I am still a novice parent of just 10 weeks. I’m winging it. Everyone looks at us sympathetically and says something like, “I remember those days, you get NO sleep!” Actually my baby has been sleeping through the night most nights since 6 weeks (normal developmental leaps can also take the credit). At 10 weeks her length of time is now up to 9 hours. I’m sure 90% of that is just dumb luck but I do have a couple routines I feel have improved her sleep. Again, I really don’t know what I’m doing and I realize some of this is contrary to safety advice…but babies train you to their preferences pretty darn quickly.
- She sleeps in her crib every night. I don’t want a painful transition to sleeping in it later on.
- The prevailing guidelines for crib safety describe a soviet orphanage crib. I threw them to the wind. I would put her in her crib asleep and as soon as I laid her down her eyes would fly open. Her mattress came with a rock hard infant firmness side and a softer toddler side. I flipped it to the softer side at about 6 weeks and found she was much more likely to stay asleep when laid down and slept all night. She has a blanket and a padded bumper. Bumpers are out of favor and I didn’t have one at first but the first time you see your baby’s legs poking through the slats you realize their value.
- We use a crib “soother”. This is a noise and light show on a timer. I’m hoping she’ll become like Pavlov’s dogs and hearing that music (which sounds like a movie soundtrack) will cue her it’s bedtime. The lights also entertain her until she falls asleep.
- Unrelated to sleep quality, but zippered sheets are an innovation if you do end up having to change them at night. You just buy one full set then one or two extra top sheets.
- Babies want to sleep all day and party all night like they did in utero. The first few weeks it was impossible to rouse her during the day. We kept at it, never letting her take more than a few hour nap so she’d get her big stretch at night. Unfortunately the tradeoff for sleeping at night seems to be she just takes little cat naps whenever and often doesn’t do a good nap stretch.
- Babies wake up because they are hungry. I feed her as much as she wants during the day and really push nursing on her leading up to bedtime.
- She’ll usually fall asleep nursing. This last time before bed I won’t burp her. I’ll slowly pick her up in the position she was nursing in, turn on her noise machine, and lay her in her crib. Usually she stirs a little but I offer her a wubbanub and hold her hand for a few minutes until she’s solidly sleeping. I quickly realized it was a waste of time to rock her to sleep after burping. The act of burping made her more awake and even when I got her to sleep she’d wake up as soon as I put her down. Now I always lay her down on either side (like she nurses) with the blanket on and wedged behind her for stability. I think back sleeping causes her reflux and she spits up a lot. She usually eventually rolls to her back once she is asleep. I never swaddle because she struggles against it and gets frustrated.
- If she is awake in her crib after all this it usually means I haven’t gotten her tummy full enough. I repeat the nursing and do it all over.
We'll see if this is still working out when we get to the dreaded 4 month sleep regression.