If there’s one association people make with newborns, it’s sleepless nights. “How are you sleeping?” seems to be the first question people ask new moms (and dads!), and for good reason… most newborns are on 2-to-3 hour sleep cycles, waking up frequently throughout the day and night.
I’m unsure if I lucked out twice or just have a magical sleepy-baby touch, but both of my kids consistently slept through the night around 5 weeks. Both were formula fed which could contribute to their night-time contentedness (breast milk metabolizes faster than formula does, causing baby to eat more frequently), but I believe that the number one factor is routine.
You’ll hear it time and again: babies love routine. Alexandra Caroline (“AC”) has been on one since she was a week old, and it has proven to be successful for us. Here’s what our nightly routine looks like:
7:00 PM – Begin prepping the nursery for bedtime. This means pulling down the shades, turning on her sound soother (it plays a womb-like sound with a slight heartbeat in the background), getting our post-bath necessities prepared (towel, diaper, jammies, swaddler, bottle) and running the bath.
7:15 PM – Get AC in the bath… and fast! If it gets much later than this and she hasn’t had her bath, she begins to fuss until she hears the water running (not a joke). While nightly baths are highly unnecessary for babies, we learned from Alexandra’s first bath that she absolutely l o v e s them, and it really helps her get wound down before bed. It also is a signal to her that bedtime is coming soon.
7:30 PM – After drying her off and putting her in sweet little pjs, she goes straight into her swaddler. This is something that I skipped with Avery because I thought that he “didn’t like it”, and I believe that it was a mistake on my part. His startle reflex did wake him up at times even when he was STTN, and this could’ve been prevented by swaddling. While I also initially got the vibe that newborn-Alexandra was frustrated by the swaddler, a couple of minutes into being swaddled and she was fast asleep. We’ve done it every night since, and now she absolutely loves being cozied up in her little cocoon. I plan to swaddle nightly until she begins to fight it/show signs she doesn’t enjoy it anymore.
7:35 PM – Then we move to the rocking chair, where she drinks a bottle (right now – 13 weeks – she’s drinking 4 oz before bed) while I rock her. Sometimes Hunter will come in and read her a story while I feed her, and sometimes I read her one after I’ve laid her in her crib – it depends on her temperament and if she seems ready to just go to bed.
7:50 PM – After about 15 minutes of feeding and rocking, she’s ready for bed! I place her in her crib while she is still awake (we transitioned from her bedside HALO bassinest to her crib at 5 weeks, which happened to be the first night that she STTN because we weren’t waking her up with all of our movement!) and put a pacifier in her mouth (usually she spits it out). While I used to be anti-pacifier, my son became a thumb sucker and we are now having a difficult time quitting that habit. As someone who also sucked my thumb until around 6 years old, I’m realizing that pacifier may be better for us as it’s easier to remove than a thumb!
And that’s it! We say our goodnights, leave the room, and she falls asleep on her own within 10 minutes. While this routine is definitely an hour-long commitment that can interfere with things like dinner and picking up the house, it has proven to be worth it and allows for plenty of restful nights!