First off, Happy Halloween! In the Harper household, October has been a month focused on one of the scariest things facing new parents… sleep and schedules. So, in the hopes that this might be helpful to someone out there, I wanted to share what we’ve been doing.
By the time he was 2 months old, Culhane was having his last feed around 10:30pm, falling asleep by midnight and waking to eat again around 6:30am. Although that was an 8 hour cycle (over 6 hours of sleep) and technically “sleeping through the night,” it was leaving me with less than 6 hours each night which was not enough. Sometimes I would try to put him to bed earlier (9 ish) but whenever we did, he would wake me at 3am to eat. Most recently, this happened on October 10th and 13th, and when I got up for the 3am feeding on October 13th I decided that it was time to officially start sleep-training. I stayed up after his feeding and just read through the night about sleep-training strategies and techniques. (I’m sure I’m not the first new mom to have been up in the middle of the night, reading about sleep!)
At 14 weeks and 14 lbs, I knew he was definitely old enough and big enough to be sleeping longer stretches. Culhane had also started getting a little fussier and I felt like he was just in need of more night-sleep, and either way, I knew that I was ready for it. He had an appointment with his pediatrician on Oct. 14 and his doctor also gave me the go-ahead to push for longer night-sleep.
Michael and I talked about it and both agreed that, while it might be tough for a few nights, it was the right thing to do for Culhane and for our family. I had read (and heard from others) that the best way to get your baby to sleep through the night was to “put him to bed at a reasonable hour and return the next morning at 7am.” I knew that for us, this would mean enduring a painful night-cry or two, but we felt like it was time. So, on October 14th I fed him his 6th and final feed earlier at 9:15pm. He was asleep by 10:30pm and we got all geared up for a long night and a painful “cry-it-out” session, but instead something amazing happened…he slept until 7am! Of course I hardly slept at all because I was worried and staring at the monitor all night. Since the night before he had woken up at 3am I thought that it must have just been a lucky fluke. The next night we moved his last feed up another hour and I was SURE that this would be the terrible, dreaded, tear-filled night, but again, not a peep until 6:30! Since then he’s only woken up once in the middle of the night at which point he cried for about 10 minutes around 3am before falling back asleep.
Anyway, this was all working better than we could have hoped and he was so much happier in the mornings, but there was still one issue…I am not a morning person. He was going to bed earlier and sleeping well, but he was still waking up around 6:30am. Since we are working towards a 12 hour sleep, I didn’t want to end up on a 6:30-6:30 schedule since that wouldn’t fit our lifestyle very well. This is tricky though, because everyone says that it’s much easier for babies to go to bed early and wake up early, but we got a major stroke up of luck. Just as we were trying to get him to sleep in longer in the mornings, Brazil entered daylight savings time and we “sprung forward” an hour! This was a huge crutch in getting Culhane’s schedule to line up with our ideal timing. He did wake up and start crying the other morning at 6:30am and I wasn’t sure what to do, but I decided to let him cry for about 5 minutes and he fell back asleep until 8:30am.
Of course it’s still a work in progress (and we still need to work on getting him to fall asleep and stay asleep at the end of the day), but right now we’re generally feeding at/around: 8:15am, 11:30am, 2:30pm, 5:30pm, 8:15pm, asleep by 10:00pm (with small naps in between each feeding). We really like this schedule because it still gets him good time with Michael in the evenings. Interestingly enough, I’ve probably had a harder time adjusting to the new schedule. Although I was dying for a long, good night’s sleep, apparently my body had gotten used to waking up after just a few hours, so I’m still trying to learn to fall asleep and stay asleep, but we’re definitely making progress!