Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Sleeping tricks (that worked for us)

I don't consider myself a baby sleep expert.

No way. Let's not even go there. I have written plenty of posts about the crying and the stress and the short naps and the trial and error for it to be obvious that the whole sleep thing is kind of a crap shoot.

BUT. Charlotte is a good sleeper. That can't be denied. And we have taken specific steps to help her sleep well. Mostly based on other people's experiences and wisdom gleaned from the inter webs. But regardless of where the tricks came from, I'm happy to share. 

1. Swaddle swaddle swaddle. Even if your baby hates it. Even if she wants her hands out or near her face or whatever. Just swaddle. Newborn babies are not the boss. Swaddling is a very good thing; it helps prevent babies from startling themselves awake & it gives them the feeling of the good old days (you know, being squished up in mom's womb again).  If a regular swaddle blanket doesn't work, spend some money on a swaddle sleep sack. (We like Halo brand and the Miracle Blanket- just FYI) Don't just swaddle at night, either. Nap time is sleep time, too, and swaddling helps with sleep.

2. Once you are done with the swaddle (in our experience we had to be done once Charlotte started rolling over onto her tummy.) try to introduce a "lovie". We bought Charlotte her "Screech" when she was about four months old and started having her snuggle it while she was nursing. We incorporated her Screech into our sleep time routine and now she knows it's time to rest when I put Screech into her arms. Technically safety professionals recommend having nothing loose in the baby's crib before one year, but one year is likely too late for a baby to become attached to a lovie, and it won't work as a soother. You be the judge. 

3. Make the room dark and use white noise. All summer we have kept Charlotte's window unit air conditioner running while she sleeps. Before that we used a box fan. I considered buying a small white noise machine but we already had a fan so we just used that and it works for us. Granted, it's a little inconvenient because we have to use white noise wherever she sleeps, but most places we go will have a fan (grandparents' houses, vacation rentals, etc.) 

4. Beware the 45 minute intruder. Seriously, Google it. If Charlotte wakes up 45 minutes into a nap, I don't go get her immediately. I wait to see if she will fall asleep and usually she will. If she's crying or fussing for longer than 5 minutes I go in and pick her up because she's probably fully awake.

5. Put the baby to bed as soon as you see the sleep cues. For Charlotte, her sleep cues are yawns (sometimes), rubbing her eyes, and pulling on her ear. I used to count "three yawns and some fuss" and immediately start the nap process. Now I wait for a couple yawns, some ear pulling, and then we head upstairs to get ready for bed. 

6. Have a consistent routine. This one is super hard and I remember feeling so frustrated when Charlotte was about 2-3 months old and no routine or consistency seemed to work. But we kept doing the routine and now it really really works. Our routine involves a diaper change, sleep sack on, read a book quietly, sing a song quietly (sometimes two songs), then into bed. Depending on the time of day Charlotte may nurse after she gets her diaper changed. But nursing isn't the last thing we do. She almost always goes into her crib awake, having read a book and listened to a song.

What about you? What sleep tricks do you  swear by?


  1. Love this post! Great suggestions. We tried to introduce a lovie, but Will just plays with anything in his crib at this point.
    I totally agree about swaddling and then putting your baby in bed awake. We have never had to lay Will down and then sneak out of the room. So nice!
    The best advice I got was to not increase the time between daytime feeds beyond 3 hours if your baby is not sleeping through the night yet. Get those feeds in during the day, so baby can sleep at night! :)

  2. Good call, Kristin! How close to bedtime does Will eat his dinner (solids)? I'm wondering if Charlotte isn't taking enough at her last milk feeding to make it through the night because she's getting some solids in at dinner. We've had at least one (sometimes 2-3) night wakings for the last couple of weeks. It's getting old :)