We’re at that happy-but-frustrating stage with Vera where she’s just starting to make it through the night without waking us up. That is to say that she can make it through the night and that she occasionally will choose to do so.
It’s so rewarding when she does. I feel well-rested and like I’ve succeeded at helping her reach a big milestone in her little life. (Even though the first few times I was up checking on her all night anyway.) But then those nights when she only does 5 or 6 hours or less, I feel even more exhausted and kind of like the little squeak is just toying with me. Testing to see if I’ll still come when she calls. And of course I always will.
I feel like we’re getting there though, even if the full nights make the broken ones seem worse. (Me from 2 months ago is glaring at new-me and reminding us both to count our blessings right now.)
Since she was born, we’ve been trying to do some things that I think have really helped Vera to know that when bedtime comes, it’s time to sleep. We started working on this when we put her in her own room at 4 weeks old. Before that she had been sleeping in her pack-and-play beside our bed, but once we made the switch, she immediately slept better. I read somewhere that babies can sense when they are close to their mother’s milk, almost like they can smell it, and that they wake up more frequently when they’re next to mom.
We also have a strict rule of no extra attention in the middle of the night. When she wakes up, I change her quickly by the light of her nightlight, feed her and lay her back down. No talking at all, no rocking, nothing to encourage her or make her think this is special cuddle time. This was a very hard thing to do at first, because of course I want so badly to cuddle her and kiss her and talk to her. It has really been one of the most helpful things though. Now she goes back to sleep instantly and I’m awake for 15-20 minutes at the most. It has even helped at bedtime because she knows that when I lay her down, give her a pacifier and swaddle her, it means its sleep time.
Another thing we try to do is only put her in her crib at night. She naps in her bouncy seat or boppy or just with one of us holding her, and we limit all daytime naps to two hours or less. My theory is that this helps reinforce the difference of naps and nighttime and day vs night.
I don’t know if this last one is really something we do, so much as what we don’t do, but we have tried really hard to establish who’s the boss at bedtime. By that I mean that we don’t coddle her or rock her till she falls asleep or pick her up every time she yells. Obviously if V is completely losing it, we hold her until she calms down, but then we lay her down while she is still awake, give her a pacifier, swaddle her and let her fall asleep on her own. And those fits have become very rare to non-existent. We usually have to go into her room a few times in the first 15 minutes or so to put her pacifier back in when she drops it, but she has gotten very good at our little routine, and she knows that she won’t get attention by acting up at bedtime. Part of this too, is recognizing the signs of when she is tired and putting her to bed at the same time every night. I’ve noticed that if we try to keep her up too late thinking that she’ll let us sleep-in longer, she really just gets over-tired and sleeps worse than normal.
So that’s our bedtime routine, and I think that it has been working pretty well for us so far. Obviously everyone has to figure out what works best for their baby, and we’re getting there. I know that all kids are different and part of it also has to do with Vera’s easy-going temperament, but I like to think that we’re doing our best to help her get to a full nights sleep.
Anyone have any other tips, routines or good bedtime advise to encourage an all-nighter?