Like most new parents, we are constantly asked whether or not Baby H is a good sleeper. In the early days, I was always sad to report that she wasn't. It's not that I expected her to be sleeping through the night - I'm a fairly realistic person - but I thought that we'd be able to lay her down in her crib or co-sleeper and that she'd at least lay there for a little bit. Nope, not our baby.
From Day 1, Baby H has been a mover and a shaker. Her arms and legs never stop! She always managed to get at least one arm out of her swaddle, no matter how tightly she'd been tucked in. And when she was swaddled, she would lay there lifting her legs up and down like she was having a little workout session in her crib.
Needless to say, for the first couple of weeks little sleep was had by all. It was incredibly hard.
Then I remembered the Miracle Blanket, which I'd heard great things about. I'd actually registered for one but no one bought it for us. Oh, how I wish we'd had this from the very beginning! The great thing about this blanket is that not only does it take the guess work out of swaddling with a normal blanket (I'm terrible at it), it has flaps that you use to keep the baby's arms in place and then you tightly swaddle the rest of the baby's body. It's genius! Remember how Baby H is a Houdini who can easily wiggle out of a swaddle? Not with the Miracle Blanket! It keeps her hands peacefully at her sides (she can still do her leg lifts, though!).
It. Is. Amazing. Our nights drastically changed after the Miracle Blanket. She either wasn't fussy when we swaddled her or she calmed down once we started swaddling her. And, best of all, she went to sleep once she was swaddled! If she was sleepy enough I placed her in her crib. If she was still awake, I'd nurse her for a little bit until she was sleepy and then in the crib she went. She'd often wake up once or twice within the first hour and we would either rock her or I'd nurse her a little bit more. And then she'd be fast asleep!
That was probably for the first 3-9 weeks of Baby H's life. And then, in the past week, she has reinvented the wheel (babies tend to do this, don't they?!). All of a sudden she started fighting the swaddle and screaming! One night when it seemed like this was not going to end, I unswaddled her and frantically put her in a sleep sack. After rocking her for a bit until she was asleep, I put her down in her crib and she had an amazing night of sleep. She'd wiggle around and flail her arms but not wake herself up.
Since our first (successful) night of no swaddle, things have been hit or miss. Sometimes she'll go to sleep easily and sleep well in the sleep sack. Other nights she flails around like crazy and constantly wakes herself up, which means back in the swaddle she goes. I like not having her swaddled if it works for her - even though the swaddle is supposed to be cozy and comforting, inside I hate the idea of her arms strapped to her sides. It's so restricting!
But, swaddled or not swaddled, at 10 weeks she's doing incredibly well with her sleep (in my opinion). She consistently sleeps for 4-5 hour stretches at night, sometimes longer if we're lucky! Last night was a near perfect night of sleep (for all of us):
9pm: Baby H asleep in her crib (swaddled - she was a wiggle worm last night!)
4:15am: Baby H woke up for a quick feeding
4:30am: Baby H back asleep in her crib
6:30am: Mommy went down to the nursery to wake up Baby H, feed her, and get ready for the Farmer's Market!
I have to say that I, as a proud momma, think that's pretty awesome! She's sleeping so well and for such long stretches, I'm hopeful that she'll sleep through the night soon. And, I went to bed around 11pm, so I got around 5 blissful hours of sleep before Baby H's feeding. Ladies with newborns, keep the faith that sleep will return!
Now that Baby H is getting the hang of sleeping at night, I'm working on a nap routine with her before I go back to work. She's too young for us to be terribly strict with her on a schedule, but I do want to start getting her to nap on her own at least once a day. Typically she'll nap in her swing or laying on me, but getting at least one good nap a day in her crib is the goal. In fact, as I write this she's been sleeping for 30 minutes in her crib (unswaddled!) and she had a 45 minute crib nap this morning. Even if they are short naps, I'm excited by her ability to start napping alone.
My daytime nap routine is:
- Watch Baby H's "sleepy cues": rubbing face, general fussiness, yawning
- Take her into her nursery, turn on the white noise machine and either put her in a sleep sack or swaddle her
- Nurse her until she falls asleep
- Let her sleep in my arms/on the nursing pillow for about 15 minutes or until she is sound asleep
- Put sleeping baby into her crib and quietly scurry away
- Hope and pray for at least an hour of sleeping baby
Eventually I'd like her to just go down for a nap easily in her crib, but in the short term I just want to get her used to napping independently.
Everything with Baby H has a learning curve, and anything can change on a moment's notice. Tomorrow night she could decide she doesn't want to sleep. But I can remember the early days with her and how I never thought we would sleep again. And if we've come this far, we must be doing something right!
Watching Baby H's cues and keeping to a routine is vital to making sure she sleeps well. What has helped you get your little one to snooze?