I have a few friends who had children before me. One of them never ceased to give me advice I asked for. She has two beautiful little red heads and managed to have the oldest sleeping through the night at 9 weeks and the youngest by 6 weeks. I was baffled! I have met her children on several occasions and these kids are some of the best behaved children I have ever had the privilege to be around. So when I discovered I was becoming a mommy, I called her nearly every week to ask about some weird thing that had been happening, or, of course, just to say hi. She was, and still is, a rock for me both as a girlfriend and as a fellow mommy.
As my pregnancy progressed, I had asked her several times how she managed to get her girls to sleep through the night so soon. She referred to a book she had read that kind of follows the same guidelines as Baby Wise. But I already knew in my research I was not a huge fan of Baby Wise. Sure there are some great suggestions about certain things, but I have never been the kind of person to micromanage anyone, let alone a baby. She kept telling me to get the baby on MY schedule and that the schedule should be one that looks very similar to EAT-PLAY-SLEEP. It is also very similar to the EASY method: EAT-ACTIVITY-SLEEP-ME TIME. I kind of just throw ME time in wherever it happens to end up.
The book, Let The Children Come Along the Infant Way, is something I am still reading, as it is not just a simple sleep aid for your new baby. One of the first chapters is on sleep and my dear friend did not actually send me this book until Logan was about 5 weeks old. I was happy she sent it to me at all. :)
Step One: Don’t let baby fall asleep immediately after a feeding. As a new mom, this is SOOOO HARD to not do because you’re thinking as soon as the baby is asleep, you can sleep to! Since newborns are so sleepy anyway, keeping them awake for even 10 minutes after a feeding is a good start. And then a few days later it will be 20 minutes, and so on. Now that Logan is older, he can stay awake after a feeding for 1-2 hours now depending on the time of day and if he has had a good nap yet. Plus, this special wake time is a great opportunity to interact with baby by reading, singing, and talking to him. Even tummy time is something you can start doing right away. At 2.5 months old, Logan still hates tummy time so don’t feel bad when baby cries.
Step Two: Play time! As I just stated, play time should follow a feeding and the reason for this is so that baby does not associate eating with sleeping. In the long run, this pays off HUGE so that when you are actually putting baby down for the night, you have one less sleep aid to use in getting him to sleep. In fact, the goal is to not need any kind of sleep aid to get baby into sleep mode. He should simply be able to fall asleep without being rocked, bobbed up and down, fed, etc. From experience, this is a lot easier said than done, trust me. Also, this play time step only comes into play during the day, obviously. You want baby to fall asleep after a middle of the night feeding so you can both go back to bed.
Step Three: SLEEP! Of course, what you came here for! As newborns, babies literally sleep all.the.time. It was not until Logan was 3-4 weeks old when he started to stay awake longer. It did not take long for the EAT-PLAY-SLEEP schedule to take affect, however, our night sleeping was still not going so well. We had Logan in the pack n play in our room and I think being able to hear him make all his sleepy baby noises kept us awake. Naturally, he was up every 2 hours for several weeks to eat, as he should be. Any pediatrician will tell you to feed on demand, no matter how often, at least until they are 2 weeks old. Logan had a fluke night with a 5 hour stretch at nearly 3 weeks old and the pediatrician said to just let him sleep. I no longer had to wake him every three hours (but the five hour stretch did not happen again for several more weeks). Once he was 4 weeks old and the only way any of us were getting sleep was to let Logan sleep in his swing, both B and I were beyond exhausted. This also meant one of us was out on the couch and we missed each other. So one night I randomly laid Logan down in his crib and he was fine! He slept great! We slept great! He was still up at his normal times to eat, but even getting him to go back to sleep was easier! Best move I made as a mom at that point.
Then, the night before Easter we were in Denver visiting B’s dad, spending the night. Logan had to sleep in his car seat as we did not set up the pack n play (for whatever reason) and HE SLEPT FOR 6 HOURS! I was still nursing him and when I woke up at 3am (after putting him down at 11pm) and he was still sleeping, I thought I was going to explode, both from engorgement and excitement! I checked on him. Still breathing! So I went back to bed and ignored how uncomfortable I was feeling. He was awake at 5am to eat and then be up for a few hours. It was amazing!
I honestly am not sure HOW Logan managed to start sleeping through the night other than his wake time was becoming longer and his day naps were getting shorter. I think it has just been a natural adjustment for both of us. I really do believe the steps above are what has helped us get here. Since he is older, there are times when I will let him fall asleep after a day feeding if he has already been awake for 2-3 hours. Of course at that point he is tired and during the day, he eats just about every 2-3 hours anyway. So far, this has not affected his night sleeping at all and it does not even happen everyday.
Step 4: Bet time routine. This is my own little step I am going to add. If this is in the book, I have not come across it yet, but one thing I know helps Logan get into sleep mode is doing the same thing before bed time every night. Every other night we give him a bath. It took him a good month to even like his bath and now it is a time for us to just settle down together. Then, every night, I give him a massage with baby lotion, read him a book, feed him. While he is eating I will sing and pray over him. And then even if he is still awake, I lay him down in his crib to sleep and he is out within 10 minutes. Sometimes he fusses and I might go in to give him his paci but if I do that, it is only once and then he is out for good.
Logan sleeps from 9pm-5am just about every night, give or take an half hour or so. This morning he was up at 4am to eat, I fed him and put him back to bed. He slept until 6am! Believe me when I say every baby is different so when you are trying these things out, remember that some things may work for me, but not for you, and vise versa. I had to come to that realization myself that with Logan some suggestions my friend gave me I did not agree with and/or they simply did not work for Logan. He is not a puppet and while small, he will let me know very quickly when he likes or dislikes something. One thing my friend kept telling me was to let him cry it out and I was not about to do that, not with my wee one! Maybe once he is older, but I know neither of us are ready for that. And yes, there is a difference between letting him fuss and letting him cry. I don’t let him cry, but I do let him fuss until he stops or until he starts to cry.
Sorry this post is so long!! If you read the whole thing, congrats! I hope you got some good ideas and if you try this out and any of it works, let me know! Also, does anyone want me to repost my birth story? I know some of you missed out on that when my blog was private so if you do, let me know and I will repost it!