Before I had Nate, I had actual nightmares about never sleeping again. I’m not typically a worrywart, but that fear would actually keep me up at night. I would google things like a mad woman, refer back to blogs that I knew covered that topic and read every sleep book that came recommended. It was all incredibly overwhelming, as new motherhood is, but we all got out alive.
What I’ve learned over the last nine months, is that there’s no one way to parent and no two babies are the same. What might work for us might not work for you, but this is more about sharing our experiences through this motherhood journey and quite possibly, offer a few tips.
During the first three months or what they call “the fourth trimester,” Nate was sleeping in a bassinet in our room and waking up several times a night to nurse. The first three months were hard. We were sleep deprived, new parents and I remember thinking “Holy crap. What did we get ourselves into? Is this our life now?” BUT, as everything concerning babies, it passes. It’s so hard to remember that when you’re in the thick of it, but it really does. You hear that phrase over and over because it’s true. If anything, I wish I would have appreciated and soaked it up more. Of course, easier said than done.
At around 2.5 months, I started supplementing with formula because I wasn’t making enough milk. As I mentioned in the past, that was a total game changer for us. After that, he started sleeping significantly better, giving 5-6 hour stretches which made us feel incredibly hopeful. When he was 3.5 months, we transitioned him to his crib (something he was already used to from our “practice naps”) and around the same time, I decided it was time to implement a schedule. Let me tell you guys, by nature, I’m not a regimented person. I typically go with the flow and fly by the seat of my pants. However, once I got the schedule going, he became a better napper and in turn, started sleeping through the night. All of this meant that he was a happier baby and a happier baby means happier parents.
Our schedule is a very loose interpretation of Baby Wise. I didn’t follow it to a t, but I did use some methods, like a nap happens 1:45-2 hours after waking and for naps, I will typically feed upon waking rather than feeding before sleep. Of course, if he’s crying and hungry, I wouldn’t deprive him, but usually, he’s fine.
For example, our routine would go something like this:
6:30AM: wakeup, change diaper, feed, play.
8:30 AM: swaddle, turn on white noise machine and put down for a nap.
10:00AM: wakeup, feed, play
12:00PM: swaddle, white noise machine machine and put down for nap.
1:30/2PM: wakeup, feed, play.
4PM: swaddle, white noise machine and a quick power nap.
4:30PM: wakeup, feed.
Upon waking from his last nap, I would typically cluster feed from then until bedtime. He’d always be crankiest then, so that always helped keep him happier.
7PM (if I could stretch it to then): lotion, PJs, white noise machine, swaddle and in this case, I will feed before I put him in his crib.
A few things to keep in mind:
* I would let him wakeup on his own rather than waking him myself (as Baby Wise suggests). The above times are examples, but there would be instances where he would sleep over 2 hours. If he would sleep later than 4PM, I would put him to bed a little later, adjusted accordingly from his wakeup time. Typically though, I wont let him sleep later than 4:30 as it would really mess with his nighttime schedule.
*The only time I will make it a point to feed before going to sleep, is right before bed. I will swaddle, turn on the white noise machine and then feed in the chair in his room. Some days he will fall asleep in my arms and I will gently place him in the crib and on some days, he’s wide wake and I will put him down like that.
*Once the white noise machine goes on, it definitely plays a key factor in letting him know it’s time to go to bed.
*Once we transitioned him into the crib, I started putting him in there awake so he could get used to falling asleep on his own. If he cried, I soothed him, but eventually he would play in his crib for several minutes and then fall asleep. The older he got (5-6 months), if he did cry, I’d wait several minutes before running into his room to sooth. Usually, it was just tired tears and he’d pass out shortly after. He now loves his crib. Now, when I need a moment (or several), I plop him in his crib with a few toys, and he’ll happily play for up to 30 minutes.
*On many occasions, he would nap in the stroller (this is still the case), which I was all for. My philosophy is, get them used to sleeping wherever. It will only make your life easier.
*On occasion, he would nap in the carrier. If I was meeting a friend for lunch and taking the train, I would plop him into the carrier and he would doze off!
*If we had somewhere to be and couldn’t follow the above schedule, it was not a huge deal. Things happen, life gets in the way and it’s okay to get off routine at times. Just start over the next day! Live your life and let them adapt to different situations.
*In the beginning, he would nap in the swing. At first I thought that would mess him up and get used to it, but it was perfectly fine.
*In the above examples, when I say “swaddle” – this means both the swaddle we used and then the zippitiy zip, which we transitioned him into at around 4.5 months. We had a brief stint with the Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit, which worked great for two weeks, but we probably could have saved the money there.
*A bath is not a key part of our routine. I don’t bathe him every night (what an ordeal!) but every other or every two nights.
*The above example schedule is what we did in the beginning, but as he got a little older, the timing between naps grew longer. At the moment, he’s up for three hours between each nap and taking two long naps a day.
*Whatever method you choose, I do think that a schedule is key. Babies love a routine and it helps them establish their days from nights.
*The truth is, you know your baby best! Follow your babies cues and trust your motherly instinct.
I hope this was helpful! If you have any questions, as always, let me know below.