Congratulations on your new baby! Such a sweet little bundle of joy, it’s just heavenly isn’t it? At first any whimper will make you leap right out of bed in the middle of the night to attend to every need. In a few weeks though, you’re frigging tired. You need this little sweet pea to sleep on some kind of consistent basis so you can function. Let’s face it, coffee ain’t cutting it. The whole “sleep when the baby sleeps”, is crap. Especially if you have other kids, or a husband, or a job, etc. You feel like a zombie and need some sleep, like yesterday. Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered!
Side note: this is not to be used in place of solid medical advice from your child’s pediatrician based off your child’s specific health needs or medical conditions.
I was Tired Once too
I am no sleep expert but I am the mother of five beautiful children, four of whom all slept through the night by 10 weeks old. This includes a set of twins, which happened to be the last pregnancy. Don’t get me started, thats a story for another time.
Notice how only four of my five slept through the night early on? Well its simple as to why, my first didn’t sleep well at all. In fact, she didn’t sleep through the night until she was about six months old, maybe a year. I can’t remember, it was a blur. Like many older siblings, she is the reason for the following sleep routine plan. I was not going to go sleepless for that long ever again. So from my second child on I started doing this routine at the suggestion of a more experienced mother. Thank God for her because it works!
For the first month or so every baby slept on my chest. I slept sitting up in a recliner or propped up on the couch. These snuggles are not only the sweetest moments that you will every have canoodling with that little angel, but remember how they were JUST inside your warm, safe, quiet, womb? They do and the outside world can be a pretty big adjustment. Ever step out of a sauna into a room that is 30 degrees cooler? It won’t take long before you need to warm up. Plus by sleeping on your chest, your baby can smell you, hear you breathe, maybe even faintly hear your heartbeat. Whether you breastfeed or bottle feed, this sleeping situation will help your baby feel safe while transitioning to the outside world. Which will help YOU get some sleep.
Set a Nightly Routine
Consistency is key, vital in fact, for this part of the routine in order for it to work.
Start wherever you are but begin to establish a nightly routine. If you are consistently getting two hours of sleep out of the baby from 11pm to 1am. Start there. Every night at the same time, without fail, you need to make the following happen. Give the baby a nice warm bath. Don’t forget that they just came out of a nine month warm soak! This will be relaxing for the baby. Give baby a little rub down to keep their skin soft. I think I used a bedtime lavender infused lotion but you can use any type of moisturizing lotion or cream after the bath. Next get baby all snuggled up in their jammies, swaddle them and feed them. Whether it is bottle or breast doesn’t matter. Let them get a full belly. Think about it, wouldn’t you be sleepy after all that?
Now once baby begins to nod off, put them in their crib with whatever type of sleep aids, room darkening curtains, etc., you plan on using consistently to help them stay asleep. I had a small fan that provided white noise but wasn’t pointed at the baby.
Set the Tone for the Night
Once baby has nodded off into Sleepyville, then no more bright lights, no more loud voices in the nursery. Everything is about sleep from here until morning. Baby needs to eat again? No worries, feed them, burp them, and then back to the crib. Low/no lights, low voices, with little to no talking, all business. I only changed poop-y diapers at night, just wet waited until morning. As your baby gets older and grows then it will also be able to sleep longer, so now you have established a nighttime routine that leads to them in their cribs. As their length of sleep progresses, then so will yours!
Need to Change the Bedtime Start Time?
Once you get this going consistently for at least a week or two then you can gradually start moving bedtime forward by 30 minutes. 11pm was super late for us so we kept inching the ritual forward until we hit the bedtime that worked for us. Once the pattern is established and your baby knows what to expect, then you will have more control or the bedtime itself. As they start sleeping longer it will be easier too. First the routine is about establishing the ritual so the baby knows what to expect then you can play with the timing.
Deep breath and relax! You got this whole parenting thing!
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