Sleep, Sleep, Sleep, Sleep.

sleep.

“you guys getting any sleep?”

“how is she sleeping?”

“she sleeping thru the night yet?”

the first question out of most peoples mouths to a new parent. always.

and now to our answer, yes she sleeps thru the night, she’s a great napper and sleeper….is usually “oh wow, thats amazing, you guys are lucky!”

ah, but it aint luck hunny. it was consistent work and diligence that really paid off. 

RIGHT NOW: Portland takes 3-4 30-45/1Hr naps a day, and is in bed from 7pm to 730-8am typically. We are on the dot at 7pm for bed, and she gets 1-2 dream feeds (late night feeds where she stays semi-asleep and in bed).

 

i will start by saying GOOD SLEEPERS ARE CREATED….you’re not just destined to have a shitty sleeper like losing the lottery. you can achieve a good sleeper, you can. i promise. if you have a shitty sleeper with terrible habits….its most likely because you created those habits and needs in your baby.  that a good first sentence.  i’ll just start off by saying, i’m sure im going to offend 96 people with my stance and they’ll be crawling back into their co-sleeping bed shaking there heads at me. and thats ok, because as we all know with babies and parenting, its to each their own. you can dress your child like a east coast golf caddy and thats your decision. and i can do sleep my way and you can do sleep your way. so lets just start there, sleep is one of those touchy topics….just like vaccines. but im not avoiding it because, #duh, i love to share. i also realize there are always exceptions, extremely rowdy and persistent babies and examples where circumstances have impacted sleep…totally. but thats the exception, not the rule….on getting babies to have healthy sleep habits. also i’d like to say for those that are happy doing what they’re doing and its not what *we’re doing* good for you, im not saying what we do is the only thing people should ever do….I’m just writing this for people who WANT to have independent sleepers or do what we do….not everyone wants that, some people are down for doing what they’re doing….like i said, to each their own…this is for someone who WANTS this info.

my family is pushers. and passionate about certain things and that’s where i got it. my sister has 4 kids and is a sleep guru, so i have taken years of watching her with her almost 30 years of combined experience of infants, babies, toddlers and kids sleep….and considering she goes into homes and helps families sleep train and get away from sleeping with their 7 year old in the bed….so thats where my initial passion and advice has come from. i knew going into becoming a mother, sleep was going to be really o̶b̶s̶e̶s̶s̶i̶v̶e̶  important to me.

here is a run down of what i wanted to long term achieve in a sleeper

  • Be able to put her down in the crib, say goodnight, and walk out. // not have to rely on story time, songs, rocking, anything, no 40 min routine…….essentially set it and forget it! If you’re stuck on a 40 minute routine – guess what, they take 4 naps…its not just bed time and you’ll want to murder yourself for creating that lovely 40 min routine.
  • Have her be able to self soothe  // all babies wake up thru the night, sleep cycles, sounds, etc…she needs to be able to know how to fall asleep on her own…not be reliant on any sleep crutches (binky just so, lovey, blankie) or have a parent have a long hold and soothe to get her back to sleep. that’s where “a wake up” in the middle of the night turns into 1 hour up for you….
  • Sleep thru the night in her baby stage // not a 2 year old juuuust learning how to sleep thru the night, im talking a 10-15 week old baby plz & thank you.
  • Have the ability to have others put her to sleep (eventually) // we *just* did this for the first time and she is 6 months….but i didnt want her being so emotionally dependent on CJ or I to fall asleep, this goes back to self soothing. Not creating emotional ties about sleep, sure its cute they want you….but how cute is that for years and you havent taken a dinner away in 476 sleeps? no emotional ties to sleeping is key. –> Also this plays into eventually others being able to babysit and you taking date nights, etc…they are reliant on themselves, not you  to sleep.
  • Be on a predictable schedule // babies need routine and a schedule, they just do. depending on what age they are, they have certain capabilities for wake time, sleep is essential and its not a choice, they grow, develop, they need sleep. It also helps your day, she has gone thru her biggest pattern for about 10 weeks, i knew when she would be asleep, and up, you can plan generally for plans, visitors, appointments and just having order to your day. Schedules are so helpful and we happen to have a creature of habit baby and she knows her schedule and routine of a day.
  • Be able to sleep, ourselves. // To be capable, running a normal life, not running on fumes and not wanting to kill each other or ourselves. Sleep impacts your relationship (put her to bed and be able to have time together!) and your life….a big point of view we keep is the parent is the parent, the baby doesnt rule the household. sure there are things we do because she likes it…..but her day, the way we do things is determined by us. She’s a baby, she doesnt know anything and she sure doesnt get to decide the day. and that mentality is going to keep on as we continue as parents….she dont run us.

Ok, so that pretty much lays out what i knew i wanted coming into motherhood, i learned a lot of what it should look like from my sister who had 4 infants sleep thru the night – the proof is in the pudding.

 I should say the main basis that we took on for sleep & the at home perspective in general is off of “Babywise.” that’s what my sister does and teaches and it works. Another similiar book and perspective is Happiest Baby on the Block but thats a bit more of the 5 S’s in order to soothe and allow your baby to sleep. They are similiar and i took from HBOTB as well, but Babywise is what we were running off of.

HERE’S THE BASIS OF BABYWISE

First ket me say that babywise’s mantra is “GIVING YOUR INFANT THE GIFT OF SLEEP” and that’s beautiful, because you know what….your baby getting the sleep she’s designed to need, is a gift to her. sure its a gift to you too but its a gift to the baby. you know what’s not a gift? not allowing your baby to sleep, not to give them naps, go without a schedule or have them up all thru the night because you want to hold them until they are asleep and then they scream until you hold them again and they get hours less of sleep than they need. thats not a gift. and it also blows for you. they sleep 4-5 times a day at this point (including bed) so developing healthy sleep habits is key for your life, sanity, marriage, baby’s life and wanting future kids. point made.

actually here’s what Babywise is NOT: 

  • letting your baby go many hours without eating beyond what they are capable of
  • letting them cry for hours and hours and having no heart
  • damaging them long term bc their subconscious knows you didnt hold them to fall asleep
  • mean
  • scary/strict
  • hard to do
  • complicated

here’s what babywise IS. 

FEED // full feed, every time. not creating a snacker. 

WAKE // depending on their age, their appropriate amount of wake time.

SLEEP // being put down sleepy but still happy and awake, so they learn how to fall asleep in the crib, on their own. call it self-soothing, call it falling asleep without aid. call it important.

  1. FEED – runs off of the knowledge that babies who just wake are their most alert and can get a FULL feeding. not creating a baby who snacks here and snacks there. not trying to feed a sleepy baby. wake, feed, full feed.
  2. WAKE – babies have a certain amount of wake time depending on their age and abilities. Every baby is a bit different and you have to watch their cuesred glossy eyes, glazed look, rubbing eyes, not engaging as much, getting whiney, getting sleepy in general. When they are younger, like weeks 1-6, the wake time is so minimal…they sleep so much its beautiful. its God’s way of breaking us into parenthood slowly. “oh wow they sleep so much this is easy!”   ……then as they get older, more wake time. Weeks 10-18 or something she was up for an hour on the dot, not a minute more. Hour wake time, sleep for an hour or so. Then she made a switch right around the 4 month regression (which lasted 1 day for us thank god) and she made the jump to 1.5 hours. Getting this wake time mastered can be tricky as you figure out your baby. I was like a hawk watching her and her cues and no matter who was holding her or whatever, i would whisk her away and put her to bed. i was literally on it from like week 2. i didnt let much “oh she sleeps anywhere” happen. i wanted to create these sleep habits from the start (more on that later.) But as time goes on, I know she is going thru a transition when she cries when i put her down to nap, etc….like just now at 6 months, she was starting to cry – which she never really did – when i put her down at 11am, and 2-3 days of that, i figured out she was merging and didnt need to go down at 1.5 hour mark and now she is at a 2 hour block of time in the middle of the day, remaining to be about 1.5hours for the rest of her wake times in the morning and afternoon, depending. Main thing here is watching your baby’s cues! are they glazed over? are they withdrawing from interacting? are they just being whiney all of a sudden? …are they falling sleep? those are sleep cues. I’ve learned – for Portland at least – its much muuuch better (and what BW says to do) to put her down the second i see these cues rather than wait for her to be falling asleep or whining and crying from being tired. you want to create “going to bed” as an experience that is not associated with being over-tired, screaming and crying. watching those cues is so important. before your baby has a totally predictable wake time established for that age, the cues are so important. right now, i know she is gonna be up for 1.5hr, 2 hr, 1.5hrs between naps, although i still pay attention to cues. When she was tiny, and before we had a predictable schedule, really those week 6-10 ages – they are establishing a routine and so the cues are more important as they are getting a scheduled predictable wake time down.
    1. Wake time INCLUDES feed time. when she was 1-4 weeks old, its like 15 minutes wake time (sooo minimal!) and so she would basically fall asleep the second she was done on the boob. then i would hold her until the next feed (we werent worried about anything before week 4, they are so tiny and you should just enjoy those precious tiny moments.) it was more like week 6 i was on it with her cues.
  3. SLEEP –  You want to put her to sleep as soon as you notice those sleep cues, while they are tired, but not crying or cranky. if they are already crying, its beyond the recommended time – take note of how long they were up that wake time and watch the cues before that set time and try to put her down before you reach that or watching her cues.
    1. We have black out curtains, have white noise going and put her in her woombie – (I’ve been asked about this so many times, its a zip-up swaddle, she takes all naps and sleeps in it, they have newborn size and “big baby” size that she is now in and almost growing out of).
    2. She was ALWAYS swaddled. i did it from the moment she was born. your baby was crammed beautifully in your uterus….they are used to being all tight and nice, it creates security and until month 3-4 i believe, they have the morrow reflex – where they jut out their arms when they are laying bare – that makes them feel like they’re falling, so being swaddled up tight is actually better. my sister says “saying your baby doesnt like being swaddled is like saying they didnt like it in the womb”…..and im sure there are some that actually really dont, but thats the exception, not the rule. that baby was swaddled up for bed. you want swaddles to be for comforting and sleep, they do need time being unswaddled. and it keeps them from startling themselves with the morrow reflex and waking up from sleep before they need to. She popped back and forth between a blanket swaddle and a woombie and then we settled on the woombie bc 1) its a bitch to swaddle all the time but 2) i walked in once and she broke out of her swaddle and the blankets were all over her face and she was weeks old and it freaked me out. woombies are more safe in my opinion. plus you can just unzip the bottom part up and do a diaper change without unswaddling them – you will thank yourself at 2am. We used this SwaddleMe brand when she was 8-9 pounds because they are smaller than the woombie runs. but they are more thin and not as well made, but only like $12 so its a good purchase for when they’re tiny bc the woombie kinda rides up when they are tinnnny.  a woombie is good when they’re like 10lb and up in my opinion.
      1. Right now (6mo) she doesnt have the need to be swaddled like she did when she was an infant and when she had the Morrow Reflex but she loves being swaddled and its the perfect way to keep her cozy and warm but not too much. She sleeps in the “big baby” Woombie size.
    3. i wanted to create a similar environment for her pretty early on. She was a really observant newborn, and as soon as i noticed her staring off towards the TV or listening to us when i knew she should be sleeping, i put her up in the room, with white noise, room dark, in the woombie. every time.  because we did this from infancy, we never really had to transition from the being held, rocked or coo’d to sleep into the “Cry It Out” stage – and i really prefer this. we didnt teach her to do one thing – be held, etc – to fall asleep and then go to teach her a new thing once she reached a certain age.  she came out knowing nothing of a pattern or routine, so why not start from the beginning. The thing is, your baby is born with the ability to sleep….newsflash! its us, the parents, the adults, who put on the bad habits to them….they dont come out needing 34 stories, to dance the macarena and 72 head strokes in order to fall asleep. Parents condition them. Parents create the little nightmares that make other people not want to have kids or “not want to have more kids because their 3 year old still gets up 7 times a night”….(i kid you not). We have to be consistent, give them all their needs met with feed, wake and love, and when it comes to bed….its about bed.

Giving your child the gift of sleep is not about depriving them of food or love. It’s about giving them what they need and allowing them to have the sleep they need…..developing sleep crutches and bad habits or constantly going in to soothe, only resets the clock on them going to sleep. we have and had gone in when she is crying for more than 10-15 minutes. we dont just leave her, but we also dont run in just because she cries, sometimes they need to unwind and thats ok, and because of how we’ve done things, she really doesnt cry the majority of the time. ok, lets get to what we did from the start. many times i feel she looks forward to bed, she needs it, when i put her in she knows whats coming, she loves sleep and i feel that we’ve help create that. developing bad sleep habits doesnt tell your baby you love them more by walking in every time they make a peep….i just really dont believe she feels anything but the most loved and happiest. and when she is in her element, people generally remark, ‘oh wow she goes down so easy’ when they’re over and see how she goes to sleep. and its not just me tooting my horn, friends have done babywise recently….one started sleeping thru the night at like 10-12 weeks and another around seriously like 8 weeks, because she did it straight from the start, creating those good sleep habits and routine. this shit works. and if you read Babywise’s stats, its insane. it works.

NEWBORN

as i said before, in those newborn days, they can sleep anywhere and everywhere – with noise and people around. you should hold that baby and soak it up because those days are short. i let her sleep on me skin to skin so often and i cant wait to have another baby just for those moments. its the most beautiful thing in your entire life. you dont need to do any scheduling with those newbies, they sleep like 20 hours a day and most likely you’ll be having to wake them up for feeds every 3-4 hours. weeks 1-4/5, you just hold that baby and get to know her. no schedules or plans.

  • if your baby seems to be awake more at night and so sleepy during the day, they may have their days and nights mixed up….keep the baby sleeping by a window in daylight during the day and in pitch black at night to help their cycles become right.
  • this is also about just making sure your newborn is getting a FULL FEED. they are so sleepy. you have to get them to stay awake. tickle their feet, wet wipe on them (so sad!) but a full feed every 3 hours is so important, they will most likely stay asleep anywhere and everywhere in between. dont let them start to create “snacking habits” get those full feeds in. plus in the beginning, breastfeeding is SUCH a long thing, you’re sitting there forever, and when they go thru cluster feeds at like 10 days or so, i remember not even getting up because she was eating so often with a growth spurt, but that was the exception not the rule. You dont want your baby eating every hour, its hard on you to constantly be feeding, you already basically are…but if you’re letting them snack for 5 minutes and then sleep because its cute….well, you wont find it cute later. plus its better for them to get full feeds and get FULL. 15-20 minutes is great and typically a full feed. switch half way, and stimulate both breasts, but also there’s the hindmilk at the end of your feed on 1 breast so some lactation consultants recommend to eat fully on one side to get them that hindmilk…..so many options. main thing here, get them a full feed. do 15 min and then maybe offer the 2nd side to stimulate that breast, then next feed start with that 2nd boob.
    • If your baby is eating every hour ALL the time their whole life or staying on for 30, 40, 50 minutes at a time,  like we went thru, i would contact a lactation consultant. DO IT. you dont win any awards for doing it on your own…lactation consultants are experts and so helpful adn generally covered by insurance. eating that long or often is not normal. they may have a tongue tie or lip tie. if they are getting full feeds, they shouldnt be eating every hour. (not with growth spurts of course but as a general rule) they are telling you something, they are not getting what they need in their feed times. We used Sound Beginnings – they are really known locally or also Brandi, who isnt at Sound Beg any more, she has her own company and we loved her AND she is a mother of 6 and has twins!

INFANCY

Probably around 4-5 weeks, i really started noticing how aware she was, i mean i think it was more at like 3 weeks but my memory is foggy, i just remember doing it really early on…but FOR SURE by 4 weeks,  i was loosely giving her a schedule. nothing like “certain wake times” or predictable times she’s up, like now…..but it was more just about the pattern of the day. that is what i was vigiliant about from the start. and i mean VIGILIANT. feed, wake, sleep. // feed, wake, sleep. because her wake time was so short initially, it was like 20 minutes, 4-5 weeks for a long time. watch your baby, you will know. they graduate to more wake time with age. but tend to stay in those wake times for a while and its the same everyday. by 10 weeks, she was probably around 45 minutes or 1 hour.

  • she didnt really start getting an early bed time of 7, until, well, i cant really remember, but it seemed natural and common sense when it happened, i think like early 4 months, before that, she did have a wake time in the evening and we were wondering if we could drop that wake time and not have it affect when she got up for the day, early on, she would just go back to bed in the am regardless of her first feed (8-9am) until like 10/11 so she had less of a sleep thru the night with daytime wake time schedule and more like feed, minimal wake and then sleep all day long. thinking like 7-11 weeks or so, it was just so much sleeping. when we did drop that 8-9pm wake time, she didnt change her am wakes, so it was fine dropping that. we didnt know if we dropped that wake time if she would be getting too much sleep and wake suuuuper early, but she didnt. they need so much sleep, its wonderful.

BABY

Once she was 9-10 weeks, we were consistently giving her FEED WAKE SLEEP segments and then putting her to bed around 7-8pm. Generally going at 7, but depending on her latest nap, if it was 4-530pm, she would moreso go down at 730/8. We didnt establish a SET 7pm bedtime until she dropped her 4-5 nap at around 12-14 weeks. We knew she was dropping that nap because she would go ballistic when we tried to put her down, she would NOT sleep. that was the first time she dropped a nap, so it was hard to figure out, but when your baby is good at sleeping, and days go by and they are screaming at a certain time, like recently when she jumped from 1.5 hrs to 2 hrs in the middle of the day, thats the biggest indicator to tell me she has a new need. and at that time, she was merging her PM nap and got her first extended wake time which was great, because it made her really tired for an exact 7pm bedtime. so they eventually will merge and be able to stay up longer, those few days of screaming like she never does, i mean going crazy, she was telling us she didnt need to sleep, so she dropped the 5pm nap and stayed up until 7, which was her first extended wake time. you have to know their needs and habits. if they scream every time you are putting them to bed and are just starting Babywise, its probably not them telling you they are merging a nap….but if you know them and they regularly just go to sleep and all of a sudden a huge change comes, out of her ordinary, i would say thats when you can problem solve about what change is going on with her.

  • developing good habits now, 10-15 weeks is so key, before was great and was convenient for you because it gave a rhythm to the day but now, they are starting to understand things and routines become predicted and known by the baby. They will start depending on you to fall asleep, or the habits you’re putting on them. Rocking, singing, swinging, whatever. Now is the crucial time to make sure you’re establishing the FEED WAKE SLEEP pattern because they will come to rely on it. Watch her cues, and you’ll want to make sure you’re putting her to bed while she is sleepy but not upset, so she can learn how to fall asleep on her own, or self soothe. dark room, white noise, set her in the bed, tell her you love her, kisses and walk out. if you’ve not been doing this in infancy, there will be getting used to this, if you’ve been rocking to sleep 1-10 weeks, they will know the difference, that’s why i went right to letting her fall to sleep not being held or dependent on me so young and it worked so well, i will do that for all our kids. i guess you could argue that that time is too sweet and you want to hold them until you sleep train at like 10-15 weks and you’ll just have to do the cry it out method to get them used to not having you, i personally think its worse and not fair to them to teach them one thing and then introduce something else, to me that seems more “mean” VS being consistent for her whole life. she didnt come out knowing anything about sleep so why not introduce those habits from the start. seems to make perfect sense to me.
  • Now is the time when you’ll start to have predicted times she’s awake and down. If she’s up the same amount of time a day, you’ll have a general idea of her schedule which is nice. Here’s an example of what her days looked like from about 12-18 or so weeks.
    • 3-4 am Feed – this was before she slept thru the night at 14 weeks. she would have a night feed and go back down. (she slept thru the night first at 14 weeks, before that she had 1 night feed.)
    • 7am Feed & Wake time // she has a schedule of 1 hour awake for a lot of this period of her life, so I would feed her and then we’d play in bed until CJ got up to go to shower and she went back down at 8, then i got out of bed or went back to sleep if i was exhausted.
    • 8-930 NAP #2 – in her bassinet, white noise, in the room, darkness, put her down and walk out.
    • 930-11 FEED & WAKE TIME – she jumped to 1.5 hour wake time around 4 months but still kept that 1hr first wake time in bed and now consistently keeps a shorter first wake time after the early am feed (7-8am feed) before she can be up longer in the middle of the day.
    • 1230-2 NAP #3
    • 2 pm FEED and WAKE TIME
    • 330-5 NAP #4 
    • 5-7 FEED & WAKE TIME
    • 7pm BED TIME, bottle in her room, and into bed. (we do bottles at bed because she can get way more ounces & we like to load her up with milk to help her sleep thru the night.
    • 9 & 11 DREAM FEEDS – in her room, in the dark, no talking, no light, no diaper change, bottle in the mouth and then walk out. She is semi awake or still asleep and goes back to sleep.
    • (now) WAKES at 5-6am for a feed and goes back down typically til 730 or so. (sometimes 8, last week went til 845! and sometimes 715….which i dont prefer. ha.

RIGHT NOW at 6 MONTHS SCHEDULE:

  • she just went thru her 6 month regression so our by the dot schedule is in a bit of flux, so our days are not suuuuper predictable for the past 2 weeks but the past 3 days have started to get a rhythm. there will be times after changes, where you have to find your new normal, these arent my favorite but they are normal. i just love knowing what to expect. but this is generally what we’re doing right now.
    • 730am // FEED & WAKE – she is up for 1.5 hours in the am
    • 9 or 915am-10 or so depending on wake or if she gets whiney before – she goes down for a NAP #1
      • her naps arent always the same at this age, not like they used to be more consistent on exact times and lengths….but they range from 30 (really short) to 45 and an hour. there are times recently she has slept for 1.5hrs and that was a fluke but amazing. because she takes 3-4 naps and at this age with her amount of wake time, there is no way she will sleep for 1hr+ each time, she wouldnt have enough wake time…they regulate naturally, and form patterns for where they are at developmentally.
    • 10-12 FEED AND WAKE TIME 
      • i also give her food at this period of the day. not too close to when she ate, about an hour later.
    • 12 or so // down for NAP #2 (12-1234/1 sleeps)
    • 1-3 or 330 depending on when she woke or went to bed earlier // FEED & WAKE
    • 330 or so….FEED AND WAKE until bed // some days, when she sleeps in later, til 8 or so, this shifts and she will take everything later, by like 20 minutes, so waking at like 4. but she is generally up from about 345/4/415 until she goes down to bed at 7.
    • 7pm BED and in bed until 730/8am the next day.
      • every baby will kind of choose its own bed time, 7 became natural for her and how the hours fell and when her wake time was. if you really want to get consistent schedules, going to bed at the SAME exact time will really help. they need sleep, so being down at the same time will help them regulate and give a natural pattern to the day and you controlling when bed is, can really impact and help their next day and eventually having a within 20-30 minute reliable schedule.

CRYING

ok, but what about the crying. i think if we can look at crying less emotionally, its better. its how babies communicate and some crying is not going to damage the baby. portland is commented to be one of the “happiest, calmest, content, chill” babies…and that’s because all her needs are being met (and probably her personality too) but its often said about babywise babies…..”they’re so content or well-behaved” and i believe thats because they are getting the amount of sleep they need. they aren’t cranky, over-tired or in a bad mood. when she is one of those things, it means its bedtime.

anyhow. we didnt get to where we were without some crying. dont look at crying as your enemy, i mean, i didnt. sometimes crying is necessary. if you cant have the baby cry without you breaking down or going hysterical, i would ask, are you causing more harm long term by not allowing them to sleep because you keep going in to pick them up, take them out from sleeping or soothe? i can tell you, when she wakes up from a great nap….i dont think there is any recollection that she cried for a few minutes. and i personally dont think us allowing her to cry has caused any damage….she’s one of the happiest babies and constantly commented on that. so, its my opinion that crying 1) doesnt cause long term harm and 2) can do more good that harm.  i think if we can just remove the thought that “my baby is crying the world is ending” thought….its better. im not heartless and i love her so much, but i know that going and getting her up and coming out with me is only delaying or taking away what she needs at that moment: sleep. 

GENERAL CRY RULE // the biggest thing i kept in mind was ARE ALL HER NEEDS MET? If they were, and i knew it was time to sleep, then i would generally give her 10 minutes of crying. and then assess, because we have a video monitor, i can see if she’s getting close to sleep or what. when we were early on in figuring out her schedule, she did cry more than she does now, that was the part that now bothers me when she’s going thru a regression or change and i dont get her wake time right and put her down, there’s  a certain cry she has when we put her down too early. that part bugs me. there was a long time when she was at the Hour wake time segment where she would be out within minutes, no crying, just out. it was beautiful. its more common that she just moves around, talks to herself, or whines. today she went down for a nap and cried for 10 minutes, it honestly really doesnt phase me because i know her and i know its just part of it, and then she was out. her other am nap she cried for like 3 minutes and was out. just because she has good sleep habits, doesnt mean she does cry at times. most of the time she doesnt, but if she does….it doesnt mean anything to me, she needs to sleep and she is unwinding. 80% of the time, she just talks to herself and goes down….this helps me because if she is hysterical, which happens maybe 1 out of 20 naps, i know i either put her down too early or something is wrong.

there are times that i feel like oh man should i go in?  like its felt too long or too loud and then i just wait 3 more minutes or something and then more than likely she is out. the amount of times i’ve gone back in in the past few months, are on one hand or less. its like never. i can remember once. and when i did, i soothed her, told her it was ok, and left. the majority of the time i go about my business and she’s asleep before i even look back on the monitor, i would say once a day she cries to take a nap for 10 or under minutes and 99% of the time she nevvver cries to go down for the night because that bedtime is way more set and she’s been up for 3 hours or so at that time so she is tired! if she does cry for bed, its when we’re changing her diaper because we let her go past 7 and laid her down too late. she stops as soon as we’re feeding her. it means we were too late and let her be up too late. we watch her and adjust. if she had an abnormal day and slept until 430 or something she may stay up til 715 or so….but those are exceptions, not the rule and im surprised at times when i stick with the 7pm time even if she napped late and how she still will go down at 7. we generally start diaper, outfit at 650 or 655.

  • Ok, but it wasnt always where we are now….for a while as we were getting her wake time figured out, there was more crying. I think because i was hyper-sensitive to her cues, i would tend to put her down earlier, because if i did later…than she would be too hyped up or over-tired. i preferred her to be less tired than too much. the main times we would go back in were around 6-10 weeks i think and it tended to be more for bed than naps. we agreed to waiting 10 minutes, and i do suggest timing it because it can feel longer, and CJ really wants to go in pretty quickly and i’m the stickler that makes us wait.
  • When we would go back in…it would be for a quick pick up, saying its ok, we love her, hug her and put her down. i feel like the amount of times we’ve done this in normal life probably on one hand. she really is used to falling asleep on her own. She has never been held to sleep and doesnt even know what to do if we were to do that (which is not the best for planes or travel, but i’ll take it).
  • THE KEY WITH CRYING: I think the biggest thing here is not creating a habit of your baby associating YOU BEING PRESENT in order to fall asleep. in my opinon, the biggest reason she has cried any point where we went in, was because we didnt have her wake time appropriately figured out. she isnt crying for us to come back in to soothe her or to help her fall asleep. she is crying because she is not tired yet and that is very rare that we were still figuring out the wake time for her if she is going thru a change. If you’re paying attention to cues and learn the pattern with your baby, its not too hard to figure out and its great because they stay in those habits for a long time.  If you’ve conditioned your baby to NEED YOU to fall asleep, then you’re gonna have some tears. I think thats where you need to read a bit more on the “Cry It Out” method, which has great success. If you have a tiny new baby, i would totally encourage these good sleep habits from the start, you’ll be thanking yourself.  why not? If you have a baby or toddler and still soothing them to sleep, i would say nip that shit in the bud and get after it, its not going to get easier. sleep is important for them of course, but its also so important to you, your relationship, your household, work, etc…so many things! maybe this seems super obvious….but i also know that there’s a lot of not-sharing info in our generation and I really truly believe you create good sleepers, they arent one way or the other without possible change. you dont have to go in 19 times a night. seriously. or have them sleeping on you or in your bed or be in there for 45 minutes rocking them to sleep only to carefully put them down and then they wake up and you start again. thats no way to live yo’life! 

Main thing here with crying 1) Are all their needs met? If they are, and you know they need sleep, I would say any tears can do more good than harm. 2) Do you have their wake time properly figured out? Sometimes if they are so over-tired, there will be crying fo’sho. Try putting them down sooner next time. 3) Have you conditioned them to need you to sleep? or needing certain things? Be strong, most babies, even with terrible habits can be redirected in a few days or a week of consistency. My sister went to help a family who’s 4 year old was still in their bed and not sleeping thru the night and got her sleep trained in a few nights. (sorry to put them on blast buuut).  If I can, can i encourage that some crying is totally normal and not damaging to babies, a few minutes of crying can do much more good for them to learn to self soothe, not develop bad sleep habits or need you to go to sleep. might be cute when they’re tiny, but no one wants to take 40 minutes to put their kid to sleep every day. at least not me!

and also i want to  encourage you that the crying is not permanent, like if you’re transitioning them to sleeping without sleep props – they will adjust. babies are amazing! they will test you! set boundaries and time limits. this does not mean you dont love them. you love them and are giving them the gift of sleep. thats the best gift! and more than likely, if you’re developing good sleep habits, you’ll have a great sleeper who can most of the time go down without a peep. and thats what we want…..not necessarily a perfectly cry free baby, because they’re babies, they cry, thats how they communicate. but i couldnt be happier that she is able to go to sleep on her own, without aid. there’s no reason for her to need us for that, and i feel like that’s going to translate to a confident, happy, content, independent girl….call me crazy, but i do. thanks, sleep!

ok some smaller topics…..

DREAM FEEDS

aw, dreamy. once we dropped the 8-9pm wake time that she wasnt needing, we started giving her a dream feed. that is when they are awake or asleep, going in and in the dark, no talking, no light or the most minimal light possible to feed them. If you’re breastfeeding, you pick up the sleeping or awake baby and feed them in the dark. NO talking, NO eye contact, just a feed, then put them back. NO diaper change. It’s super trippy when they are sleeping, i would put her on me and she would be asleep and she would smell me and find my nipple and eat. it is so weird. The dream feed allows your baby to stay in a sleepy dark mode but still get more food, and allows you and your boobs to be drained before you sleep thru the night. 

  • we eventually switched to a bottle for the dream feed because 1) she was so sleepy, she wouldnt stay awake for a whole feed which can result in less length of sleep overnight. and 2) we could really load her up with more milk than i produce in one feed. Now, we give her like 7ounces in a bottle and i typically pump 4-5 oz a session. so she is getting more. and its also kind of nice because the evening is the first free time i have and so although breastfeeding is incredible and y favorite thing, its often when i really get a lot done with my work, so CJ does the dream feeds, plus he gets an opportunity to feed her which he loves. and i do the early am breastfeeding, so knowing he has nights is nice.
  • Right now she goes down at 7 and eat an entire 7-8oz bottle (again, we load her up) and then we will give her a dream feed on the dot at 11pm. She does wake up 50% of the time in the 9pm hour for a feed and so we do a dream feed then and then 11pm as well.
  • Because we’re doing bottle, we dont even pick her up out of her crib to do the dream feed. literally just pop the bottle in her mouth and when she’s does she is back asleep within 30 seconds. its great. there have been times when i do the dream feed and i’ve wanted to hold her and smell her and i hold her….and its been fine, but as a general rule….CJ feeds her and doesnt pick her up.

NIGHT TIME DIAPER CHANGES

along with the dream feed, we do not change her in the middle of the night. in the beginning, we were changing her sooooo much and it totally woke her up. in the middle of the night when your infant needs those middle of the night feeds still (weeks 1-8/9) they dont necessarily need to be changed. once we stopped changing her in the middle of the night, she went back to sleep sooo much faster, and now that she sleeps thru the night, it would totally wake her up to change her. if you absolutely have to because of pee, skip the wipe, not being wiped one time is gonna be fine. If your baby poops EVERY feed, then your shit outta luck and you gotta change them…try to do it in really dim light.

SLEEPING THRU THE NIGHT

this will never be forgotten and every baby (or parent) deserves a medal when your baby sleeps thru the night. Portland was 14 weeks when she did and has ever since. Babywise considers “sleeping thru the night” technically to be 5 hours without a feed. But to me, its at least until 5am…then back to bed. Right now she is in her bed sleeping for 12-13 hours with 1-2 dream feeds. When she was tiny, she was giving us 5-6 hours stretches which was amazing. Our Dr said because she was gaining weight and eating every 3 hours in the day, we could let her go one stretch of longer sleeping. Then we went thru the whole shit show of tongue tie, not gaining weight and 10 weeks of that and waking her up on the dot every 3 hours and it BLEW and also totally messed up her clock. after we stopped waking her once she gained weight, she would still wake up on the DOT at the 3 hour mark, so i knew her body clock was messed up. I was still getting up to pump (before we got back to breastfeeding) so i would pump and CJ would give her a bottle. My sister encouraged me to stick with it, and although it was longer than i wanted, she eventually broke thru the 3 hour mark. Because we had developed good sleep habits, we would feed her the bottle and she would go right back down. (no diaper change). so it was a pretty quick thing.

  • WHEN SHE SLEPT THRU THE NIGHT – I had the idea to double up her dream feeds. She has never been a BIG eater during the day, like she eats one side and thats all she can be bothered to do, she’s too curious and busy and thats just when she gets full. So I wanted to really load her up with more to up our chances of her having enough milk to help her sleep longer. Once we started doing like a 9 and 1030 dream feed, she started sleeping thru the night like 2 nights later. It was AMAZING!! its a beautiful feeling when it happens for the first time. I know she would have been able to do it earlier if we hadnt had to deal with all the waking at 3hrs and all that shit but it really doesnt matter and i know there are no medals….but i know she would have done it way sooner.
  • Babywise suggests that after 4 weeks (i think 4), your baby can go the amount of weeks they are for the amount of hours stretched for between feeds at night. 5 weeks, 5 hours. 6 weeks, 6 hours, etc. They dont suggest doing some long stretches for babies that are preemies or multiples or that clearly need more milk during the night. its never and not about depriving your baby food. its not about just not giving your baby food and letting them cry it out. Its about ALL their needs being met and allowing them to sleep. They say that if its about hunger, feed your baby.  They encourage FULL FEEDS every feed to allow them to have a wake time and get a proper amount of sleep….if your baby is snacking or falling asleep on the boob, really try to get them to eat a proper amount when they first wake, when they are most alert.

MOVING TO HER ROOM // I should also mention that we kept Portland in our room until she was about 14 weeks….and that was later than we had planned on. and longer than my sister advised. I think its good to move them before they *know where they’re at*….the more aware they are, the more they will understand and have an opinion about it. whatever you want them to be doing, condition them before they understand or have an opinion about it. Because we were doing all these 3 hour feeds, it just was more convenient to keep her in the room than down the hall. I loved having her in the room, but there came a point where it was detrimental to have her in the room. I would hear every noise and it would disrupt my sleep as well as bring up the odds that we would pick her up to feed just when she’s wrestling around or whining rather than let her settle herself back down. Literally days of moving her into her own room, she slept thru the night. And when we’ve slept in a hotel room with her, she sleeps less, i swear she can smell me. So its beneficial to her to be in her own space and not think she needed to get up just because she was changing sleep positions or coming and going in sleep. I think in the future with our kids, we will move them sooner, but as we found out, plans dont always happen with babies and who would have known we’d face what we did with breastfeeding so having her in the room was necessary.

BASSINET // She slept in the bassinet longer than she should have. not because of safety or anything, it was fine and we love our Uppababy bassinet, it was the best for sleep, but the only reason i say it was too long was because she had an opinion about being switched to her crib. The first time i tried and walked out, she went hysterical bc she didnt understand that was a sleep location and to her ‘i just left her in there’ …i went back in and put her in the bassinet inside the crib and she was out. she just didnt understand that was a sleep location. i transitioned her by putting the bassinet inside the crib for 2-3 days and she got used to the view and switched to the crib no problem.

REGRESSIONS

I have to admit, im not a pro on regressions, i read what i needed when we were going thru it, some babies will regress longer than others. We went thru the 4 month regression for 1 day (phew!) and then definitely went thru the 6 month regression 2 weeks ago for a good 5 days or so. Could have been worse. You can look up regressions – but basically its them going thru a developmental change, like 4 months changing from infant to people sleep cycles. for the 4 month regression she refused to nap for a day and took like 1 30 minute nap or something….but she also did change from these longer naps to shorter 30-45-sometimes an hour napping, sleeping thru the night stayed the same thankfully, i’d rather have naps messed up. That was our new normal after that….short  naps and longer wake times in the day.

  • The 6 month regression was more random and hard because it was at night. She went from sleeping to 530 for a feed religiously, like CLOCK WORK to instantly waking up 2, 3 times a night. i was like nooooo. one night was 1, 3, 6 and another would be 245, and 5. they were all random. from what i was reading at that time for regressions was that if its random, it has to do with the regression, but if it becomes more clockwork, it may be about food. because we (me) were so not used to her waking  up at night, i was like uhh what do i do. the first 2 nights, i went and fed her bc i figured maybe she is hungry! she didnt eat much so i didnt think it was really about food. So we decided to let her “cry it out” and we tried that which did not work because she would just keep crying. so we eventually would just go in and soothe her, pick her up, minimal talking and put her back down. it changed over the 5-6 days. She eventually did want food, so i would feed her and put her down and thats how the regression left like a ghost. the last day she had it, i went in and soothed her around 145, i knew she wasnt hungry, she had just had 7 ounces at 11pm, i told her it was ok, rubbed her belly and told her it was ni-night time. and she went back to sleep. my sister warned me to be careful about feeding her, or using food as the first choice, instead of soothing her or letting her re-settle a bit. reason being that we have known for 10-15 weeks, she hasnt needed food in the middle of the night so odds are she doesnt just have a need for food, but she may….everything is a gamble and trial and error with babies. i think the main thing is keeping your good habits and not abandoning everything. regressions will leave and i know everyone has different experiences with them. Since then – she went completely back to normal and waking around 5 or 530/6 for a feed then goes back down. 

SOME RANDOM TIPS

  • Aim for the first and last feed of the day to be the SAME time of day, within 20 minutes recommended. you want to do this so that over time, the last dream feed of the evening will establish a pattern for how long she sleeps, giving you the odds of having the first feed of the day to be the same. When she was sleeping thru the night from Week 14 on, she 99% of the time wake up from her body clock at the same time. Eventually getting to 5-530 am for a feed, then immediately back in bed until around 7ish when she would have her first wake of the day.
  • If its the exception and not the rule, you’ll be ok // Dr, Appts, travel, grandparents visiting, the odd late night. one time is not going to derail all your consistent work. you’re developing good habits and those arent forgotten just by one bad day or whatever. (i hated derailing from her schedule and what she needed, like being at the Dr too long and keeping her awake…..which is so funny bc my personality could not be more opposite of schedules and exact times, but NOT for the baby, she needs it. BUT it did all end up ok, CJ was better at knowing she would be fine, i personally wanted her to always have her needs met right then if it was napping or feeding or whatever.
  • Go with your gut. // this applies to so many things in parenthood. there are times we know she just needs to sleep, and there are times we know she’s just not gonna go down right now. i spend most of the time with her, so i really got to know her cries.  sometimes she just talks and whines to herself when she goes down….she is comfortable with herself and being alone….i love that she’s chatty and likes to talk, she is an independent girl.
  • NO DIAPER CHANGE middle of night // already explained above, but really really helps if they arent sleeping thru the night yet to keep them in feed and sleep mode only.

EXCEPTIONS!!! as i’ve already learned with exceptions….as a parent, what you plan will not always be possible or realistic and you need to use your discretion for what your baby needs at that time. CJ and i died over the idea of ever co-sleeping with our kids. no. never! not us! and guess what, when we brought her home, she had sucked down so much meconium when born, she was projectile vomiting up to 7 times within an hour of being home from the hospital. it was frightening. we had to turn her over immediately and let her puke. we thought she was gonna choke, it was scary. so guess what….we have her sleep on this hard C shaped pillow in between us for like the first 5 nights because we wanted to be close in case she threw up and i just laughed to myself because the one thing we always said we wouldnt do, there we were doing immediately, but it was what we needed for that time. Parenting is about discretion, and i know that we’ve created a really strong base for sleep, that in the future if she is sick or CJ is gone or something and she’s a toddler and i let her sleep in the bed…..everything wont go to shit. remember, if its the exception and not the rule…you’ll be ok. 

Overall, you know your baby, you know their habits and needs and cries. Remember that they NEED sleep and bad habits, sleep crutches and long routines are not going to be fun long term. your baby is born with the ability to sleep, its often parents who develop those habits for the baby. start sooner than later developing good habits for them. consistency is key! be strong. remember that crying for a few minutes or even 15 minutes at times is not damaging you baby….she will be ok. that sometimes crying is them unwinding and settling themselves – it is not the ultimate enemy. sleep props, long routines or a baby who wont sleep is the enemy. giving your baby the gift of sleep is a GIFT! to you, to your baby, to your relationship, to future caretakers and allows your baby to be who they need to be! a well rested, happy baby!

OUR MONITOR // we use Hello Baby’s monitor and am so happy with it. Its only $70 and we love it. travels really well, small and the video portion can fit in your pocket. Tells the temp and obviously you can see when its dark. Also has a microphone but we dont really use that.

omg was this the longest blog post everrrr. i have been wanting to write it for like 10 weeks.

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2 Comments

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  1. “the baby doesn’t rule the household”…a refreshing & novel opinion.

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  2. Thanks for being so honest. I have a few questions. When she was transitioning and crying more did you let her cry until she got to 2 hours or pick her up and try again at the 2 hour Mark? How did you know how much to feed her with the Bottle? What monitor do you have (link)? What about when you had places to go? How did you mange Portland’s schedule then? Thanks again.

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