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There Is Hope!
Out of all the struggles that come along with a clubfoot baby, sleeping with boots and bar (BnB) has definitely been the hardest for us.
Little E started sleeping through the night, (and I mean through the night…he would sleep from 10pm all the way to 6 or 7….it was ah-mazing!) when he was just 8 weeks old!
Now, it was nothing that we did…it was just pure luck. Oh, how I long for those nights!
When we transitioned from casts to boots and bar (read about our journey here), I knew that sleeping was going to be a struggle based on the research I had done.
It didn’t sink in until that first night, though, when Little E woke up crying every single hour. In addition to that, the only thing that would get him back to sleep was nursing.
It’s alright. I thought. You expected this. And it’s only the first night. He just needs some time to adjust.
A lot of the posts I read said it took their little one a good two weeks to adjust.
Well, two weeks came and went, and he was still waking up at least every two hours. Most of the time when he was sleeping it was very restless…turning his head, moving his arms, and kicking his legs constantly.
I was getting desperate. I started searching post after post to see what could help Little E (and us, too!) get some better sleep with his BnB.
After tons of sleepless nights, research, and some trial and error, here is what I found:
This goes for every baby.
It’s one of the basic principles of your little one getting a good night’s rest.
I, however, hadn’t really started one with our little man since he just so naturally took to sleeping through the night.
Learn from my mistake.
Even if your little one sleeps through the night without extra help, start a consistent bedtime routine. You never know when something, like boots and bar, will throw off their sleeping groove (I’m sorry, but you’ve thrown off the Emperor’s groove). In those times, it is super helpful to start off with a solid foundation of a good bedtime routine!
Consistency helps even the best of us feel more relaxed and comfortable. It’s nice to know what’s coming next!
For little babies, this is even more important. There’s not much in their environment that they understand. By setting up a consistent routine, you are helping them feel more safe and relaxed.
Relaxation is a huge part of successful sleep. Just like it’s hard for you to fall asleep when you are anxious and/or energized, its hard for baby.
A fussy baby is much less likely to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Here’s some ways to help your little one calm down before bed:
- Be relaxed, yourself
I don’t know about you, but I always feel tense when my husband is tense. In the same way, babies are really good at picking up on the emotions around them. Adjusting to boots and bar can be very difficult for mom and dad, so it’s important you take care of yourselves!During those late night struggles, take a deep breath and say a prayer (I like to say The Prayer to the Mother of God In A Time of Distress if I feel able to take the time; otherwise I repeat The Jesus Prayer). Remind yourself why you are going through all these struggles…so your little one can climb and jump and run without any problems!It can also help to do something relaxing for yourself before bedtime…a cup of tea, some essential oils, yoga, or a shower. We don’t have a bath in our place (*sad face*), so I have really enjoyed these Lavender Shower Tablets.
- Baby Essential Oils
There are some essential oils that can help your little one relax and calm down. It is SO important to use these safely with babies, and I highly encourage only using them on babies who are 3 months or older.Read this to understand how to use essential oils in a way that is safe for your precious one. We use olive oil with lavender in it (2-3 drops for 1 ounce of oil) when massaging Little E before bed.
- Baby Massage
Little E gets a quick massage as a part of his bedtime routine. I dab just the tiniest bit of oil on my fingertip (a few drops of lavender oil in olive oil) and gently but firmly rub it on his little legs and feet. Then I do the same for his chest and arms.Our little one gets a bit fussy when he is handled for too long, so we skip flipping him over and doing his back. But I know a lot of babes who love this!So play around with your little one during the day to see what they enjoy as far as massages. Once you figure out what they like, this makes a great addition to your bedtime routine!
- Calming Sounds
I know there is a lot of debate out there as to what sleeping aids you should give your little one. I’ve read about how white noise or calming music can create a sleeping dependency. (In fact, I myself have a dependency on white noise to sleep).
This is one of those areas where you will have to decide what is best for you and your little one!
I decided that it wouldn’t be that a big a problem if Little E became dependent on white noise. Like I said, I sleep with white noise, so I just pack my little sound machine if I am going on vacation or staying at someone’s house.
White noise serves a couple of purposes for us.
First, it serves as a part of Little E’s routine…when he hears the white noise it means it is time for bed. Second, it helps him block out any other noises that might distract him. Finally, it relaxes him. White noise closely mimics the sounds babies hear when in the womb.
There are also other sounds that can help to calm baby down, such as classical music, the sound of water, or Mommy or Daddy softly singing.
As I was doing my desperate research on how to get my baby to sleep with his BnB on, I came across quite a few moms and dads who put a little pillow under their baby’s knees for extra support.
The night we tried this was the first night Little E slept for a solid 4 hours at once since he had gotten his boots and bar!
I cannot suggest this highly enough!
This one, simple technique has made the most difference in our sleeping struggles.
I just happened to have a teeny, decorative Christmas pillow that I recovered and used for this purpose. You can also find cute and comfy Mini Cushie Pillows on Amazon.
If you don’t have a pillow, though, you can just roll up a receiving blanket, a towel, or even a t-shirt.
The idea behind this is support. Without extra support, there is quite a bit of strain on baby’s knees when he is lying on his back.
This little pillow gives him the extra support he needs to make him a bit more comfortable.
When All Else Fails
This is my biggest encouragement to you: keep on trying things until you find what works for you and your little one.
Now I’m not necessarily talking about your bedtime routine. This has to stay consistent for it to be an effective tool.
What I am talking about are things like sleeping positions, pillows under the knees, etc.
In Little E’s case, the only position he would sleep soundly in for a good chunk of time was on his side next to me, leaning his brace against my tummy.
Unfortunately, this meant he only slept soundly when I was lying there next to him. So I got a little creative.
When he is lying down on his own, I prop Little E up on his side between two pillows (not in front of his face, just from his tummy down). This lets him lean his boots and bar against the pillow. I believe it gives him the comfort of pressure on his tummy (as if he was sleeping next to one of us).
When you see your little one sleep for longer than they have been with their boots and bar on, take notice of what is different. Try different things (as long as they are safe!), and don’t be afraid to stop doing something if it isn’t working.
So hang in there, momma!
It will be a rough journey, but you can do it. Follow your momma instincts, find advice from people who are going through the same battle, and continue praying for your little one’s comfort and healing.
Using these tricks, Little E is slowly getting better and better sleep with his BnB. He started out waking up every hour. Now he sleeps for a good 4-hour chunk at first, and then wakes up about every 2 hours. So it is still a struggle, but it is improving.
Have other tips for getting baby to sleep soundly with boots and bar on? What worked for you? What didn’t work? Leave a comment below.
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