Naps and night sleep were ROUGH in the beginning. That is a capital R-O-U-G-H. I felt like every time I put Greyson down for a nap, he was up 15, 20 minutes later. What I finally learned after some time is I can’t control everything. The first few months of a baby’s life are all about eat, sleep, change diaper. There was no predictable schedule, despite how hard I tried, every book I read, and every blog I visited looking for a magic solution.
#1 It’s normal in the beginning: Once I finally realized that inconsistent or short naps were a normal part of a baby’s first few months of life and that I wouldn’t find a quick fix overnight, I began reading up on the different stages of baby sleep. In the beginning, a baby only has one type of sleep – deep sleep. This is like I can vacuum right next to you, the alarm can go off, dogs bark, and you sleep right through it kind of sleep. As babies get a little bit older and began hitting the 4 month mark (sooner or later, there’s always variation), their sleep starts to change. Hence, the dreaded 4 month sleep regression. I was DREADING this stage. Sleep was already so difficult for us, with playing the pacifier game all night, soaking through diapers, acid reflux, that I figured it couldn’t get any worse.
After researching some more about the 4 month sleep regression as so many people call it, I learned that this was actually a HUGE developmental milestone in my little one’s life. His sleep was beginning to change from just the deep sleep stage to more like that of an adult, with both light sleep cycles and deep sleep cycles. The only issue with this though is when the baby comes out of a light sleep cycle, they might need some help falling back asleep if they are unable to do so on their own.
#2 The pacifier was my worst nightmare: Cue: looking for the pacifier. Greyson is infatuated with his pacifier. He loves holding on to his little animals and having that paci put back into his mouth. We love how they soothed him, until… he couldn’t find his paci in his bassinet. We were up with every change in his sleep cycle trying to put his paci back in and calm him down, on top of dealing with his horrible reflux. Then, I read up on what to do when the pacifier begins taking over our lives and how we can get rid of the pacifier. And then it hit me. I don’t care if he sleeps with a pacifier. There are all sorts of benefits to him sleeping with one. I only care that I don’t have to get up a million times in the night and put it back in his darn mouth. I thought if I put more pacifiers in his bassinet, he will have a better chance of successfully putting one into his own mouth. So we ordered more of his favorite paci on Amazon (I love this because the pacifier detaches and I can throw the animal in the washer) and put them in the crib.
We practiced having him put his pacifier into his mouth during the day and cheering him on, so he could be successful. If his pacifier fell out of his mouth during naps, we didn’t put it back in. We made it his responsibility to put it back in his mouth because we knew he was able to. Within a few nights, not only was he putting his pacifier back in his own adorable little mouth, but we were sleeping better and so was he.
#3 Is my baby tired enough to nap? Something else that really helped: making sure he was tired enough to nap. I know that sounds silly. After hearing about the amazing Cara Dumaplin from Taking Cara Babies I began reading her blog and seeing what I could do for his naps. I realized, I was putting him down at the first signs of being sleepy. That’s fine for the newborn stage, but now, not so much. I needed to stretch the time he was awake in order to make sure he was tired enough to get some restorative sleep, otherwise, he would just be taking a million cat naps during the day, which would be impractical. I began stretching the time he was awake gradually throughout the day to the recommended wake window for my babe and before you know it, naps CLICKED. He began sleeping for an hour, an hour and a half, TWO HOURS. TWO HOURS?! Are we serious?? Do you know how much cleaning I got done in that time?! Seriously, game changer. I highly recommend following her on Instagram and reading her blog. She offers newborn sleep classes as well as a class for older babies.
#4 Making sure I didn’t run to Greyson every time he woke up: I don’t mean letting him cry it out. That wouldn’t work for my husband and I. If Greyson needed me, I was there for him. If he woke up and fussed a little bit, I let him work it out. Allowing him to figure out a way to get himself back to sleep is now what helps him sleep through the night. When he wakes up now, he’s able to get himself back to sleep. It’s important to make sure that your little one is not waking up because he’s actually hungry, in which give that baby some milk! Greyson stopped wanting milk in the middle of the night by the time he was around 8-10 weeks old. This does NOT mean he was sleeping 10-12 hours straight though, unfortunately. There are still times he soaks through his diaper which then makes him uncomfortable and wake up, so there’s that possibility too!
#5: Make sure the environment is right: The womb is a noisy, cozy place. We swaddled Greyson until he began rolling over, used a sound machine to play white noise, and made sure his room was as dark as possible. If there was the tiniest bit of light creeping in between the window shade and curtain, he could not help but stare at it. We made sure the room was DARK. So dark in fact that I definitely tripped over at least one of the dogs once a week. A friend recommended the Hatch Baby Rest and I’m so glad that put it on our registry. The different sound, light, and program options are amazing and they even offer cool covers for it now, too! When Greyson is a little bit older, there’s a ‘time to rise’ feature which tells him it’s okay to come out of his room for the day when he sees the green light. Can’t wait to use this!
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