My Newborn Sleep Journey
My journey of newborn sleep and baby sleep routines all began in 2016, when my son Liam was born.
He arrived at 4:30am, so when we got to birthcare on no sleep you can imagine what was top of our minds.
We had heard so much about the 'sleepy newborn stage', but for us it never came. Liam would feed for hours at a time and then wake after 20 minutes, very upset and hungry. I had no milk and I wasn’t sure what was and wasn’t normal. When we came home we battled through this for 3 weeks, I was lucky to have a husband that would help settle him when I was in too much pain to feed, but he would wake again before long.
A major turning point...
After advice from my doctors, friends and family we decided to introduce formula which helped. Liam would sleep a little bit longer with a fuller tummy, and someone else could feed him so I could finally get some sleep. He still seemed to have a desperation for food as soon as he woke, I think it was a habit built from being so deprived prior to moving to formula. He had learnt some bad habits.
Why you need a baby whisperer...
We started to read up on all the different sleep training methods, (like the new parents sleep training guides we have available to download here). There were so many different baby sleep methods, and Liam was still so young. This was when we decided we needed to get some professional advice. It took me a few attempts to find the right sleep consultant, one who gave us the support we needed and advice that made sense. When Kate came in to our lives we finally learnt the practical tools we needed to ease Liam into a routine suitable for his age. Kate uses her experience and knowledge around how much food & sleep a baby needs at what age. As all babies grow at a different pace and all take different amounts of milk, it can be a bit of an art settling babies into good sleep and eating patterns which are continually changing.
Once we were assured Liam was getting enough food and he stopped snacking, he started responding to the routine fairly easily and started to do what he was meant to... (mostly, he was still a newborn!)
Establishing this new routine did stop us from taking him out so I would feel a little stuck at home but I needed my sleep and it worked. It was a necessary evil. I know this sounds easy from the way it’s written, but there were tears/rocking/stressful nights sitting outside his door as we settled him in to life outside.
If you are having any trouble or just want a few tips on settling and routines, I do suggest trying to get in touch with a baby sleep consultant as early as possible. Contact me here if you want some advice on the different options or if you’d like my Sleep Consultant, Kate's details (she doesn’t have a website but has more than 30 years’ experience).
No two babies sleep the same...
When Amelia came along it was totally different experience! I was already very aware of my feeding struggles, and although I gave it a good go (we even hired the Medela mega pump at a huge cost) I was heading down the same route. We decided to start topping up with formula and fairly quickly she was fully formula fed.
As Amelia became full she would settle very quickly and slept all the time! I was in such shock - is this what it could be like? Could I actually have some enjoyment with a newborn!
We had to wake her to feed her and because I knew exactly what she was drinking, I could be comfortable to leave her for 3 hours in the day and four at night.
I know some people say 'never wake a sleeping baby' but they need constant feeding to grow so they can start taking more milk and then sustain longer sleep times (and eventually sleep through the night).
Liam & Amelia's newborn sleep routine...
This is what I tried to follow for both my babies, but I wouldn’t stress if it didn’t work….I had to keep reminding myself they were newborns!
6:30 feed (back to sleep ASAP after this wake up)
6:30 feed (We would do a bath after this feed)
10:30pm dream feed
And then start all over again! Each week we would increase Amelia’s awake time bit by bit. For the first week it was hard to say if she woke at all – she slept as she fed and was generally back down within 45 minutes. By week 3 it was 1:15 awake and week 4 it was 1.5.
For the first week or so if she woke at 2 hours I would feed her anyway - she was still so small I didn’t want to be too strict on her, making sure she got what she needed.
As she started to wake up more, she was more unsettled during sleeps but still pretty good. Most days we had one unsettled day sleep where I would put her in the pram and either go for a walk or just rock if my son was at home.
In the night time if she woke before 2am or 6am I would dummy her until that time. I found this the hardest as it would be so much easier to feed her when you are tired but I remembered how much it helped Liam and that got me through.
My top tips for surviving the newborn stage...
- Always wake a baby to feed them
- If you are struggling with feeding – get help!
- Get trusted advice from like minded people
- They are newborns, don’t stress if they don’t do ‘what they should’ …just remember “this too will pass” – It never felt like that at the time for me, but it has now and I’m so glad I got to experience it
- If your baby won’t sleep, get a family member to come over and take them for a walk so you can have a rest…and by rest I don’t mean doing the massive pile of washing!
- Send this article to your husbands/partners/support people