so it’s not up for negotiation! I think that the biggest thing is how fascinated my son is with the world around him. From day one he has always looked at his surroundings as if he’s analysing every detail and that must be exhausting but he just doesn’t seem to be able to shut down from doing that. If I try removing the external stimuli by switching music off or putting him in a darkened room, Toby will just scream. It’s like he needs this constant stream of information yet that’s also making him tired.

He does occasionally have a snooze:

Have you ever experienced this? What did you do to encourage good naps with your children? Please let me know in the comments below or on Twitter or Facebook.

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