• zzz…

    11.08.2012 / Miscellaneous

    sleeping baby

    I’ve mentioned on Twitter a few times that Bee sleeps through the night, and a few of you have asked for tips on how this miraculous event has occurred. I will say that this is the one area Bee has always excelled in, as she started sleeping through the night at six weeks. (My theory is that she burned up all of her energy screaming at us during the daytime, so she really had no choice but to crash at night.) I will also say what everyone says: every baby is different, so do what you will with these tips. They’ve helped tremendously for us, so I can only hope they’ll do the same for you!:

    1. Swaddle.
    Oh man, Bee loves to be swaddled. The Miracle Blanket is the most, well, miraculous invention in the world. Trust me on this one – it looks like a straightjacket but acts like a straight-up lifesaver when it comes to soothing your baby to sleep. The tighter, the better, and I hear that men are better at swaddling than women. So gals – give the baby to your husband and make yourself a bowl of ice cream, OK?
    UPDATE: Bee transitioned from The Miracle Blanket to a sleep sack once she started using her hands to self-soothe and learned to roll over (around 3 months). We were anxious to see if the lack of swaddling would make a difference, and luckily, she still slept her usual 8-10 hours straight. (This sleep sack is amazing – super breathable but with a bit of weight to it.) So, if your baby doesn’t love to be swaddled, a sleep sack is a fantastic alternative. Also – I realize that swaddles can get pricey, but in my opinion, this is worth a serious investment. Sleeping babies = sleeping mamas, right?

    2. Sound machine.
    Our sound machine malfunctioned when Bee was 2 days old, so we used a white noise app on our phone until we made it to the store for a replacement. The original wasn’t in stock, so we picked up this one instead, which offered a projector and is also the most amazing thing in the world. We used the projector when we transitioned Bee to her crib (around 6 weeks) and she’s loved watching it as she falls asleep ever since. (We also turn on the ‘lullaby’ option because I can’t carry a tune!)

    3. Temperature.
    Our home is pretty warm (78 degrees) most of the time, and her nursery is well-insulated. We also be sure to dress her in long-sleeved pajamas with footies every night just in case she breaks free from her swaddle. (Polarn O. Pyret has some super great pjs that are cozy and adorable!)

    4. Routine.
    We start getting Bee ready for bed anywhere between 7-9pm, depending on her signals (she’s a pretty obvious eye-rubber!). As soon as she gives us her “sleepy sign,” we head back to the nursery for a diaper change, turn on the projector/lullaby sound machine and swaddle her. I then nurse her (I only nurse her in her room at night, so she’s beginning to associate that this means bedtime!) until she falls asleep. She always, always wakes up when I transition her from the rocking chair to the crib, so this is why the projector is particularly handy to soothe her back to sleep. (Note: Sometimes this takes 2-3 tries before she falls asleep for good, and until she’s a bit older, we’re fine with bedtime taking 30 minutes or so.)

    A few more tips:
    -I’d read somewhere that a common mistake many parents make is to try to keep their baby awake, alert and active during the day (sometimes skipping naps) in an effort to tucker them out enough to sleep through the night. We noticed the opposite: if Bee has had an exceptionally busy day and hasn’t napped well, she generally doesn’t sleep well because she’s overly tired. So, we tend to keep her on a pretty basic schedule with plenty of naps during the day. (Secrets of the Baby Whisperer has a great adaptable schedule that we swear by!)
    -I have a fast milk flow that makes nursing frustrating for Bee, so when she was a bit younger, I’d pump and give her a bottle at night so she could eat slowly and calmly. This helped tremendously, because she could eat more before becoming frustrated, thus “tanking up” for the night.
    -I’ve heard great things about bathtime before bed, but Bee hates baths, so we cut that out of our bedtime routine. Try to find an activity that your baby finds calming (i.e. reading, lullabies or a baby massage after a diaper change) and incorporate those into your routine instead.
    -Bee also doesn’t enjoy pacifiers, so she uses her hands to self-soothe. This is perfect for the nights she sometimes wakes up around midnight – she stirs, but we wait for her to find her hands and then she falls back asleep, sucking away! If you can, work on self-soothing sans pacifier during the day so baby can practice!

    Any tips you seasoned mothers can add to the mix? I’d love to hear, and good luck to all of your sleep-deprived mothers out there! Until you have a sleep routine mastered, might I recommend some caffeine-free secrets in the mean time?

    p.s. 31 ways to get baby to sleep!

    Photo Credit // Woodnote Photography

    • Erin, I’ve so been enjoying your letters to Bee. My Forrest was born July 31st so I think he’s close in age, which means your letters really hit close to home and heart. As for sleep, he typically gets 6 – 8 at a stretch with the occasional off night. He fell into that himself, and I fell in too when I realized I didn’t have to get up every time he made noise (this was a HUGE realization!!). When he’s truly awake and needs me he lets me know, otherwise he wakes and self-soothes (yup, loves those fingers!) several times some nights. I swaddled until he was about 5 weeks I think, until he started to get really upset and struggle in the swaddle, then I’ve been doing sleepers and a light blanket over his legs since. He gets swaddled for naps in daycare and seems to like it so I may implement that for naps at home. But there’s nothing like turning on the lamp in the morning when it’s time to get up, saying Good Morning Baby Boy! and getting a big smile in return. Bliss.

      • Hi Jamie – AMEN! Those smiles make it all worth it, don’t they?

        And gosh, I was the same way. Every tiny sound would make me awaken with alert. We’re all learning a bit as we go, aren’t we? (p..s Forrest is a beautiful name!)

    • I just found your blog and I’m LOVING it!! I’ve read back to here so far and have enjoyed it so much, I love your letters to Bee! I have a 7 week old and this post was so interesting to read, as well as the comments because I’ve been so obsessed with him sleeping well – he just slept 12 hours last night! He started at 6 hours/night a couple weeks ago and has slowly increased. I’m waiting for it to go back to every 3 hours…every night, haha! I feel like its too good to be true.

      Some things that I did:
      – he slept in his crib and his room from day 1 – I didn’t want to have to deal with an eventual transition.
      – when he woke up in the middle of the night i never talked to him and i fed him in the dark…I didn’t want him to associate night time with getting to see me and talking
      – when we tried letting him sleep on his stomach we realized that he slept SO much better because he couldn’t startle himself with his arms. If i put him to bed on his back it takes forever for him to fall asleep, but when we put him on his stomach he doesn’t cry and falls asleep within minutes. (my mother-in-law encouraged me to try this because its how all of her kids slept (until the new warnings came out about it ;)) regarding this – i tried the swaddle but he kept breaking out of it and he didn’t seem to sleep better or worse with it.

      But like some people said, every child is different…I’m just cautiously being happy he is such a good sleeper!

      • @Krystal – GREAT tips! Isn’t it funny how different babies are? Bee just started waking up to roll herself over to her stomach. She’s like the opposite of a turtle – we always have to flip her back over b/c she can’t figure out how to get to her back. Ha.

        And yes, I’ve heard it’s a great idea to avoid too much stimulation during the middle-of-the-night diaper changes and feeding times. All business – no play! :)

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