I am so fortunate to have so many friends and family members with babies. One’s daughter is almost 2, another has an 18 month old son and another has a baby 11 days older than Sam! One of the many questions and big unknowns when having a baby is sleep. How much, how often, any at all? So many people say things like, “Sleep while you can. You’ll never sleep again.” and other encouraging phrases when you’re pregnant. Clearly, there are going to be sleepless nights. Anyone who thinks there won’t be is in for a rude awakening! However, it doesn’t last forever and in hindsight, it’s such a short period of time.
One of the number one suggestions from several mom’s was, “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child.” The book is genius. It’s common sense really but helps you understand why it’s so important for your baby to get sleep and how to help them obtain it.
When Sam was born he came out on a schedule. He ate every 3-4 hours and had his nights and days in the right order. From the day he was born we started a routine of low lights, soft voices and no visitors after 7pm. We wanted Sam to understand night vs day and hoped that would promote sleeping. A lot of what you do in terms of a routine in the first few weeks is more for the parents. Ryan and I wanted to practice being quiet and creating a relaxing environment for Sam so that when he was a bit older and could really benefit from it, we were already in the habit of doing so. I’m so glad we made the decision to do this. Not only did it set us up for success with Sam but it was a great wind down for us as parents! Having had visitors all day, it was a nice break to know that at 7pm it would just be us and we could relax. Definitely something we will be doing with all of our children.
Like I said, Sam came out on a schedule. He knew his days from nights which was such a blessing. During the 7pm-6a feedings we didn’t talk to Sam, didn’t make faces at him, nothing. We didn’t stimulate him at all because we wanted him to understand that this was a time to sleep. It seemed to have worked because he would go right back to sleep immediately after nursing.
My good friend who has a daughter 11 days older than Sam notified me that her daughter slept through the night when she was 8 weeks old! I could hardly contain my excitement for her! We were still getting up with Sam 3-4 times a night and I was hoping and praying that Sam would reach the same milestone at that age. Well, 8 weeks came and it went with no change in his sleeping pattern.
Around 10 weeks, Sam was on a pretty consistent schedule of going to bed between 7-8pm and waking up at 1am, 4am and 7am. For a brief period of time he only woke up at 1am and 5am. That was amazing. However, he reverted back to waking up every 3 hours before we could get use to it. I then started to notice he was barely nursing at the 1am and 3am wake periods. He would nurse for maybe 5 minutes and then fall asleep. So, Ryan started getting up and giving Sam his pacifier to see if he was truly hungry or just needed to go back to sleep. He in fact wasn’t hungry and went right back to sleep after getting his pacifier back.
Somewhere in weeks 8-10 we figured out that Sam had to be swaddled in order to stay asleep. We figured this out after a couple of nights of him waking up every hour. He liked having one arm out and one arm tucked in. He needed one arm out to either suck his thumb or rub his stuffed cow animal/blanket on his face.The problem was he broke out of every swaddle we put him in! So I ran out and bought a swaddle specific blanket to wrap him up. Turns out the largest size any brand makes is up to 20lbs. Luckily, Sam still fit and it worked like a charm.
When Sam was 13 weeks old I returned to work. He was still getting up 3 times a night, which made it extremely tiring during the day at work. I no longer could sneak a nap into the afternoon with Sam. When we went for Sam’s 4 month check up, his pediatrician asked if he was sleeping through the night. We responded, “That would be a no.” She let us know he is old enough and should be able to go all night without a feeding. She also said, it just takes a bit of tough love from you both. Meaning, we need to teach Sam to sleep through the night…