I also know that everyone's situation and personality is different so what works for us, may not work for you and that is okay. I only share these tips for those who may be looking for a different way to do naps and bedtime. Just know that I don't judge anyone for the way they choose to approach this part of parenting and I hope you can do the same for me.
So without any further ado, here are a few things that have helped us in teaching our little guys to sleep well at night. We have found by consistently doing these things, both Emmett and Gideon were sleeping 6-8 hour stretches by 2 months old. Of course their sleep patterns continue to ebb and flow as we travel, battle sickness or hit growth spurts. But overall, they have become great sleepers and we are so grateful for that!
1// Routine Feedings
This one is huge. Right after the boys were born, I began to work towards getting them on a 2 1/2 - 3 hour feeding schedule. Each day might look a little different and I was able to adjust it depending on our family's schedule, but I was always shooting for full feedings every 3 hours. This enabled them to fill their little bellies throughout the day and access the hind milk // read more on this here // which will fill them up and keep them from just snacking throughout the day. When babies have complete feedings routinely each day to really fill up and be ready to sleep longer stretches at night.
2// Sleep associations
We all have things that we associate with sleep and babies are especially this way. For some this may be nursing to sleep, pacifiers, motion, etc. It's been really fun because with Gideon especially we have seen the power of positive sleep associations. From his first day, we would run a white noise machine and/or fan when it was nap and bedtime. We also swaddle him when we are home and he sleeps in his bed. Lastly, I will usually put a little bit of coconut and lavender essential oil on his little forehead and cheeks to help soothe him to sleep. It's amazing how upon doing those three things, his eyes will immediately get heavy and he is headed right off to sleep. This is our favorite white noise app and this is the highest quality of lavender essential oil that we use on our babies. Not only is this great for naps and bedtime at home, but when we are out running errands and Gideon starts fussing because he is tired, it only takes turning on the noise app on my phone for a few minutes and he is out. It's hilarious to watch because he calms down so drastically!!
3// Laying Down While Drowsy
I know this one can be a bit controversial and that's too bad. If you decide that rocking or nursing your baby to sleep is the path you want to take, awesome! But if you want to set up the habit of your baby learning to fall asleep on his own, then this little tip is for you. If babies can learn to lie down in bed while drowsy, but not quiet asleep, it will set them up with a great habit of knowing how to fall asleep on their own. This has been invaluable to us because it means that every nap and bedtime, we aren't tethered to the room until Gideon falls into a deep sleep. I always swaddle him up, rub on some lavender oil and then sing and cuddle him until his eyes get heavy. Then before he falls fast asleep, I slip him into his cradle. Again, not everyone wants to do this but for us, it works great!
4// Stretching Out Night Feedings
When Gideon was about 6 weeks old, he had a night when he slept from 11 to 6 the next morning. Ahhh! After waking for 6 weeks of night feedings, it was SOOO nice to have that long stretch of unbroken sleep. And all the postpartum mamas said Amen!! It also helped me to know that his little body was physically able to make it that many hours without food. The following week, he went back waking each night around 4:00. Around 7 weeks, I decided to see if I could gently help him to fall back to sleep for a little longer. Sometimes babies' body clock can get set to waking at a certain hour to feed, even if they physically aren't needing a midnight meal.
The next night, I decided that when he woke at 4:00, I would pick him up and try to sooth him back to sleep rather than offering him milk right away. It took a little while, but eventually with some cuddling and walking around our darkened bedroom, he drifted back to sleep. Within a few nights, he was officially sleeping for 6-8 hours and his body clock was reset! The great thing is that he didn't have to cry or be alone. I was right there, gently teaching him to put himself back to sleep. Of course, on the nights he seemed really hungry I would definitely feed him, but this gave him a chance to fall back to sleep in a peaceful way.
Again. . . please know that the purpose of this post is not to say our way is the best. Rather I love passing on little things that we have found helpful and I am always looking to learn from others as well. What things have you found helpful with babies and sleeping?!
Also for more on this subject, I cannot recommend this book enough: Cherish The First Six Weeks//affiliate link included// Many of these tips and philosophy has come from reading and putting her wonderful wisdom into practice!
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