Without sleep I am a depressed, zero-patience, monster of a person. It's challenging enough raising 2 energetic boys and a newborn on a solid night of sleep, let alone trying to go on 4-5 hours of it, highly interrupted. This said, I was highly motivated to get Cole sleeping as soundly as possible, as soon as possible.
I understand that every baby is different. So I offer what has worked for us, and perhaps some of this will work for you as well. Please know that until a baby is 10lbs, they will likely wake every few hours or so to nurse, and this is normal and necessary for development.
I focussed on two areas where I felt I could exact some element of control - nutrition and schedule. Still, there are days of course that these areas both get completely thrown off, but as a general rule, when I am as consistent as possible, I yield the best results.
As with most everything, our nutrition has a lot do with what is happening in how we or our baby (if breastfed) are feeling AND sleeping!
Here are some of my top nutrition tips for mama and baby to support a solid night of sleep:
Nutrition for Moms
Keep (healthy) calories up and eat a good amount of heathy fats throughout the day (including avocado, coconut oil/ butter, fatty fish (ie. salmon), ghee, sunflower lecithin (added to smoothies). BONUS: these healthy fats will also help balance your postpartum hormones.
Avoid possible irritant foods that could upset baby's tummy (ie wake them up!) including - brassica family (cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, etc), dairy, gluten, eggs, spicy foods, processed foods (processed or excess sugar is one of the leading causes of colic).
Take a probiotic. It will go through breast milk to baby and help establish healthy gut flora to digest milk and future food
Nutrition for Baby
Feed baby on demand from breast or bottle throughout the day. They should be getting in as many calories as possible in daylight hours.
Before bedtime, fill up on milk (try a 5oz bottle for an 8-10 week baby and more if they will drink it) adjust amount depending on baby's size and needs.
Schedule and Routine
Baby should be getting in solid nap times each day. Since every baby is different this will just depend on what your baby's personal needs are at this stage in development. Cole is 9 weeks and he sleeps for 1-2 hour stretches every few hours most days. Since I run errands throughout the day when my older kids are at school, sometimes these are interrupted naps. I've found that as long as he sleeps off and on, it still works out that I can keep more awake later in the day.
Aim to limit sleep to small cat-naps anytime after 4pm
Create a bedtime routine that works for you. It can include anything from a bath, changing, nursing, diapering, swaddling, singing to, etc. Here is what our particular routine looks like.
Our Bedtime Routine
8:00- steam shower (Cole has had fairly consistent congestion from reflux, allergies, or the AC unit. I find that an evening steam shower loosens everything up so he's less congested for sleep. Especially since we have to sleep with the AC on in the summer.)
8:30- diaper, and change into jammies. It took quite A WHILE to find the right clothing/ room temp combo for a successful (read: non-sweaty or too chilly) sleep. We use a lightweight shirt (just cut one from an outgrown onesie) and then swaddle with a room temp of 74 degrees and fan on medium setting. It's so exact, but seriously, one degree warmer or cooler and it doesn't work the same!
Swaddle! We have tried SEVERAL swaddles, from the Halo, to just the arms, to the traditional muslin swaddle. For us, the Ollie Swaddle is hands-down the best one. It's the only one he can't wiggle out from and immediately calms him/ readies him for sleep when we put it on.
Put on a noise machine to run throughout the night. We've found that "pink noise" actually is the most soothing for Cole.
8:45 - feed baby. If using a bottle, fill to just a little more than you think they will consume so you are sure they are getting enough. If breastfed, I do what I call "marathon feeding" where I basically have him on my boob as much as possible from 5pm to bedtime and right before sleep, I keep him nursing while he passes out. Do your BEST to burp! I found that Cole was waking up with reflux/ gas when he was not burped. Try all the burping techniques until you find one that works.
9:00-9:15 - Lay baby down and give a pacifier (if he/she will take one). We co-sleep, so Cole is between us in the Snuggle Me Organic. He seems to like being extra snug, so the Ollie Swaddle + Snuggle Me works great. I also incline him for the first 15 minutes by placing a Boppy Wedge underneath the top of the Snuggle Me. This is because of his reflux and I find it has helped quite a bit. HOWEVER, I don't recommend them sleeping like this throughout the night, we take the wedge out before we go to bed. The incline could lead to them rolling out, so only use while with and monitoring baby. You can also hold upright for 15 minutes if reflux is a thing for your baby too.
Sleep! This is the most obvious, but so many parents, myself included have a hard time going to bed right after baby. This will be one of the biggest keys to success. You must go to sleep with your baby if you want to benefit from that 8 hours they are getting. Laundry, dishes, etc can wait till tomorrow.
If baby wakes up, do NOT change him/her. This will wake them up more. If it has been less than 4 hours then give them the paci and see if they will go back to sleep. If you do feed them, do so with as little disturbance as possible (keep lights off, talk softly, etc).
Happy Sleeping! Please comment with tips/ tricks that have worked for you and if you find any of this has been helpful!!