After our first night home from the hospital, I absolutely dreaded nightime. Because night with a newborn meant a crying baby, no sleep, struggling to breastfeed with a co-sleeper wedged between Mr. H and me. Baby H cried whenever she was set down and busted out of her swaddle constantly. Many nights I cried, and when she would finally settle down to sleep between us (again, in the co-sleeper) I would freeze as I slept because I didn't want to keep any blankets on myself for fear that they would get anywhere near her face (they wouldn't have; I was paranoid and sleep deprived).
Fortunately, things got better and by 10 weeks I was definitely feeling human again.
Fast forward to where we're at today, now that Baby H 8 1/2 months. Nights in our house are a relatively easy thing (knock on A LOT of wood), and they have been for months. Baby H started sleeping through the night at 12 weeks, from 7pm - 7am. I feel bad and almost braggy by saying that, but it's 100% the truth and I'm not even sure sometimes how we were lucky enough for this to happen. I haven't read any sleep books and I know nothing about formalized "sleep training." I know so many moms who struggle to get their babies to sleep for a few decent stretches at night and I wish I had some amazing advice for them! If only Baby H could talk and share her secrets.
When all is said and done, I think I just happen to have a super chill baby who really likes to sleep. Granted, not every bedtime is filled with unicorns and rainbows - some nights she puts herself to bed perfectly and other nights she might cry for 10-15 minutes before going to sleep. Last night she woke up at 9:30pm and cried for about 10 minutes before going back down. Every night is different and I always try and not take the sleep for granted.
There are a few things, though, that I feel like we are doing right (beyond having a little girl who loves to snooze), and a few things we aren't doing that also have helped us.
- I have never rocked Baby H to sleep. The rocker in her nursery is terrible (my fault since I picked it out!) but I think that works in our favor. She is not used to being rocked to sleep and I'm never tempted to do it. Which also means if we're traveling we don't have to hope and pray there will be a rocker wherever we're staying.
- We use a white noise machine. This is important for naps and nightime and we love it. Our house is small and her bedroom faces the street, so she'd constantly be woken up by the sounds of people, cars and trucks. The white noise machine blocks everything out pretty well and it's small and easy to travel with.
- I made terrible curtains for her nursery. The curtains I made do not block a lot of light out. I was very angry with myself for doing a bad job, but now I've realized this is also a blessing. Baby H doesn't need complete darkness for naps or nightime. Which, again, helps when we travel as it's not a given we'll have a room as dark as a cave when we're away from home and also helps during certain parts of the year where it stays light later in the evening.
- Her bedtime is 7pm. Or earlier. We absolutely don't stray away from her bedtime; there is no staying out late in our house. We start getting her ready for bed at 6pm and she's in her crib by 7pm. Earlier if she's particularly fussy or had a day filled with shorter naps than usual. The only time we haven't stuck with this bedtime in the past 5 months was when we were traveling around Christmas. This routine is so important!
- Crying or fussing it out. We weren't given much of a choice about crying it out - the first nanny we hired (we're now on our second nanny) was very strict about having Baby H cry it out for naps. It's something I definitely didn't have it in me to do (it's HARD hearing your baby cry and cry), but our nanny was very firm that it needed to happen. Baby H was as terrible napper! Crying it out helped tremendously with her naps and also translated well into nights. It made me less uncomfortable with letting her cry or fuss when I put her to bed at night and keeps me from running straight into her nursery if she wakes in the middle of the night. 9 times out of 10 she will put herself back to sleep. She had a 2-week sleep regression at 4 months where she was inconsolable, so of course I was going into her nursery more at night, but once the worst of it had passed and she was still waking up periodically, I let her cry it out and after 1 or 2 nights she went right back to sleeping through the night.
- We don't rely on motion. Before we worked on crying it out, we did rely on her bouncer or swing for some good naps. Once our nanny started and was working on naps and crying it out, we did the same at home, which meant always napping and sleeping at night in her crib and no motion involved. In fact, a few months ago we loaned our bouncer and swing to friends for their little one. Just as we don't rock her to sleep in our arms, not letting anything else rock her is just as important.
Of course, we will probably never know for sure whether Baby H is a great sleeper. And since we're not walking encyclopedias on creating good sleep habits for your baby, everything we've done is based on assumptions, accident, basic advice from a nanny, and a whole lot of hope. But for whatever reason, whether due to us making the right choices, Baby H simply loving sleep, or a combination of both, things are going really well.
So no matter where you are with your little one's sleep, know that there is hope and the possiblity of well rested, dream-filled sleep in your near future. It will happen and it will be glorious!
What steps have you taken to help your LO's sleep habits?
Sleep Training part 10 of 111. Sleep Training Books by Guides
2. When to Sleep Train by Mrs. Bee
3. Does When You Sleep Train Help Determine Success? by Mrs. Bee
4. Sleep Training Noelle: Part I by Mrs. High Heels
5. Sleep Training Noelle: Part II by Mrs. High Heels
6. Rubies' Sleep Training Story by parenting
7. Sleep Training Part 1 - How We Night Trained by Mrs. Bee
8. Sleep Training by Mrs. Jump Rope
9. The Whens, Whys and Hows of Our Sleep Training Process by Mrs. Pen
10. Sleep at 8 months & How Baby H Started Sleeping Through the Night at 12 Weeks by Mrs. Hopscotch
11. Crying it Out by Mrs. Pencil
Hellobee Series: Mrs. Hopscotch part 12 of 121. Going Au Naturale by Mrs. Hopscotch
2. The Journey to Baby H by Mrs. Hopscotch
3. A Nursery... Pouf! by Mrs. Hopscotch
4. A Work At Home Dad by Mrs. Hopscotch
5. Big Reveal: Baby H's Nursery! by Mrs. Hopscotch
6. A Day with a Newborn by Mrs. Hopscotch
7. Placenta Encapsulation by Mrs. Hopscotch
8. The Nanny Share by Mrs. Hopscotch
9. Reflections on Maternity Leave by Mrs. Hopscotch
10. In the picture by Mrs. Hopscotch
11. I'm in the picture! by Mrs. Hopscotch
12. Sleep at 8 months & How Baby H Started Sleeping Through the Night at 12 Weeks by Mrs. Hopscotch