I truly believe sleep in the early days is luck of the draw. Each baby is different – some are more inclined to sleep than others and there’s no quick fix. Hopefully, over time, that can be corrected through patience, structure and routine but at this stage physical touch and ensuring the baby feels secure and comforted far outweigh schedules.
That said, we were super lucky because Palmer was a good sleeper from the get-go. I remember frantically emailing our Pediatrician because Palmer would sleep 4-5 hour stretches multiple times within a 24 hour period when she was only a week old. No matter what I did, I couldn’t wake her to eat but everything I read said she needed to eat every 2-3 hours. Turns out, once Palmer hit her birth weight, it was okay to let her sleep.
Using Palmer’s natural schedule as our guide, we applied the following healthy sleep habits until she was consistently sleeping through the night [around 12 weeks].
- Eat, Awake, Sleep. This is the basis for Baby Wise [and Mom’s on Call I think though I haven’t read it]. In a nutshell this means that a baby should be fed immediately after waking up then stay awake for hygiene, playtime, tummy time, etc. The age of the baby usually dictates how long they can stay awake after eating. When they are first born they usually fall asleep after eating because their “eat” time doubles as their “awake” time but that starts to shift as they get older. Note, we did not follow this for middle of the night feedings when she would wake up. In those instances, we would feed her then immediately put her back to sleep.
- Consistent Wake Time Every Morning. Admittedly, we weren’t super disciplined on this one in the early weeks when she was learning to sleep through the night. After about 8 weeks though we started waking her to eat at the same time every morning, even if she had eaten only an hour or so before. This helped set our schedule for the remainder of the day.
- Natural Light. I’m a big believer in the power of natural light when it comes to synching circadian rhythms. We always do Palmer’s first feeding of the day in a light filled room. We don’t do much to block the light during her naps throughout the day but I do know some methods recommend dark napping environments.
- Consistent Bed Time Routine. When we put Palmer to bed at night, we always follow the same bedtime routine. For us that’s bath (only Sunday & Thursday), fresh diaper, pjs, book, feeding then we put her still AWAKE into her sleep sack, turn on the noise machine and nightlight and turn off the lights.
- Quiet Final Feeding. I like to do Palmer’s final feeding in her nursery or in a quiet, peaceful environment – no TV, minimal noise, dim lights and I try to avoid other distractions like people talking, pets, toys, etc. This is also a great time for mother/daughter bonding which I savor.
I hope this helps and feel free to drop me a comment if you have any questions!