The first week of Noah’s life David and I slept about 10 hours total. Noah was breastfeeding on demand every hour and a half to two hours. Furthermore, because I was experiencing engorgement the feeds would take almost an hour (I had to use warm wet compresses before and ice afterwards). We were so exhausted that we often snapped at each other during the night. In addition, David started back to work and I also have to return to work after maternity leave. These factors led us to take measures to improve our sleep. We desperately tried to switch his days and nights. We kept the lights dim during the night and did not play or talk to him during feedings. Then during the day we kept all of the windows open and the house noisy. This worked up to a point. Around one month he was eating at 9, 12, 3 and 6 every night although sometimes he would have an additional feeding at 1:30 or 4am. The main issue was that he was wide awake for the 3am feeding and would sometimes stay up for two hours.
Everything changed when I heard of Moms on Call. Moms on Call is a book that helps get your baby on a schedule. Noah is 7 weeks old now and he is waking up once during the night and taking consistent naps during the day (we did have one hiccup which I will go into further detail about later). The first day I was following a schedule that I had seen online and it was difficult because Noah was not used to eating and sleeping at certain times. However, he was so exhausted that he had a four hour stretch of sleep that night. The next day I bought the e-book ($12) which went more in depth about the method. That night Noah slept from 8:30pm to 3:30am with no interruptions! David and I were amazed by how quickly this method worked.
My main takeaway was that Noah needed sleep cues and a consistent schedule so that he could fall asleep and stay asleep. I love this quote from the book “your job is to provide the routine and environment and their job is to sleep.” I modified this method so that it did not involve crying it out. I do allow Noah to fuss and make noises for a few minutes. Previously I would pick him up with the first peep because I assumed he was waking up. I was shocked the first time I left him alone and he slept for another hour! I started watching him and realized during those times he never even opened his eyes. I am now much more in tune with him and can tell the difference between when he is waking up and when he is still trying to rest.
The most crying we've had during this process was the brief stint when we tried a pacifier. He would suck very hard on the passy until he woke up and then he would scream every time he lost it. Before the pacifier he had been very good at self soothing when he stirred during his naps. However, with the pacifier he would get livid if he woke up and didn’t have it. We were essentially playing “passy pong” as it is coined in the book so I took the passy away. I immediately noticed that he did much better (after one or two tricky nap times). If Noah is truly hungry I will feed him off schedule and then just work to get him back on schedule throughout the day (usually this means he wakes up 30 minutes early from one of his naps). In this case, I will feed him and then keep him up after the feed before laying him back down for his next nap. For example, today he woke up at 11:30 instead of 12pm. I fed him and then kept him up until 12:45 to split the difference. He slept until his next time to wake which put him back on schedule.
Here is our typical daily routine (4 to 8 weeks):
Between 6 & 7 am Feeding: Noah wakes up and has a morning feeding. I will let him sleep up till 7am and then I will wake him up to feed him (he’s normally an early riser so this rarely happens). After this feeding, I put him right back to sleep. I will: un-swaddle him, turn his white noise off, feed him, change his diaper, re- swaddle him, turn his white noise back on and lay him down. I try to lay him down when he is drowsy but not asleep.
During this nap time I will pump, get a shower, get dressed, make the bed and have breakfast.
9am: Feeding. I wake Noah to feed at this time if he does not wake on his own (he usually wakes up right on time).
9:30 Playtime: This is Noah’s best playtime of the day. I will give him tummy time, time on his play mat with his toys and then I will read him a story if we have time.
10:00 Nap: This nap should last about two hours. During his daytime naps I swaddle him in regular swaddle blanket, turn on his white noise, close the curtains in his room (they let soft light in) and lay him down in his crib. I have noticed that he sleeps better if he has something with my scent on it close by. I usually put one of my shirts near him during his naps and will stand by his crib for a few minutes while he falls asleep. During this time I catch up on dishes, laundry, and general household cleaning. I also have lunch.
12:00 Feeding: Once again, I will wake him if he is still asleep. This may seem cruel but it’s important that he doesn’t sleep more than two hours during the day so that he will sleep well at night.
12:30 Playtime: Noah does more tummy time and we listen to music too.
1:00 Nap: Once again this nap should last around two hours. I sometimes pump again after I lay him down for this nap. Then I have a little bit of “me time.” Sometimes I write a post like this one, sometimes I take a nap, sometimes I have household chores leftover from the morning that I need to finish or a project that needs my attention.
4:00 Nap This is when David comes home and we can spend time with just the two of us. Normally we will start making dinner together or at least make a plan for dinner.
5:30 Feeding: This is Noah’s “supper feeding.” This feed is critical so I am very timely with it and I won’t feed him again until his next scheduled time.
6:00 Playtime: Noah gets progressively fussy in the afternoon as he gets tired. This playtime often involves us walking around with him and just keeping him as awake and happy as possible. We usually take turns alternating who is taking care of him and who is cooking.
6:30 Nap We have dinner together and I do my final pump of the evening. On Wednesdays we go to church and on Mondays we go to the gym. We put him in the Solly baby wrap if we go out and he will sleep while we carry him.
8:00 Bath time: We at least go through the motions of bathing Noah even if we are only using warm water to give him a wipe down. After his bath he gets a fresh diaper and then he has skin to skin with me.
8:30 Feeding I usually feed Noah while we are skin to skin. We also have our devo. during this “tender time.” We sing a song, read a chapter in the Bible and then say a prayer. After this we dress him, swaddle him tightly in his Swaddle Me blanket, turn his white noise on and lay him down for bed.
9:00 Bedtime Noah is still sleeping in a pack and play in our room. Our pediatrician mentioned that the AAP recommends room sharing to at least 6 months of age to prevent SIDS. Moms on Call transitions much sooner at around 3 months because they say babies sleep better in their crib. For now, I prefer to keep Noah close to me at night.
2 to 3 am Feeding: I keep the lights dim for this feeding and try to not to rouse him too much. I do un-swaddle him during the feed though so he will eat. I also change his diaper.
Obviously, even though we try to stick closely to this schedule it is not completely realistic because we have to go out and do things. The items in orange are critical which means that I always try to keep those things on time even if the rest of the day is off schedule. I also make sure that he does not nap for more than two hours at a time during the day and try to plan outings during his nap time (if I carry him the wrap he will sleep.) If that is not possible I will still try to feed him around his normal time (even if I have to feed in public) and keep him awake during his playtime. Overall, this has given us so much structure and has made Noah a more content baby. If your current schedule is working well for your family then DON’T change anything. However, if you are sleep deprived and need a better routine (like us) then I would highly recommend Moms on Call!