Babies need to sleep to grow and function so having a schedule to follow of when they should sleep and for how long is really useful – read Why The EASY Method Schedule is the Best Thing I Did for information about schedules.
Scheduling is essential with a baby but the other really important thing you must have is a routine. These two things combined are your best tools for having a happy baby. My baby is naturally happy and my husband has said in the past that he thinks it’s just her nature no matter what. Well he’s partly right, she is happy and will be very smiley, however she can become a lot less happy and harder to manage as it has been proven when she has missed too many naps, is off her schedule and/or misses her routine cues to tell her it’s time to sleep.
How I Cope
Before when she slept in our room for the first four months I would have her nap in her crib (cot) so that she would get used to her room and bed. At four months she slept in her own room at night and now takes her naps in the same bed during the day. In order to help her differentiate between napping and sleeping for the night I try to help give her clues as to what to do.
No matter day or night she sleeps with my Widgey body pillow in a U shape snug against her body. I did this so that she doesn’t feel scared in such a big bed and also because it helps contain her arms so that she can’t do the startle reflex while she is falling asleep which wakes her up. The containment also helps feel like swaddling without the restrictiveness of an actual swaddle – she has to have her arms out and since three months she can’t have her feet inside a sleep sack or she gets angry.
Also I don’t let her cry it out but I do let her cry (more like whimper or call out) a couple of times before I check on her so she can try to learn how to settle herself. Sometimes she cries in her sleep during the night and then re-settles herself other times she cries out more than three times and I need to check on her so she doesn’t wake herself up. I read that about 10-15% of babies have night terrors and she definitely has them because her eyes are still closed when I check on her and all I have to do is give her her binky (dummy) and she goes back to sleep. She only does this about 5% of the time and it seems to be related to too much stimulation or stimulation that she was unsure of or scared but didn’t show she was scared.
When she does cry it’s never all out screaming so it’s not like she is in pain just whimpering. If it’s not time for her to get up yet (nap or at night) then I will go in and comfort her by putting her binky (dummy) back in her mouth and adjust blankets or her and stroke her forehead and face. If she’s really unsettled then I will sit on my exercise ball (which by the way is the perfect size and totally grabbable with my leg) next to her crib (cot) for a couple of minutes stroking her until she falls back to sleep. Unless she is absolutely screaming I don’t pick her up.
Nap Time Routine
1. I put her in her bed during the day with a soft blanket on top of the sheet orientated so that one corner is under her head – the texture of the blanket is chunky fleece so this feels different – it’s a Carter’s duck blanket
2. I wind up her giraffe that plays music and give it to her to hold while I finish doing everything else and she loves it – she only plays with her giraffe in her bed
3. I give her her elephant blankie that has a long soft blanket attached and place that next to her head and drape the blanket over her body
4. I take the two sides of the blanket and overlap them on top not too loose but not so tight like she’s swaddled the key for her is to have her feet and some of her legs exposed because she hates being to constricted and needs her arms free but likes the comfort of obeying held so this is my swaddled improvisation
5. I use a knit blanket and make like a belt overtop of the overlapping ends of the bottom blanket and tuck the sides of the knit down next to the body pillow so that it will stay put and help the bottom blanket stay as well – here you have my baby burrito!
6. I make sure that the knit blanket is near her hands so that she can touch it – she loves touching things and often needs to be holding something to settle
7. I give her her binky (dummy)
8. I close the blinds and the blackout curtains
8. I turn on her OPTI Aura projector – the first morning nap I don’t do this but for her two afternoon naps we use with liquid color wheels to project onto the ceiling above her bed to relax her
9. I put the white noise bunny on rain and stroke her forehead a couple of times and walk away
1. The lights are off when we enter the room
2. She’s already had her diaper (nappy) changed and has her pj’s on – she wears a onesie and then a pj long sleeve shirt and pants with bare feet only – she never wears a bodysuit to bed because she wears these during the day sometimes and I don’t want to confuse her with clothing either
3. While holding her I turn on her elephant that projects stars onto the ceiling and always put it on the blue color
4. I do two sprays of her This Works baby sleep spray
5. I lay her down on the sheet and swap her downstairs binky (dummy) with the one that stays in her crib (cot) all the time
6. I give her her Lambie blankie and place it by her head
7. I place a very light weight cotton blanket on top of her to her chest
8. I place her Stokke duvet that came with our Stokke Sleepi on top to her stomach
9. I put the white noise bunny on ocean and stroke her forehead a couple of times and quietly leave the room
Are you going to or have you tried my baby burrito? Do you have a naptime or bedtime routine or strategy? Let me know . . .
My baby turned one this week I can’t believe it! Obviously with age things change so I wanted to let you know what is different. Good news is that she is still a great sleeper and has increased to 11 to 12 hours a night. However it became harder to get her to sleep between six – ten months for two reasons.
First, sitting up. When she could roll over it never affected her falling asleep like above however when she learned to sit up and crawl in bed that was a whole new story. She would all of a sudden become hyper when placed in bed flinging herself around the crib not wanting to sleep at all. I read about changing sleeping habits in my What To Expect The First Year and discovered that when babies learn they can do something new that they want to practice that skill all hours of the day so that they can master it. So this explained what was happening and I knew that the sleeping disruption would only be temporary – and it was about a week.
The second reason is teething. Teething often gets worse at night for babies so this naturally leaves them in pain and unsettled and often prevents them from falling asleep. This is harder to detect because often you can’t see a tooth erupting and there isn’t always loads of drool during the day when teething is most painful. My baby had teeth at four months and sleeping wasn’t an issue it was when she cut her top teeth that she was really in pain. In order to help her settle at night I adopted a new night-time routine of using her teether clipped onto the body pillow in her bed with a pacifier clip so that she could use it and fall asleep without choking on it. I also added teething gel to the teether as she stopped taking her binky as soon as her top teeth came in and that was her night soother as well as my teething gel mechanism. During the bad teething months, nine to eleven, I would have to rock her to sleep with the lights out after reading books. I would hold her tight so that she wouldn’t wriggle so much and eventually she would be so tired that she would give up and fall asleep. For a few months bed time was a nightly exhausting struggle which could last ten minutes to an hour from the time I turned the lights out to when she was asleep long enough for me to lay her in her crib. Because babies all teeth at different times and have different pain thresholds you may experience this unsettled sleep during later months than I have but it’s always best to be prepared mentally that it may happen.
I also discovered that with all the crying and angry noises because of teething and frustration of not being able to sleep she was really thirsty. We started giving her water every night before bed and even placing the water cup in her bed (which I don’t think she ever used).
The last month (eleven months) bed time has become a lot easier with the drooling and teething subsiding and her becoming more used to putting herself to bed. Now I am able to read her books, turn off the light, hold her for a minute and then place her in her crib awake and she is able to fall asleep on her own. Sometimes I stay in the room for a little while sitting on my exercise ball rubbing her back and telling her its bed time if she’s really awake. But I still use the ocean white noise at night, my lavender pillow spray, teething cheek rub, nasal spray and teething gel every night before bed to ensure that she’s not in pain.
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