Before Camilla was even born, I was determined that she would be a good sleeper. I am someone who needs my sleep or I just can’t function and I am not a pleasant person. Not to mention that sleep is super important for baby development too – so I knew sleep needed to be a priority around here! I did a bunch of reading and research, I read blogs and websites, I read Moms on Call and I followed multiple Sleep Consultants on Instagram to learn as much as I could. Now, if you do all of this too, you will find a lot of contradicting info, but also a lot of the same things over and over. Everyone does things slightly differently, but there are common themes throughout. I figured that I should for sure do the things that *everyone* was saying to do, because those must work, right? But the rest, you kind of have to figure out what works for you and your baby.
I was lucky because I set up a good environment for Camilla and she took to it super well. She has been a wonderful sleeper, and I think it is a combination of her personality but also, I think everything I implemented helped a LOT as well. I don’t think she would be as good of a sleeper without these things, but I can’t guarantee these results with every baby – because she is my only baby! So please, read my advice if you would like, implement what you’d like, but remember every baby is different!
For Camilla, she woke up twice a night when we got home from the hospital, then around 3 weeks, she started waking up once in the middle of the night. At 5 weeks she started sleeping 8 hour stretches, with one early morning waking before going back to bed. And then by 7 weeks, she was sleeping 10 hours straight, and by 8 weeks she was sleeping 11 hours straight with NO wake-ups. She is now 15-weeks at the time of this writing and she is still sleeping 11 hours straight every night. Here is what I did to get her sleeping like this!
Side note: I had a healthy, full term baby and used formula from day one.
Newborn Sleep Tips:
- Use Halo Swaddle – every single sleep time (Until about 12 weeks, then we switched to Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit)
- Another note with the swaddle – learn how to use it correctly! We did it way to lose at first. Then we learned to tuck her arms under and secure it tightly.
- Sound Machine at 50-60 Db – every single sleep time
- 65-68 degree room – every single sleep time
- Dark room (at night from day 1, at naptime from 2 weeks old)
- Dock-a-Tot: Yes, we used this every sleep time until 12-weeks old.
- Put in own crib for all naps starting at 2 weeks old and put in own crib at night starting at 3 weeks old. Babies are noisy – Plus we all needed our own space.
- Do not wake baby up at night after bedtime feed (basically after 8-9PM I did not wake her, I let her wake up on own at night once we were home from hospital to teach her difference from night and day)
- Night feedings: only use nightlight and keep swaddle/sack on, no stimulation. Again, to teach difference between night and day.
- Cap naps to 2h15m first couple of weeks, then 2 hours. Then an 1h45m, then 1h30m. (Very gradually decreasing time)
- I did this so she would take ALL her naps. Letting her sleep too long in the earlier naps made the later naps very hard starting after 6 weeks.
- This also taught difference between night and day – during the day mommy wakes me up. We also wanted the long stretch to happen at night not during the day
- Watch wake windows: start with only 45 minutes, this increased slowly to 1.5 hours by 10-12 weeks. (Can handle a little more in evening usually, after 6 weeks).
- Make sure it is a FULL wake window before bed.
- Make sure baby gets natural light during the day
- Full feedings during day and no snacking – to make sure she gets most of her calories during the day.
- Feed every 3 hours during the day (again to make sure she gets enough during the day instead of night) even if you must wake up baby.
- Wake up at same time every day (within a range) – I was lenient on this until about 7-8 weeks then became more strict (within a 30 min window) and after 10 weeks – I am very strict on the wake time.
- If baby wakes up early from nap, try to extend by rocking if you can. Keep sound machine on and lights off. This is to prevent an overtired baby and stay on feeding schedule. And to teach her naps are not optional. Yes, sometimes I held her for naps to prevent overtiredness but I tried too not make it the “normal.” (We did this until about 11 weeks – then we encouraged her to fall back asleep on her own if she woke up).
- We let her cry for a few minutes to settle herself. As long as I knew she was fed, changed, comfortable, clean and had an appropriate wake window, I would try to let her fall asleep on her own. I did not run to her every cry or whimper! And she learned how to put herself to sleep so quickly. (I never let my newborn be in absolute distress, but tiny whimpers were not reason to go pick her up if it was sleeping time.) I think this is what helped the most, she could put herself back to sleep very easily from a young age.
- I did NOT do Eat, Play, Sleep at first and it worked just fine. I would change her diaper then feed right before sleep time, rock her a bit and put her down. (I did sometimes follow the Sleep – Awake – Sleep as explained in this article and that also helped her learn to fall asleep on her own) Now that she is older, I do feed earlier in the wake window and put her down awake, so more of an eat play sleep, but we do tummy time before eating. (I did not implement Eat – Sleep – Play until 11 weeks old)
Remember, a baby is a baby, not a robot. Sometimes life happens and sometimes you have an extra cranky or tired baby. Especially in the early days, no day will be “perfect” and they will never follow the schedule exactly every single day. But having some structure really helps me and helps the baby know what to expect. Yes, sometimes I held my baby for naps. Sometimes her wake window was too long and sometimes she just flat out refused to sleep. It was okay – I knew I would just keep trying and we have more good days than bad because of it.
These are the things I did mostly from day 1 – which is also important because that was all she knew – I didn’t have introduce new things she wasn’t used to. At around 10 weeks, we started a stricter schedule, and at 11 weeks we became strict with her putting herself to sleep on her own and implemented a consistent nap and bedtime routine. Now she is on a good schedule and puts herself to sleep (usually pithing 5-10 minutes).
Also, please remember that baby sleep needs change as they grow, soon we will hit the 4-month sleep regression and go to 3 naps instead of 4. I hope these all go smoothly, but I have learned not to get to “comfortable” in these first few months because as soon as I do – something changes and we have to adapt!
Wow that was a lot – if you’re still here, great! If you have questions, let me know!