Sleep. It’s such a huge topic for new parents and everyone has unique situations. Some parents choose to “sleep train” and of those, some want to start early and some wait longer. Some parents may wait until the day comes when they realize what they’ve been doing and everything they’ve tried just isn’t working. Some believe in the ‘cry it out’ method, some do not at all. Some use schedules, some use the baby’s cues alone. Some formula fed babies wake up once a night, some don’t. There’s babies who sleep a lot at the beginning and then ‘regress’ or may even continue sleeping ‘perfectly’ for years to come. The point is, we all have different styles, different children, different ideas pre-baby vs. once we actually have a baby.
When Zander was 5 weeks old… a mommy friend visited and during our lovely afternoon she asked about his sleep. I told her he was sleeping great, going to sleep for 9 hours (minus feedings) but that it’s usually 2:30am – 11:30am or some nights 4:30 was closer to when he really seemed to go down, but again, 9 hours since he’d then sleep until 1:30pm. I didn’t have to return to work so I guess in my naiveté I thought this was ‘just the way it was’. Needless to say, this mom-friend gasped and said something like, “Oh, honey, noooo…”
She went on to share with me some ideas about circadian rhythms. This basically means that your baby figures a little more out about DAY and NIGHT. This is impossible as a newborn, and again, some think it is impossible until baby is a few months old. Here is my experience.
Starting the very next day I brought Zander for a walk in the stroller when we woke up around noon. This was the beginning of a great habit that I still love to do, getting outside every day in the fresh air and sunlight.
That evening, MUCH earlier than 2am, I dimmed the lights, turned up the Reiki music, lit a candle and gave Z a relaxing massage followed by a bath.
He responded by falling into a deeper sleep earlier.
Just like that his whole schedule shifted.
I’m not sure this will work for everyone, I’m just saying, this is what I did, and this is what happened. Needless to say, it was the beginning of our ‘bedtime routine’ and our daily walks. I do still give Z baths almost every night but keep in mind if you try this, I only use a cleanser once a week. Some people like to wash more than that, around 3 times per week, but my opinion is that babies don’t need it. Especially if they are in the water for a ‘spa soak’ every night 😉
Zander loves it, and I love the routine we share, it increased our bonding exponentially. Start your own Day and Night Routine if you’d like to try to establish gentle sleep habits at any age.
Update 1/14/14: This worked up until almost 4 months, at which point the dreaded ‘sleep regression’ kicked in. I don’t know if it was technically a regression, that’s what it’s often referred to at that age, but I do know everything changed.
The calming bedtime routine, which has been added to now that he’s a few months older, and the daily dose of sunshine still helps him to sleep as well as he does. He falls right to sleep for naps and nights and my only (big) issue is that he wakes to nurse a lot and I’m feeling really tapped out. Stay tuned for my next Sleep article on how to help a baby that wakes up every hour… I’m doing research now.