I feel like sleep is such a hot topic when it comes to children, especially in the first year of life. I think it is in the top two things that every parent thinks about at least 10 times in the course of a day- their child’s sleep and comparing it to what others are doing/how others children are sleeping. Oh, the other thing every parent is thinking about throughout the day are bowel movements; I have never talked about poop so much or so frequently before having a child but that’s a whole other conversation. I can’t go to a play date without talking about sleep situations, eating and pooping.
Are they getting enough sleep?
Should we co-sleep? Should we bed-share? When should my baby sleep in their own room?
Should we sleep train? Which method should I try?
Do we need a bedtime routine?
These are just a few of the questions that most parents ask themselves in the course of trying to figure this whole sleeping thing out.
My answer is stop thinking so much and do what works for you.
We knew from the beginning that Edith would sleep in the bassinet in our room for at least the first three months. After that we had no idea. I had a stack of sleep training books all ready to read but of course they never were even opened until Edith arrived and even then I only ever read one, The Baby Whisperer, and still haven’t read any of the others. What led me to open that one book and start reading was the fact that Edith suffered from colic the first three months and I was searching for any answer I could find as to what we could do to get her to calm down and go to bed at night.
We tried starting the bedtime routine earlier, like 6pm, but it ended up taking us hours of bouncing on that damn exercise ball before she would calm down and go to sleep. This would put us at around 8pm (or later) before we could sit down and have dinner and at that point we would scarf down our food and basically go to bed. So then we decided to eat dinner and then put her to bed. I would nurse Edith to sleep and then put her down in the bassinet however moments later she would be awake and screaming which would then lead to 60-90+ minutes of Neil and I switching off bouncing with her (why bouncing? because it was the only thing that would calm her).
Finally around 3 months the colic started to go away and the time it took to put Edith to bed started to decrease. Around this time we also mastered the art of side nursing. We would start the bedtime routine around 6:30pm and I would nurse Edith to sleep, move her asleep into her bassinet and some nights we might have to do a little bouncing but only for a few minutes rather than hours. At this point Edith started bed sharing most nights with us since it meant that I would get more sleep because side nursing is amazing.
At 3.5 months sleeping in the same room as Edith started to become a little more challenging for us because it seemed every move we made woke her up. So we decided at four months that Edith would move into her own room. We anticipated that this would be a difficult transition for her but she actually took to it really easily. Bedtime was at 6:30-7:30pm, we would nurse in our bed until she fell asleep and then transition her to her crib. We generally would have one wake up before midnight and usually one around 1-2pm and one around 4-5am.
Once we felt that Edith had finally made a good transition to her crib we decided to start doing nursing in her room instead of in our bed. We committed to this and after about two weeks we moved back to the bed. We lucked out and had a few 7-8 hour stretches but most nights she was up 2-3 times and if it reached 3 that’s when I grabbed her and took her to bed with us. We also started a rule that if it had been less than 2 hours since Edith’s last feeding that Neil would try soothing her before I would whip the boob out.
Then everything went crazy because we decided to move, lived at my parents during the moving process, finally moved to Oregon where we had to deal with a time change and we ended up waiting 3 weeks for our belongings to finally arrive. During this time Edith moved back into our room where she nursed in bed with me, slept in the pack ‘n play at the start of the night and then most nights ended up in bed with us. She was still waking up 2-3 times per night to nurse.
Eventually our things arrived, we got used to the time change and we attempted to get back into that routine we had started in November at four months. We went back to the routine except Edith’s bedtime went from being at on average 7pm to closer to 8pm, however everything else was the same nurse in our bed, go down asleep, Neil try to soothe and/or nurse in her room, nurse in her room, and if she was up again and I was exhausted she would nurse in our bed.
Then I started to go to mom/baby meet ups and started hearing about (most) everyone practicing sleep training, usually a form of cry it out.
Because this post is a mile long already please stay tuned for part II.