Sleep (or lack thereof) is something that consumes so much of your focus when you have a baby. I take a Mom and Baby yoga class once a week and in the beginning of class, everyone goes around the room and introduces themselves and shares a little about what they’re currently going through with their baby. On any given week, at least 90% of what people have to talk about are issues with sleep. Whether it’s moms with really young babies or moms with older babies, sleep seems to be the one thing that can be majorly challenging for everyone. So when you’re constantly being asked about it all the time by other people, it almost starts to feel like your measure of success as parent is based on how well things are going in that department. And then getting your baby to sleep through the night is almost seen as this badge of honor, and sometimes it can feel like a competition to say your baby sleeps through the night as early as possible. Granted, I’m pretty sure every new parent wants their baby to start sleeping through the night as soon as possible. But if your baby isn’t there yet, constantly being asked about it can make you feel like a failure. I remember when Henry was a month old or so and people would ask me if I was getting any sleep, I literally wanted to scream in their face and be like “NO BUT THANKS FOR ASKING YOU JERK!” But now that he’s four months old (his monthly update is coming tomorrow!) we’re in such a better place when it comes to sleep! Granted every baby is different and I don’t really have any specific tips or tricks, but I just thought I’d share a little about what the whole sleeping experience has been like for us so far.
When we brought Henry home from the hospital, he was eating pretty much around the clock, which is to be expected when a baby is brand new. I only slept for three hour stretches max those first few weeks and sometimes much less than that depending on how often he wanted to eat. The only reason Cam and I were able to get any sleep at all in those really early days is because my mom was staying with us. She would stay up and hold the baby in the middle of the night so we could get some rest since he would tend to sleep longer if he was being held vs. if we tried to lay him down. But eventually we attempted to make the transition of having him sleep in our bedroom and our plan was to have him sleep in the Bassinest, the swiveling bassinet we got for right next to our bed. However, Henry was just not having it. He would wake up as soon as we laid him down and he would just cry when we put him in there. And so he would end up putting him in our bed every night, something I said we would never have our baby do before he was born, ha! I was just not a fan of the idea of co-sleeping with the baby actually in our bed, and that’s the whole reason we got the Bassinest in the first place so that he could be right next to us but in his own safe space. However, given the choice between putting him the Bassinest and having him cry and just putting him in our bed and nursing him to sleep, we ended up choosing the second option because we were tired and that just seemed easier. We wound up having him sleep in our bed every single night those first two months, and he would essentially just graze throughout the entire night when it came to nursing. Granted because he was in our bed, I didn’t have to fully wake up to feed him since I would usually nurse him laying down in the middle of the night, but it was still very tiring. As far as naps, during the first two months I’d typically just let him sleep wherever and he was pretty good about napping in his carseat or stroller if we were out and about.
At around the two month mark, we knew we needed to make a change because we were ready to transition him out of our bed. Even though we did follow the guidelines for safe co-sleeping, we were just never super comfortable having him in our bed because we were always nervous about accidentally rolling on him or elbowing him in the face. I really wanted to get him sleeping in his own safe space in our room, so when we got back from San Diego, we started trying again to get him to sleep in his Bassinest…and all the sudden, he decided he loved it! It was around this time that he decided he liked being swaddled as well, which was a change since he really did not seem to care for it the first two months of his life. So we started swaddling him each night and putting him down in his Bassinest and it was such an improvement! He’d typically sleep a 5-6 hour stretch at that point, and so we’d usually put him down for the night when we’d get in bed around 11:30. I’d swaddle him, nurse him one last time, and then lay him in his Bassinest. Granted he’d take cat naps in the evening before that, but this way his longest stretch of sleep was lining up with when we were actually going to bed. I’m not really sure what caused this change, but I think a lot of it just had to do with the fact that he was starting to grow out of some of the fussiness and gas that babies tend to experience in those first two months of life. I think I also started to realize that he had a lot more ability to self-soothe than I was giving him credit for and so when I stopped instantly nursing him every time he made a sound, that’s really when he started giving us a longer stretch at night. As far as naps, I also started trying to lay him down for naps in his crib if we were home during the day. Granted we’d often be out and about during naptime and he’d sleep just fine in the carseat, stroller, or wrap but it was nice to start getting him used to his crib here and there.
When he was three months old, we went to Michigan for two weeks, but thankfully the time change didn’t seem to affect him too much. He was still sleeping a 6+ hour stretch at night while we were there, and would usually go back to sleep for quite awhile after I’d nurse him. I would also try laying him down for naps, but tried to be somewhat flexible since we weren’t home and there were lots of visitors. We were also still swaddling him at this point, but he was starting to become increasingly mobile and rolling around so I knew it was probably best to start transitioning him out of the swaddle.
I know some babies have a tough time transitioning out of being swaddled, but thankfully, it hasn’t been too big of a deal for Henry! We’ve started putting him in a Halo SleepSack instead of a swaddle at night, and he seems to do really well in one of those! If we’re home, I’ll typically put him in a SleepSack and lay him in his crib for naps, and then at night, I’ll nurse him one last time, then put him in a SleepSack, and then lay him down in his Bassinest. We do typically lay a heating pad in the Bassinest while I’m nursing him to warm up the surface a little and then we remove the heating pad before laying him down. I also love that the Bassinest has a vibration feature and a heartbeat sound effect and I turn both of those on before I lay him down at night and it seems to help a lot!
As far as the SleepSack, I really like that they come in different weights to fit the season/your baby’s needs. Since it’s not very cold here in Portland, I typically just put him in a 100% cotton one but sometimes I’ll put him in a fleece one so he’s a little extra cozy. (Plus the patterns are cute too!)
I like that the Halo SleepSacks give him room to kick his legs as he seems to really enjoy that while he’s falling asleep. He is typically awake when we put him down for naps/at night, and he’s started to get really good at falling asleep on his own which is exciting.
Right now, we typically put him down in his Bassinest around 9:30pm and he’ll typically sleep straight until 6am. At that time, he wakes up to nurse and then I’ll usually put him back in his Bassinest and he’ll usually sleep for another 2-3 hours.
The smiles definitely make it easier to wake up for sure 🙂
In addition to sleeping that long stretch at night, he usually takes 2-3 solid naps every day as well. I’m so happy he’s sleeping so well at this point and now our goal is to start trying to push his bedtime back a little earlier gradually over time. However, I don’t want to be that jerk mom that brags about having a kid who is an awesome sleeper because I know that everything with babies is subject to change. He did just turn four months yesterday and so I’m crossing my fingers that he doesn’t go through that dreaded four month sleep regression that so many babies experience, but if he does, we’ll just take it one day at a time! And while I’m no expert, my biggest advice when it comes to sleep based off our experience is just to keep trying things. Just because your baby doesn’t like something one night, that doesn’t mean they won’t like it next week. I feel like all you can do is try to enjoy it when things are going well on the sleep front and then not stress too much if you run into bumps in the road. Oh, and then coffee helps too! 🙂
I’m a big fan of the Halo SleepSack and so I’ve partnered with them to give one away to one of you! This giveaway will run until next Thursday night (4/16) and I’ll announce a winner on Friday 🙂
Good luck and sweet dreams!