My 5 sleeping baby hacks

When did the word advice become hack?

We’re just coming up to six months in and I feel like we’re getting our lives back on track. The last month we’ve managed to get some time to ourselves and watch some TV programmes as a couple again while our daughter sleeps upstairs. Some people get to this milestone much earlier, some much later. Either way whenever you get there it’s a good place to be and you feel like you could maybe handle this parenting thing!

As a note to myself as much as it is help to others, I wanted to compile five helpful things we have found can make the difference when getting our baby off to sleep. Whether these work for everyone, I don’t know but they have consistently made a difference for us, so they deserve a mention.

One: Sling/Baby Carrier

One of the first things we picked up was a baby carrier. To be honest I think they are all the same, but ours is a Funki Flamingo.

That’s not me or my baby, but it is a Funki Flamingo wrap.

Initially, we found it was massive (our daughter was only 7lb 6oz when born) so I think in the first month we didn’t use it much, but it’s become invaluable when trying to get her off to sleep. When out and about, my wife prefers to use something that she feels is more supportive, as the stretchy fabric could leave you worried about them sinking down over time as you walk, but in the house, it’s my go to when I’ve got a distressed baby, the wrap just pulls them into you and makes them feel secure. I’ve yet to have her stay awake when she’s tired and distressed after ten minutes sat in this, walking around the house. I often combine it with a dummy, which she usually doesn’t like, but the two things work together quite well for us. For the full effect, I combine it with some options from below.

Two: Singing

This one might be slightly embarrassing for you, but if you can get over your own embarrassment it’s worth it. In the months leading up to delivery, you should start learning nice soothing songs. Bona fide classics such as “twinkle twinkle little star”, “you are my sunshine” as long as they are soothing and not up beat, so “the wheels on the bus” is a no go for sleep time, obviously!

Not to blow the Welsh trumpet, but I have found that there are some good Welsh classics to reel off that do the job – check out Calon Lan and Bugeilio’r Gwenith Gwyn. There are also English lyric versions of those two, as the tune is the most important. I can’t explain how awesome it feels to be singing and have your child look up at you and just stare into your eyes as you sing them off to sleep.

Can’t or won’t sing? Get hold of spotify and gather some stripped back acoustic versions of these songs so you can get as close to a voice singing as possible.

Finally, if you are ahead of the game and reading this before your baby has arrived, then get started now, mums and dads can start bonding by singing to the bump. Babies can hear from as early as 18 weeks, so you have plenty of time to bond. We sang a quick round of twinkle twinkle little star every night before sleeping and while it initially felt weird, I swear she recognised the song the first time we sang it after she was born, and it helped calm her down.

Three: White noise app

If you’ve got an android phone you’re in luck as the app I use specifically doesn’t exist on iTunes store, but either way you should be able to get hold of a white noise app. The one we use is made by Relaxio, specifically the white noise generator but you will see on their website they have a few.

You have to remember, when in the womb, it is never quiet. The baby is surrounded by the sound of the mother’s heartbeat, the swishing of blood flowing around the body, the muffled sound of conversation. A white noise generator can help replicate this background noise. We discovered by accident how well it worked when we took our daughter to a cafe. Loads of background noise of people talking, and she was out like a light and slept for over an hour. Later than evening I looked up white noise generators and we haven’t looked back. I often combine this with the sling when I’m trying to calm her down.

Four: Rockabye Baby (Fleetwood Mac)

The effect of this album is amazing and it’s our secret weapon when she’s really worked up. I don’t know whether our daughter will grow up to be a big Fleetwood Mac fan or what, but for some reason, the opening track will calm her down, no matter what. If she’s really worked up, feeding is difficult, talking or singing is difficult as she just won’t listen or look at us. Playing this snaps her out of it, and it gives us enough time to get her attention and usually means we can start to get her to calm down for whatever we are trying to do.

I’m not saying this is an instant fix, by playing this music, but we have played it a lot to her, and when we play it we sing along, maybe dance along, so she presumably hears it and is reminded of happy thoughts, which soothes her enough that she stops her crying (at least for the duration of the first track). If Fleetwood Mac isn’t for you, I recommend look at some of the other covers they do!

Five: Teamwork!

Dads, if you’re reading this; The first few months are super hard on the mother. Yes she has maternity leave and therefore has the ability to sleep when she wants, whereas you may need sleep to get up for work in the morning, but don’t use that as an excuse for not pulling your weight!

Both parents suffer in the first months, and it’s easy to turn on each other for not doing enough. This is natural, but you have to be honest and realise that you are both trying to achieve the same goal here – raise your beautiful child into the world. My wife is very good at trying to avoid disrupting me in the night if our daughter is keeping us up, and I have to get up for work, but I also ensure that I do what I can in the evenings, and if it really is a bad night, then unfortunately I have to take that on the chin and get up to help out. If that means I have to struggle through work with a few coffees then so be it. Also if the mu is breastfeeding, the other partner might see this as an area in which they cannot help, but it doesn’t mean they can’t change nappies before the feed, or provide cups of tea for the mother! Be proactive and do what you can. Talk about what you need and remember you are in this together!

Good luck!

6 months in and we’re still going through the sleeping dramas, but she goes down before 8pm most nights now, and that’s been a real game-changer for us – though we might have a disruptive night, we get to spend a few hours together between 8 and 11 chatting, cuddling and catching up on some TV like normal people do! It means we have the energy to deal with the nights now, so there is light at the end of the tunnel!

A new chapter

It’s been ages since I updated this website (I feel like I post that opening sentence a lot!) but I have a valid excuse. In the last year, my wife Ruth carried and gave birth to our beautiful daughter, who is now a mere 4 months old!

It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster and we’ve just reached the point of sleeping through the night – I can’t describe how good that feels!

It’s still an incredibly hard job for Ruth in particular and I can’t lump enough praise on her for how well she’s doing as a new mother. You go through pregnancy knowing it’s going to be hard, and plan as best you can, but as much as it’s a cliche to say it, nothing prepares you for having a child.

Anyway, since the focus in my life has changed, this will probably be reflected in the blog. I’m going to be writing a few more posts in the coming months and they will probably be focused on fatherhood rather than the usual work out in the garden. Purely because I have no time for being out in the garden at the moment!

I’ll post the occasional update, as we had some problems with the chickens we had to deal with, (but they are still OK and doing well), but by and large don’t be surprised if I post about some different topics as time goes on. Here’s to the new chapter!

Chicken Coop

This post has been a long time coming. We’ve wanted chickens in the garden for a good while, but a lot of things have got in the way of getting around to it, not least the fact that we didn’t have a coop to keep the chickens in!

That’s the big thing too – you hear a lot of people tell you that chickens are great because it’s free eggs, but no one ever factors in the cost of the coop itself! After looking online, estimates ranged from £100 to £300+ Obviously, the only way forward was to build it myself!

For the moment, I have screwed the door on until I have some hinges!

I got my idea from the Tangled Nest blog, and copied the outside very closely. I found the plans for the inside a bit lacking, so did a bit of reading up and made sure the roosting area and nest boxes were the right dimensions. In the end, I went with one nesting box (should be OK for four chickens), 30cm wide, 30cm deep and 24cm high.

I created a roosting ladder in the coop, which was the opposite corner to the nesting box. This was 30cm deep made from 2×4 timber, plenty of footing for the chickens. In line with the plans on the website above, I also installed a trap door for a ramp underneath the coop, and added two windows for some natural light.

The coop with all internal things in position. Just before I screwed the front on.

For materials, I was fortunate enough to pick up a load of plywood from the local wood recycling store down the road, along with a stack of 2×4 timber. Additionally, my neighbour had her roof re-tiled the week I started building the coop, so I got 4 nearly-new pallets from her skip which I dismantled and used  to create the roosting bar.

After a weekend of decent weather, I was able to put the coop together. I’m just waiting for my wife to pick the colour before we add the finishing touches such as windows, and hinges for the door. Then we can go ahead with getting chickens!

A couple of points:
For the windows I ordered A4 acrylic to match the plywood thickness. Ordering in A4 sizes was cheaper than specifying a size, so I cut the windows to match.
The roosting bar and nesting box dimension recommendations were gathered from a bit of googling. There are lots of points of varying positions, so I’m going to see how these work and can change them accordingly in the future.
Finally, I had a bit of tanking left over from a wet-room project before, and I heard that it would be good to tank the inside of the coop, making it moisture resistant, so that’s what the light blue is in the photos of the inside of the coop. I’m hoping it should make cleaning easier, we shall see!

Just getting the base and back done before adding the rest. You can see the roof frame waiting to go on.

I added the skeleton of the roof before the boards.

I’ll post more photos when it’s up and running!