I finally have been able to get this post up and share with you guys some helpful baby sleep tips and products that have helped me this past year with Kennedy! I also have an awesome GIVEAWAY!!! A Sleep Consultation Package (a $200 value)!
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I finally have this blog post up, as I always got so many messages and questions on this topic! As we would talk to friends and family, strangers, and even her pediatrician, they all asked us how much sleep we were getting. I kinda felt bad saying to other moms who were running on little to no sleep, but very early on we always told them she is sleeping through the night! At about 6 weeks, Kennedy was already sleeping 8-10 hours at night. At her one month check up, I had told her doctor she slept really good at night already and he said I could stop waking her up every 4 hours to eat because she was doing great gaining weight. By about three months old, Kennedy was sleeping 12-13 hours straight in the night. There have been days where it wasn’t always perfect and no matter how great of a sleeper your baby is, there will still be days and nights they wont want to nap or sleep! They have good days and bad days just like us, so not everyday will be the same in regards to sleep and schedules. I don’t have set times for her naps and bedtime. I will base her nap times and bedtime on when she woke up from her previous sleep, and how long she napped. But her naps are predictable more now and she usually has her naps the same time everyday and same with bedtime. I wanted to share with you some helpful tips and advice I learned along the way of being a new mom and things that have helped us!
Sometimes people think I have it easier because my baby is able to sleep through the night and nap good, but it takes work- HARD work to get to that point and keep it that way! Since the beginning (as early as I can remember), I have had Kennedy on a schedule. Her schedule has always looked like this: Eat, Play, Sleep. Each month her wake times would increase, and her schedule would change slightly according to her age. In my opinion, babies thrive on and love routine, and need structure in their day. I know lots of parents who don’t agree or share the same philosophy- and that is totally okay! I think whatever works for your family situation and lifestyle is totally fine.
The word sleep training seem scary to some parents, but it really isn’t as bad as some people think. Yes, it is a lot of research, hard work, patience, and consistency, but I feel like sleeping training my baby was the BEST thing I did for her and me. Having my baby be able to sleep through the night and be on a schedule during the day and be consistent with her naps has made me life so much easier. I am able to be a more well-rested, happier mom and I love having her on a schedule because it gives me predictability. I am able to know when she naps and rely on that to plan my days and activities. Contrary to what some people think, sleep training and having your baby on a schedule actually gives you MORE freedom and will make both mama and baby happier and more well rested. I am grateful I can reply on her naps to get chores done around the house, email and work done, or just take a rest if I need it.
“Babies and children love routines and relish schedules. They like to know what is going to happen next. They are also better behaved when things follow a known pattern. Routines provide your child with a sense of security.”– Dr. Jodi Mindell, Ph.D.
I chose to read and follow the book Baby Wise when I was pregnant with Kennedy. After her stay in the NICU, Alex went back to work after being home to help me with her for a week. I was home alone with a newborn and did not have a lot of experience at ALL with babies! I didn’t have any family nearby to help me, so the first months as a new mom I was basically just in survival mode. It was hard adjusting my new routine and every waking moment were all geared towards Kennedy’s needs and wants. Luckily, after 6 weeks Kennedy was sleep 8-10 hours straight at night, and by 3 months she was sleeping 12-13 hours a night. It has stayed that way ever since then and I am so grateful. Throughout this year, there have been issues that came up such as the 4 month sleep regression, her starting to flip over on her stomach, developmental leaps, teething, the 8 month sleep regression, etc. Around five months is when we started the cry-it-out method. It was HARD to hear my baby scream and cry, but after about five days of that she was able to self soothe herself to sleep. She now hardly ever cries when we put her down, and she almost always goes right down. In my opinion, having your baby learn to self-soothe is such an important and amazing thing you can give your baby and yourself. You can helping give them the gift of sleep (and you too), and they will wake up happier afterwards! I guess you can say I just got lucky with her being such a great nighttime sleeper early on. But there were some things I made sure I did for nighttime to help aid in her sleep! FYI I don’t follow every single thing to a tee from the Baby Wise book. So if there are things mentioned I do that they don’t mention or suggest to do in the book, that is why!
I struggled with getting Kennedy to nap during the day. This was something I tried and had a hard time getting her to do. I was at a loss as to WHY she wasn’t sleeping during the day. She would sometimes go weeks with only a few 30 minute cat naps each day and then by the time 4pm rolled around she was crying off and on until about 8pm and so overtired. I figured out that Kennedy was colic, had acid reflex, and just was overtired from not getting any sleep during the day. I re-read the Baby Wise book and after so much frustration over what was going on, I also finally found the sleep training website and blog Wee Bee Dreaming. Pam Edward’s is a sleep consultant who also has a blog on sleep advice and topics. She gives amazing tips and advice on baby sleep!
Here are some amazing blog posts she wrote on a variety of sleep issues that you might be dealing with now:
There were some easy fixes I did that totally changed Kennedy’s daytime naps…
Here are some tips I have:
- WHITE NOISE, DARK ROOM & SLEEP IN CRIB/BASSINET: I was trying to get her to nap in a “container” such as a mamaroo, car seat or rock n’ play and not in her crib or bassinet. Also, I was trying to get her to nap out in the open in our family room where it is light and not very dark. So try having your baby sleep in her crib between 1-3 months, or in your room. Make sure whatever room your baby is in, the room is pitch black. Having white noise is also SO amazing and a must-have. It blocks out noise from outside the room or the garbage man outside, so your baby won’t be woken out of his sleep. Next, make sure your baby is sleeping in a crib or in a bassinet- no rocking or swinging to get him/her to fall asleep.
- ESTABLISH A NAP ROUTINE: Next, I had no “nap routine.” Now for daytime naps I have a nap routine! It is basically a modified and shortened version of her bedtime routine- no more than 5 minutes. So it is everything you will do for the bedtime routine except the bath or maybe the book. Make sure the room is cool, around 70-72 degrees, fan on, white noise on, very dark, shusher (optional) and swaddled in a in a velcro swaddle or a sleep-sac. I change Kennedy’s diaper first, take off her outfit she was wearing, put her in a sleep sac (with a onesie or pjs under), and place her in the crib with her lamb lovey. I have been using these overnight diapers now for her naps and bedtime, and she will nap longer with those as well. I loved the Halo velcro swaddle when Kennedy was a newborn until she started rolling over. It helped SO much to help her sleep well. It is the safest and she was never able to get out her hands out of it. I also think she loved being wrapped so cozy and tight (not too tight tho) in it! Once she started being able to roll over, I had to take her out of the swaddle and I used the Merlin Magic Suit and then the Zipadee Zip. So having short nap routine so your baby knows its time to go to sleep is so important.
- STICK TO A SCHEDULE: Whatever schedule you choose or book you decide to follow, find a schedule that works for you. The one that I chose to follow and love is the eat, play, sleep schedule. Also, starting the nap routine about 15 minutes before the actual nap time is so important. For example, if Kennedy is supposed to nap at 2:30pm, I will start her nap routine at 2:15pm so she has that window to fall asleep and get settled down. I also think if you want to stick to a schedule, you need to really plan out your day and see what you can do during their wake time before the next nap or bedtime! I think though having occasional naps on-the-go is totally okay and I do that several times in the week with Kennedy.
Here’s a little bit about Pam Edwards…
My name is Pam Edwards and I am a Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant based out of Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada. Healthy sleep is addicting. Once I gained all of the knowledge from helping my two children sleep, I began to help others: friends, family, co-workers. Hearing their success stories was so rewarding, I decided to make a career out of this! That is when I turned to the Family Sleep Institute to become a Certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant. I feel so blessed to be able to love my job, and to help so many others on their journeys to becoming a well-rested family.
ENTER TO WIN THE GIVEAWAY!
Sleep Tips from Pam:
1) Sleep problems are often the #1 frustration and concern of parents. Research shows that sleep issues can often take up to 5 years to resolve themselves [if ever!] That is a lot of sleepless nights.
2) Poor sleep affects the mental and emotional health of both you and your child. Poor sleep has been linked to ADHD, decreased academic performance, obesity, and a slew of other health problems for mom and child.
3) The sleep habits that we teach our children will last a lifetime. This is not a short-term fix, and the benefits of healthy sleep are endless.
TYPICAL SLEEP SCHEDULE FOR AGE 0-12 MONTHS:
Average Nightsleep for Babies 0-12 Months:
0-2 months: every 2-3 hour feedings during the day and night (could mean as many as 5 nightfeedings)
3 months: 3 nightfeedings, longer first stretch emerges (about 4 hours long)
4 months: 2 nightfeedings, first stretch is about 5 hours in length
5 months: 2 nightfeedings, first stretch is 6+ hours
6 months: 1 nightfeeding, longest stretch is 6/7 hours
**in order for baby to go longer than 6/7 hours at night, solids need to be well-established, meaning 3 meals/day consisting of all 4 food groups in addition to milk
7 months: 1 nightfeeding, 6/7+ hour stretch
8-9 months: this is the average age that babies will drop all nightfeedings
10-12 months: babies may have an occasional nightfeed, but are able to sleep through most nights
**this is assuming that baby is gaining weight properly, healthy, and has no other medical concerns. Speak to your doctor if you have any doubts.
Q & A with Pam:
“My baby is 10 months old and she still does not sleep through the night, she’s breastfed and she stands up and will fall back in her crib if I let her cry too long. That is my main issue.”
“Thank you so much for your question! This is a bit of a difficult question to answer without having some extra details but I can tell you that the main 5 components [obviously there are others, but these are the ones I will touch on!] to encouraging a full night of sleep are:
- Baby’s age: many babies under the age of 10 months are not physically ready to sleep through without a feed. While none of us ever truly ‘sleep through’ the night without waking, babies younger than this often require 1 or more feeds to sustain them for a full night of sleep. Since your baby is 10 months of age, that takes us to our next point which is….
- Baby’s schedule: if a child does not have an age-appropriate schedule that meets their individual needs, sleeping through the night can be very challenging. When our bodies are overtired, it leads to less restful sleep. For babies and young children, this may lead to wakings at night and trouble transitioning sleep cycles. At 10 months of age, baby should be taking 2 naps/day totaling ideally 2-3 hours, with about 3-3.5 hours of awake time in between these sleep times. The timing of bed specifically is the most sensitive, and I would be aiming for baby to be finished napping by 400pm and laying her down for bed 3.25 hours after that 2nd nap ends.
- Independent sleep: if a baby requires some sort of external assistance in order to fall asleep for the night (nursing, rocking, holding, bottle, etc.) then there’s a high likelihood that the dependence on these to initially fall asleep will become a dependency to fall back asleep in the middle of the night when the child has (what should be) a partial arousal (which occurs about every 2-3 hours). All of us wake at night, but as adults we are able to transition into the next sleep cycle on our own without knowing or remembering it. This is a skill that we learned at some point, this is also a skill that we can teach children! A child that can fall asleep independently at bedtime will have a much higher chance of being able to put themselves back to sleep at these partial arousals in the middle of the night without calling out to mom/dad to re-create the same conditions they fell asleep in.
- Removing ALL associations: if a baby is already sleeping independently, has a good schedule, and is old enough to sleep through but isn’t – these next 2 points are a likely cause. Removing ALL associations is important, and that would mean removing anything from the bedtime routine that baby could be relying on [aside from themselves!] to get drowsy/prepare their body for sleep/etc. The most common ‘left-over’ association is parents feeding too close to sleep times – likely thinking that by ‘tanking them up’ they will sleep longer. Not quite! Instead, try removing any milk from the bedtime routine entirely. Instead of nursing/offering a bottle before put down, move that nursing to right before or right after dinner, or that bottle to with dinner (this is appropriate only for babies 8+ months of age). You may be surprised at how this small change can make a big difference. And if that too doesn’t help, then the last component is….
- Consistency: if we’ve tackled all the above points and that sweet nugget is still not sleeping through, we may have a teeny bit of a habit on our hands, and to get rid of a habit – we need to change the expectation. We change the expectation (I will feed you at night when you wake) then we change the behavior (waking). For a baby above the age of 10 months who has a great schedule, independent sleep, and does not eat too close to sleep, this should only take a few nights before we see progress. You can start first by just waiting baby out for a few nights (up to 20 minutes) but then still feeding. Gradually lengthen out your wait time and reduce the amount you offer/minutes you nurse each time. By the time you’re waiting 20 minutes and only nursing a few minutes/offering an ounce, we can move to cutting out the feed entirely and comforting baby in another way if they are upset. If we are consistent and baby is truly ready to sleep through, this should not take longer than 3 nights to see progress. Remember – consistency is KEY!
“How do you know if your baby is hungry when he wakes up and needs to nurse (or get a bottle) or when he is just fussy for some reason? My little one is 7 months and I️ think he’s actually hungry but I’m not sure. Thank you!”
“Frequent nightwakings are within the top 3 issues that I deal with on a daily basis. It’s tough enough to be consistent with baby sleep during the day, but when it’s the middle of the night and all you want to do is go back to sleep – it’s even harder. But sending a consistent message 24 hours/day is very important in order to see success with our babies’ sleep, and that means trying to stay strong even in the wee hours. First, let’s take a look at what the ‘average’ nightsleep of your baby at each age looks like: If we’re still trying to decide whether baby is waking out of habit or out of hunger, try asking yourself these questions:– Is your baby eating enough during the day? Sometimes babies will get stuck in a cycle of taking in too many calories at night thus leading to less during the day (also called ‘reverse cycling’). Baby truly needs this feeding, but it’s important to reverse the cycle.
– Does your baby eat and then fall back asleep quickly and easily? Sometimes when a nightwaking is habitual and not hunger-related, it will take baby quite some time to return to sleep afterwards.
– After your baby feeds, does s/he then sleep in sound 3-4 hour stretches? If you’re feeding baby only to find them waking up again every hour all night long, you likely have a habitual waking on your hands.
– If you don’t feed, will baby stay up crying for an extended period of time? A baby who fusses or cries persistently if s/he’s not fed may truly need the feeding.
– Does your baby fall asleep for the night completely independently from the wide awake state? If baby is a self-sufficient sleeper with no sleep props and is still waking for a feed, it might be truly necessary.
– Is baby under the age of 8/9 months? It is very likely that before this age, baby may still need at least 1 nightfeeding.”
“My daughters name is also Kennedy… She has been waking up every morning at 5:30am now and she is 5 months old. Any suggestions on how to get her to sleep later? I’ve tried keeping her up later so she sleeps later and am thinking about the funny puffy suit?!”
From mom with the 5 month old who is waking at 5:30am: “There’s a few topics that I get questions about every single day; short naps, too many nightwakings/nightfeedings, the 4 month sleep regression, and early wake-ups. Nobody likes to see a “5” on their alarm clock in the morning and a 5:00am wake-up call from your baby is even less desirable, If you’re finding that your wake-up time is creeping earlier and earlier, or maybe it’s always been early, there’s usually a reason for it. Generally, the natural wake-up time of most children is anywhere between 6:00-8:00am. Especially if that early wake-up call means your baby has clocked less than 11-12 hours of nightsleep, these could be some of the reasons for it:
– Baby’s bedtime is too late. A bedtime that is too late for baby is a recipe for an early wake-up. At 5 months of age, bedtime should ideally be falling somewhere in the range of 6:30-7:30pm, or no longer than 2.25-2.5 hours after the last nap ends.
– Baby’s bedtime is too early. I love an early bedtime when it’s needed, but we never want to get stuck in a perpetual 5:00pm bedtime cycle, as this, over time, will lead to baby waking up early. A super early bedtime is great on crappy nap days or when we are trying to chip away at some sleep debt that may have accumulated from weeks/months of poor sleep, but it’s not meant to be used consistently over the span of several days/weeks.
– Baby’s hungry. If that 5:00am wake-up is 3.5-4 hours from your last nightfeeding, then baby may be truly hungry at that time and it’s a good idea to feed her and put her back down to allow him time to fall back asleep and continue her nightsleep. At 5 months of age, many babies still do require 2 feeds/night.
– Scooping baby out prior to 6:00am. Getting baby up before this time lets him know that this is indeed an appropriate wake-up time and also by exposing baby to light/stimulation, we are re-setting her internal clock for ‘early’! We always want to ensure we leave baby until 6:00am to discourage any wakings prior to this and to send a consistent message, 24 hours/day.
– Baby is not an independent sleeper. Sleep is the lightest between 4-6am and if baby relies on any props to go to sleep for the night initially then when she wakes up in these early morning hours, they will need you to re-create these same conditions but since sleep is so light at this time, it is harder for them to fall asleep even with your assistance.
– Room is too bright. This isn’t as much of a problem as we head into winter but if baby’s bedroom has been historically too bright in the morning we may have helped set her internal clock for ‘early’! Turn that bedroom into a baby cave!
– Baby is teething. The most common ‘sleep symptom’ of teething is a temporary early wake-up. Again, we know that sleep is light in the early morning hours and if baby is uncomfortable/in pain/discomfort then it will be difficult for them to return to sleep at this time. The effects are at their worst one week before the tooth pops through, with the worst offenders being the top front teeth and the molars.
– Baby is overtired. An inappropriate daytime schedule (not enough naps/daysleep, baby being kept awake too long in between naps, etc.) is a major cause of an early wake-up. The best solution for an overtired baby is an early bedtime to help them catch up on sleep (as well as a round of sleep training if the cycle of overtiredness is caused by negative sleep associations!)
– Baby is in a nap transition [at 5 months of age, this may mean from 4 to 3 naps!] Early wake-ups are inevitable as baby transitions to a new nap schedule, even with well-rested children who consistently sleep through the night.”
Hope you guys enjoyed this post! This is a topic is such a large topic to cover and I wasn’t able to include everything in this one post. But feel free to comment below, email me or message me if you have any other questions!
Click HERE to contact Pam! She offers a variety of sleep packages to help you with your baby’s sleep. Pam also has a lot more tips and advice HERE! She has lots of amazing blog posts on baby sleep and variety of sleep issues- it helps so much!