Why did no one tell me how little my baby would sleep when she was born?
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Hi, my name is Gill, and I am a mom who suffered from no sleep with a newborn.
And I’m here to say, there is a solution, don’t give up.
When your baby is up, wide-eyed, all night long. When she nurses to sleep and wakes up 20 minutes later. When everyone is telling you this is normal (it’s not). When they will only fall asleep in your arms. Or, my favorite, when they are screaming nonstop as you sway, bounce, coo, sing and try everything else to get them to sleep. There is hope, you can have peace, you can sleep again. I can tell you in one sentence what the problem is.
The problem is you.
Now quick note, this does not include those parents who have a baby with a health problem, lip or tongue ties, correctly diagnosed colic, and so on. This is for parents who have no discipline… parents like we were.
I didn’t know how much we sucked at routine until Annabelle came along. The problem was us as parents. She showed us right off the bat how much we needed to learn about schedules because our LACK of a schedule was making life with her more difficult than it needed to be.
She would wake me up almost every morning with 4 or fewer hours of sleep… and I would just cry… I didn’t know what I was doing wrong. We were on the brink of hiring a professional to come in, spending loads of money we didn’t have, and just letting them do the work for us.
We wanted more than anything, a sleeping angel baby. (and to not use the cry-it-out method… because we just couldn’t handle leaving her to cry all night.) We needed a routine and we needed it fast.
After doing SO much research and signing up for who KNOWS how many subscriptions to so many blogs that promised us sleep, we found out a few key things that got us rolling. I know your tired, mama, so learn from me in this article all you need to do, and STICK TO IT. You’ll have a sleeping baby in no time, I PROMISE!
1. First, Let’s Bust a Myth.
All I was told about naps before having my first baby was not to let them sleep TOO much or they won’t sleep through the night. WRONG. Wrong. Wrong. wrong. WRONG. Wrong. Drill it in your head… THIS IS WRONG! wrong…. wrong… ok I’m done.
If you keep your newborn up from those precious naps, they will get overtired and FIGHT sleep even more… I don’t know why babies work the opposite as adults, but it’s true.
Let them nap. But also, wake them in intervals during the day to feed.
We did this every two hours daily. Fed and played for one hour. And had her back into her crib/bassinet with the noisemaker on for two more hours. Doing this consistently, within the first two days, she started sleeping eight hours at night. I’ll show you a schedule if you keep scrolling. >>
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2. Stay consistent.
I can’t say this enough. Before, we weren’t making consistent sleep associations, I didn’t put her down in a consistent place to sleep, I didn’t know what the purpose of a swaddle was, I didn’t know she needed a dark room. ALL were essential.
So now, she is in a dark room, we have a noisemaker, she is swaddled up, and placed in the SAME. Place. Every. Time. She reads our communication clearly and knows it’s either bedtime or nap time.
Sleep. Wake. Change Diaper. Play. Swaddle. Sleep. See my nifty graphic below, save it to Pinterest, print it out, paste it to your wall or just write it in your own handwriting in your notebook. You need to become a master scheduler. Be watching that clock.
Here are some products that we COULD NOT HAVE lived without while sleep training:
- Muslin Wrap swaddle blankets (light-weight and restricting but not too tight)
- A baby sound maker (Annabelle LOVES the heartbeat noise).
- Footie Pajamas (She wasn’t “properly dressed” until about 12 weeks anyhow… Always in pjs until then!)
- Kid-E-Col (a natural tummy soother with Catnip and Fennel… Can be given every hour if needed to help soothe baby.)
- A bedside bassinet. (instead of sleeping beside their crib, bring their bassinet to your bedside and slowly move them out of your room and into theirs.)
This is my first baby, but I have not minded for one minute nursing her to sleep every time. It’s a good way for me to slow down my day, and cherish my time with her.
Change it up if you feel differently! Just be consistent with what you do before you put them down. Swaddle every time! Give them a binky, EVERY time… etc.
You need consistency and babies CRAVE that consistency. They LOVE to know what to expect every day and night, and so will you once you get your routine down! Also…
3. No need to rush… Babies can soothe better than you know.
We practiced something called “the pause”. Our pediatrician was kind enough to suggest this method to us. He said instead of running to your baby’s aid the MOMENT they begin to fuss or cry…
Pause for 15 minutes to see if she will self-soothe back to sleep and be fine. And as long as she was well-fed and safe in her bed, she would fall back to sleep just fine. Let this be your mantra…
The first night she slept more than four hours, I freaked out, to be honest! And then thanked the heavens… I wasn’t going to lose my sanity as a new mother… I was going to sleep again! I was going to be OK! Before, we had no intention to have more children, and now it has become more of a reality to give little baby Belle some siblings.
Now she sleeps a good eight to twelve hours every night.
She wakes early morning to eat for a bit, then goes back to sleep for a good four more hours. And you can definitely tell when she hasn’t gotten those twelve hours of sleep, she loves her sleep. Just like her Daddy.
As you will find on other infant sleep blogs, this isn’t usual. Most two-month-olds who are good at sleeping won’t sleep eight hours a night. This is, I think, just a rare occurrence with our first born, but you will at least get more than four hours… So don’t hate me when your baby doesn’t sleep through the night til they are even one year old, whether they are sleeping GREAT or not, they need routine.
Quick tip: We never had to do this, but you might want to “dream feed” your baby if they are having a hard time getting through the night. Read all about it here.
I just had to share, there have been a few people in my life who have asked how I got Annabelle on such a great schedule and how she sleeps so well at night, and I really owe it all to a blog called “Mother far from Home“, our pediatrician, the many prayers we said, and my hubby for being my confidant through it all.