Our third baby will be 8 weeks old tomorrow, so as you can imagine, the topic of sleep has been on my mind! We've been very blessed with two amazing sleepers - both Pippa and Teddy slept through the night at or before three months, and really never had any major sleep regressions. At the risk of jinxing myself, I will say that it seems like Lewis will be following in their footsteps. He's been giving us longer and longer stretches at night!
In reality, it could all just come down to temperament and God's grace, but I feel like we've learned at least a few things along the way for making the most of sleep in those early months. Maybe not every baby will respond the same way to these steps, but this is what has worked for us so far!
First and foremost, before you settle in for the night, make sure your night stand is stocked with the essentials. I always keep 2 burp cloths, a water bottle, and extra nursing pads within reach, and lean my nursing pillow against the bed. That way, whenever the baby wakes up to eat, I have everything I need to nurse, and I barely have to open my eyes.
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Before we had our first baby, one of the only books I read to prepare myself for motherhood was Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp. One tip I took away from that book that we've used with every baby is to swaddle them tightly when you put them to sleep. Swaddling makes the baby feel snug, warm, and safe, and decreases the chance of the baby startling himself awake with sudden arm movements. We love these sleep sacks that use velcro to close, but in a pinch will use large muslin blankets folded in half. We always swaddle our babies until they can roll over on their own.
2. white noise
Having some white noise playing while your baby sleeps is important for a few reasons. First of all, it helps recreate the sounds baby heard in the womb. In addition, it helps drown out incidental noise from loud older siblings, pets, or household chores. Finally, it's easy to keep their sleep environment consistent when traveling! We always bring the kids' sound machines along on trips, or if we are hanging out at a friend's house at night, we can put the baby in a dark bedroom with white noise and enjoy grown-up time! If we forget one while traveling, we simply download a white noise app to our phones.
3. put baby down awake
Our one-year-old is such a great sleeper - when we put him down in. his crib at night, he sings himself to sleep! It's the cutest thing, and it's also a relief for us not to have to rock him or listen to him scream every night. I'm sure part of the reason for this is his laid back personality, but it's also because we started training him to do this when he was a newborn.
Either my husband or I will walk around the house bouncing the baby until he's drowsy, then we set him down gently to nap or sleep. Most of the time he's still awake when we set him down, and will grunt or coo for a few minutes while drifting off to sleep. As soon as we hear him cry, we start the process over - pick him up, bounce, set him down, wait for him to fall asleep. We do this as many times as we need to! We don't cry it out with a newborn, but still try to teach them to put themselves to sleep!
4. feed on demand
During the day I feed the baby as often as he want to eat. I hope and aim for every 2-3 hours, but sometimes it's much more often than that, especially in the evening. It can be very frustrating to feel stuck on the couch all day when I have other kids to take care of, or chores I would like to get done, but I know that the more he eats during the day, the less he'll need to eat at night. As soon as he starts showing hunger cues, I set up my nursing nest on the couch and let him eat.
5. dream feed
I honestly have no memory of where I heard this bit of advice, but it has been one of the key elements in getting all three of my kids to "sleep through the night". A dream feed is when your baby is already asleep, but you feed them right before you go to bed without really waking them up. For me this usually happens between 10 and 11 p.m. with the idea that baby will give their longest stretch of sleep while I am also sleeping. Often the baby won't wake up for his next feeding until sometime between 4 and 6 a.m. This gives some semblance of normalcy to your sleeping patterns, which is a win for everyone!
6. don't interact during nighttime feeds
When I dream feed or wake up to feed the baby during the night, I'll keep the lights dim and avoid taking to the him - I want him to know this isn't social hour! It's time to sleep! I don't even change his diaper if it's just wet - though I will risk waking him up to change a dirty diaper.
7. find the perfect spot for your baby to sleep
Each baby is so different, and each family situation is so different, so it's important to find the sleep solution that works for you! For some it's a bassinet, some prefer a pack 'n play, other favor a crib, and still other like to co-sleep. We have loved and used different solutions at different stages with our babies, so be prepared to change it up if you or your baby needs to!
That's why I love the DockATot Deluxe for our baby! It's a cocoon-like dock where your baby can rest, play, snuggle, or lounge! If you're still nursing every few hours during the night, it's a safe way to co-sleep without risking rolling over on your baby, since it has breathable raised sides. We plan on taking our dock with us on vacation to visit family this summer, so baby Lewis will always have the perfect safe and snuggly spot between us. (Make sure if you're co-sleeping with the DockATot to use these safety guidelines!) I already foresee so many uses for the dock while we're on the road - changing diapers, lounging around while we hang out with family, and practicing tummy time!
The DockATot has also been the perfect solution for encouraging bonding with the older siblings. Teddy is still learning how to be gentle with the baby, so it's nice for Lewis to have his own space with a little protection from his big brother. Big sister Pippa loves making him smile, so she's been laying next to him in bed right at eye-level! We seriously bring the dock from room to room so Lewis can be part of whatever we're doing.
I absolutely love baby products that are multi functional, and that transition with the baby as he or she grows. You'll love the DockATot if you're the same way! The Deluxe+ fits babies from birth to 8 months, and the Grande is for babies ages 9-36 months. The Grande is perfect for babies transitioning from crib to toddler bed. Use my affiliate link for $10 off any dock HERE.
Tell me - what are your best tips for newborn sleep?
I received the DockATot Deluxe+ for free in exchange for a review, but all opinions are my own. I only promote products on my blog that I love, or that I think you'll love and use, too!