Sleep. Oh, how we take this for granted before we have kids. I knew it would be tough in the beginning, waking up every 2 hours to feed. After a couple months, however, that got real old real quick. We really didn’t want to have to dictate our entire lives around our child’s sleep schedule, but we also wanted to actually get some decent sleep. At first, I figured Olivia would just settle into her own schedule and eventually just sleep through the night on her own, which she did sort of. We did end up needing to provide a little more structure than we initially were, and it worked great and got her sleeping through the night without having to use some crazy intense minute by minute schedule. With that being said, here’s what worked for us:
Naps. Liv would always take naps during the day on her own obviously, but she would just fall asleep at random times on the couch or in my arms. She would sleep for about 30-45 minutes tops, and always be fussy when we had to put her down at bedtime. We found out from our pediatrician that if you wait until they pass out, they are already over-tired and will not get quality sleep (thus only napping for 30-45 minutes). She recommended putting her down for a nap around 2 hours after she woke up from the previous sleep. Liv always seemed to be wide awake at these times, so I never thought it would work. I started putting her down in her crib at these times and surprisingly enough she would go down pretty easy! Over time, she would start rubbing her eyes at these times and eventually would go right to bed when I put her down and sleep for 1-2.5 hours at a time! We also made the mistake of thinking the more she slept during the day, the less she would sleep at night. WRONG. VERY WRONG. Babies need a lot of sleep, and if they are overtired when they go down, they do not get quality sleep. So, if they don’t take enough naps during the day they will be over tired at bedtime and not sleep well throughout the night. Once we started napping more, she started sleeping way better at night.
Crying it out. This part is tough. We never want to hear our sweet innocent little munchkins cry, and when we do we want to rush to their side and comfort them. This goes against all motherly instincts. It’s tough. However, it is really necessary. Babies need to learn how to self-soothe. It is extremely important for their overall development, and IMPERATIVE if you have any hopes of ever sleeping through the night ever again. We were told to start out during nap time, and to allow her to cry for as many minutes as weeks old she was at the time. For example, if she is 8 weeks old we would put her down for a nap and let her cry for 8 minutes straight before going in to comfort her. Once the 8 minutes are up, go in and comfort her and let her know that you are there and she is okay, and then leave again for another 8 minutes. Hopefully, they end up falling asleep before having to go through this cycle too many times. Keep them in their crib for a minimum of 1 hour during nap time. If they cry the entire time that is okay, just take them out after the hour is up and try again next time. If they cry for 45 minutes and sleep for 15 that is fine too. As long as they are in there for at least an hour. Eventually, the sleep time will increase and the crying time will decrease.
Crib. In my opinion, it is good to get them used to sleeping in their crib as soon as possible. In the early weeks, naps in the swing or in your arms are great. Later down the road, it is important to get them comfortable sleeping in their crib and having a place that is solely for sleep. For us, we started trying naps in the crib and she ended up sleeping better than she did anywhere else. Having a nice calm and dark environment helped her get better sleep.
Monitor. For me, I wasn’t comfortable leaving her in her room to sleep unless I was able to hear her and keep an eye on her. We got a video monitor and that allowed me to feel comfortable enough to let her sleep in there. Once we got her sleeping more and only had her 3 am wake up that we wanted to eliminate, our pediatrician recommended turning off the monitor. I know. I was shocked too. I thought it was INSANE. I wasn’t feeding her at that time, though, and every time I got up to soothe her at that time she was completely fine. I knew she didn’t need anything at that time, so we tried it and we still heard her cry a little bit from our room but the crying got shorter and shorter until she finally just stopped waking up. (the one we use and LOVE is the Infant Optics DXR-8 Video Baby Monitor with Interchangeable Optical Lens)
Crib bumper. I know these are not safe if you are using the old school kind. DO NOT use a regular crib bumper. I repeat…DO NOT use a regular crib bumper! It is linked to SIDS and does not allow proper air flow. I do, however, recommend a mesh crib bumper. These are safe. It only took one day where I heard her screaming bloody murder as I rushed in and saw her poor little leg stuck in between the panels of her crib. That second I purchased a mesh crib bumper on Amazon and never looked back. I highly recommend this item. (I found ours on Amazon for a really great price and it works perfectly: AirFlowBaby 14″ Mesh Crib Liner, White Mist, White)
I hope these tips help you as much as they helped me! Of course, every child is different but I hope this information brings some inspiration to anyone out there who is attempting to get back to a (somewhat) regular sleep schedule and gets your little one to sleep through the night! Good luck!!!