If theres one thing we all need in life; well besides food and water, is SLEEP SLEEP SLEEP! I was determined to have my baby sleeping through the night as soon as possible. I know, you guys are on the edge of your seats wondering if it actually worked. The answer? YES! Lyric was sleeping through the night at one month old. Yes I said that correctly, ONE month! Heres what I did.
I purchased the book Baby Wise- Giving your infant the gift of nighttime sleep. I linked it for you. So buy it, take it for long romantic walks, read it, eat with it, sleep with it, just do what you gotta do to soak in all the information this book has to offer. Baby Wise will talk about the difference between cluster and scheduled feedings which in my opinion, it's very important to understand the difference.
After I read the book I had to determine what type of schedule I wanted to have. Did I want to cluster feed? (HELL NO! not for me) or did I want to schedule feed? I thought about how I live my every day life which was pretty much right on point with a everyday schedule. I'm a creature of habit and I love having a every day routine. So I figured, if my 27 year old self likes schedules I'm sure my newborn baby would like to know what the -ef is goin' on too!
Never turn on lights when feeding your baby at night. Turn on a soft lit night light or lamp. If you turn on lights it stimulates them to think its time to wake up. Having it dark helps them understand that it's still night time and their just waking up to eat. When they're first born, they don't know the difference between night and day, so this helps them adapt to the concept.
Do not talk to your baby in high tones. You want them to know its not time to play, talk or be wide awake. This is a time to eat and go back to bed. As a mother, they're connected to you so this allows them to go off of your body language and demeanor to help differentiate between night and day. So speak in soft quite tones during the night.
Lay them in their crib while they're still awake. This is crucial. Imagine being moved after you've fallen asleep and have no idea where you've been moved too. You wake up so confused and scared. Lets be honest, It's happened to all of us at some point. We've woken up thinking we've been kidnapped and taken across the country. Well, thats exactly what happens in the mind of your baby. Even if you give them a slight nudge for their eyes to open as your laying them in their crib, they will know where they were placed last. This helps when they wake up in the middle of the night, not understanding where they are.
Now that I determined I wanted to have our baby on schedule feedings only, I had to sit down with my husband and come up with the specific scheduled times we wanted. This is what we chose and what would work with our schedules. Note: In the beginning babies eat every two hours so our schedule was based off of that. The times listed below are the times I would wake him for a feeding. Here was our newborn schedule:
Okay, heres the fun stuff.... not. The first week was miserable. I had to set an alarm to make sure I got up every two hours to feed him. Trust me, I hit the snooze button a little more then I wanted to and found myself saying '5 more minutes' in my dreams. I know a lot of people will say "never wake a sleeping baby" but if you want them to be on a schedule, waking them up is KEY! If you decided to let them sleep, they will most likely wake up when ever they want, and that wouldn't be sticking to a schedule. Now, heres the semi hard part- When you wake up your baby up for their feeding they will most likely be sleepy and not want to eat much, because remember YOU'RE waking them up. You'll find them falling asleep at the bottle/boob more then they should. BUT, you need to make sure you feed them their whole meal during that feeding time (if they eat 1oz bottles, make sure their eating the whole 1oz. If you're breast feeding, I fed 30 minutes on each boob for the first two weeks). If their still falling asleep you need to stimulate them. I would put cold wash clothes on Lyrics feet and undress him (he hated being cold). This typically woke him up because he wasn't warm and cozy, which allowed him to finish eating. However, If they absolutely don't want to eat then they have to wait until their next feeding time before they can eat again. I know it sounds mean and horrible but its all about control. You have to teach them they can't just snack whenever they have the urge. Imagine if we never had a full meal and just snacked all day long... I don't even want to imagine that because I would be so unhealthy! It's the same with babies, they need structure and for someone to teach them the ways. They were born with instincts to eat, but not how to adapt to the lifestyle of eating. This only takes a couple days and your baby should start understanding. They learn so quick!
Bedtime routine is a must. Every night do the same thing so they know its time to start winding down. In our case, we did a bath every night around the same time (even if we didn't wash him every time). We put him in his PJ's, Nested Bean Zen Sack, bedtime lotion, read a story and gave him a nighttime bottle which was 1oz more then usual. Although I was still breast feeding, I pumped his bedtime bottle to make sure he was getting an adequate amount of milk to hold him over while he slept. The book says you should never put your baby to bed already asleep, because when they wake up they won't understand why they're alone or where they're at which cues the crying. We tried to follow this but some nights it was hard.
Nested Bean Zen Sack- Once I heard about Nested bean, we started using it religiously. Imagine coming from a place you were once so warm and cozy inside to a big world where you know nothing. He just wanted to feel our touch, to know we were there and have that comfort. Well, we don't believe in co-sleeping so we tried the next best thing, the Zen Sack! It has lightly weighted beans in the center that simulates the pressure of your touch on their chest. (If they're a tummy sleeper, just turn the sack around and the wighted bean will be on their back). This was originally designed by a mama who noticed her baby always wanted her touch. SO SMART! They also have a bodysuit and footed PJ's now which we will be using for our second babe!
After succeeding with the same schedule for the past two weeks, (and your baby is back at their birth weight) you can now start to drop a feeding and spread out the time between each bottle a little longer. For us, we decided to continue feeding every two hours during the day, and stretch one nighttime feeding out by 3 hours, and drop the 2:00am feeding so I had more time to sleep at night. So heres what our new updated schedule looked like:
The 2:00am feeding was hard to drop at first, he woke up wanting to eat because thats what he was used to. What did I do? I found something else to soothe him instead of eating. I would wait a few minutes until I heard his bloody murder scream, walk in his room (lights off, soft quite voice) put my hand on his chest and rock him a little while putting his binky back in his mouth (We've tried every Binky possible and found Mam to be the best, click to view.) I had to go in there a few times during that period of time, but eventually he got tired and fell back sleep. This took about 3 days for him to get used to the new schedule.
Wohoo! Three weeks have passed and scheduling is going good. I'm one tired mama but I know it will all be worth it. Now, were at the three week mark. It's time to drop another feeding. I chose to drop the 12am feeding, so I could go to bed around 9pm with my husband and wake up around 5am with my husband. I still chose to feed every two hours during the day, I felt like this helped him sleep better at night. Heres what our updated schedule looked like:
This was REALLY hard. Lyric woke up CONSTANTLY during the night. I spent the next 3-4 days up and down all night long sticking his binky back in his mouth to soothe him. It was really frustrating and I thought to myself "this isn't going to work". Finally, one night he just slept.... I only woke up a couple times to put his binky back in and thats all he needed.
WE HAVE A SLEEPING BABY PEOPLE! My husband and I have to wake up a couple times a night to put his binky back in, but that normally does the trick and he's back to bed. Phew! I'm so glad the past month is over with because that was extremely difficult to get through.
Now that your baby is sleeping through the night, you will be able to play with feeding times and the gaps between those feedings. As your baby gets older they will start eating more as well, so this will help with the time gaps in-between each feedings. At first, sticking to the schedule will be hard and most days you'll want to give up so you can get an extra 5 minutes of sleep. DON'T GIVE UP!!! You can do it. Although it may take some babies a little longer to get the hang of things, it will work. It's all about consistency and sticking to a schedule.
I just received a message from a friend today whose baby started sleeping through the night at 6 weeks old. She's a second time mom who co-slept with her first baby. This sweet message made me smile from ear to ear:
"I'm a second time mom who did it all wrong with my first sleeping in my room and its a whole new world. I figured out the joy of having a baby that sleeps through the night in their OWN room!"...Elijah sleeps through the night BUT it's because of the advice you gave me when he was a newborn! I think it would help so many mama's! I'm lucky I got to hear it when you shared it with me!"
Lyric is now 1 1/2 Years old. Scheduling has been a dream come true. I know exactly what he wants when he wants it. I never have to guess whats wrong with him or why he's upset. I even know what time of day he pees & poops (thats how scheduled we are)! It makes it so much easier for me to get things done, take him places and well... for my sanity. ha! I can actually relax a little when my husband and I go out of town because I can leave a detailed list of exactly what needs to be done for my mom to follow, she appreciates it also! I even get comments like "wow that baby follows that schedule to a T". Which makes me so proud!
I'm also pregnant with a second little boy and we are SO excited to welcome him into the world. We will be doing the SAME exact thing listed in this blog post. I can't wait to have two kids on detailed schedules!
Also note, every child goes through sleep regression and teething, so when that happens your schedule will become a little mixed up. Thats completely okay, as long as you (& your babe) don't make it a habit the schedule will resume!
I have attached a printable schedule from House Mix Blog that I use when my husband and I leave town or have my mom watch Lyric. I customized it to fit our schedule, printed it out and laminated it. Its hanging on our fridge incase it is ever needed. I highly recommend doing the same if you ever leave your babe! Click the image to be directed to House Mix Blog and download it!
I hope this inspires the mamas to be, or helps the moms who are sleep deprived. I've only done scheduling on a newborn so if your babe is older the scheduling will probably have to be adjusted. It's not to late to try! Babies/ kiddos are so smart and they catch on so fast, it just takes structure and patience.