The baby sleep conversation
I was unsure whether to write this because newborn and baby sleep in general can be SO different for everyone and comparing it is often going to leave you more stressed than good.
Take away the books, apps, advice, videos, techniques and the urge to make your baby sleep and find their cues. That’s the best advice I think someone could have ever gave me. Just trust your baby and see what her natural cycle is. A baby is going to become an infant, toddler, child, teenager, adult regardless. There will be days, weeks, months they go through growth spurts and sleep is a thing of the past and other days they just sleep like a dream. Then there are babies that are naturally routined, others that are persistently routined and some that have none at all. None of those parents are doing it wrong. They are doing it there way. You, we, I should all just do it our own way. Whatever works for you. If it’s a problem for someone else then who cares! The choices we make are our own and if you are okay with the consequences then that is perfect!
It’s still a topic I get asked about constantly though, emails and messages asking about Elle’s sleep routine.
Before Elle went through her first growth spurt she was waking every 2-3 hours a night feeding and it was when other mums said their babies at same age were only waking once a night that I began to question – is my baby getting enough sleep? What am I doing wrong?
I read three different sleep routine books, googled and spoke to others. I then began implementing a strict routine following times for 5 days. Some aspects of the routine I didn’t follow but following the time cues was very exhausting. For those 5 days I felt extremely restricted to what we could do and where we could go. I just had this baby and life had changed so much already but I didn’t picture I’d have to/ should change everything about my day. I felt a bit stressed and concerned trying to get her on a routine and sleeping without cues that we ended up
worse. She would follow the times in the day but at night it was worse but every book said she should be sleeping. That she won’t poo or be hungry or wake during a dream feed. While all the books said this they couldn’t say they knew my baby.
They didn’t know my baby was born small and wanted to grow rapidly. They didn’t know my baby was a persistent pooper (aka every feed or otherwise thirty one thousand times a day). They didn’t know that my baby was going through a growth spurt. They didn’t know that we had an event on we needed to attend or that I didn’t want to spend all day at home now or like ever. I’m a busy person and I enjoy my life that way.
The more I realised what the books didn’t know was the moment I realised I knew my baby better than anyone.
I then decided to change my way and go with the flow. I am a relaxed person and I want that to translate into my parenting and into the child I raise. I think routine is healthy but it doesn’t always need to be adhered to for us by strict times. A baby should know routine but
should also be able to adapt through change and that’s the parenting style we are trying to take on. It may mean we have some more suffering days but we don’t remember these days we remember everything we enjoyed about it and I want to our children to be there enjoying everything with us.
I calculated the amount of hours the books recommended your baby sleeps for during the day and work best to ensure Elle gets around that total of daily sleep to avoid overtiredness.
Which FYI overtiredness is just standard in a newborn. Your learning them, they are learning the world. This can be one of the hardest things to avoid sometimes but once you get to know your baby and her cues mastering it gets easier but we won’t be able to avoid it every time because sometimes we have shit to do and sometimes the cues are missed! It’s okay! One minute you think you know them and then suddenly their preferences change. It’s normal. Why does no one tell you it’s normal and instead they say ‘oh, you should be doing this, this and this?’
Well, some may laugh at me as I’m only 8 weeks in but for 8+ weeks in we are getting pretty damn good sleep in my eyes. Well, ironically I’m finishing this post at 4.30am after having my longest sleep of 1.5 hours tonight haha and here I am about to say how awesome Elle’s sleep is! Haha. Well, she actually is an awesome sleeper! She’s going through a growth spurt! Probably number 601 (just kidding) but they happen. You can’t force a baby who wants/needs to grow to not feed an extra 81 times a minute when they go through a growth spurt so you kind of just have to take the good with the bad and remember the days your baby wakes and feeds more often are good days, they are growing days! Something I would’ve given everything to have experienced with our first child. The beauty of watching your child bloom and grow right in front of your eyes. This long night tonight is extra special, special because I can acknowledge how lucky I am to be here holding our daughter and feeding her through her growth.
Back to it…
Elle has a routine but the times alter based on her last day time nap and what we are doing that night. At the moment it consists of
* total of 4.5 hours sleep during the day (broken sleep/naps of an hour or two to ensure she is tired enough to take a bigger sleep at bed time)
* I keep her in the light and bring her wherever we go during the day to ensure she knows to take her naps on the go or to help her adapt to changing situations which will help for a smooth transition when she has siblings in the future and everything won’t be on her clock anymore!
* I rock and cuddle her to sleep if she needs it! I love doing it! One of the most rewarding parts of parenting.
* afternoon walk (during last nap of the day because she’ll probably fight it the easiest way to get her to take it is with a walk)
* Shower or bath with daddy
* Dress/brush hair
* Wrap for bed
* Lots of cuddles
After her second feed she either finishes and falls asleep on her own when we begin to wrap her. Otherwise we help her with the lots of cuddles! I think the cuddles are my favourite part. They aren’t something you will be able to enjoy so much when your child has siblings you need to tend to so I think it’s something you should do a lot of with your first earthside babe.
She goes to sleep anywhere from 630-830pm and her first wake up is around 1230-230 and if she has a second it is usually 4am and then she will sleep until 730-830am.
There are so many different factors that make each of our babies so different and often it is just genetics. Some babies have reflux, colic, want more of your love, less of your love (which I swear is Elle sometimes so that’s why I force all the love upon her haha!), siblings etc. No two are the same!
Ask yourself – if it’s not a problem for you then who cares if it is for anyone else?
I was nervous going away the other weekend with Elle and that she would turn cray being in a different environment but I think because we chose to not surrender all aspects of our lives and we exposed her to heaps of different scenarios consistently and continue to do so as we are always on the go that she has managed to adapt so well for our nights away!
I really enjoy this parenting gig! It’s amazing how rewarding it is. Just this week alone I think I’ve cried more times than I could count with proudness. The moment your baby smiles and means it beamingly just lights up your world.
Surrender yourself to parenting the way you surrender your body to change in pregnancy. The years are short. Enjoy it with your little ones.