Since I wrote about Lael's lovely sleeping habits, quite a few of you have asked me if I have any sleep secrets. I figure that there are more of you out there who are wondering the same thing but just haven't asked. That's okay. I won't hold it against you. :) The truth is, I don't have a secret. Bummer.
I actually feed her magic milk every night before she goes to sleep.
Totally kidding. But if there was some magic milk, I, for one, would have been clamoring at the grocery store's doors to get it. And I know I wouldn't have been the only sleep-deprived, manic mother there.
So, in an effort to help you in any way I can I'm going to tell you what I did. In no way, shape or form am I some baby whisperer. Your pediatrician is always the best person to ask.
And because no post is really any good without some pictures, I'm including some recent favorites in the mix.
1. I wrote about the Miracle Blanket a few months back. Go read it here. We used ours until Lael was about 4 and a half months old. This is when she started to break out of it. We love that thing, and I truly believe that it gifted us with many sweet hours of sleep. Do not confuse it with others out there. It's not the same.
2. We used and still use a pacifier to soothe her when she is going to sleep. In the early days the pacifier can be a source of frustration in that newborns aren't the best at keeping them in their mouths. The natural tendency to thrust the tongue forward makes the thing pop right out. Sigh. But, if you stick with it, they get better and better. When Lael tuned 7 months she could finally pick up her paci and put it in her mouth herself. Hallelujah!
Some babies never do show an interest and that's okay.
3. We just recently started using a (loud) noise maker throughout the night and during naps. These are great because they allow you to get things done around the house when the baby is sleeping without waking them up. In my opinion, who cares if they become dependent on it? Just bring it with you when you go out of town. :)
4. I like Babywise. I got a good dose of it when I was a nanny for twin infants a few years ago. As a mother, I basically went by this book, but of course, listened to my baby and her needs first. There is a lot of controversy surrounding this book, but I think that it's important to remember that no method is fool-proof. Listen to your baby. Take the advice from the book but trust your motherly instincts. Even in looking back at the things I did that worked, there are definitely things that I would change if I could go back. Wouldn't we all?
All of that to say, our day goes as follows: wake, eat, play, sleep. wake, eat, play, sleep. etc. I believe that this schedule makes for a happy, healthy baby. Now, there are many days when "life" just doesn't allow us to be at home ALL the live long day so her schedule can be perfect. Lunch with friends went a little long, being at the pool just seemed more fun, Target really wanted me to stay and peruse a little bit longer, etc, etc. Know what I mean? Sometimes a 30 minute nap in the car will just have to do.
5. We installed black out curtains in the nursery. I really, truly think this helps. Doesn't the sun wake you up when it comes through the windows? Same with babies. Getcha some curtains. Pronto.
6. After Lael began sleeping in her big girl crib at the age of 4 months, (Eek. Yes, we had her in our room until then. I just wasn't ready yet for her to be so far away.) I learned very quickly that running into the room as soon as I heard a peep from her in the morning was not a great idea. One time she slept past her usual 7:00 am wake up time. The next morning I heard her at 7 and thought, "Hmmm, yesterday she went longer without eating, so I know she can do it". I waited and she eventually went back to sleep without having to be fed. I began doing this with her naps, too. If she woke up before I thought she should I waited to see what she would do, and she indeed, fell back asleep. And so it began. Her hours of sleep began to increase. Happy Momma.
Your baby should wake up happy. If she wakes up too early and crying, this usually means she is not done sleeping.
7. Lael loves her lovey. Her favorites are the ones that Angel Dear makes. As soon as she hits the crib sheets she reaches for her lovey and pacifier. She rubs the lovey on her face and you can see those eyes start rollin'. Giving your baby something to hold that's soft and comforting can really soothe her.
We felt comfortable letting her have one in the crib when she was about 5 months old. Of course, if you have questions about this, ask your pediatrician.
8. We have always put Lael to bed for naps and nighttime awake. We have never rocked her to sleep or put her down in her crib asleep as we tip toed out the door. We wanted her to learn early on that going to sleep and staying asleep was her job, not ours. This has saved my sanity. Naps and bed time are not a struggle, and I don't have pressure on me to be the one to get her to dreamland. Babywise suggests putting the baby down sleepy but never asleep. I think this is invaluable advice.
FAQ: When did Lael start sleeping through the night?
Answer: That's kind of a loaded question. How do you define sleeping through the night? I dug through some of my unpublished blog archives where I document everything she's doing on a month by month basis, and this is what I found (it's amazing how much you forget, write everything down!!) : At one month she could go 5 hours between feedings at night. At two months she could go 7 hours between feedings at night. At three months she could go 10-11 hours. This continued on until she was about 5 months old when she began to go 12-13 hours at night.
Sooo, there you have it folks. Please feel free to ask me any questions. I can't guarantee that my advice will work, but I'm always open. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here's to numerous naps and soundless slumber. May you sleep in heavenly peace.