“How is the new baby sleeping?”
I always find that to be a funny question. I don’t know if it’s just because it’s a typical question that people often ask when a newborn is in the picture or if they’re genuinely curious how many hours of sleep you are running on, and depending on the answer, wondering how you are able to have a coherent conversation.
So, how is Grace sleeping? The short answer is that she’s sleeping like a baby. And I don’t mean that in folksy colloquialism sense. Because that doesn’t make sense. I’m not even sure how “sleeping like a baby” equated to sleeping sound through the entire night. But I digress. Our sweet Grace is sleeping like a baby.
What does that mean? We’ve worked to get her on a night schedule that weaves into our current routine. Once dinner and evening playtime conclude, we start baths for both kids, take care of “brushes”, slip into cozy pajamas and settle in for stories and prayers. After big sis is tucked in, it’s Grace’s turn. She gets one more feeding/changing, swaddled (we use the HALO sleep sack at night, but during daytime naps*, I use aden + anais) and then rocked until drowsy. The “put down drowsy but awake” method works well for us. It took about 3 days for it to be effective. When she is put down, the room is very dark, and since she’s still in our room, we turn on the fan in the corner as our white noise. From there, we’re off and running (and praying and crossing our fingers).
Typically during the week, she will sleep a stretch of time, like 9 p.m. – 4 a.m. This is led by me. I’m preparing her schedule for when I return to work, so I started to put her down different times at night and see how long she would go without crying. I’ve found if I can get her to 4 a.m., I can get her changed, fed and put back down. Then I will have time for other morning routines, like showering! She will sleep again until about 6:30 a.m. (hopefully), which is when I wake her up again for a quick nursing session, get her dressed for the day (parallel to her sister) and in the car for her big sister’s drop off … which will ultimately be both of their drop off in June. This is the ideal morning scenario, which I realize might seem kinda crazy to some (it helps that I’m a morning person), but it works for us … when it works.
But, after all, she’s a baby. Does the 9 p.m. – 4 a.m. stretch always work? No way. It would be silly for me going into this structured routine with a baby to think that there wouldn’t be hiccups along the way. Yes, she has the occasional nighttime feeding at 2 a.m. Yes, she sometimes cries after I put her back down at 4:30 – 5 a.m. Yep, I’ve missed a shower or two. But I expect that. She’s not quite two months. For the times when the schedule works, which is getting to be much more often (consistency is key, I think), we are extremely thankful and do not take that for granted. I’m also thankful that she’s such a wonderful eater. I think that has a lot to do with it.
What do I think sets the stage for a good night’s sleep? For baby: dark room, white noise/sound machine, full belly and a good swaddle. For me: patience, grace, relaxation and at least thirty minutes after she’s down to just sit.
*Naps are not that different in terms of prep. I follow the eat, play, sleep routine. She’s awake for about 30 minutes to an hour after she eats. After that, she gets drowsy, and then I will swaddle her. She’s best with the swaddle in early morning and then early afternoon, which are her longest naps. In between those stretches, she catnaps either in my arms (until daycare starts 🙁 ) or in her bouncer seat. I know that isn’t “the best way to nap” but it’s maternity leave. And babies do not keep. For the swaddle, there are two ways that work depending on how Grace is acting in that moment. I’ll either tuck her legs in the swaddle or I’ll keep it more relaxed. It’s more relaxed lately as she enjoys kicking.
That’s how she’s sleeping. But I bet that was more than you wanted to know! Either way, she’s a baby. She’s sleeping like a baby. And we’re rolling with it.