If you’re a mom and meet another mom, especially when your little one is young like Chase is, there’s a good chance you will end up chatting about sleep. It’s one of my favorite subjects to speak to other mamas about because I always feel like each family has their own routine and quirks that work well for them! After sharing my experience with some of my wonderful friends in my mom support group, I thought it might come in handy for other parents out there!
When I get asked about Chase’s schedule, especially his sleep, I always feel like this is such a loaded question for so many moms. I’m here to share what worked for us and my personal thoughts on “sleep training”. I by no means know what I’m doing or have any sort of professional experience in sleep, so please remember you have to do what works for YOU!
Before Chase was born, I would see tons of things about “sleep training”. I felt like mom’s were constantly comparing their babies’ sleep habits and which methodology worked best for them and how quickly their infants were able to sleep through the night. I was intrigued at the thought of sleep training and of course, mama likes her beauty rest, so I investigated a little further into these popular so-called methods.
As I started researching methods like Taking Cara Babies or the Ferber Method, I realized how militant and rigid their rules seemed. I wasn’t sure how I would feel about any of the practices, but there was one thing I was sure of – I wasn’t going to set myself up for failure before the baby even got here. I also wasn’t keen on listening to my newborn scream all night in the room next door. No offense to people who have success with the “Cry it out’ method, but I knew that wasn’t something my heart could take. I found myself overwhelmed by the “rules” and expectations of sleep training methods and decided that I was just going to follow my gut and do what I felt was right for not only my baby, but myself.
Now onto our sleep journey.
Chase is what I like to call my unicorn baby. He truly made the transition into parenthood a breeze for Ryan and I, but of course, like every baby, they go through lots of ebbs and flows. We were very lucky in the sense that Chase was always a good sleeper. I’m not sure if he’s just a mellow baby or it had more to do with the fact that he was always bottle fed so we knew exactly how much he was eating throughout the day and that he would go to sleep with a full belly. Either way, from the moment we brought him home from the hospital he slept in 4 hour stretches and by 3 months he was basically sleeping through the night on his own. I thought I was in the clear and that his sleep patterns would only improve, but boy was I wrong!!
The dreaded regressions would hit and they would throw us all for a loop. It was around the 4+ month mark that Chase was also phasing out of that “newborn sleep” stage where he would nap for hours on end. Chase was still sleeping well throughout the night at this point but his naps were progressively getting terrible. At one point he would nap for 30 minutes at a time and that’s when I decided I needed to try something else.
As I mentioned above, what we did worked for us. No methodology can ever know your baby better than you do. Every baby is different, every mama is different.
After the holidays I decided to take two weeks and really try to get Chase in a nap routine. I figured that if I was going to try any sort of sleep training, napping seemed like an easy place to do it for myself and for Chase. I started putting Chase down at the exact same times every day: 9:00am, 1:00pm, and a catnap at around 4pm. Routine was key for us. Babies love a schedule and knowing what to expect every day. When it would come time for a nap, we would go upstairs and do a modified sleep routine. I would turn the lights off, we would change his diaper, the Hatch would come on, and I would put him in his sleep sack. I started putting him immediately in his crib instead of rocking and cuddling him to sleep. I would lay him down and “shush” him as I rubbed his back. The first day I tried this I swear I rubbed his back for an hour but I was determined not to give in and pick him up. Eventually he fell asleep on his own! I remember literally feeling like I had just won the World Series. The other thing I did was make sure that no matter what time he woke up, I would leave him in his crib for his designated 2 hour nap time. Even if he was awake, I would leave him in there until his “nap” was over. With every day that I did this, putting him down got progressively easier and his naps were getting longer. Now his body knows when it’s time for naps and he’s practically jumping out of my arms to get in his crib.
Nighttime sleeping got challenging as Chase got older.
Teething was very hard on us (as expected) and there were definitely nights where Ryan and I were up two or three times trying to get Chase settled and back to bed. These times were definitely tough, but I always reminded myself that “This too shall pass”. I knew that eventually he would be back to his normal nighttime sleep schedule and we had to just get through the rough patches. When I would be dead tired waking up 3 times a night and about to cry myself, I would always think about how one day he won’t need me. One day he will not want to be rocked. One day he will sleep through the night and I’ll be up missing those quiet moments in the middle of the night where it’s just him and I staring at the moon.
The funny thing about motherhood is that whenever you think you’ve outsmarted your baby and have it all figured out, they throw a curveball at you.
Now that Chase is 13 months old, his schedule has evolved to this:
Wake up: 7-7:30am
Morning bottle then breakfast
Nap #1: 9-9:15am – 11:00/11:30am
Lunch around 12:00pm
Nap #2: 2:00pm (this nap has been a struggle lately so it fluctuates)
6:00pm: Bath time
I hope that this is helpful for any mama’s who are struggling with sleep expectations. Remember that everything is temporary and you know your baby better than anyone else! Sleep is not one size fits all!