Ah, the woes of nighttime sleep, the bane of many newborns’ parents’ existence. Perhaps adding insult are the first couple relatively blissful weeks of newborn life during which sleepy babes tease parents with adequate stretches of slumber and quick returns to shut-eye.
I have fairly strict philosophies on sleep, which I’ll write more about when I review Babywise in about a week, but for now, here’s a short version. Also, I must say that this is the plan that I’ve found works best for me and our family, based on experiences with Kiddo1. It won’t work for everyone – we all have our own philosophies to follow. Here are a few of mine, though:
- I won’t use “sleep props” such as comfort-nursing or swings to soothe my baby to sleep.
- I will put baby in her crib for naps and nighttime sleep while she’s still awake so that she can learn to fall asleep on her own in her own crib.
- I will teach baby to self-soothe (if they wake and do not need a diaper change, feeding, burping, etc.) by not rushing to her every time she makes the slightest peep.
For Baby2’s first couple weeks of life, I pretty much ignored my own rules. I used sleep props like nursing to calm her down before sleep, I put her in her crib already sleeping, I rushed to her every time she stirred, I let her nap in her bouncy seat all day long and let her sleep in our bed all night. I did these things because she was (and still is!) so new, so tiny, so helpless, so adorable to look at!
An aside: some may think my rules are too strict for a newborn. I get that – I read them back to myself and yes, they are strict. But they are not hurtful, they don’t break our baby-mama attachment and they don’t cause psychological damage. If anything, they foster solid sleeping habits, increase our attachment because we’re both happily well-rested and give baby confidence in her abilities to self-soothe (I understand that last one seems like a stretch, but Kiddo1 is living proof that it’s true). Also, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with breaking these rules every now and then. Napping with Baby2 now and then or falling asleep together after a nighttime feeding once-in-awhile is really no big deal, but I’d like my habits to follow my rules a vast majority of the time.
Anyway, so after a rough night in which Baby2 couldn’t be ushered back to sleep on her own and I caved to comfort nursing and co-sleeping, I knew it was time to get on my game. That, and Mr. Handsome reminded me that the habits I’m starting go against my sleep principles… that, and he’s tired.
Today I’m practicing what I preach. Case in point: for Baby2’s first nap of the day I put her in her crib. She cried. But she only cried for a minute (seemed like an eternity!) and soothed herself right to sleep (she didn’t cry herself to sleep! I saw!) and slept so long I had to wake her up for her feeding (she’s probably tired after last night too!). All hope is not lost. Over the today and the next few days I plan on having her take more naps in her crib until she’s sleeping in there exclusively (with one exception, see below).
Over the next few nights I plan on trying my hardest to put Baby2 back in her crib after a feeding. My hurdle isn’t so much the desire to hold her close all night (although that does factor in!) it is more that I just plain fall asleep during a feeding. I’m tired! She falls asleep too, it’s a win-win, right? Except she isn’t learning to sleep on her own and that will escalate into bigger sleep problems later on if I’m not careful. So it’s time to break that habit.
When we’re out-and-about, Baby2 will have to sleep in her carrier or even car seat, which I’m okay with. But I don’t want her sleeping there all the time, either. I don’t feel like she gets as good-quality sleep there as she does at home. This brings me back to part of our dilemma over the past few days: we’ve been out too much! We’ve had family in town since Baby2 was born and we just haven’t had an opportunity to work on our routine or our habits. So I can’t blame myself completely (score!). Now that the visitors are gone, we can shift our focus back to Baby2’s sleep needs. Yay!
Updates will follow, so I’d better get on my game!