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During my last trimester, when the DD was coming ahead, I started to ask myself lots of questions. I was doing anything I could to prepare for our little one to arrive. I nested for weeks, I had the baby room set up, cleaned every bottle and pacifier known to man and made sure everything was as perfect as it could be. But something that almost everyone brought to my attention was how much (or how little) sleep I was going to get. There is no way to prepare for that. And honestly I don’t think I knew how bad it was going to be the first few days/weeks.
When Nathan first arrived I figured he was going to wake up every few hours, eat and then go back to sleep. I would sleep when he slept. It shouldn’t be THAT hard, or at least as hard as everyone says it will be. I couldn’t of been more wrong! The first couple days in the hospital were an absolute nightmare. At day 3 I was already so sleep deprived that I got sick. I started dry heaving, and was hooked up to fluids to help me hydrate and sleep. I can be really over dramatic at times but I literally thought I was dying. Luckily I had amazing nurses and family that would watch him for a few hours so Steven and I could get some much needed shut eye.
Arriving at home is where it starts
So we finally got home after 5 days in the hospital and I told my husband, “I literally CAN NOT do this for 4 months. There has got to be a way to get him on a sleep schedule.” I knew this was going to take patience, time and hard work but I was willing. Let me explain something. When babies are in the womb, their awake times are our sleeping times and vice versa. This is because when we preggos are walking around, we are basically cradling the baby to sleep. When we are sleeping and calm, this is the time for baby to do their jumping jacks. So…I knew I was going to have to be patient with this project.
I started getting Nathan into a sleeping routine as soon as I could. Even though I knew he would not follow it right away, I kept doing it every. single. night. No matter what. Here are some of the things that I did to help the baby sleep 5-7 hours straight by week 6 !
Develop a night time schedule and stick to it no matter what
You need to develop a schedule with not just the baby but your significant other as well. You guys need to be on the same page so everything will eventually run smoothly.. Most books I looked into said to approach the “Eat, Wake, Sleep” routine. The doctors at my hospital said just feed him when he’s hungry, don’t schedule him and he’ll sleep when he wants. So I had two contradicting opinions on this. We weren’t sure what to do at first. So we just did what we thought worked for us through trial and error. It will all fall into place if you are consistent with it.
Nap time and “Na-Nights” time should be different
When we came home we made sure that Nathan’s nap time routine was going to be different than his bed time routine. During naps, he sleeps only a couple of hours. If we know he’s going to sleep longer, we wake him up to feed him. You don’t want your baby to sleep hours at a time during the day or he will never sleep at night or change his internal clock like we want. We also made sure the lighting and the noise was different between the two. We had people tell us “Make sure there’s no light and no noise so the baby will sleep.” While on the other hand we had “Run the vacuum, it’s soothing.” Yet another contradicting opinion.
Well we did research and we found that if the baby has absolutely no noise, he’s going to wake up on the drop of the pin. So we experimented and found that having the TV on and the curtains open during naps was the best route. He got used to the noise and light and now sleeps through anything! He also sleeps in his swing instead of his bed during naps. That way he knows it’s not actual na-nights time yet. When it’s bed time, the TV and lights are off and he is in his bed, ALONE. It makes such a difference !
This one was a big one and took the most time. For me anyway. At the beginning, I started breastfeeding Nathan. I knew the benefits and wanted to try my best. But this little boy could EAT and I couldn’t keep up with how much milk he needed.
( Scheduling feeding with breastfeeding is hard. These are my tips for those who are formula feeding since that is what worked for us. If you have tips on breastfeeding and scheduling, please email me !! I would love to know !!)
By 3 weeks old Nathan was fully formula fed. Our routine started by getting up together at 6 am for his first meal. (Set an alarm if you have to!) After his first meal the following meals are 3 hours apart. His last meal being around 10 pm. It took some time for this to become a routine. We were patient through his cries and hissy fits, but we waited almost exactly 3 hours before feeding him. That way he got adjusted to the routine we were planning for him. Your baby will learn when it is time to eat and when it is time to sleep.
When it comes to meals, make sure it is just that. A MEAL not a snack. That way he can go longer without eating making the scheduling that much easier. Last but not least, make your babies last meal the biggest one. Nathan is a chunker and eats 6-8 ounces every meal. But before na-nights, he ALWAYS eats 8-10 ounces. This helps keep him fuller longer so he is less likely to wake up in the middle of the night for snacks.
I think this may be the best thing ever invented when it comes to calming baby down and sleeping. I started swaddling Nathan the day he was born. We were told that it is similar to being in the mothers womb since it gives them a sense of warmth and closure. At first, we were using blankets to swaddle but they were a pain in the ass since Nathan is a wiggle worm. One movement and he was flaring his arms, screaming at the top of his lungs and wide awake.
I knew there had to be a better solution so I looked online for tips on how to swaddle. I eventually stumbled upon SwaddleMe Swaddlers and figured I would try them out. Nathan (and myself) fell in love the first night. It was so much easier and convenient. You just slip your baby into the swaddler, fold over both sides and they are secured with Velcro. He doesn’t move at all! This was so important for us. With the blankets it was almost impossible to get him to stay secure and snug. After finding these magical little buggers, his sleeping patterns were becoming regular. I definitely recommend that you look into something like this or similar. Your baby will thank you 🙂 and you’ll finally get your beauty sleep!
Here is a simple example of how to swaddle the babes !
Anyways, that’s how we got Nathan sleeping through the night. I love it when people say that Nathan is such a good baby. But little do they know the hard work my husband and I had to put in for him to be that way. By no means are we experts at this, but this is what worked for us. We are first time parents and just continued to be patient and consistent. People will give you lots and lots of advice, but take it with a grain of salt. Not everything works for every baby the same.
As Nathan grows, I am sure that things will have to change. Sleeping patterns will change. And we’ll have to adjust through the developmental stages. I’ve heard from other parents that scheduling worked on their first child but not their second. It could be personality or a number of different things. The point is, I just wanted to make clear that this is what worked for me and my family. I hope that it will help yours too !! Because us mamas and daddas need our beauty sleep too. If I can help you and shed some light…hallelujah !!
Happy Sleeping !