Warning: VERY long post! There is just so much to talk about when it comes to baby sleep.
First of all, I agree with Caitlin, when she said that talking about baby sleep is like talking about religion and politics. Everyone has their own opinion and their own way of doing things. In my opinion, every baby is different and every mommy is different so lets stop fighting about it and just share information without judgement. k? k.
From the time she was brought home from the hospital Ella has been an awesome sleeper. Stephen and I felt so lucky that she slept so well. She took nice long naps and I even had to wake her up every 3 hours at night to feed her. After the first week, I stopped waking her up and assumed that she would tell me when she wanted to eat. I started putting her down for the night at 9PM and she would sleep in 3.5 to 4 hour stretches until 8 or 9 AM. During the day, she was like any other new born and loved sleeping on either me or Stephen. I wanted skin to skin time so I tried to allow her to sleep on me for at least one nap a day, and the rest of the time I would put her either in her swing or in the Rock N Play sleeper. We started to experience the “witching hour” around week 2. Ella would be inconsolable from 7-9 every night. The only thing that soothed her was a boob. I would continually switch her from one side of my chest to the other for those two hours and like clock work she would PASS OUT at 9PM. It left us both exhausted, crying, and pretty upset.
Starting at around 4-5 weeks this child really began to WAKE UP! She was still an awesome sleeper at night, and the first stretch of sleep was very often 4-5 hours, followed by a 3-4 hour stretch, and then sometimes she would go back to sleep for 1-2 hours. During the day her awake times were longer and her naps were shorter. I was pleasantly surprised at how much fun I was having! Making silly faces, singing, dancing, and watching her play on her playmat not only filled my days but it fulfilled me in a way I never thought possible. She was also eating every two hours during the day. She was still very fussy from 7-9 every night and would only be consoled with a boob in her mouth.
Starting in the beginning of week 6 I read the book “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby” and it really opened my eyes. I was totally mis-reading Ella’s cues and was feeding her when she was really telling me she was tired. After reading this book I spent an entire day watching Ella and realized that she will go from slightly tired to tired to over tired and screaming in a matter of 10 minutes. I noticed that her movement starts to slow down and she will let out a little yawn right as she gets tired. If I can get her swaddled and into the swing with a little white noise in the back ground right after this first yawn she slips right into dream land and will sleep soundly for 1-2 hours. If I miss this first cue she easily gets over tired and over stimulated and will cry. Then it is much harder to get her to sleep and her nap is much shorter and much more restless.
Ella has always been a calm baby, but I have noticed how much happier she is since she is better rested. I also realized we were putting her to bed too late. By the end of the day she was way over stimulated and could not handle it. Since then we have started winding her down for bed at 7:30PM by bathing her (every other day) in a warm bath, giving her a little massage with Berts Bee’s Calming Baby lotion, reading a book or two (if there is time and she is not showing signs of being tired), feeding her in her dark quiet room, and putting her in the Rock N Play in a swaddle. She is fast asleep most nights by 8PM. Some nights we need to go in to replace the pacifier and rock her a little. But most nights (knock on wood) she falls right to sleep without much coaxing.
Right now her schedule looks roughly like this (and I fully expect this to change within a week. Babies change so fast!)
- Roughly 7:30 AM: Wake up! Time for a diaper change and a feed
- 8:30 AM: Within an hour of wake up she is ready for her first nap of the day. As soon as I see that first yawn its into the swaddle and into the swing. She will sleep for 2-3 hours and this is her longest nap of the day typically. This is awesome because it gives me time to shower, get dressed, make myself breakfast and have a cup of
super mom potioncoffee. I also pump at least once during this time to keep my supply up. I am also trying to build a back up supply of breast milk in the freezer for when I go back to work.
- 11:30 AM: Up! Time for another diaper change and a feeding. I usually change her into an outfit at this point. If I want to get anything done outside the house this is the time to do it. We will run an errand or go for a walk at this point.
- 1:30 PM: Back to sleep by this time at the latest. Another fact I learned from “Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Baby” is that newborns should never be awake for more than 2 hours maximum. That time is about all the time their little brains can handle. She will typically sleep for 1-2 hours at this point. I also pump again during this time.
- 3:30 PM: Awake! Diaper change and eating. She is typically awake and her happiest during this time. I cannot believe how much fun she is! We sing, dance, do tummy time, and maybe go for another walk
- 5:30 PM: back to sleep! and daddy is home! THANK GOD! I am very ready for some adult conversation at this point! We get to start dinner as well and chat about the day. Which is amazing. This is also her shortest nap of the day, typically about 30 minutes to 1 hour. I pump again while she is asleep.
- 6:30 PM: Awake! And Hungry! After she eats it time to get ready for bed. If it is bath night I will start that, but if its not I try my best not to stimulate her too much. She is usually really fussy at this point which is tough since its usually the only time Stephen has with her. I love watching them bond Its really amazing.
- 7:30 PM: Upstairs for books, another feeding (even if she doesn’t seem hungry I will feed her because it seems to soothing for her), and bed.
- 8 PM: Fast asleep! Time for Mommy and Daddy time.
- 1:30 AM- 2:30 AM: She will wake up for a feeding. A quick diaper change, 15 minutes on each boob, re-swaddled and back in the Rock N Play.
- 5 AM: Some days she will wake up for a feeding at this point, sometimes not.
- 7:30 – 8:30 AM: Up again! Time to start another day !
Keep in mind there is really no “typical” day with a newborn. This is just a rough idea of how we spend our days!