January 18, 2017

Motherhood: Sleeping

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.

Baby Sleeping Schedule Tips

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.

Baby Sleeping Schedule Tips

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.

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29 comments

  • Judi Hume

    To this grandmother of 3 (soon to be 4) it sounds like you’ve got it down! 🙂 He’s adorable, and he looks just like you!

    • Helena

      Aw, thanks Judi!!

  • sasa

    He is so adorable:P

    Shall We Sasa

  • Tiffany H

    Not a mom yet, but this was incredibly helpful! Thanks for the post!

  • Rebecca nash

    Thank you so much for this post! I have a 3 month old and will be returning to work in just over a week and am struggling with what our schedule will evolve into once I am back at work and she is in daycare. It’s so great to see what other moms are doing that works! We have been trying to put her down after her 7pm feeding but we aren’t there yet. Please keep sharing your tips!.

    • Helena

      Hi Rebecca, Congrats on the baby and don’t worry, you’ll get here. With each passing month, you figure out things more and more. And good luck on going back to work. I know how hard it can be!

  • Mireia

    Aww how cute!

    Mireia from TGL
    https://thegoldlipstick.com/

  • Kellie

    I definitely learned that no two babies are the same after having my second. My first was sleeping through the night before I went back from maternity leave- she is like her mama & loves her sleep! The second? Not so much. Same parents, same attempted game plan & he wanted none of it. He JUST started sleeping through the night and he’s 1! Oof.

  • Kelsea

    Thank you! I am expecting my first child this summer and have been diving into Baby Wise and Happiest Baby on the Block. I am a routine-oriented person but my husband is not. I’m more concerned about getting him on board than the baby! We don’t live in a super urban area, so I drive everywhere vs. walking/taking the train and I’m worried the kid is going to PTFO anytime we get in the car and screw up a schedule. Baby Wise recommends emulating the womb with lots of noise. I had a friend who vacuumed intentionally while her baby slept so she could train her to sleep through anything. Other friends tiptoe while the baby sleeps. Where did you stand on this? We also live near the train tracks, so I’m hoping the noise becomes normal! Nate is such a beautiful boy! Thanks again for sharing.

    • Helena

      Hi Kelsea! Ah, congrats on the pregnancy! So so exciting. Oh and I’m all for being noisy, having friends over when the baby is asleep and trying to live your life as much as you can (considering there’s a new baby in the house!). For example, on Christmas Eve, we had a ton of friends over, everyone was noisy, music was on and he slept nice and soundly. Granted, we have an upstairs so that’ makes things easier, but definitely don’t tip toe. I also have some friends that won’t make a peep when their baby is sleeping and it just seems too exhausting to me. So, yes! Get him/her used to noise if you can!

  • keith H

    THANK you for this! Bookmarking!

  • Claire

    I have twin 7-month old boys and it sounds like we had the exact same experience! I could have written this myself almost word for word,,,except that I was dealing with two babies 🙂 Specifically, implementing the routine and using a white noise machine were game changers for us. Fingers crossed that our adorable little boys continue to be great sleepers!

    • Helena

      Ah, Twins!!! I bow down to you! xo

  • Jessica hartley

    You’re absolutely right, no two children are alike and you just have to figure out what works best for you and the family. I have an 11 month boy, he’s been sleeping through the night since 2 months, exclusively breastfed (now pumping since going back to work). Although he’s a great night sleeper (7pm-8am), we do struggle with the day naps, some are 20 minutes, others could be as long as 2 hours; but we figured this is the tradeoff. I do wonder if it’s too late to implement this routine, or it’ll throw him off. Must talk to the hubby. 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing.

  • Carey

    I used the same method and thinking with my first and he has always slept like a champ and he’s 20months now.. we just had our second who is 6days old haha, planning on going the same route, so far he loves sleep like any new born does so just hoping it sticks haha.

    • Helena

      Good luck and congrats on the new baby!!

  • Ana

    Gorgeous baby!!! Why the merlin suit didn’t work for you ? I just got one and so far so good. Its hard for my son to roll over wearing it but he likes to have his hands uncovered so I am afraid he wont like the zippity.

    • Helena

      Hi Ana, you know, it did work, but after a few weeks, he was ready to start turning over on his belly and the fact that he couldn’t, upset him. Once he was able to sleep how he wanted to, he slept so much better!

  • Ericka Dean

    Thank you for this post. I have a five month old so the insight is super helpful!

    I’m curious, when you put him down for naps would you put him down awake also? We’ve sleep trained my son for bedtime but I struggle with whether or not we should put him down awake for naps. Would love to know what you did.

    Thanks again!

    • Helena

      Hey Ericka,

      Yes! Once we transitioned into the crib, I started putting him awake for naps. Typically, he would stir for a few minutes and then fall asleep. If there were instances where he would cry and cry, I’d come in, rub his belly and on occasion, pick him up, sooth him and then put him back down. Unless he’s really upset (like when he was teething), it’s rare that I’ll rock him to sleep.

      • Ericka Dean

        So helpful, thank you!

  • Natalie

    It seems like yesterday I was obsessing about sleep with my firstborn, now she’s 19, a college freshman, and the worries are much greater . I would go back to getting up in the middle of the night with a newborn in an instant! (Mom of three teenagers talking here!) I do have a comment about something far less important, shoes. I saw on instagram (I think) where you were distressed about the Valentino Tango’s fit. I had the same issue, and ended up with the Chloe D’Orsay scalloped pump in the shell color. It might be even more feminine than you are looking for….,but it’s stunning on and quite comfortable.

    • Helena

      Oh man, teenangers scare the scrap out of me! And three of them? GOD BLESS YOU!!!!

      And totally checking out the Chloe shoes now. Thank you so much!

  • Eva

    This sounds so good but from some reason my boy still keeps waking up at night quite a lot. He is constantly hungry. When I feed him he goes back to sleep. He is going to be 5 months now and I cannot wait once he sleeps through the night. Or it would be great to get at least 7 hours straight. Oh gosh. I hope that day will come soon x

  • Suzanne

    Hi Helena,
    Nate is so adorable! My little guy is 3 months old and his schedule is quite similar to Nate’s…just wondering when you used to put him down around 7pm (when he was younger), did he sleep the night then or was he on solids before he would sleep the night just on milk alone? My son will sleep til maybe 6 or 7 in the morning but that’s having had his last feed around 10pm. Also, when you cluster fed after 4.30pm, was that feeding every couple hours or how did it go for you? Apologies for all the questions! Thanks in advance for any advice x

    • Helena

      Hi Suzanne,

      to be perfectly honest, I don’t think the solids did anything for us in terms of keeping him full. In the beginning, it was just for fun. I think it was more about increasing how much I bottle/breastfed him during the day. Of course this is harder for exclusively breastfed babies as they typically feed on demand. But because I was doing a combo of both, he would drink a lot during the day which kept him fuller at night.

      For cluster feeding, I would typically feed after his last nap and then offer more an hour later and then boob/bottle right before bed. So basically three feeds in a short period. He would always take it, so I knew he wanted! If he was full, he would just turn away. They always say that you can’t overfeed a baby, so I went with that and it seemed to keep him satisfied longer/through the night.

      xo,
      Helena

  • Fran

    Just wondering when Nate started sleeping through the night? I have a 12 week old who sleeps anywhere from 4-6 hrs at night with 1 feed in between. He goes to bed around 9 at this stage and I know this has to be brought forward soon. Also did you ever do the “rollover ” feed with Nate? Thanks heaps for sharing your experiences so far!

    • Helena

      Hey Fran,

      Congrats on your boy!!! I would say that Nate started mostly sleeping through the night once we transitioned him to the crib (3.5 months ) and after I started topping him off with a bottle for his last feeding. I liked to make sure he got nice and full and basically would feed him until he “told me” he was done. He might wake up once to nurse/having a bottle, but then would usually go back to sleep. It’s when he could fully roll on to his stomach (5 months I think?) and sleep that way, was when he fully started sleeping through the night.

      When you say rollover feed, is that the same thing as dream feeding? Yes! We definitely played around with that at one point – around the 4 month mark and that seemed to help! But then once he turned 5 months, we played around with not doing it and stopped waking up.

      I hope this helps!

  • Kamari Kids

    He’s adorable. Sleeping was an issue in our house as well. I have to say we didn’t really get any sleep until she turned 3 and got her own bed. She hated the crib and only took naps in the stroller which never allowed me to rest. If I wasn’t so nervous about having her in our bed, I would have done it a long time ago just to get some sleep. Luckily everyone is sleeping better these days. Wishing you the same, but it seems like you have it covered.