I want to preface this blog post by saying I'm NOT a baby expert by ANY means! I'm a first time mom with a 6 week old baby. But things have been going really well for us in the sleep department so I figured I'd share what I'm doing. Granted this could change at any moment but sharing means caring! So here is what we've been doing.
For the first month Hunter slept in a co-sleeper by the bed. Because he was underweight and slightly jaundice I was told to set an alarm and wake him every 2 hours to feed. For those moms who are feeding on this schedule you know how absolutely crushing this is. Once he was at a safe weight I was told I could let him wake me up at night to feed. I still don't let him go more than 4 hours without feeding during the day but now I let him wake me at night. His pattern lately has been between 5-7 hours his first stretch and then after his middle of the night feeding about 3-4 hours.
This past weekend (at 5 weeks old) we started his "night routine." We were given the advice from a friend that we absolutely MUST establish a night routine as early as humanly possible. Since babies will feed around the clock it's important to distinguish between day and night. Here is what we've done to create this distinction and it seems to be working really well.
1. BATH: We've started bathing him every night around 7pm. Even if he just sits in warm water that sets the tone of the evening.
2. EVENING BOTTLE: Around 7:30pm he gets a big bottle. I say "big" because I make sure it's between 3-4 ounces. Something I have changed in the last week and it's worked MUCH better is to NOT breastfeed at this time. I use a bottle [bottle that's working for us is Como Tomo]. The reason I've done this is because he falls asleep every time he breastfeeds - day or night. But he stays present on the bottle. When he is more present he's up a little later and he finishes the full 3-4 ounces.
MORE ON THIS: Ok so I feel like I should share even more on what has been helping during breastfeeding. Because he falls asleep a breastfeeding session can last an hour?! AHHH! So what I've been doing is feeding him on one side and simultaneously pumping on the other. Once he starts to sleep I switch him and the pump. Not too long - I pump for about 5 more minutes on the 2nd side. Then I put the pumped milk in a bottle and feed him that right away. Usually the pumped milk is about 2-2.5ounces. I think this has helped establish very little difference between boob and bottle AND he is drinking his fill. Secondly, at night, I have supplemented with Holle. Holle is a German formula that came highly recommended and he has LOVED it. I've been doing this for the past week and it's been great. It gives my boobs a break and he's fuller longer throughout the night. [Plus in the morning you can pump like 8 ounces?!?!]
Ok let's keep going!
3. DARK: Even though he doesn't have his own room (he has a little space in the living room of our one bedroom apartment), we make his corner really dark. I don't turn on the lights at any point during the night and we let the morning sun be the first light. Even during diaper changes I use the night light.
4. SOUND MACHINE: This is huge. We have a sound machine going the second he goes down and it's really helpful. We start with "ocean" and then when I put him down on the night feeding we switch to "white noise" - not sure why the switch helps but it seems to for some reason. Also we use The Baby Shusher if he's really fussy. Check it out - it's amazing!
5. DOCK-A-TOT: When we had him in the bassinet by the bed he would flail around and it seemed really chaotic for him. He slept really well in his Dock-A-Tot during the day so we started putting that IN the bassinet. He slept much more soundly. So we transitioned the Dock-A-Tot into the crib to establish that sense of security. We took him out of the co-sleeper by the bed and put him in his crib right at 5 weeks old.
6. THE PAUSE: If you've read the book Bringing Up Bebe you'll be familiar with this idea. The concept is to let your baby learn how to self soothe early on. When Hunter was in the co-sleeper I reacted to every single noise he made. When he started fussing I would pick him up and soothe him. The book says this tells the baby the only way you can be soothed back to sleep is with mom. NOT GOOD! The concept of "The Pause" is to wait for a few minutes before reacting. During this time you observe the baby to figure out if its a "real cry." A real cry letting you know he/she is hungry, wet, etc. I've been following this since putting him in his crib. I listen and watch on the monitor before going into the room. 9 times out of 10 he has put himself back to sleep in moments I would have picked him up. By doing this, I have been able to squeak out an extra hour here and there! WORTH THE TRY!!!
That's essentially our routine! We've also found the Happiest Baby On The Block techniques to be super helpful. Without fail one of the 5 S's [Swaddle, Side or Stomach hold, Swing, Shush, or Suck] works to calm him down.
I hope this has been helpful. I'm sure this is going to change when he's teething and when he's going through growth spurts. But for now, I'll take it!