Night one back from the hospital we felt like we were on an episode of Survivor. I was in shock someone had handed me a tiny human with exactly zero instructions. Fortunately, our friend’s night nurse was nice enough to share some of her tips (and a schedule) with us and it was a lifesaver. I also took the Taking Cara Babies program and again: lifesaver. They had pretty much the same advice and fortunately, it worked really well for us. Immediately, I felt armed with tools and knowledge, which completely changed my experience as a parent. Noa is also a much happier baby on a schedule.
We started the schedule from day 3 out of the hospital. It took about a week for the schedule to “stick” and for the most part, she is like a little clock to this day. The biggest lesson (and frustration) I had as a new mom, is when I implemented the schedule, it was hard for me to handle when she didn’t follow it. Well, duh she’s not a robot. The Taking Cara Babies program taught me two things: One, the schedule is simply a rough guideline. No day will look exactly the same and I needed to chill out and go with it. Two, just because she wakes up 30 minutes into a two-hour nap, doesn’t mean the nap is over or I need to immediately feed her. The program gave me a straightforward method and told me in which order to try each soothing tool before feeding. Nine times out of ten, when I would go through Cara’s method for getting her back to sleep, she’d go back down and finish her nap according to the schedule! A few weeks in, she was such a good napper I usually had to wake her for feeds. Nighttime took longer and required more patience. We used the same tools and methods, teaching her to stretch sleep longer at night instead of immediately reacting with food. Her sleep progressively stretched longer and longer at night. She was sleeping through the night by 3 months (I was still getting up to pump, though – insert dagger emoji). Right around 3 months and 7 months she let us know she was ready to start staying up longer and that’s when I would do research and shift her schedule. This is what we did, divided up by age in months:
In the beginning, Noa was rarely up for more than an hour at a time. At night, she slept from 8 to 11, then we “woke her” for a dream feed. This is basically where you keep her in a dark room with the noise machine going, wake her just enough for her to feed, and then immediately put her back down. She’d then last till 2ish (in the beginning) and eventually, by month 3, she was sleeping until 4:30 or 5:30 (we also eliminated the dream feed at about 2.5 months by slowly giving her less and less and eventually just not waking her for the feed. When I was first out of the hospital and was insanely exhausted, I’d get into bed shortly after Noa. Alex would stay up and do the dream feed, then get into bed. I’d wake up for the second nighttime feed (this was the only time we let her sleep as long as she wanted). But having this little system allowed me to get at least 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep in the beginning (then I’d go back down after the second night feeding). Here’s how we changed things after three months:
We moved Noa to her own room and dropped nighttime feeds around 4 months. But, we still got a nice wakeup call anywhere between 2 and 5 AM because she had dropped her paci. Eventually, at 5 months we got smart and taught her to go down without a paci. After literally one fussy bedtime with no paci, she stopped crying for it. We started only using the paci as a soothing tool in desperate moments. Eventually, she could grab it herself anyway and now she sleeps with it because she can put it in herself. One thing to note is that we “should have” changed up the below schedule earlier. Basically, everything I’ve read says that after 6 months babies only need 2.5-3.5 hours of daytime sleep. We changed her after 7 months (because that’s when she told us she was ready). Here’s how things changed:
And that’s where we are now! Who knows how long this schedule will last but it’s working well for now. Also, how do I have an 8-month-old?!
**Reminder that I’m just sharing what worked for us. There’s no single “right” way and if you find yourself getting amped up over baby schedules, chill!