I wrote here about the shock to my system when we brought home our second baby and we are still finding our feet on a daily basis. One of the topics that we grappled with as a family, was ensuring that each family member was happy, healthy and well rested, and so the topic of baby sleep comes up.
My honest opinion on the matter is that I have no opinion on what parents should do. Whatever works for you – do it, as long as you, your children and partner are happy.
When our second baby (Ava) was about 6 weeks old, I arranged for a sleep consultant to provide us with an individualized new born sleep guide. The new born sleep plan was very gentle, and it contained easy, basic suggestions on how to make Ava’s sleep environment more comfortable. Taking action to help our baby become better rested and have some form of routine had a positive impact on all four of us. Our 3-year-old, Caitlyn, also benefited, since I could spend less time putting Ava to sleep or having her sleep on me. This gave Caitlyn and I a lot more one-on-one time together. By implementing these changes, we saw immediate improvement with Ava’s night time sleep, whereas naps only lengthened out consistently around 5 months, although we continued with the routine.
These are 5 tips for new born sleep that worked for us:
1. We created a bed time routine at around 6 weeks old for Ava and stuck with it. This had a HUGE impact on Ava’s sleep as well as our whole family. When Ava came home we sort of went with the flow and it was not working well, it was utter chaos to put it bluntly. However, as soon as we started consistently each evening bathing her, playing lullabies, ‘read’ a story, bottle, bed, it worked wonders. Her sleep in the evening immediately improved, and within a couple of days she no longer woke up on the hour for the first part of the night like she has been since birth.
2. We started Swaddling Ava at 6 weeks. Although I tried earlier she did not enjoy having her arms tied down. I then decided to use the Swaddle Up from Love to dream after reading a number of reviews online such as this one on Amazon. It looks super weird, she looked like a little raccoon but it did help Ava sleep a better as it calmed her startle reflex. We did away with the detachable ‘wings’ by the time she was around 4 months old and just continued to use the sleeping bag for a few more months. Herewith a picture of Ava in her SwaddleUp.
3. Dim the room, make it as dark as possible. This was important at the beginning as we were trying to create a sleep space for Ava, but less important later as Ava became comfortable with playing in her cot for a few minutes until she fell asleep.
4. We used white noise CD for the first 5 months, because where we stayed was noisy in the day. This became an issue when we went away one weekend and we did not bring the white noise CD along, so we just went cold turkey. Ava took a few days to adjust but then she was fine as she was already comfortable in her routine.
5. I pretty much carried Ava most of the day in a sling for the first few months, but at night she slept in her own cot (she shared the room with us). So, we started with one goal, the first one was to help Ava sleep better at night, and then we moved to nap 1 and so on. By the time, I went back to work when Ava was 4.5 months old, she was taking all her naps in her cot and putting herself to sleep 90% of the time.
6. Manage the awake time: we used the guidelines posted by My Baby Sleep Guide. This is a key factor, and helped Ava to fall asleep easily if we kept it right. This was incredibly important in the first 3 months. Ava became less sensitive to awake time immediately after 3 months although we still roughly followed the recommended awake times.
Ava is 8 months old currently and we still maintain her routine. She sleeps through the night 99% of the time with no night feeds and her naps are relatively okay.
Whatever works for your family do what makes sense and makes you feel comfortable that your baby is loved and cared for.
Do you have any things you tried that helped your baby sleep better? This is Ava waking up after a long nap – well rested 🙂
This article was written by Cherralle, a wife and mom of two girls. She is living and working full time in Johannesburg. She is the author and owner of My Daily Cake, a personal blog, where she writes about her life as a full time working mom.
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Feature Image credit: iStock