Let’s talk about sleep and newborn babies. When my friend told me her newborn boy, who is not much older than Aviana, was sleeping for 7hrs straight and Aviana was waking every 2-3hrs, I was insanely jealous. These are the things that went through my head….
- I’m not feeding my baby enough, my boobs aren’t enough for her
- She is going to be a nightmare forever
- Is my baby a freak?
- We are bad parents
Sleep is such a contentious issue with babies amongst parents. Everyone swears by this method, that method, blah blah blah. Well, here is what I believe.. every baby is different, so chances are each baby will behave differently with different sleep patterns. For example, Chris doesn’t do mornings and I don’t do late nights, so why would we expect our babies to be any different for having a preference for when and how long they sleep for?
However, as a new parent, babies and sleep is something I have very little knowledge of, so, I did buy a book. The ‘baby solution-a proven program to teach your baby to sleep twelve hours a night’ book. I bought this book months before Aviana arrived. I liked that it was gentle and incremental sleep training, it kind of jibed with our parenting style (what ever that is!!!). By 12 weeks old it promises you your baby will be sleeping through the night. It sounded amazing, I had read the reviews online and there were many positive stories.
In this book by Suzy Giordano, there are three requirements that baby must meet before you start the training: 1. Baby must be at least nine pounds; 2. Baby must be eating at least 24 ounces of milk or formula in 24 hours; 3. Baby must be at least 4 weeks old or 8 weeks if a twin. This apparently usually comes around the same time and is typically around the 8 week mark. Aviana is now 10 weeks and has only just hit nine pounds so we waited knowingly it would be a while before we could start this program. BTW – I am not convinced she is eating 24 oz of breast milk yet.
There are four stages of training:
- change to four feeds during the day every four hours for twelve hours. Not sure I will be able to achieve this whilst breastfeeding. Lots of comments on Amazon saying this is very difficult for a breastfed baby, which I’m inclined to agree with. This would mean Aviana consuming 4-6oz of milk in one sitting. I know that even if she emptied both my boobs that would be a challenge! Maybe every three hours we could achieve.
- change to eliminate all night feedings for twelve hours. Aviana has almost done this by herself already (more on that to follow…)
- change to sleeping or resting quietly in the crib for twelve hours at night.
- change to sleeping or resting quietly in the crib for one hour in the morning and about two hours in the afternoon. To me this seems quite a challenge for an 8 week old baby, but assumably if you were to follow all the steps in order then this would come almost at 12 weeks old.
Sounds simple right? Well the book does provide you with ways to achieve this, gently and incrementally over a four week period. Also the book provides you with some tips for priming your baby before the 8 week point. This includes creating a good sleep environment (in cribs in their own room) and routine for when baby sleeps. BUT…we haven’t started this program yet.
However, we have established a night time routine for Aviana…. 6pm bath time, with relaxing music and dim lights. 6.30pm last feed of the night, dim lights and relaxing lullaby music. 7pm, lights out, swaddled and in crib. The first week was a little tough keeping her awake and not letting her nap after 4.30pm, we tried all sorts of techniques to keep her awake and entertained! Plus she has the witching hour where she becomes a grumpy moose, usually around 4-5pm. Tricks include going for a walk, carrying her, playing and dancing to nursery rhymes. The routine worked well for her and she has been going to sleep like clockwork at 7pm for almost 4 weeks now. Sometimes, she even doesn’t mind just lying in her crib kicking around for a bit before she falls asleep. Then when Chris and I go to bed later on we carry her from her crib downstairs to our room into her pack and play crib.
A couple of weeks after starting the routine Aviana did a magical thing. I woke up at 4.30AM and I hadn’t fed her yet!!! Whaaaat? She had slept for 9.5hrs straight. Over the last week she has been sleeping from 7-9hrs straight and only waking for one feed during the night until she wakes up at 6 or 7AM. This is AMAZING! So she is sleeping for twelve hours now with just one feed in the night. Having to wake for only one feed has been rejuvenating for me. I feel vaguely like a human again – even better than when I was pregnant because then I was still waking up every few hours to pee! Plus Chris doesn’t need to do a bottle feed and so she is less stressed (because she is impatient she works herself up when drinking a bottle at night!). The other good thing is that we get a couple of hours to ourselves before going to bed.
I am still doing on demand feeding (except for the 6.30pm feed) and her days don’t have much of a routine yet. The only routine we try to use is the baby whisperer’s method of Eat, Activity (for baby), Sleep and Yourself time whilst baby sleeps (EASY). How long that ‘EASY’ routine takes is currently on her schedule.
So….do we need to start trying sleep training? I’m not inclined just yet to start it. First she has done really well so far pretty much on her own schedule, I’m afraid to regress! And secondly because of her weight. I don’t want to disrupt her eating and enforce a routine that she doesn’t like because I am worried about her losing weight if we move to just four/five feeds a day. If I was formula feeding her I would definitely try it.
Now another of our friends who has a boy a couple of weeks older than Aviana is asking me how we managed to get Aviana to sleep for so long. I actually have no answer. The truth is, it is a bit of luck. To begin with we had bad luck – we had hell to begin with having to do 2 hour feeds and supplementing in her first few weeks of life and she had a hell of a time with silent reflux (well we had a hell of a time too!). Now we have good luck…she is sleeping well now in her own way…will it stay like that?!? Who knows which way our fortune will go!
Ultimately, I like what the pediatricians here say about how to get through parenting in the newborn stage ‘you can’t spoil a newborn baby’. I think that is something I feel comfortable with and looking back the past couple of months has worked for us. The question is, when is she no longer that ‘newborn baby’? When does she stop ‘training us as parents’ and when do we start training her? I am hoping that in time that will become a bit more apparent with Aviana, but many sleep trainers say it is around the 4-6 month mark. Only time will tell……in the meantime Aviana is napping in her new Baby Hawk Mei Tai carrier and is probably going to wake up soon so I will stop blabbing, but will continue this another time!
Happy sleep my friends X