Baby Sleep is one of the most glorious things that can happen to a new Mama. It is amazing, those first few weeks when you bring a newborn home. They sleep SO much and you feel so great! Tired, nonetheless, but enjoying all those new baby smells, the snuggles, and the bonding. The honeymoon usually comes to an end, however, and you’re left wondering why those long stretches suddenly disappear… You’re feeding around the clock–nursing or bottle feeding, it doesn’t matter. It’s every two to three hours and the true exhaustion sets in. I am here to share, though, that those long stretches can come right back! With some helpful tips, your baby can start sleeping through the night very soon.
The first, and most important thing, is to create a routine, and stick to it! Every family has a normal schedule or routine of how they do things. I can’t stress this enough, create one and stick to it. We decided early on, after I had read how a nightly bath can set and regulate your body’s temperature and make it easier to fall asleep, that we would make that part of our routine. So around 5:30/6:00 I would start the routine after the evening catnap. We started this around 6 weeks. I once read in Tracy Hogg’s book, The Secrets of the Baby Whisperer to “start as you mean to go on” so to speak, so begin setting the framework for bedtime in your family. Because Ross and I both work outside the home and have to be to work relatively early, I knew that a 12-hour stretch means a 6:30 bedtime.
I started the dream feed around 6 weeks when we first started implementing the routine. When I would lay the babe down for nighttime sleep, I would feed him or her around 10:00 PM before they would “wake” for the next feed. This ultimately would hold them over for a longer stretch through the wee hours of the very early morning. I would do the 4:00/5:00 feed and then lay baby down for the remainder of the morning stretch until our desired “wake time” which was 6:30 or so. If he or she woke before that, as long as they weren’t hysterical, I would leave them in the crib to feel comfortable “laying” without picking them up right away. This teaches them that once Mama turns on the lights and gets me, I can start my day!
Additionally, stuff that baby full of milk–as much as you can, during the day. I breastfed and pumped, so I used a bottle from very early on. This also allows Dad or your S.O. to feed baby for the dream feed so you can start your nighttime sleep a little earlier. I will note that I always had an oversupply, so I never pumped in the middle of the night once we started doing the dream feed. This was my treat to myself–work hard during the day and then sleep at night, just like I want baby to do!
These are some of my favorite baby sleep MUST HAVES:
- HALO Sleepsack
- Nested Bean Sleepsack
- Sound Machine/Night Light
- Crib Wedge (helps with reflux!)
- MAM Pacificers
- Blackout Shades
- MIKU Smart Baby Monitor
Don’t Reinvent the Wheel
By this I mean, you DON’T have to do trial and error for everything. When it comes to baby sleep, there are experts and I believe in them. My favorite, as mentioned above, is Tracy Hogg. One of the biggest takeaways I have from her book is to watch your baby–NOT the clock. Watch for signs of being sleepy and keep their wake windows shorter, rather than longer. Infants, when overtired, do NOT sleep better at night, in fact, the opposite. Nail their daytime sleep by paying attention to their language– help them sleep because they don’t know how to tell you any other way than their signs. Watch for a yawn, an ear scratch, or my favorite, violently kicking their legs. This is a TELL-TALE sign that they are getting ready to sleep. It’s like their little body is expelling any energy left so they can settle in for dreams as soon as you put them down.
And lastly, by all means, please do NOT allow people to scare you into thinking you won’t sleep anymore. Just because there are other mamas who aren’t sleeping doesn’t mean you won’t be! You are on your own path with your own children 😉 Also, don’t let people tell you you’re lucky if you have kids who sleep. Luck is by chance, and when you are implementing routines and structure and consistency, that is hard work and it pays off! I also loved Dr. Harvey Karp’s book, The Happiest Baby on the Block. When I was pregnant with Julia I would read little snippets to Ross! It’s very practical and helpful to new parents–without being overwhelming.
While I am not an expert at baby sleep, it is one of my most successful learning experiences with my kids! I’m happy to share more tips or tricks if you want to message me personally.
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