I was majorly hesitant to share this because I am not an expert by any means. I am just a new mama who somehow got her baby to sleep through the night by 10 weeks. I am hoping my journey can help or inspire other new parents 🙂
Some of this may very well just be who Miles is as a baby, his growth, his personality.. I don’t know. These are not hard and fast rules. This is just what worked for us. I know that every parent wants their baby to sleep as early as possible, but babies also have to go on their own time. Do your best, but please know that if your babe isn’t sleeping, it does not mean you are not a good mom or dad. You are doing amazing! This shit is H A R D. And if you are a FTP like we are – it is all NEW too! Try not to be hard on yourself.
Again, I just a mama trying to help others and share our journey. Since we got our sleep back our lives have CHANGED and I want that for all new parents.
Let’s dive in:
For the first 4 weeks we did not do any sort of scheduling. We literally just listened to his cues, feed every 2-3 hours like the doctor told us and tried to get him to sleep as much as he could in between. Miles was also 3 weeks early so he took some time to actually “wake up”. He napped on us, in the swing, in the stroller, in the bouncer, in the dockatot. We soaked in all those newborn snuggles because they are the BEST.
We took Miles out of our room early on at around 2 weeks. I know that is unusual. At 2 weeks we had a night nurse for 10 nights. She was amazing and gave us some good tips and relief for sure. Our room is directly next to the nursery so we could hear everything and had the monitor too (nanit – obsessed). Having him right next to us in the same room was not working for us. For some it works great, but ultimately it was not for us. We have a small room so I wouldn’t sleep just thinking / watching him making sure he was ok. I needed some distance!
Around 3- 6 weeks Miles became super GASSY. This is pretty normal, but it is so hard to deal with. Their GI systems are so new at this point. This made him incredibly fussy and hard to put down to sleep. He would keep us up for hours in the night with 0 sleep. I legit remember a night in Toronto (5 weeks old) where my mom woke up at 4am and we were still up trying to put him down from the night before. We had MANY nights like this. This phase is ROUGH! I just kept telling myself it is temporary and it will get better.
During this gassy phase as I call it, we tried a few things that happened to help him settle and sleep better. First, tummy massages, leg exercises, propping up the mattress, and keeping him up right after feeds. I was breastfeeding, but I did not change my diet. I tried for a hot second and it did nothing for us. Honestly breastfeeding took a huge toll on me and limiting myself with food was not in the cards for me (he did not have any serious allergies or anything, if he did I would). We also started him and myself on a probiotic. I started Seed symbiotic (code SARI15 btw) and he started on Gerber Soothe (also has vitamin D). These things all helped. Sometimes we did the gripe water, gas drops, and the frida windi too. Make sure to talk to your ped doc before trying anything!
At around 6-7 weeks, he got to a much better place with the gassiness, but became a huge spitter. HA! A happy spitter though (aka he didn’t get fussy when spitting). He is still this way! Lots of laundry, but nothing to worry about. At this point I was starting to read and learn about different programs like Full Feedings and Taking Cara babies. I took tidbits from both of them. I LOVED the Taking Cara babies “SITBACK” method (google it or buy her guides lol). It basically helped us learn methods to soothe Miles back to sleep and try to cut down nighttime feedings. Less night time feeds = more sleep for mom and dad. From Full Feedings, I took that feeding ENOUGH in the day is key to getting better sleep at night. She stresses full feeds (30 mins) or proper bottle amount in oz per feed (she details that amount in her guides). I didn’t follow all her timeline suggestions bc Miles didn’t quite fall into them, but generally I love her school of thought. I fed ever 2.5 – 3 hours and woke up him to do so. I did not let him go for long long long naps during the day at this point (max 90 mins). I still do this at 16 weeks. The goal of this was to work towards getting him to get used to getting enough calories during that day without needing night calories. I will say the FF schedule was a little to intense for me, I felt I couldn’t keep up so I just used it as a guide and adapted for our life. The TCB schedule approach was a little more flexible and she had a ton of options for day time flow. She talks through cluster feeding and things like that too.
It was at around 7 weeks where out of a ~4am desperation for sleep~ moment that I rented the SNOO (smart bassinet that rocks baby back to sleep on it’s own). It comes with a big price tag, but you can do a month by month rental. I heard mixed reviews, but mostly cult like amazing things about it. At that point I would have paid $200 for one night of damn sleep… so I did it. It took 2 weeks to arrive. By the time it arrived, we didn’t really need it. Funny how that worked out! I will say we kept it for a month (because we paid) and used it as a regular bassinet. The rocking motion was NOT good for Miles. He would get so alarmed and scared. He was used to sleeping without that movement and it just didn’t vibe with him. I will say that babies that start with it from day 1 could have a better shot and I know TONS of people who are obsessed. But it just wasn’t for Miles.
Around 8-9 weeks, I started to get our nighttime feeds down to just one in the night. His stretches got longer (4-6 hrs) and if he woke up before, we would use the soothing methods to try to get him down again. At this point, we were still doing the “dream feed” like 10pm/11pm type of feed. After that, I would wake up with him one time around 2am/3am for a feed. He would be so sleepy during that feed and go down pretty well afterwards.
As I mentioned, at this time that I was more diligent with daytime schedule. Feeding every 2.5-3 hours, making time for play after and trying to get him to nap before the next feed. I was aways flex with him, but getting in at least 5 full feeds a day was key for us because I did not want to feed at night anymore.
This is when we started to train him to soothe back to sleep versus feeding in the night. He would wake up one time after we put him down around 9pm (on average) at around 3/4am. At that time, either Jacob or I would wake up when he cried and soothe him back to sleep instead of feeding (this is where TCB “Sitback” method comes in). For the most part, holding our hand on his chest and lightly rocking with a Paci did the trick in about 10-15 mins. At this point, when I was awake, I was pumping when I woke up bc I may as well. Also, my boobs were like SARI PUMP! I built up a good stash in these weeks.
At around 9-10 weeks, we started seeing him getting through FULL nights on his own. So going to bed around 8:30ish and waking up around 7:00 for his first feed. I started to wean off the middle of the night pumping because he wasn’t waking up and getting a full night of sleep was life changing and Tbh I don’t enjoy pumping.
At 11- 12 weeks, we started making bedtime earlier. We would start bath time, PJs, reading routine at around 6:45. He would get down by 8pm. Since then, he has solidly slept a full 11/12 hours through the night. GO MILES! I have seen on the monitor when we wake up in the morning that he does wake up for a few minutes sometimes at night, but goes back to bed on his own. He doesn’t make noise to wake us up so we are cool with it. So now his sleep is mostly from 7:30pm to 7:30am. Sometimes he is upset and doesn’t go down until 9, but it is usually that he needs more burping or has a big poop.
At 13 weeks we transitioned out of the swaddle (we LOVED the happiest baby “sleeppea swaddle” until this point) to the Magic Merlin sleep suit. He loves it. We started to introduce this throughout the day for naps first and then eventually we tried it overnight. He was showing signs of rolling – especially from tummy to back and would break out of his swaddle within 30 minutes. At that point, we knew it was time.
Up until this point, we had Miles in his uppababy bassinet inside the crib. He loved the smalls space and the uppababy bassinet is sleep safe. We transitioned out of this when we transitioned out of the swaddle.
At 14ish weeks, we started doing more formal naps during the day. So trying to get him to actually nap for longer than 20-30 mins at a time on a schedule. Today, at 16 weeks, he is getting there! Naps are anywhere from 45 mins to 1.5 hours 4 times a day.
In summary, I think the following elements helped us the most in this journey:
- Using programs as a guide, but not letting it stress me out too much.
- Being ok with letting him learn to self soothe and adopting methods to teach him that. Not easy, but it worked for us.
- Weaning him off nighttime feeds by making sure he is eating enough during the day by doing full feedings (please make sure you doctor says it is ok to start this) and focusing on wake windows.
- Getting his gassiness under control and being really diligent about burping so he is less fussy and able to sleep.
- Having a routine at night around sleeping and getting him used to it. Bath, reading, jammies, lotion, low lights, sound machine etc.
- Using a swaddle he loved and making him comfortable in his space. Aka sound machine and a bassinet he liked!
Our Current Schedule on an average day :
Current Schedule at 16 weeks is below (this changes day to day, but acts as a guide for us). Wake windows are around 70-90 mins so this changes everyday, but loosely what we follow.
I take him on walks during nap times too, but try to have the first nap of the day in his crib with the lights off, sound machine going and in his magic merlin suit.
7:30am – wake up, feed 1
8:00 – 8:45am – play time (tummy time, playing on the mat, sometimes I workout next to him, cuddling playing on the couch etc)
8:45am – 10:15am – Nap 1
10:15am – feed 2
10:45am – play
11:30am – 1:00pm – Nap 2
1:00pm – Feed 3
1:30pm – Play
2:15pm – Nap 3
4:00pm – Feed 4
4:30pm – Play
5:00pm – Nap 4 *this nap is sometimes a cat nap, sometimes a full nap* it can also be witching hour so he may be up for longer. Every day is different!
6:30pm start bedtime routine
- bath (usually do 5 bath nights a week)
- giving him a little lotion massage (esp in the winter)
- Getting into fresh jammies
6:45pm – Feed 5 (keep lights low, calm vibe)
7:15pm – reading in nursery, singing, putting miles down drowsy, awake
He usually falls asleep by around 7:45. Sometimes he fusses around until 9pm though. We try to leave him unless he is super upset, spits all over himself or makes a huge poop.
I try not to get him the next morning until around 7:30 when I go in and get him ready for the first feed. Sometimes he is up earlier, but I just let him hang in the crib. I like to wake up early and have coffee alone around 630. Sometimes, he is awake and just making noises. I let him do that on his own. Again, unless he is super super upset. For us, self soothing is important.
More things I want to note:
We loved loved the happiest baby swaddle “Sleepea” up until 13 weeks. For the first 2 -3 weeks, we did use the classic blanket ones because he was just so small.
We swear by these. I have mini ones around the house to bring on nap walks, one in his room and in the diaper bag.
Sharing the load:
In the early weeks where we would wake up MULTIPLE time a night, Jacob and I would switch off feeds. Either he would do a bottle or I would breast feed. What helped was after his 7pm/8pm ish feed, I would go to bed and sleep through the next feed around nightlight / 1am. I would then wake up for the following 3/4am feed and sleep until the morning after that. That way we both were getting at last a few hours. There were nights where he was so fussy and hard to handle that I tapped Jacob in. Since Jacob’s job requires surgery, during the week I would take the post midnight feeds so he could get a solid 6-7 hours before work.
I will note that we had a night nurse from weeks 2 to 4 – 10 nights total. That was very very helpful. If I can make it work, I would do it for longer next time. She arrived at 10pm fed him and then fed him 2-3 times during the night. Usually I would wake up to pump when she fed once. I skipped one feed so I could sleep. So I would pump when she arrived at 10pm and she gave him a bottle. Then I would sleep through the second feed and wake up to pump around 4ish. That way, I got a solid 6 ish hours. It helped!
In the VERY early weeks when things are all over the place I pumped a lot. I always pumped more than he needed, so I was able to get a stash going. After that, I only really pumped when he got a bottle or someone else fed him. Since he started going through the night, I stopped pumping so much. I got lazy honestly. I used to pump before bed, but most of the time I can’t bring myself too. I wake up engorged, but so be it!
99 percent of the time we changed his diaper when we did night feeds. He was a poop machine so we couldn’t help it. Also, when he goes through the night is usually wakes up with a poop 💩 he doesn’t get bothered in the night often from it, but it has happens.
Our part time nanny gives him bottles when she is here so I can have some separation. I do pump when she is here on his feeding schedule. The odd time I skip a pump when he feeds, but I try not to to keep up my supply.
Anyways, I hope this helps! Good luck to all and remember, you are doing amazing.