Is there a more often talked about subject than sleep when it comes to babies?
I mentioned in my last post that sleep has been going really well lately. And I don’t mean that we’re getting up only once or twice a night. I mean that at around 11 weeks old, D was sleeping straight through from 9pm until 7am, and we’ve somehow managed to keep that good sleep pattern going. Here’s how:
At the recommendation of my good friend, C, I purchased the book BabyWise when I was still pregnant. A lot of people aren’t fans of this book and its teachings. Personally (and C said this as well), I don’t think any advice book should be followed strictly, but if you take the parts and advice that work for you and your family, then some amazing things can happen. Like your baby sleeping through the night.
I haven’t read the book from cover to cover, and instead skipped right through to the sleeping advice when Baby D was about 10 weeks old and still getting up between 3 and 4am. I’m going to paraphrase a ton here but what I learned was this:
1) There’s a stage of sleep that babies have called “active sleep”, where they basically kick and grunt and turn their head from side to side. When we were still sleeping in the same room, his active sleeping is what was waking me up around 4am. I made the mistake of thinking he was awake and so I would get up, turn on the lights, unswaddle him, and pick him up to change him and feed him. So mistake #1: He wasn’t actually awake every time.
2)Even if he truly wakes up, that doesn’t always mean he needs to eat. Newborns need to eat about every 3 hours. Once they’re out of the newborn stage and their little bellies can hold more, this isn’t necessary. I had gotten into the mindset of thinking that if he woke up at 4am and hadn’t eaten since 9pm, that’s 5 hours and he must be STARVING. Not true. And I was actually either overfeeding him or even worse, reinforcing a routine of always getting up at 4am.
The book encouraged me to start training him to sleep longer by basically not getting up to feed him at 4am. Duh! It sounds so simple and like a no-brainer, but I hadn’t really thought of doing LESS. So for the next couple nights, whenever he’d wake up at 4am, I’d simply lean over his crib, offer him his paci, and pat him back to sleep without picking him up. For those first few nights, he’d wake up again around 5 and 6, and I just did the same thing – paci and pat him back to sleep – until 7am when I would finally get him out of the crib and feed him. I think it only took about 2 or 3 nights of this for him to get the hang of it, but I was prepared to do it for at least a week. Yay for quick learners! (Him, not me, because I probably could have had him sleeping through the night at like 6 or 8 weeks had I tried this sooner.) Now I’ve finally learned how to tell the difference between his active sleep stages and whether he’s truly awake or not, so it’s much easier to know if those random night squeals need tending to or not. And if they do, then it’s just a matter of a quickie diaper change (which I do in the crib and with only a low light on so as to avoid moving him too much), a paci and some shushing to coax him back into dreamland.
And now that we’re on a good wakeup schedule, putting him to bed at night is a breeze. It’s like his body understands that it gets up at 7am so it needs to go to sleep by 9pm. The hubs and I have talked about putting him to bed earlier, but I think we’d just rather let him sleep later in the morning if he’s still tired. Like this morning, he woke up at 3 needing a diaper change (which is rare), but was back out within a minute and didn’t wake up until about 8:15am.
Now my boobs on the other hand… if I could get them to sleep until 8am, we’d be golden. Saturday morning I was up at 5am needing to pump, and this morning they woke me up at 7. Is there a book out there on sleep training your boobs? If so, I need it.