How we got bubs to sleep 12+ hours every night.
Since my last motherhood update post, I got quite a few questions and emails asking me how I get bubs to sleep from 730pm to about 5 to 6am daily, sometimes all the way till 8am.
(Though I am very worried that by writing this post, I'm gonna jinx things for myself lol)
First up, I got to disclaim that I'm not writing this post to give advice in a professional capacity. I'm not claiming to be an expert suddenly just because I had a baby but I'm just sharing what works in my household in case it helps some other new mom.
(I also don't believe in sleep training and crying it out. My heart just can't take it. I'm the first to jump and pick him up even before he fusses lol, so Nate hardly cries. Not even for milk. We usually look out for hunger cues and feed him before he starts crying.)
Also, you have to pick timings that suit your own lifestyle habits. For me, him sleeping at 730pm is great cause that gives me time to have dinner with the hubs, surf Instagram then go to bed by 9pm and I then wake up at 2am cause I LOVE WORKING IN THE STILL OF THE NIGHT. I'm writing this post at 4:43am by the way lol. So you might want to adjust your child's schedule for him to fall asleep at 10pm and wake at 7am instead.
And another disclaimer (sorry so many disclaimers but motherhood and parenting is something that people always get all extremely touchy about) is that putting Kai on a schedule works for us and HE IS HAPPY. Maybe he's like his Mommy who's super fixated on routines but he automatically eased into his schedule. If you are anti-schedule or against any of the stuff I'm gonna write, then really, it's just different strokes for different folks. At the end of the day, all we want as parents is the best for our children, isn't it?
So his schedule is roughly,
8am: Wake up, change diaper, feed, play
1130am: Wake up, change diaper, play, feed
130pm: Nap (this is usually the big nap)
4pm: Wake up, change diaper, play, feed
6pm: Short 30-min nap
630pm: Bath and bedtime routine
730pm: Falls asleep breastfeeding
5-6 am: Rouses for milk, falls back right asleep till 8am. (This has been increasingly seldom of late. He usually sleeps all the way till 8am these days. I then spend the night putting my finger under his nose like in the movies to check if he's breathing cause I'm crazy paranoid like that.)
A few things,
We are quite flexible in the sense that we allows him to sleep for as long as he wants. If he wakes up at 830am instead of 8am for example, then we would adjust the rest of the day's timing accordingly by half an hour.
Sometimes if we are out, he might be too excited by what's going on and won't nap properly but I make it a point to come back by 7pm for his bedtime routine and he still sleeps through the night.
Some people strongly advise against nursing to sleep but it works for me lah. I personally think it's much easier than rocking and patting and he usually falls asleep in 15 min? I will then hold him for another 5 min or so before putting him on the bed. Some people say that it might cause dependence and sleep association but it's been ok so far for me. When I'm home, I nurse him to sleep for naps as well and when I'm not, he's ok to fall asleep by himself. If you can lay your baby down in the proverbial "awake, but drowsy" way then that's great! But for me, trying to achieve that was an entire adventure in itself and like what I always tell the hubs, we are tending to a baby here and not a tamagotchi wtf. (Anyway lately, we are trying out this new method of putting him in between me and the hubs and both of us will pretend to sleep. He will stare at us for a couple of min then mimick us by closing his own eyes and soon fall asleep lol. So far, the hit rate's about 80%.)
We go on an eat, play, sleep routine for the first feed cause I am worried about him having gone without milk for almost 12 hours through the night but for the rest for the day, it's on a play, eat, sleep routine cause I don't like him to be on his tummy after feeding.
We are also starting solids and he will be attending classes 3 afternoons a week come next month so I'm starting to make adjustments to his schedule based on the lessons timing so maybe I'll update again come then.
Caught him smiling in his sleep!
Right from the very first day we came back from the hospital, I was quite set on establishing a bedtime routine. Of course, he woke every few hours at the beginning like every baby but he started sleeping through the night at around 9 weeks. We started with 8+ hours, then 10+ and now 12+.
The routine is simply,
We'll give him a bath, rub California Baby Calming Cream on him, put him in his pjs, feed, swaddle* and sleep.
Some things to note,
Right from the very start, I've been trying to differentiate between "night" (sleep time) and "day" (play time) and this includes turning off all the lights and being very quiet when it's time to sleep. We do this for naps as well. So he usually knows that it's bedtime once we draw the curtains. When he woke up at night for milk during the early weeks, we made it a point not to play with him. It was simply change diaper, feed, swaddle again, sleep.
I think it's the small things that lets him know when it's time for the big sleep. We only apply the California Baby Calming Cream (which has a distinct lavender scent) on him at night. In the day, we alternate between Lovekins natural baby moisturiser and a few others depending on his skin condition as he has mild eczema.
This deserves an entire section by itself cause it was SUCH a struggle figuring this out!
Most hospitals tend to swaddle newborns but what we realised is that Nate HATES being swaddled the conventional way. He was always trying to kick himself out of it (and hence keeping him awake) so we stopped swaddling him but because he sleeps with his hands up, he was always startling himself with his moro reflex. He slept no more than one hour at a stretch and it had reached the stage where we had to carry him to sleep. And it meant sitting in an armchair for 2 hours, doing nothing but holding him. He wouldn't sleep otherwise and I was going crazy!
Then one day (I still remember it was his first month celebration), I decided to use the award-winning Love To Dream Swaddle UP that they had sent me when I was pregnant (but had clearly forgotten about no thanks to the pregnancy brain). Omg, that night he slept for 5 hours!!!
(You can imagine how silly I felt to have tortured myself for an entire month when we could have helped him (and us) right from the very start by putting him in the Swaddle UP and letting him sleep like a baby, literally.)
The Swaddle UP is an easy zip-up (so no complicated wrapping and bundling) swaddle that allows your baby to sleep in a more natural position with his or her arms up. Sleeping with arms up is most babies' natural sleep position that allows them access to their hands for self-soothing by sucking on their fingers or gently rubbing their cheeks. The Swaddle UP comes a range of fabrics and I particularly like the temperature-regulating and moisture-wicking Bamboo Lite version pictured here for our Singapore weather.
When he got older and his startle reflex better (though he STILL sleeps with his arms up), we transitioned him to the Swaddle UP 50/50 to help him gradually adjust to sleeping un-swaddled by removing one wing at a time. You can unzip one wing, wait a few nights for your baby to adjust to the sensation of sleeping with one arm released and then remove the second wing.
I'm now thinking of getting him the new Love To Dream Sleep Suit because he's always kicking off his blanket at night and to be honest, I often get crazy paranoid (again lol...) about the blanket covering his face when he sleeps so I think the sleep suit is definitely much safer!
(By the way, pictures in this blog post were taken when he was 1+ month and he was still so small and red and squishy. This boy is srsly growing up way too fast!)