Okay I want to start by saying I had NO IDEA what to do when it came to baby's sleep patterns and tendencies. I was also under the impression that newborns sleep a lot the first couple weeks.... I don't know where I heard that but I couldn't have been more off base...
My mom has always raved about how I was "the perfect baby". Immediately coming home from the hospital I would sleep for hours and hardly cried. Josh's mom told me a different story... of a baby who cried and did not sleep very well. It's clear Blakely took after Josh in this area as well as everything else **insert eye roll**.
Josh & Blakely pictured side by side - - seriously twins...
I had heard of a program called takingcarababies by this so called baby whisperer and also received high appraisal from close friends who personally swore by it. After the first 4 weeks of complete sleep deprivation I decided to give it a try! (I would've ran around the neighborhood in my birthday suit if it would've guaranteed more sleep.... however I ended up going with this non-illegal idea first).
The program is set up in age groups. The first being for newborns. I studied the videos and reading materials immediately. The amount of material seemed overwhelming at a quick glance but was actually very easy to get through. The videos were the most helpful for me. After we completed the course I implemented the tips I learned right away. At first I followed the program to a T. As the first week came to an end I started to see little improvements (no I am sorry to tell you this is not an instant fix). In order for your baby to start developing a nighttime routine it will take lots to repetition, but my best advice is DO NOT GIVE UP! It may seem like what you're doing is making little to no change but I promise you if you stick with it you will lay a better foundation for the next week.
It took about 3 weeks before I discovered what tips worked best for Blakely. I started to figure out what things she responded to and what we could leave out. One thing she did not care for... "The Dream Feed". This is where after laying baby to bed you wake them up about 2 hours later (preferably before 11 p.m.) To offer a drowsy "dream" feed. After attempting for 5ish nights I realized it was doing more harm than good. That's just one example of making what we learned in the program adapt to Blakely.
A few things that worked very well for Blakely were:
Finding a schedule/routine - I asked friends for advice when it came to a bedtime routine. I had no idea what exactly I should include in this nightly ritual and what time I should start. At about 4 weeks we started implementing a bath every night into our bedtime routine. Blakely could be in the middle of a screaming tantrum but once in her bath she was calm.
8:00 p.m Take Blakely upstairs
8:10 p.m Start the bath
8:15 - 8:30 p.m Towel dry, listen to music, put onesie on and swaddle
8:45 p.m Last feeding
NOT doing a dream feed - She wouldn't fall asleep after and she woke up two hours after regardless (the thought process behind dream feeding is that it would allow baby to sleep for hours until next feeding)
Diaper changes - At first we would change 3-4 diapers a night thinking we had to, then we stopped changing her until the morning, unless she absolutely needed it. This allowed her to stay calm throughout her feedings.
Noise maker - BEST THING EVER! Buy a portable one so you can take on walks, car rides or to the in laws house for easy transportation.
Ollie Swaddle - We tried the swaddles but little miss Houdini could break her arms out of all of them. Once we started using the Ollie Swaddle she started to actually like being swaddled and doesn't get her arms out. It's also the easiest swaddle to use!
Pause - Before taking the sleep training course I would jump up instantly when Blakely made any noise and scoop her up to start feeding her before she really started crying. Now, I've learned that babies are noisy sleepers and can actually cry in their sleep. Once I started to "wait it out" I found that Blakely started putting herself back to sleep and wasn't actually awake yet.
Cluster feeding - Once Blakely started having a few nights where she would get 4+ hours of sleep in a row I tried to figure out what we did during the day to see if there was any kind of a pattern to feedings or naps. I noticed that she was less fussy for bedtime and she slept longer after her last feeding. For example, I would try to get Blakely's last feeding before bath start around 6:30 p.m. So even if I fed her around 4:00 p.m I would try to give her a snack around 5:30 for about 15-20 minutes.
Naps - When looking at the patterns of our "good days" I noticed whenever she would nap after 6:00 p.m she didn't sleep as well. So her last nap starts no later than 5:30 p.m.
Putting her down - Super important lesson to learn and try to implement in your baby's routine is putting them down to sleep while they're drowsy. If you can accomplish this it will help when that 4 month sleep regression comes around.... so I'm told. By laying a baby down when they're drowsy and not fully asleep teaches them to put themselves to asleep. So when they wake up in the middle of the night they don't have to be rocked back to sleep **hallelujah**
Let's talk about reflux & colic...
Elevated sleep environment - BABY REFLUX !! I want to start by saying what Josh and I do for Blakely is what works best FOR US. I am aware that there is controversy surrounding whether to elevate a baby's crib mattress at night but again, this is what works for us and you do not have to follow.
SnuggleMe - Going along with the elevated sleep topic, we tried elevating the crib mattress in Blakely's bassinet but I found that she would slide down and to the side of the bassinet where her face was close to the sides and I did not like waking up to that sight. So I started using her SnuggleMe. I placed a folded towel on the bed and then put her SnuggleMe on top. Within 3 nights Blakely was sleeping significantly longer periods! Since the SnuggleMe has raised borders, she does not wiggle around and stays in one spot - - giving mama some peace of mind!
Holding/burping Blakely post feeding - After many recommendations from friends, family and pediatrician we started holding Blakely upright 10-15 minutes after EVERY feed. Regardless how long she ate or what time of day/night it. This helped both her reflux and colic.
Babocush - We started using the babocush when she was about 8 weeks old. It is a cushion that has a built in heart beat and vibration function that aids in calming colic babies and is helpful during tummy time. We use it mostly for the tummy time experience.
Bottle feedings - I realize that breast feeding is not for everyone and some parents use bottles very early on. I was fortunate enough that Blakely was a great latch from the beginning and that I had a good milk supply (although it wasn't like that from the beginning but I will discuss that later in my breast feeding blog). Blakely struggled with bottles early on and was taking in a lot of air, so I pretty much exclusively breast fed until 9-ish weeks. Eventually I started to find her "sweet spot" of holding her in a sitting up position, burping her every 1-2 ounces and using an anti-colic bottle. As the weeks went on I was able to cut it down to burping halfway and at the end of the bottle. Over time she has spit up less and seems much more comfortable with the bottle.
Frida Baby Windi - This device was a LIFE SAVOR in the first 4 weeks of Blakely being born. When she was very colicky we used this almost 2-3 times a week to help get the excess gas out of her belly and although she would scream at the top of her lungs, at the end of each use of the windi it was obvious she felt relief.
Now that Blakely is 3 months-old the training we did with her is definitely showing.
Between 8:45 - 9:15 p.m Bed time
Between 2:30 - 5:00 a.m Night feed, 10-15 min of burping/sitting up and back to sleep
Between 6:00 - 7:00 a.m Morning feed, 10-15 min of burping/sitting up and back to sleep for about 1- 1.5 hours
Day starts around 8:00-9:00 a.m.
The early stages of a newborn can be VERRRRRRY HARD & DRAINING and quite frankly feel like an eternity but with these resources I hope you can find your own routine that will accommodate you and your baby. I STRONGLY encourage you to take a look at the takingcarababies program! (THIS IS NOT SPONSORED) Even if you do not have a newborn and are still struggling with your baby's sleep routine she has tips for all ages.