I was thrilled when Allie offered to guest post for me while I am somewhat out of commission. After all, she is among my favorite Instagram Mama's, and I couldn't wait to see what she had to say about sleep schedules and her experience.
If you haven't met Allie before, make sure to stop over and visit her blog, Mama, THREE & IV.
Hi to all of Pam's "Our Love Nest" readers.
I decided to write about our sleep schedule and "training" because it's such a HUGE part of our lives.
When we brought Stew IV home from the hospital, we arrived home around 2 or 3 in the afternoon. As "bed time" rolled around, we put IV in his crib, in his room and went to sleep. Shocking for some, yes. But it was a no brainer decision we made before he was born. He was never in a pack 'n play or bassinet. He came straight home and into his crib. Our master bedroom and his room are right next to each other and we slept with the baby monitor on...but still, I understand some people may think this is unheard of. But let me tell you why we did this:
Let me take you back - I came out of college and started working at a marketing and design company. I had been there for over 7 years the day I told my boss I was pregnant. He asked if I'd come "back to work"...I knew I didn't want to put IV in daycare, so I said "How about I work from home...but no maternity leave". "Deal" he said. "Get yourself a laptop, printer and whatever else you need." Deal...right? The deal was that I wouldn't take a "maternity leave" - strange again, yes....for some. I was and am a valuable part of the company I run. My clients and my boss count on me daily. I couldn't be MIA for 3 months (or whatever a normal maternity leave is). And - I couldn't NOT work...financially and mentally. I need to work.
So there I sat, in my hospital bed, less than 24 hours after giving birth to my first child...working on my laptop. I knew a lot of people depended on me (at work) and a lot of people depended on me at home. I had to stay focused, organized and well rested. That meant I needed to sleep at night as well. WIth IV in our room, I knew I wouldn't sleep soundly and with Stew (my Husband) getting up (after a week off) early to leave for work - I didn't want him disturbing us/me either.
So here's what I knew for sure:
I knew sleep was important for me and for my new baby.
I knew I wanted and needed a schedule.
I knew I wanted a happy baby and happy babies are those that get the rest they need.
So - without the help of any books, I came up with a sleep schedule after a few short weeks. Wake, eat, play, sleep. Repeat. Naps at first were taken in the bassinet or swing, but sleeping at night was in the crib. We didn't fall asleep "where ever" and we didn't fall asleep in the car. We (I say we, but I mean IV) took naps at home, at the scheduled time. I knew my life and work schedule would be all about naps and bedtime, but it had to be. I was working from a home office. I need to know when I could actually work and when I could make phone calls.
Naps were my lifeline.
During the first few months, IV would wake at night every two hours to nurse. That quickly became only waking twice, and then by 4 months old, he would wake at 4am to eat. By 5 months old he was still only waking at 4am to eat, but that one wake up was draining me. It wasn't the routine I wanted or what worked. I wanted him to sleep until 6 or 7, then we could get up and start our day. I know, seems silly that I'm asking my 5 month old to just wake up when I wanted him to. But - after checking with our Pediatrician if he could now make it through the night and not feed at 4:00am, I let him cry it out.
After only two nights of crying it out (for about 5 minutes) the cycle was broken. We now had a baby that slept through the night. At 5 months we were all getting sleep and it was AMAZING. At this point, IV took 3 naps a day and slept through the night. As he got older, the last nap of the day was harder and harder for him to fall asleep. So he was left in his crib for 30 minutes of quiet time. He's now 27 months old and has NEVER (I repeat) NEVER woken at night for any reason. He sleeps from 7:30pm to 7:00am every night. He also now, takes one nap a day from 1-4pm.
Our method has allowed IV to love sleep, his room and his crib. In the morning he wakes happy. If he wakes earlier than 7, he plays in his crib - talking away until I come get him at 7.
Our method has also allowed IV to sleep anywhere. We have traveled to Florida, Aruba and Indiana - all of which he had no issues sleeping and we kept the same exact sleep schedule. We don't have any vices - like night lights or black out shades. No matter where he sleeps - he adjusts.
Throughout the day he is happy, healthy and full of energy. I understand this method isn't for everyone, but it's what worked for us and that is so important. Don't do what a book tells you to do or what your friends are doing. Do what is best for you and your family. I'm sure that people would frown upon us and bringing a newborn baby home - placing him in his crib the very first night, but it worked for us...flawlessly. I would do it all over again - and hope to some day again.