• 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

    • It took me a while to catch on to the “sleep begets sleep” idea, but I couldn’t agree more now. I also had a hard time understand the idea of putting her down for a nap after just a couple of hours of being awake. But then I read a great metaphor that really helped me understand it:

      Pretend your baby’s sleep is a bucket. When she wakes up after a solid night of sleep, her bucket’s full. The longer the baby goes before going back to sleep, the lower the water level in the bucket gets. If the water level gets too low, a nap won’t “fill it up” and the baby won’t be rested after the nap, making it more likely that the baby will continue to be tired and cranky. So you never want the water level get too low.

      I don’t know if that explains it well, but it really helped me wrap my head around what my daughter’s schedule could be and why.

      • @Catherine – I struggled with the same, and my goodness that is a GENIUS analogy! Thanks for sharing!!

    • Jackie

      helpful tips! My baby Milo is also a thumb sucker and we’ve found that helps a lot when he wakes up in the night and is able to self-soothe.

      • @Jackie – Amen! Thumb-suckers are sleep champs! :)

    • Melissa

      Thank you Erin!! LOVE this post and SO excited to implement your ideas! And love the intro to Polarn O. Pyret! :)

      • @Melissa – You’re so welcome; keep me posted on your progress!!! Good luck! :)

    • Kate

      We found a video monitor to be invaluable because it helped us see when our daughter was really “awake” or if she was just fussing and transitioning in her normal sleep cycle. If we didn’t have the monitor I think we would have unnecessarily woken her up when we thought we were helping. It was one of those gadgets I thought we didn’t need, but I really credit it with helping her become a great sleeper early on. Sounds like you are becoming a pro at this Erin!

      • @Kate – Oh that is genius! Great idea. We have the “old-fashioned” basic sound monitor, but I can see why a video monitor would be super practical in this situation! Thanks for the tip!

      • @Kate – And ha, I’m far from a pro. Sleep is the ONLY thing we’re good at – for now! ;)

    • i am going to be needing all this tips soon, fingers crossed. hope my baby sleeps as well as bee :)

    • Did you co-sleep with her or have her sleep in your room at all, or did you just skip all of that and start her off in her crib? I’m sure I’ll just do whatever works for us once she arrives, but I like to hear what other moms are doing – and it sounds like your little one is pretty good at sleeping!

      • @Amy – Great question! We did co-sleep for the first few weeks (we ordered this co-sleeper, which was AMAZING and transitions into a playard for future use!). We transitioned to the crib after finding she napped really well in her own room one afternoon (I think she was roughly 6 weeks?). And we all slept better after that – she’s a super noisy sleeper! :)

    • great post! pre-baby you don’t think about sleep much…atleast i never did. totally took it for granted. and then it becomes all you think about! (for you and the baby…and especially when you aren’t getting any!). i second the need for a schedule. i am still a slave to the schedule with my two-year old; and it totally works for our family. best thing i ever did when i came home with a baby who wasn’t a fan of sleeping at night…

      • @Sarah – I think the greatest thing about a “schedule” is that if you can better predict nap time/feeding. It sounds counterintuitive – that having a schedule creates freedom. But it truly truly does! (And in those early days when you have NO idea why the baby is crying, it’s great to know that you can follow a general pattern and let their cues move you on to the next cycle!

    • Brooke R.

      I really believe that so much about a baby’s sleep is just part of who they are. Some kids are great sleepers and some aren’t. Some kids go through good/bad sleeping phases. None of the tips hurt (we did a lot of them too!), but I’m not so sure how much they actually make the baby a good sleeper. Just a thought.

      • @Brooke – I think you’re TOTALLY right! Great point.

    • We were blessed with a great sleeper, too. Rooney slept through the night at 6 weeks (if you count two 6-hour stretches as “through the night”) and worked herself up to 12 hours by 8 weeks. I agree with most – if not all! – of these tips. We watched the Happiest Baby on the Block DVD in the early days and that helped us a ton when Roo was a newborn. We are huge fans of the swaddle, sound machine and pacifier in our house!

      One thing I still want to get better at is routine (she is 8 months now). I like what you said about finding whatever calms your baby and doing that. Rooney does not seem to enjoy reading books, which is such a “standard” in most bedtime routines, but she does LOVE when we sing to her! I typically only do it in the morning, but I think I’ll have to add it to our night routine! Thanks! :)

    • Erin

      Bee and Stella sound like they could be twins when it comes to sleep! I second the swaddle and we can’t live without it over here at our house. Without fail she will wake up if she has her hands free to hit herself with. And woman, I thought I was the only one who kept my house at a 75+ temp. People always tell me I am crazy, but this way I can hang out in my super comfy nursing tanks and light weight sweats while Stella hangs out without pants :) Amen to babies who sleep through the night! xoxo

      • Right?! I keep my house SO WARM! And amen to nursing tanks!!!

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