One thing I get asked a lot about at newborn sessions is sleep. It is one of the hardest things about having a newborn right? I know I missed sleep so much those first few months. Doesn’t everyone tell you the last few months of pregnancy, “Sleep now – you’ll never sleep again!” yet somehow you are already NOT sleeping because you are pregnant + miserable. Because I’ve had so many questions about it, I thought I’d share a few things that really helped me get through those first few months. First of all, I read a lot of books (Let’s see, I know I read The Happiest Baby on the Block,Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, and several more plus every blog + forum out there before I had my first baby and still felt so totally unprepared. I wanted to read every single point of view and figure out what was going to work best. (The former second grade teacher in me is such a planner. I am usually over prepared.) When he was born (amidst his breathing + eating troubles) it all seemed so simple. All they did was eat and (you hope!) sleep. And really, I think most of my best advice came from other moms and not from all the books I read. I did like that The Happiest Baby on the Block gave me a lot of ideas for soothing him when he was fussy. (We used all 5 S’s in the evening when he was fussy. We strapped him in the swing, we then swaddled a blanket over him strapped in, put his pacifier in, turned on the music, and started the swinging. It was a lifesaver and we were able to eat dinner together.
I can’t remember where it was recommended but one of my favorite things we’ve done was starting a bedtime routine from birth. We read a book to our just home from the hospital baby, sang a song (Jesus Loves Me is their bedtime song) and then said prayers with them. Then, I’d turn on the ocean on the sleep sheep for 45 minutes to kind of let them know, ok, it’s time to go to sleep. After every night time feeding, I’d turn the ocean back on to let him know it’s still night time and this seemed to calm them back down and they went right back to sleep. Somehow, for both of my boys, this routine really worked wonders. (Here’s an article for more bedtime routine ideas) When they were around three months and they started having consistent naps, we read a book before naps + a sang Skinamarinky Dinky Dink just so they knew it was a different song and naptime, not night time. The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends reading to little ones from birth (see article here) and I have been amazed and what both of my boys have learned through books and how much they’ve enjoyed them. Harrison didn’t respond much to me reading to him for several months, but then all of a sudden he was so interested in the books, and he started lighting up and chatting everytime I read him a book. I can sometimes see him point something out that I know he also learned from a book and it melts my heart.
Our five year old still requests this same bedtime routine every night (minus the sleep sheep. We usually stopped that when they started sleeping through the night, which for both of them was around 2 1/2 months, which I know is rare. I get told a lot I won the sleep lottery with my little ones. They both also love to nap – adjusting to kindergarten has been tough for Owen) I have loved having these routines with my little one and carving out special time each day to read, talk about books, sing and pray together. If anyone has any advice/routines that have worked well for their little ones, please share in the comments!
Thanks to Amy of Sunshower Photography for capturing the sweet moments of Harrison and I reading and snuggling together in his glider when he was 9 months old.