Along my fertility, pregnancy and motherhood journey I read & listened to a ton of great books (check out my book reviews!) and received advice from: other parents, family, doctors, ect. Based on this, I expected to wake multiple times in the evening to feed my newborn and to survive on less sleep. It’s easy to read & hear this information…living it is entirely different.
For my son’s initial three months, my partner and I followed the Babywise method which promotes a cycle of: Feed/Wake/Sleep. This book was a great resource recommended by a colleague. I only wish we had read the book sooner (before our baby was born) and really discussed how we would execute on its recommended schedules (change based on baby’s age). Instead we read the book while I was recovering from my emergency C-section in the hospital during a late night with our newborn desperate for tips to help him sleep! We continued to re-read this book over the next few days/weeks/months trying to adhere to the schedule. Here are some initial ‘arguments’ the book makes for establishing a sleep routine:
– “Babies do not have the ability to organize their own days and nights into predictable rhythms, but they have the biological need to do so…”
– “Optimal sleep in a 24-hour impacts optimal alertness, which improves cognitive function that increases brain growth, and encourages a host of neurological benefits…”
After reading (and re-reading) Babywise, I was sold on the need to establish a sleep schedule. It was really challenging to follow through sometimes… like waking my sleeping baby from naps or waking him in the middle of the night when he would have happily remained sleeping. Luckily, my partner was also committed to the program and was the helpful cheerleader that kept us on-track. As life progressed, we started traveling to visit family and realized much changes in: location, timezone and stimulation wreaked havoc on our baby’s routine. Unfortunately travel based disruptions + ‘4 month regression’ (which is really a developmental leap) completely undid all our great work from the months prior & we failed at our attempts to re-establish his schedule. Babywise is a great resource for establishing an initial schedule; it is less helpful for getting back onto the schedule or addressing specific sleep challenges.
We decided we needed some tailed support and contacted a sleep consultant: https://sleepystars.ie/. Kelly had us fill out an extensive questioner and used this to tailor a sleep schedule for our little-one. She also gave some great tips on items & habits that could support our sleep routine. By 5 months our baby is sleeping much better, unfortunately we are still struggling with day naps (stretching from 30-45mins to 1-2 hours).
Below are the most helpful takeaways (based on what worked for our little one):
- Establish: Sleep/Eat/Play Routine
- Start and end at specific time (even on the weekends)
- Adhere to set naps throughout the day (longer naps vs cat naps)
- Establish ‘Sleep Routine’ with consistency to help baby transition into sleep
- Lower blinds/ close curtains
- Tog rated clothing: swaddles, sleepingbags, sleepsuits & layers
- “A TOG is a unit of measurement for insulation and warmth of sleepwear and bedding… the lower the TOG rating the lighter the fabric. The higher the rating, the more padded and insulated it is for warmth. TOG-rated fabrics are important as your baby cannot regulate their temperature like adults can.” (source)
- My brand of choice is ergopouch an Australian company using GOTS Organic Cotton in most products.
- Sing Songs / Read books
- Spotify has tons of kids lullabies playlists or you sing along to your favorite soothing artists i.e. Jack Johnson
- Bathing routine (only for bedtime vs naps)
- Comfort items: Snuggie Teddy, Pacifier (items that can easily be removed)