This is a guest post by Alison Scott-Wright, maternity nurse, parental advisor and baby care consultant.
My name is Alison Scott-Wright and I work as a maternity nurse, parental advisor and baby care consultant. I have specialised in the care of multiples and in the summer of 2003, booked a 3-month job with triplets.
My ‘challenge’ began in the October, when the boys were born at 36 weeks. The boys arrived home and were on a 4-hour feeding schedule that the hospital had advised, but after explaining the routine that I have devised to the parents, they agreed to change to a 3-hour pattern and to follow my plan.
[This is a routine that I have put together through years of experience and research, which usually will get a newborn sleeping through 7pm to 7am, from anywhere between 4 to 8 weeks old.]
The boys were all bottle fed with a combination of expressed breast milk and formula. I used to get them up at 7am, regardless of what sort of night it had been, and started the first feed of the day. They would then be washed and dressed, have some cuddles and adult interaction, play under their baby-gym and then have a nap in their rocker chairs.
The next feed would be at 10am, after which they would all go back into their cots for their ‘daytime’ sleeps. Again, I would wake them if necessary for the 1 o’clock feed and generally try to get out for a walk after that making sure to be back in time for the next feed at 4pm. At 6.15pm I would start bath-time and have them all ready by 7pm so as to settle in a quite & calm nursery to give their last feed. They would then be put to bed and left to sleep.
During the first few weeks one or all would usually wake between 10pm and midnight for a feed and then again between 2am and 4am. If only one baby woke then I would wake the others so as to feed them at the same time and keep them on the same schedule.
Related: The Challenge of Twins
By the time we got to the fourth week we were down to just one night-time feed at around 2am. This happens as a natural progression, the babies begin to sleep longer and longer after being put to bed and start to develop their own sleep patterns.
After about 2 weeks of having just the one feed at night, I started to ‘water-down’ the milk by adding less scoops of formula. This one feed then continued until the 9th week. At this stage, the boys were 5weeks old, corrected age, and were usually waking around 4am for their feed, but then not really wanting their feed at 7am.
That was when I decided, “That’s it, water at night from now on!” Amazingly, the boys must have sensed my plan, not one of them stirred that night and they all slept through till 6.30am!! For 3 or 4 nights after that they continued to wake for a feed, but I just gave them water and by the end of that 9th week they were all sleeping through without waking at all.
There were obviously trials and tribulations along the way and it is always tough going in the early weeks, but it certainly pays off in the long run!
There are many intricacies and other aspects of how to implement this routine, for instance how to settle a baby and encourage good sleep behaviour, what to do when they refuse to go down, how to use the ‘reassurance technique’ to get a baby to sleep and how to differentiate between night & day. It would be impossible for me to explain it all here and now, but perhaps I have given some insight and hope to all parents that have young babies!
© Alison Scott-Wright SEN MNP 2006
About the Author: Alison Scott-Wright was the winner of Channel 4's "Who Knows Best", a programme all about successfully getting babies to sleep.