Jack is a good sleeper. He usually sleeps 10 hours straight through the night, unless he's teething or sick (and then medicine, natural remedies, or rocking can lull him back to sleep). He's actually been a good sleeper since about 2 months old. I hazily remember the period before he started sleeping through the night. It's hazy because neither Bobby or I got more than 3 hours straight of sleep in those first 2 months. When we were sleep deprived, we just don't remember things very well, including that period.
But we do both remember being shocked that first time Jack sleep through the night. We woke up at 6am, after Jack's last feeding at 11pm, and asking each other, "did you feed him last night??" "No." "I didn't hear him cry out." "I feel bad if I slept through his cries." We thought it was a fluke. Then he slept another 6-7 hours straight the next night, and the next. Jack was sleeping through the night, and if you haven't experienced a new born, insomnia, or other sleep issue, this was a HUGE deal! Yay for us! Yay for sleep! Yay for not feeling like a zombie (I mean, I still crave brains, just kidding).
And if you ask me, "what was your secret, your trick, to getting him to sleep through the night?" Honestly, I don't know. I think it was all Jack. That he was in the 50th percentile for sleep (that's not a measurement pediatricians use by the way, but there was a study done on sleep and babies, that found 50% of babies sleep through the night by age 4 months. Here's the link: Sleep and babies).
But what if your baby is 4 months old and is in the 50th percentile of babies NOT sleeping through the night? I can only imagine that you're desperately begging Google to unlock the hidden tips, tricks and secrets to help your baby sleep. Well, today's your lucky day, as a discussion in one of my parent groups was just about tips, tricks and secrets for helping baby sleep (that's how this post came about), and I felt these tips might be better shared with the whole of the internet.
Here's the first (perhaps not so) secret: every baby is different, and this includes their sleep schedule. Yeah, I know that is not a helpful secret when you (parent/guardian) are sleep deprived, but I think it was brought up in our group to help us (parents and guardians) understand that this sleep thing might be out of our control. So even if you exhaust all tips and tricks and your baby is still NOT sleeping through the night, try not to mark down as a failure (as a parent/guardian). I mean, your kid isn't going to go to therapy because you couldn't get them to sleep through the night at 4 months; they're likely going to therapy for all the other shark you're gonna do. (I kid, I kid.)
First tip: there's lots of books out there about sleep and babies. These are the books recommended in my parent group:
1) "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child"by Dr. Wiessbluth
2) "The No Cry Sleep Solution" by Elizabeth Pantley
3) "Becoming Babywise" by Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam (note,in our group, the person just said babywise, so my interweb intuition says it's this book)
Now if you're like me, you don't have time to read books on sleep because you have to read fifty different reviews on sippy cups instead (and if you have time to read chapter books instead of reviews, you should probably be sleeping). So here are the "straight-to-it" tips and tricks for helping baby sleep. I want to note that these are just tips and tricks other parents have found useful (remember? I lucked into the 50th percentile of good sleepers). I haven't hired a team of researchers to run a year long study on what is the best way to help baby sleep, and I didn't have all of that data all plotted out neatly in graphs and charts (I know, I see the disappointment on your face that I didn't use scientific method :p).
Nonetheless, I thought that these tips and tricks were worth sharing. Surely, one is likely to work on your child *crosses fingers*. These are just tips and tricks passed from one parent to another until you maybe find one that works for your child. Just like our parents did before us and before the Internet. I forget what those are called, Oral Traditions, other something like that (maybe I'm thinking of stories passed down from one generation to the next, but it's like that). Maybe it will comfort you a tiny bit that at least these tips and tricks passed along come from a parent group full of engineers; or maybe that will make you stop reading right now. Alright, alright, the tips:
1) Try swaddling
2) Try swaddling after a different activity (for example, you usually swaddle them right after eating; try changing diaper, then swaddle, then feeding)
3) Try a red bulb for a night light (instead of the white/blue)
4) Keep baby next to you/nurse in bed
5) White noise (like a fan or a noise machine; just be sure it's below 50 dBs so it will not harm baby's hearing)
6) Only change the diaper if it's a poopy diaper (once you discover the magic of the 12-hour "night time" diapers, you will never go back)
7) Don't talk to baby in the middle of the night (although for us, a soft singing to an upset Jack seemed to comfort him, but all babies are different)
8) Finally, sleep when baby sleeps
Yes, I bet if I surveyed parents/guardians, that I'd find 99% of them have heard the "sleep when baby sleeps." I admit, I found it hard to nap on maternity leave. I wanted to get so many things done when Jack was napping/sleeping in the day. However, I did usually take a nap almost daily. Sometimes it was just 30 minutes, but it did re-fuel me. Also, Jack loved the car, so I'd drive to Starbucks, go through the drive through, get coffee or tea for myself, and by the time we're home, he'd be asleep (this only worked if he hadn't previously been napping).
If you're back at work, those naps are hard to find, but I've seen people nap in their cars. Some places have nap areas (or a nurses station, it's cool to say you need to lay down for a headache or such, haha). And as a new mother, I used the nursing room. Sure I was pumping, but I used that time to rest with my eyes open. I rarely tried to work when in the nursing room. It helped a little with any tiredness (which feels double when a new parent and RA patient).
Although blessed with a good sleeper after age 2 months, Jack hasn't always slept through the night over the past 2 years. We've had to deploy our own tricks when he was teething or was sick. White noise and rocking are the two I remember he liked best.
We've had to rock him in old faithful (a hand me down rocking chair) for 30-60 minutes, 2-3 times, during those nights that brought him misery. Then it was a careful act of not waking him up as we put him back in the crib (shark! why did the dog just shake his collar). Jack really responded well to motion to fall asleep, and will still fall asleep in long car rides. Not every kid likes motion though, which all goes back the number one secret: every baby is different. Ok, all this talk about sleep, it's very suggestive. I'm off to nap. Sleep tight everyone. ;-)
*This link was also posted in my parent group, if you'd like some additional reading, I mean resources: Sleep Problems By Age, Newborn. And this link came to me via The Bump Newsletter: 6 Ways to Get More Sleep Now That Baby is Here
I'm sure I've left out some tips and tricks, so please share what worked for you in the comments below. Thanks!