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Our Sleep Game, Vol. 2

Sunday I pledged to start working on Baby2’s sleep routine and start developing sleep habits that align with my philosophies. And that’s what we did. It has helped that all our visiting family has headed home. We appreciate their visit and time we got to spend with them! But… we’re relieved to have a little time to ourselves. Perfect time to start settling in to our “new normal,” as Mr. Handsome calls it.

Here’s how we have fared so far…

Rule #1: No sleep props.

50% success (progress, right?). We aren’t completely there with the naps yet. Both Sunday and Monday I used a lot of “Shh”ing, a technique from The Happiest Baby on the Block, to quiet down Baby2 a few times. Sunday she was just not having a good day in general. She didn’t eat a lot (always makes a mama worry!). She slept a good bit but struggled with falling asleep. Let’s just say I was done with Sunday!

Monday wasn’t too much better. Today I’d like to try waiting a little longer before putting her down for a nap. However, whenever I did put her down she was obviously tired. So we’ll do some experimenting there.

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Peaceful crib sleep

Nights were not bad, though. During the night Baby2 didn’t have an crying fits, a vast improvement over the Saturday night debacle which started this whole thing! Getting her down at the start of the night was just as difficult as the naps, though. She went to bed about 9:00 both nights, which is about an hour after her last “day” feeding, but I resorted to a little “comfort nursing” before going to sleep. I must stay strong tonight! She doesn’t seem hungry before bed (she doesn’t have a strong suck, she mostly just lies there and watches me, etc.) so I know she doesn’t need the before-bed nursing. But it does calm here really well!

Rule #2: Sleep in crib.

90% success! The past two nights were great: I successfully put Baby2 back in her crib after each feeding. Well, to be completely honest, we did sleep snuggle for 30 minutes or so after one early morning feeding (both days), but I’m giving us a pass. We do need some lazy snuggle time! Plus I do get her back to her crib to finish off the night eventually. So no harm, I say.

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One nap didn’t make it to the crib!

Baby2 slept in her crib for all but one at-home nap since I made the renewed commitment to healthy sleep habits. That one nap she was just not having. Mr. Handsome and I took turns every few minutes with her, but ultimately I felt like she was hungry so we abandoned the nap attempt. My suspicions were correct: she nursed for a solid ten minutes but then she was out like a light. No eat/play/sleep routine for that round, but I’m okay with that every now and then. Buuuut I did just let her fall asleep after eating and she slept in my arms for almost two hours. Eh, win some lose some right? (I don’t know… that loss felt like a win at the time!)

Rule #3: Self-soothe.

90% success! Baby2 stirred on every one of her naps and I did not immediately jump to pick her up! I did check on her, of course, but only one time did she actually need to be pulled from her crib. Okay, two times if you count the nap that just didn’t happen yesterday. Another time she woke about 45 minutes into her nap. She was obviously hungry so maybe that one was a pass. Maybe I should give myself more than 90% on this one.

Only time will tell if these scores keep up, but I do feel a ton better about getting on track with our sleep habits. Next I’ll be forming my own routines so I don’t go completely crazy during maternity leave. Wish me luck!

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Getting on My Sleep Game

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.
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Day One: already a rule-breaker (but it was okay then!)

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!