Now that Olivia’s STTN (sleeping through the night, for all you non-mommy discussion board addicts), I figured I’d take this opportunity to document our newborn sleep tips before she hits the sleep regression phase and we have to start from scratch. Before you say, “Woah, 9-2:30 and 3-5:30 is not STTN,” according to Elizabeth Pantley if you’re getting 5 or more consecutive hours of sleep, your baby is sleeping through the night. So there.
Not only is every baby different in terms of what he/she will respond to, but different tricks will work at different times. What works for us right now is probably a combination of techniques I’ve read about in different books. The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night and The Happiest Baby on the Block were the most helpful.
Here’s what we’ve learned so far:
- Put baby to sleep when she’s drowsy but awake (easier said than done!). When we are able to do this, we gently stroke her stomach and repeat “Shh” and “It’s sleepytime” until she’s asleep. It usually takes 15-20 minutes. The idea is that eventually, the phrase “Shh, it’s sleepytime” will be the trigger for her to go to sleep on her own. FYI, some daycares will actually “expel” your baby if she can’t fall asleep on her own during nap time, so it’s worth practicing.
- Put baby in her crib or bassinet during deep sleep, not REM sleep. Obviously, this applies to those times when O falls asleep in my arms, but it’s also really helpful for when she’s fallen asleep in her swing or in another location and we want to move her. I wait until her limbs are completely limp and she’s breathing deeply and then place her in her bassinet. If you try to put baby down when her eyes are still fluttering and her limbs are stiff or jerking a bit, she’ll usually wake up just as you’re getting comfy in your own bed (the most annoying thing ever). For us, this means waiting about 30 minutes after she finishes eating. It works out well because I like to keep her propped up for a while after she eats to minimize reflux. The time you invest at that point is well worth not having to start the bedtime routine from scratch.
- White noise makes a huge difference, especially when baby is awake and fussy or crying. We have a Sleep Sheep and put it right next to O’s bassinet on the highest volume possible. Before you yell at me that I’m going to mess up her ear drums, ask Dr. Karp how loud the ‘Shushing’ should be. It should be LOUD.
- Experiment with swaddles, then start all over again. The aden + anais swaddle that didn’t work at all at week 3 has been working beautifully for the last few weeks. And the Summer Infant Swaddleme is great for especially fussy nights because the velcro really helps her arms stay put. We try not to use that one too much; something just doesn’t feel 100% right with securing our baby with velcro for the night. We must have gone through every swaddle on the market, and these are the two we landed on.
- Be calm. Sometimes I’m so desperate for sleep that I become anxious and I really think Olivia can sense it. That’s when I call in my hubby. His calm swaddling technique has been responsible for some of our longest stretches of sleep.
- Begin bedtime early and stick to a routine. I take O up to bed to begin our routine between 8 and 8:30. I put her in PJs, talk softly to her, snuggle or read a book, then feed her. Then, I go to sleep too. This is so difficult, especially when there’s something good on TV and I really want that alone time with hubby, but I am serious about my sleep! I figure she’s still so young, and sleep may be hard to come by (even though she’s starting to STTN), so for now her bedtime is my bedtime.
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