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How Can I Get My Baby to Sleep Better & for Longer?

What do you call a baby who does not sleep?

Non-sleeper, night owl, sleep-intolerant, insomniac, sleep thief, sleep-depriving offspring?

We have one of those… Wriggly has never been a good sleeper (understatement of the century).

If she were a tiny baby, I would understand: newborn babies need time to find their awake-asleep patterns.

She is not. She is 21 months (21 MONTHS!) and since she was born, we have not had more than a dozen nights’ uninterrupted sleep. It is tough. Really tough.

Not only does it mess up your body clock, it also leaves you fuzzy-headed most days, tired beyond belief and cranky as hell. We had to find a solution.

“Stop letting her nap for hours and hours during the day!” I hear you shout at the screen… Well let me tell you something: my little sleep-thief does not even sleep that much during the day. Most days, she sleeps between 30 and 90 minutes after lunch. Sometimes, she even skips her nap (yes, seriously!).

JOHNSON’S® challenged us to improve Wriggly’s sleep. We have been putting their 3-step Bedtime Routine to the test by comparing our normal bedtime routine with a week of following the 3 steps (bath, massage, quiet time / story) before bed.

How Can I Get My Baby to Sleep Better & for Longer - bath

I have been writing a sleep diary for the past four weeks and I intended to share the whole thing with you guys, but you know what? It is a depressing read! I would not want to subject anyone to that.

Writing a sleep diary makes it all look so bad. I knew my toddler was not a good sleeper, but seeing it all in writing and recording every moment of broken sleep was disheartening at first. No wonder I look and feel 10 years older than I should at the moment!

Let me summarise it for you… Parents of poor sleepers, here is your chance to smile and feel good about you own little ones not being as bad as mine…

Week 1:

The first week, we were supposed to keep our normal routine. To be perfectly honest, there is no set bedtime routine at home. With four children 7 and under, a ‘win’ is a day when everyone is clean, in a good mood, has eaten well, done their homework and is fast asleep by 8 p.m.

That week, we had friends over from Nantes with their 3 little ones. There was laughter, there was food, there were games, tears and walks. There were six in the bath…

There were six in the bath and the little one said...

The 3 months old baby slept a lot better than Wriggly. That is the kind of stuff that makes you realise something is not quite right. I have been trying for months to improve Wriggly’s sleep but I am sleep-deprived myself, and when you are, those hideous night shifts happen in auto-mode.

Week 2:

We started the week optimistic and in new, relaxing surroundings as we were on holidays in Devon. We stayed at my father-in-law’s, which is just like being at home. On the first night, we gave the children a bath, I managed to massage Wriggly for a couple of minutes and read her a story before bed.

How Can I Get My Baby to Sleep Better & for Longer - reading

It was all lovely and she fell asleep shortly afterwards. Then she woke up. In the middle of the night. Again. That week, she slept very little at night and she was not herself either during the day. As it turns out, she had an ear, eye and chest infection. Everything went out of the window for a few days. Sleep was written off and cuddles took over, naturally.

Week 3:

I did not even attempt the sleep routine since Wriggly was still sick. When she started to feel better, she had her first ever vomiting bug. We all followed after that.

Week 4:

With everything back to normal, I really put the 3-step bedtime routine to the test. Check my first post for more details about the three steps (bath, massage, quiet time / story).

How Can I Get My Baby to Sleep Better & for Longer

Although I read to the children every night and make sure they are fairly quiet before coming downstairs, they do not normally have a bath or a massage every day. I honestly thought it would be a pain and maybe a waste of time to bathe Wriggly every single night. I was wrong.

How Can I Get My Baby to Sleep Better & for Longer - straight out of the bath

After three weeks following the routine, adding a bottle of warm milk after her bath, and drum roll… my baby has been sleeping! She does not fall asleep quickly and her sleep is still disrupted, but she has managed to settle herself back to sleep most nights. This makes a huge difference, let me tell you.


Keeping a sleep diary really made factors that improve or worsen her sleep quite obvious.

Factors resulting in a good night’s sleep:

–          Full tummy

–          Quiet atmosphere

–          Consistent routine

–          Constant temperature

–          Bath

How Can I Get My Baby to Sleep Better & for Longer - in the bath

–          Massage

How Can I Get My Baby to Sleep Better & for Longer - Johnson's

–          Down time with one adult (cuddles, story, lullabies, cuddles…)

–          Story

How Can I Get My Baby to Sleep Better & for Longer - reading Peppa Pig

–          Classical music

Factors which result in a bad night’s sleep in our home:

–          Change in routine

–          Unfamiliar surroundings

–          Too cold or too hot

–          Bad digestion

–          Over stimulation

–          Noise

–          TV before bed

–          Teething

–          Playing with siblings just before bed

I hope I have not jinxed it by writing it, but my baby is sleeping through (most nights) at the moment!

How Can I Get My Baby to Sleep Better & for Longer - Sleepy Wriggly

This post is sponsored by the JOHNSON’S® brand.  I have received payment and samples but all opinions and photos are my own. JOHNSON’S® clinically proven bedtime routine consists of bath, massage and quiet time, tested on babies 7 months+, 1 week+ use.


  1. 30/03/2016 / 1:17 pm

    That’s fantastic news! I am so pleased for you. x
    We did pretty much the full routine for months never have achieved sleep with ours who is now 10. Even now she is still often wide awake at 2 in the morning…….
    I really hope this is the turning point for you and that the sleep continues.

    • Mel
      03/04/2016 / 4:48 pm

      I jinxed it by writing about it didn’t I? She is now waking up most nights again, but I have to admit I have been slacking with the routine. Not that easy to really be consistent when you have more than 1 or 2 children, is it?

  2. Louise
    06/04/2016 / 7:14 am

    So glad to hear that Wriggly is sleeping much better as a result of the change in the routine. Our bedtime routine tends to be quite haphazard and whilst we do manage a reasonable amount of sleep, both of them are nearly always in with us by the morning which doesn’t make for the best night’s sleep for us! I will have to try these tips and see if they help improve things for us too. Love the photo with everyone in the bath and Wriggly looks so adorable in her little pyjamas 🙂

    • Mel
      08/04/2016 / 11:17 pm

      My problem is as soon as something works, I stop it and go back to our ‘normal’ routine (no bath, massage or classical music) and Wriggly’s shenanigans start again. I should know better!

      • Louise
        09/04/2016 / 1:54 pm

        Easily done – I tend to do the same! x

  3. melody cross
    21/04/2019 / 7:18 pm

    hot chocolate

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