As my family has welcomed home a brand new baby, the feelings of uncertainty and the “what the heck am I suppose to do now” concerns flood my brain. The newborn stage is hard! Sleepless nights, long days, lots of diapers and feedings, healing with your own body and dealing with the process of what life was versus life now. Add additional children into the mix and it can be a life of chaos. But it’s also a very special and short time. A time where rushing things shouldn’t be a concern but being in the moment is everything.
During these last two weeks, my son Aiden has reminded me how different each one of my children are. Aiden sleeps incredibly well. However, he didn’t in the beginning. He had his nights and days confused. The first two nights in the hospital were a bit overwhelming. And I am not going to lie, I thought “how the heck am I going to do this” about thirty times that night. He cried most of the night and the only way for him to stop was by being nursed. So I did what any mother would. I literally laid him next to me and he nursed THE ENTIRE NIGHT! Did I sleep: not a chance. Was I concerned he would stop breathing: every two minutes! That night I thought to myself, as soon as I get out of this hospital, we will make it our goal to change his body clock.
We brought him home and created a simple goal: wake and feed him every two – three hours. When we woke him up, we would try our best to keep him up for as much as 15 minutes. That was challenging and often times a complete fail. But we stuck to it. After the 15 minutes of being awake, we changed his diaper, and nursed him. Then off to sleep he would be again. The routine was hard but after seeing the results from the first night of keeping him up in the day, we knew we had to keep going. Aiden slept in some of the longest stretches we had seen up to that point! Three hours and then a feed, three hours and then another feed. Do you know what three hours can do to a mother who hadn’t slept for 5 minutes in a good 4 days!!! It was bliss.
The second and third day, we did the same thing. By the time we reached the fourth day home from the hospital we started seeing him wake a little longer in the day (more like 30 minutes) in between feedings and that led to one 5 hour stretch that night!! Let me remind you, my son is one big boy. He weighed 10lbs 4oz’s at his birth weight and by the time we went to his first doctors appointment, he was a whopping 11lbs. This boy could eat, but more importantly he was able to go in longer stretches. The goal wasn’t to worry about the stretches at night though, the goal was to work on reversing his nights and days. We want our babies to learn that night is for sleep and day is for feedings, play time, and for some good naps! We don’t need to worry about a routine, sleep training, or weaning any night time feedings at this point. Worry about that when they are a few months old. Focusing your energy on simple goals (baby steps) will allow for the ultimate goal of sleeping through the night to work.
Now that Aiden is two weeks old, we have seen him do better and better each day which leads to better nights. Last night he did TWO five hour stretches with one big feeding in the night. Baby steps work! Focus on the first goal of keeping your baby up in the day after longer stretches of sleep, and don’t forget to really feed them as often as they need during their first few weeks of life. It’s so important for an overall healthy start for them to sleep throughout the night!