Nothing (and I do mean nothing) will ever prepare you for the lack of sleep that you are about to endure if you are waiting for your little bundle’s arrival. If you are already parents then you know exactly what I am talking about. It is nothing like the long nights of partying when you only slept for 3 hours and woke up to go to work for the day. I remember when my husband and I first started dating. Some nights we hung out until 5 AM when he had to work at 7 AM. Somehow he managed and repeated this the following night. We were so carefree and we had all the time in the world to recover. If only we had known how precious sleep would be, maybe we wouldn’t have taken it for granted. Don’t get me wrong. I would not change anything about that time in my life. But God, do I miss sleeping at least 6 hours 4 hours straight.
Your beautiful, precious sleep will return. And then it will disappear again. And then it will come back. Babies are so silly when it comes to sleep. Just when you think you have reached your sleeping goal, they hit some type of growth spurt and lose their hard-learned schedule. It’s extremely frustrating and it kind of feels like you’re permanently walking around in a haze. After all, sleep deprivation and sleep interruption are used as torture in some countries. Awesome.
Although not every method will work for each baby, I want to share what worked for us. You may not be comfortable with our methods, and that’s completely fine! As parents, we only did what was comfortable for us and for our daughter. Please also keep in mind that some of our methods are advised against by health professionals. Lucky for us, we have an amazing pediatrician who’s motto is basically “use common sense”. This is why we love him. I will write another article about the importance of choosing a great doctor at a later date. Read on to see our coveted sleep training advise, and as always check with your healthcare provider if you have any concerns. My experience does not and cannot replace professional advice 🙂 .
DO NOT try to sleep train too early. Newborn babies have not yet developed the ever-important circadian rhythms needed to develop a sleep cycle. They will most likely have their days and nights mixed up, and this is okay. It’s life. If your baby sleeps through the night from day one, lucky you! You are a very fortunate anomaly. Let your newborn sleep when they want and be awake when they want. They need to eat every couple hours so if they are sleeping through the night, you will need to wake them anyways.
Experiment with a sleep sack (read more about that here). We discovered that Ava loved to be swaddled in the early days. If I tried to swaddle her now she would scream, but as a newborn, she felt warm, safe, and cosy in a nice, snug sleep sack.
Let’s talk about bassinets. Ava HATED the bassinet. I cannot emphasize this enough. From what I have learned, many babies do. And of course, you are not supposed to let them sleep in bed with you (she slept with us for basically the whole first month . . . shhhhhh). Some parents will gawk at what I am about to write, and I realize that professionals do not advise this. Again, this was just my experience. We put our little 8-pound baby in her crib at only 1.5 months old. I am not going to lie, I fought the idea and hated it more. I didn’t want my tiny, most precious being, sleeping in a huge crib down the hall from me where I couldn’t just pull her to my chest. But let me tell you, her first night in the crib she slept 4 hours straight. I have never run so fast in my life when I woke up and saw how much time had passed. I burst through her bedroom door to find her fast asleep, wrapped in her little cocoon. I almost cried. She looked so peaceful and I felt like a new person, completely rested and rejuvinated. The moral of the story is, know that you have options and do what works for you, making sure that it is safe for baby.
Try using a white noise machine like this Skip Hop Owl we were given as a gift. I love it because you can play the white noise continuously through the night, and it is also a night light for when I go to check on Baby. Oh, and it shines stars on to the ceiling if you wish. It’s a great product! I definitely recommend some type of white noise.
I know you’re not supposed to put any type of stuffy in the crib, but our daughter is older now. She has control of her hands and she will not let herself suffocate on a teddy bear. Thank goodness, because this musical teddy bear, exclusive to Toys R Us, is her favourite! I give Ava a kiss, turn on the bear, and walk away. She is usually sleeping within five minutes.
Our little one likes to fall asleep with a soother. When she was first born she wouldn’t take any of the soothers we had purchased. But then, her grandma purchased a miracle, the first soother that Ava accepted into her world. The Philips Avent Orthodontic Soother saved us. She falls asleep with it in and most times will stay asleep even if it has fallen out.
Crying it out . . . oh, this is dreadful. It sucks. Nobody wants to hear their baby screaming. Nobody. But when our girl was at least a few months old (and after knowing that she was fed, her diaper was clean, and she was definitely tired), I let her cry for about 2 minutes. Then I checked on her. Then I let her cry for another 2 minutes and checked on her again. I repeated this about five times. Before I knew it she was asleep. It only took a few days before she stopped crying at bedtime. The “Crying it Out” method is frowned upon by some and coveted by others. It worked for me because it taught my daughter that she is safe and that we are still there. It gave her security. Now she falls asleep on her own, even for naps. Definitely talk to your doctor before trying it though. It’s not for everyone.
Routine, routine, routine! Ava knows her bedtime routine. The time you begin and the routine you choose is completely up to you. We like Ava to be sleeping between 7:30 PM and 8:00 PM, as this fits nicely into our lives. It gives mommy and daddy some much needed time together. We begin bedtime at around 6:30 PM with a warm bath. We then give her a little lotion massage. After this, I dim the lights in her room, read her a book (see some of our favourites here), cuddle, feed, and then put her in her crib. Most nights this works. Some nights she is fussier. Regardless, babies (humans in general) need a bit of a routine.
My biggest piece of advice is this: don’t lose hope. I know it can feel hopeless in the middle of the night when it seems that all the world is quiet except for the crying baby down the hall. Believe me, for every parent sleeping soundly, there are 20 pacing the hallway. You are not alone. And as I mentioned before, just when you think you have it figured out, you will be thrown a curve ball like daylight savings time, a nasty head cold, or teething. Take it one night at a time, sleep when you can, and remember that this is all temporary. At one time I was up every two hours. Now I have been blessed with sleeping 8 hours straight most nights. Good luck mamas!