The Things They Don't Tell You About Caring for an Infant, Part 3...FINALLY!
Part one focused on the early days with baby, part two focused on breastfeeding and part three will focus on sleep! My sleep experiences with my two kids have been vastly different, so hopefully I'll be able to encourage you that your kid is normal too:)
1) The first six weeks are generally the worst, but every kid is different. After the first six weeks, Kate was waking less frequently to eat. Four and five hour stretches felt amazing. Then around 2 to 2 1/2 months, she was sleeping a full 10-12 hours at night. Jackson has had a few nights where he's slept 8-10 hours, but even at 8 months old he's still getting up once or twice at night. Some of this is due to growth spurts and teething, but he's so different than Kate that I can't help but be frustrated by it at times. Another possible reason behind this is the difference between formula fed Kate and breastfed Jack. Breast milk is digested easier and quicker, leading to hungry bellies faster. Just a fact.
2) Putting a baby down to sleep or nap early is better than letting baby get too tired. Eventually, you'll be able to notice baby's sleep cues early enough to catch him at the right time. For Jack, an hour and fifteen minutes after he wakes up is when he needs to go down for his morning nap. If I wait too long, he will cry forever before falling asleep.
3) Unless you're planning to co-sleep, the baby will sleep better in her own bed. We moved Kate to her own bed around 8 weeks and Jackson around 5 months. Their sleeping improved dramatically. It's still important to keep baby close when she's up eating constantly in the night, but those days won't last forever. There are also studies that show the risk of SIDS is lowered when baby is sleeping in the same room as Mom and Dad, though. I know I just contradicted myself in a way, but you need to know the facts before you decide what's best for you.
4) You may have heard it before, but it really is best to put baby down awake at nap and bed times. Sometimes that might mean baby cries, but trust me--he'll sleep better because of it.
5) Babies often sleep better with a source of constant noise--like a fan, humidifier or noise machine.
6) Babies love to know that Mommy is near. Sleep with their favorite blanket for a couple nights or swaddle baby in the t-shirt you wore during the day. Your scent will help comfort her.
7) With your first, you really can sleep when baby sleeps. If you have more than one, it's not so easy. Don't be afraid to ask someone to come sit with your kids so you can sleep. Don't be afraid to let Daddy watch them for an hour in the evening so you can get some zzz's. Sleep will help you be a better Mommy. Trust me.
8) If you are comfortable co-sleeping, your baby may sleep for longer periods of time because she is near you. Co-sleeping is especially easier for breastfed babies, if baby will nurse while lying down.
9) Swaddling definitely helps little babies sleep better. Once baby is big enough to squirm out of a swaddle, though, sleep sacks are very helpful in keeping baby a little more snug and keeping him warm.
10) Room darkening curtains that block out the sunlight are a huge help in encouraging baby to sleep--especially if you don't want to be awake as soon as the sun rises!
Part four will hopefully be around next week, where I'll discuss issues such as teething and illness! See you then!