Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Baby Sleep

Oh hey friends. Remember me? While some of you may be wondering where the heck I've been, I'm sure there are plenty of you who didn't even notice I was gone. This blog brings me so much joy and I definitely never intended to let it sit untouched for an entire week. I've had a tough couple of weeks but I am happy to be more clearheaded and am looking forward to catching up on your blogs, responding to your emails and getting back to writing this precious blog of mine.

Did you guys know that it's Sleep Week?
Sleep Awareness Week™, which takes place March 2-9, 2014, is an annual public education and awareness campaign to promote the importance of sleep. 

My fellow blogger, friend and sponsor, Jess from Being Mrs. Beer, has a great series called The Sleep Chronicles,
 where other mamas are posting their experiences with baby sleep. Sleep is so important for babies, kids and adults and I think your healthy sleep habits start from day 1. I was lucky enough to guest post on Jess' blog a couple of months ago and wanted to re-share the post today in honor of Sleep Week!

Ahhh, sleep. I feel like more than any other word “sleep” came up most while I was pregnant. ”Make sure you sleep now while you can” was probably the most overheard phrase of my pregnancy and if I’m being completely honest, it drove me nuts!  Wouldn't the smart thing be to NOT sleep to prepare myself for this baby everyone is telling me is never going to sleep?

Baby sleep seems to be one of those hot topics that everyone has an opinion on AND every mom worries, researches and stresses over. I am blessed to have a daughter who has been an incredible sleeper from the start. When I would tell friends and family about Kenley’s sleep habits they’d always tell me how lucky I was and how #2 is sure to be a terrible sleeper and frankly I took a little offense to this. I think that a good sleeper is partially NATURE and partially NURTURE. I am incredibly grateful to have a healthy, happy-natured, calm baby but I've worked hard to help Kenley be a great sleeper and think at least a little of the credit should go to parenting. Of course, if your baby is colicky, or gassy, or sick, it may be more difficult to establish good sleep habits and there's certainly no "perfect recipe" for a good sleeper. But, even before Kenley was born I knew that it was up to me and my husband to set Kenley up for success in the sleep department.

So here’s what we did & my tips for a rock star sleeper

SLEEP BOOKS ARE NOT THE BIBLE. There are a TON of sleep books out there and I've read a lot of them. Some I like, some I don't. I think it's totally a personal preference. The two sleep books I LOVED and recommend to all of my friends are "Happiest Baby on the Block" and "Bringing Up Bebe".
While I loved these books and thought they had great points and ideas {which I used}, I did not live my life by them. Use books as resources to try something new but don't pigeonhole yourself into ONE method or idea because guess what...every baby is different. What might work perfectly for your best friend may be a disaster for you. So keep an open mind and figure out what works for you and sets up your baby {and family} for success. 
TRY NOT TO FREAK OUT. You're a brand new mom and your brand spankin' new baby is asleep in her bassinet next to your bed and you're waking up every two seconds to make sure she's breathing because you've read so many reports on SIDS you're just sure something awful is going to happen if you fall asleep. SIDS is terrifying, trust me, I've put my finger under Kenley's nose and my hand on her chest more times than I care to admit but if you use your common sense and make sure your baby is sleeping in a choke free, suffocation free area...that's really the best you can do. Checking on your baby, bugging your baby or God forbid waking your baby every three minutes is not going to get anyone in the house rested.
BABIES SLEEP CRAZY. The noises that come out of my child while she's sleeping are nuts. She sleep moans. Sleep cries. Sleep squeaks. My kid will even sit up and look around in her sleep. If I jumped out of bed and picked her up to comfort her every time she made a peep I WOULD NEVER SLEEP and neither would she. Adults actually wake up several times throughout the night, but we put ourselves back to sleep without thinking so we don't even notice it....babies do the same thing just need to let them. If your kid is crying for you, by all means, go comfort! But give them the opportunity to learn to put themselves back to sleep first. 
GET IN A ROUTINE. I started a night time routine with Kenley the first week she was home. At the same time every night I would give her a bath, a baby massage, put on her jammies, feed her and put her down in her bassinet in our room with all the lights off. Did she need a bath every night? No. Did she need to go to bed at the same time every night as a newborn? No. But I wanted her to learn as early as humanly possible the difference between nap time and bed time.  And she did. Within two weeks she would go down without fussing. 
DON'T WAKE YOUR BABY TO EAT. Before you freak out, when you are first establishing breastfeeding, yes you should wake your baby to eat. It's important for your supply and also important to make sure your baby is eating enough. With that said {and this comes straight from my lactation consultant} feel free to space out feedings as time goes on. I went from every 2 hours the first week to every 3 hours the second week and then every 4 hours the third week. When I saw my lactation consultant week 4 she told me to stop waking the baby....and guess what happened....SIX HOURS STRAIGHT of luxurious sleep. One week later Kenley was sleeping through the night {at 5 weeks old} and has been ever since. If your baby is hungry they will tell you. If you consistently wake them to be fed for months and months on end...they are going to get into a habit of waking up and eating, so whether they are hungry or not they will expect to be fed. 
CREATE A SLEEP SPACE. Those first few weeks of maternity leave Kenley slept pretty much wherever I was. Whether she was asleep on my chest or in her Rock N Play in the living room, girlfriend slept wherever she fell asleep. As she started to get into a little more of a nap time routine {I'd say around 4 weeks old} I started to leave the Rock N Play in our bedroom and put her down for naps in there. Then, eventually we graduated to naps in her crib. I wanted Kenley to get used to and comfortable sleeping in a room by herself. She familiarized herself with the rooms and knew where she was so she wasn't scared if I put her down and walked away. This definitely took some time but I imagine if I would have kept up with the living room routine for much longer, it would have been a tougher transition.
CRY IT OUT, TO AN EXTENT. Is there anything more controversial than crying it out? I'm sure there is. But still, it's controversial. I know people who are very passionate about both sides of the spectrum and to each their own. I can honestly say, I'm in the middle. I know my baby and know that she will fuss and moan and even "chat" before she falls asleep. It's her way of trying to fight it and eventually she gives in. However, there have definitely been times where she's upset or teething or so overly tired she's delusional and she will scream bloody murder. As a mom we learn our babies' different cries and you KNOW the one I'm talking about. If I hear the "mom I'm scared or in pain and really need you" cry I will not under any circumstances let her cry it out. I want Kenley to know she's not alone and that I am here for her when she needs me. BUT, like I said above, if I run to her every time she makes a squeak she's going to learn really quickly that gets attention and it's guaranteed she'd use it to her advantage. Again, I want to teach her to go to sleep on her own.

I could talk about baby sleep for hours...and it may have just taken you hours to read that novel of a post. Whoopsies. But, I really think the key to a good sleeper is giving your baby the opportunity to learn...if you don't let go of the bike, they'll never learn to ride alone, right? 

Make sure to check out Jess's Blog and all of The Sleep Chronicle posts!


P!nky said...

Great post, even though I don't need it quite yet. SO many different options, but I agree, that as a mom you know what's best!

Jess Beer said...

Thanks for the sweet mention! Glad to see you back - I was starting to worry about you!

Bridget said...

We made the mistake of waking Turner in the middle of the night to feed him. He didn't really start sleeping 8+ hours until after 5-6 months (I can't even remember). We started the bed time routine early on also so he would know the difference between nap and bed. He goes down no problem for bed time.

Ruthie Hart said...

I want sleep week to be over... this has been Ford's worst week of sleep thus far! UGH!

~Dawn~ said...

I think that the best statement here is "knowing your child". It will take a little while, but you will grow to learn your child's needs and wants and when they are just needing attention. Trust your mama instincts with all aspects of parenthood, whether it's sleeping or eating, ect. You are doing AMAZING with Kenley! Love this post!

hello erin said...

i fully blame the juice for having a few weird weeks. FO SURE. love these tips!! i swear those are how we got a good sleeper too. . . that, and i think she was just born good!

Sarah said...

How have we never crossed paths? We also have a little pup named Bailey. Anyway, we just found out we're having a girl so I'm officially following your page!

Sarah said...

Oh sleep! It's so different with every baby and every family. My child was a horrible sleeper and it took about 2 years before she consistently slept through the night. I can only hope that if we have another that that baby would be a better sleeper than Aubrey was! Phew!

Carolyn said...

I love this post! Sleep is such a touchy subject, but I'm grateful that we've both had such good luck!!!

Kari said...

I think sleeping is the hardest aspect of being a new mom. Not the part where I don't get much sleep but the comparing my baby to others and frustration that my baby doesn't sleep thru the night like other babies. BUT- I will say this- it gets better! And I've learned that I can't possibly expect Colin to learn so many new things and adjust to more than one transition at once. Our pediatrician suggested that each week we work to get an extra half hour of sleep before we feed him which has been working wonderfully! We are now at 5.5 hours of sleep consistently and last night (although we had a few interruptions because he got himself unswaddled)he made it 7 hours before wanting to eat again! It's progress and that is great! Thanks to you and Carolyn for all your encouragement!

Becky Borgman said...

Goooood tips! I was not good about letting Lydia fall asleep on her own after being rocked to the point of getting sleepy and would rock her to sleep fully. She sleeps great through the night but getting her to sleep is hard and I am the only one who can do it without her fighting because she still nurses. We recently started letting her cry it out to an extent but it is a work in progress.

MIL said...

Way to go Mommy! You are sooo smart. I wish the person I Nannied for would realize these facts that I mentioned over and over again to her. Soo good for you and I am proud of how my granddaughter is being raised and taken care of by her parents. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, you all!!! Bailey too.

Katie said...

What did you use for a bassinet in the first weeks? Was it a Rock n Play or did you actually get a bassinet? Also, when did she start sleeping in her crib? As you can tell, I am clueless about all of this!

Ashley said...

Such a great post. Sleep is so different for every baby, it's great to cover every aspect of it! I agree with the middle of the road 'cry-it-out'.

Melissa @ i carry your heart said...

This is a great post, I agree with all your advice. Azalea was also a great sleeper from the start, which was so nice. I wasn't prepared for Ashford to be the exact opposite, especially when we were doing everything the same. He wakes up crying 2-5 times/night...with no end in sight. I just have to tell myself it won't last forever....right?! haha

ajs {of MN} said...

this is a great post! Aaron and I were also blessed with a baby that liked and still likes her sleep and has since 5 week as well and ALWAYS in her own bed! :)

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