We’re thrilled to have Liz from Coraline and Us back today to share about Coraline’s love for Ewan the Dream Sheep – have you ever heard of Ewan the Dream Sheep? You can find Liz on her blog, Facebook, and Instagram.
“Ooh you’ll have to get a Ewan the Sheep,” said a teacher (with a young baby at home) at a Conference I was attending. I hadn’t heard of ‘Ewan the Dream Sheep’ but I was seven months pregnant at the time and promptly wrote it down. He said his baby loved Ewan at bedtime.
You press each of Ewan’s four feet and they play white noise, a bit like the sound of the mother’s womb, for a good number of minutes and then the noise switches itself off.
Before Coraline was born I read two books which I love: “The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems (By Teaching You How to Ask the Right Questions)” by Tracey Hogg with Melinda Blau and “Bringing Up Bebé” by Pamela Druckerman.
Bringing up Bébé is by an American woman who was living in Paris when pregnant with her daughter and there’s a chapter called “doing her nights” where she looks at why “having a baby who sleeps through the night early on seems to be the norm in France.”
One thing I found fascinating in that chapter was where she says, “they almost all say that in the early months, they kept their babies with them in the light during the day, even for naps, and put them to bed in the dark at night.” I read this in conjunction with the Baby Whisperer book which talks about routine (eat, activity, sleep) and not interrupting a baby during sleep cycles when you put them down for a nap. We had intended to do this before Coraline was born, even before we discovered on the day she was born that she had Down Syndrome.
I later read a book called “Babies with Down Syndrome: A New Parents Guide” by Susan J. Skallerup which friends with a baby with Down Syndrome recommended to us when Coraline was born. It talks about the importance of routine for babies with Down Syndrome. They feel safe, and they know what is coming next, so that they have the best platform from which to develop as for them hard work goes into movement and eating and so on (due to lower muscle tone). The book explains that their mental and social development is also maximized by their stable environment.
I expressed breastmilk for seven months after Coraline was born as she was unable to latch on, so in fact routine was easy for us as she would do: eat, activity and then sleep in that order. When she was very small it was a case of putting her down for her nap when she first yawned downstairs in her cot in the light, and then upstairs in the dark at 7pm. We did begin putting her to sleep in her bassinet lid on a cot stand in her first weeks but then a helpful lady from our Portage suggested that actually she should have a proper cot/crib as otherwise it would be confusing with her and she wouldn’t know if she was going to sleep or going for a walk. We thought that was really interesting and did that.
Coraline has slept through the night since she was about seven weeks old. So was it luck or design? Who knows? She sleeps 7pm-7am and once she’s asleep, she’s sound asleep. You can walk and talk in the room and I’m always fascinated by that. It was quite ironic; for a time, I’d be getting up to pump milk in the night, and Coraline wouldn’t be (as you have to pump a certain number of times to maintain supply until you hit 12 weeks). Perhaps it’s because for her daytime naps she would sleep with noise all around downstairs.
Enter Ewan. At each of these daytime naps and for bedtime we’d sit him by her cot – as part of the nap and bedtime routine. He is a familiar sound which signals to her it’s naptime or bedtime. I actually think we probably love him more than Coraline as he’s part of our routine. It’s quite funny – until she was eight months old or so, she’d lie in one position on her back in the cot and Ewan would be humming away at the foot of the cot. Now she’s got so mobile swirling around in the cot when she goes to sleep that Ewan is not safe if he’s in there – she has him in her hands, chewing his ears and so on, chasing him. So, we now sit him up on the side of the cot playing his sounds.
As she got older Coraline didn’t really nap so well on her own in the day and we would take her out in the pram and sling, until we realized that wasn’t really a sustainable thing for naptimes, as we never had a chance to get things done. So at about 8-9 months we conquered it so that she would nap alone early in the morning upstairs in her cot, through dedication! But that’s another story. It does go to show that she is lively and alert. She is inquisitive and exploring in the day and often resists daytime sleep, but is as good as gold at 7pm at night. She self settles and is asleep within 10 minutes.
If ever we are away for the night, we bring Ewan, and he gives consistency. We had thought she might have had an operation on her heart in her first few months, but she has not had this yet as they are waiting until she is bigger. We would bring Ewan for a sense of home to this. Coraline is fine without him too, which is full credit to her, but I think for us he’s all part of the routine, and she loves him.