Something that always worried me about having a baby was SLEEP! Getting sleep for ourselves, getting baby to sleep… we aren’t spring chickens over here and so we can’t live on just a few hours. Before we get started, I just want to say that I know this can feel HARD… but man, it goes fast, and it’s a blur – try and enjoy these times for what they are, because you’ll miss them one day!
I was prepared for the worst and guess what?! It didn’t happen! I wanted to share a little bit about our sleep journey with Lola and what worked for us – in NO way am I giving anyone advice, but it’s always fun to see what works for other in hopes that you can mayyybe try something new?!
Our friend Desiree is the sleep (and baby) guru, so she has been really helpful when we have questions… her methods have defo given us the confidence to choose what is right for our baby, and our fam. Keep reading for my fave sleep helpers and our current sleep routine for our 12 week old baby!
Getting your baby to sleep can be both so simple yet complex, I know you parents can feel me there! Here is what we did, starting from when we brought her home:
Lola is and has always been primarily formula fed – because I was away from her for a week with an infection in the hospital, I didn’t produce enough to sustain her. I would breastfeed before her bottle, and pump while dad fed her the bottle. Pumping lasted about 7 weeks before I figured it was time to call it – I was spending 20 minutes each time and getting DROPS. I would cry, feel like a failure and started feeling discouraged, so I stopped. I don’t regret this at all… I wanted to enjoy Lola, not spend time away from her feeling bad about everything! I felt great that she was eating formula well (we use Holle 1), and continued to breastfeed her before her bottle until she was about 10 weeks – loved our special time together and enjoyed it SO much. She tole me when she was ready to stop… the girl knew she was done, and let me know it!
That said, hats OFF to full-time breastfeeding moms because it’s HARD. Because I was back at work at this point, I also really couldn’t do this full time without compromising my time spends, and I liked that dad could feed her without me, including night feeds. Fed is BEST, and we each are on our own journey! I like that the bottle gives a consistent amount, making it easier to know what she is getting, how much to give, and she sleeps really well with formula – sleep, like I said, is important to us!
1- 6 weeks:
Like many newborns, she slept 90% of the time – she would nap on and off all day in her bassinet in the living room, wake to feed, have a very short 30 minute wake window, and go right back down. We spent many a days while I was on ‘mat leave’ watching Netflix, cozy all together and it was so glorious. She would have long 3-4 hour naps. At night, we would get nervous about her sleep – we would give her last feed at about 10pm and hope she would sleep, which she usually would until fussing for her next bottle, usually about 2-3 hours later, so 1am, then 4am, then usually 6am. This period really is a time where it’s hard to be on a real “schedule” and it was important to me to tune into her queues and get to know what she needed. We had a great call with Desiree (she has online classes and offers consulting, too… you can use MAMATEN for a discount!) who helped us get to the next step, which involved giving us tips on trying something new…
7 weeks – 12 weeks (now!):
Working on a sleep schedule was something we prioritized with trial and error, and consistency as much as possible. In chatting with Des, we figured out that doing a last feed at 10pm wasn’t actually the best for our objectives (long sleep stretches!) and decided to give her last feed at 7pm, seeing if we could get her to start adapting, and waking around 3am instead. We also started her night off in her bassinet in her crib, watching her on the Miku monitor (that has a video, temperature, sound and breathing sensor) so we felt safe, plus she had her Owlet on, too! We were soooo nervous to have her sleeping away from us, especially at first, but it got easier and we felt more confident. You’re so on edge at first stressing about if they will wake, if they will go back to sleep when they wake, if you should go in and help them get back to sleep, or let them self sooth. Lola is not a crier, so she won’t start crying if she wakes, but just hang out and roll around… we watch for a bit to see if she’s actually awake, or just readjusting. If she spits out her puggy (soother!), we might go in and pop it back in. My goal is to make sure she can put herself back to sleep, so we practice that and have never done the ‘cry it out’ method. I do think consistency helped us a LOT, and I see this as practice, not perfection. They are little humans whose needs change!
So, after her 7pm sleep time in her crib, we move her to sleep for the night into our room at 10pm/11pm or so. I will usually go lay in bed at that time while dad tidy’s up and preps bottles etc, for the next day. When we first started this new routine around 7 weeks, she might fuss on and off, and the goal was to always leave her in the bassinet and help sooth her. Babies sometimes fuss while they are actually completely asleep, so we didn’t want to pick her up right away, but also make sure she felt safe and comfortable. This maybe a light rock or placing our hand on her and gentle rocking her manually. Putting in her puggy, turning up the sound machine. These steps usually worked, but if not, we would pick her up and rock her. Now, at 12 weeks, she sleeps all the way from bedtime around 7pm until 3am with no fussing at all – we were waking her at 3am to feed bc her Pediatrican wanted a certain amount of bottles within 24 hours due to her weight. We noticed we consistently had to wake her as opposed to her waking us, so these lat few nights, we have dropped the night feeding, hoping she will eventually go 7pm – 7am. Right now, she wakes around 4am, and we try to soothe her back to sleep – if that doesn’t work, we give her a feed, and then wake again at 7:30am to start the day and routine!
First of all, I had no idea that it can be the norm for baby to nap in your arms for the most part? I def didn’t want that to happen so we always laid her down to nap. Wake windows and number of naps change as baby gets older. While she used to nap on and off all day in her bassinet in the living room, that doesn’t fly anymore because she is now much more aware of her surroundings! We started napping her in the crib with the bassinet starting around 8 weeks – she loved it. Wake windows always change as they get older, but right now we aim for 60-90 mins of awake time so she really takes a nice sizeable nap as opposed to snack naps as I call them. She defo has her fair share of ‘snack naps’, but we try to read her queues and adjust things as we notice them. We FINALLY got black out blinds because we noticed she slept MUCH better in total darkness. I fought this for a very long time thinking my baby wouldn’t need this, or we would spoil her and she would need darkness at all times to sleep… but it’s really important for sleep success, so we bought these cheapie paper blackout – our windows are a full wall and floor to ceiling making it a challenge! Let me tell you, it’s made ALL the difference with napping.
My fave ways to help Lola sleep
Lola sleeps best swaddled nice and snug. We use SwaddleMe for night sleep since it’s safer thanks to the velcro hold, and we looove them! For naps, because we watch her closely on the monitor, we use a blanket swaddle (these ones are the best, they are soft, smooth and have stretch!).
She loves her soother, and I love having this tool to keep her calm – we put her to sleep with it (these ones are the best and her fave – get LOTS so you can always have a fresh one ready!) and pop it in if she needs to be soothed or calmed (car rides! Over tired! Ready to eat!). She will usually spit it out at some point during the night, and if it wakes her, we try to get her back to sleep without it to avoid the constant in and out soother cycle, ha.
We love this one, and have two (one is a back up in case it craps out, can’t live without it!). We use it for naps, car rides, and overnight – it’s always going! I make sure the volume isn’t too high, and we place it at the foot of the bassinet so it doesn’t get too close to her ears.
I’ve talked about this before, but our Owlet Sock is a game changer for our worry about SIDS – she wears it all night long and I love that it gives a sleep summary including how long, quality etc. It helps US sleep!
Babies looove routine and so does Lola. Dad puts her down every night and has his special routine – it doesn’t have to be complicated. A quiet, dim nursery, fan on, diaper change, bottle, burp, swaddle, rock, bed. He fully believes this calm environment helps her sleep well, and I don’t doubt it!
Current Schedule at 12 weeks
I work from home, and dad is full time with Lola. Dad does night duty – bedtime, night feed if there is one, and I take over at 5am so dad can sleep! Lola’s days go a little something like this…
Notes: Lola is formula fed, 6 bottles a day (now 5) and each bottle is currently 110ml). We feed her Holle formula. This schedule is not rigid, and we often adjust depending on our days… the biggest thing is consistency in the rhythm.
7am – wake and eat with mom
8am – nap, mom starts work
9:30am – wake and hang with dad
10am/10:30am – eat
11:30am – nap
12:30pm – wake and play or go for a walk
1:30pm – eat
… this is when naps start to get more challenging – she is on and off with nap times and play times at this point in the day but that’s ok! We roll with it and watch for sleepy cues so we know when to put her down. We want to get quality naps, so try not to ‘over nap’ her.
4:30pm – Eat! Dad goes to the gym and mom takes over
… we hope to get a last nap in so I can make dinner/work and wake her if she is still sleeping at 5:30pm so she sleeps all night!
6:30pm – start bath if it’s a bath night
6:45pm – dad start bedtime routine (most nights, mom is pouring a beer for herself!)
7:30pm – dad has successfully put her down and is probably pouring a cocktail and starting to warm up dinner! Mom is probably working a bit.
Ah, there we have it! I hope I covered it all and it was helpful. I remember searching for help on this topic and I couldn’t find much, so hoping this is a good resource for you! My friend Desiree also offers online baby classes, and use code MAMATEN for 10% off! She also offers one on one coaching, and soooo worth it to get on a call with her or get one of her packages. You can mention me for the discount.
My best advice for you is to give yourself grace and seek out help if you need it! I know it’s HARD, and if you’re a new mom, it’s all new. Your baby loves you sooo much and you’re doing a wonderful job XO