My Top Tips
First thing to do is take a deep breath, the more relaxed you are about the whole sleep thing the easier it is. Trust me on this one. I was so worried and stressed with Nicholas (our first) that I definitely made things harder for me. Now that we are on baby number two I’m much more relaxed and its been a lot easier.
Second: remember that not every day is going to be perfect. Like literally there will probably never be an exactly perfect day. Learn to go with the flow and make adjustments as needed.
Third: Baby can sleep as many hours as he/she is weeks old without being given a bottle or nursing (ie, 5 weeks old 5 hours, 6 weeks 6 hours and so on). When breastfeeding dont worry about pumping in the middle of the night unless you are extremely engorged. Your supply will regulate and make adjustments to when the baby is nursing. This is what I do: when Emilia wakes up at 5 AM I feed her and then pump and start my day. This is how I have built my stockpile of a stash in the freezer.
Fourth: Be aware of the signs of sleepiness your baby will be giving you: starting to get fussy, eyes get heavy, looking unhappy, making jerky arm and leg movements, or arching backwards. Use these signals as a way to know when to put your baby down for naps and bedtime. For Emilia it usualy is after shes been awake for an hour or so. This will change as she gets older since shes only 9 weeks old at this point thats about as long as she can tolerate being awake before she gets too tired. Allowing your baby to get overtired usually results in a very cranky baby that is difficult to calm.
Fifth: Find a good sleep sack, or learn how to swaddle like a champ. Both of my babies are expert swaddle escapers from day 1 so we used the Love To Dream Swaddle Up Stage 1 to start Emilia with and will transition to the 50/50 Swaddle Up when it’s time to go arms free and Emilia starts rolling over. We started Nicholas in the 50/50 because he was a little bigger when we discovered this magical item. Now that Nicholas is older (hes 2) we still have him in this sleep sack because he’s grown to just like being in them when he sleeps. Once Nicholas transitioned all the way to arms free we had him in different sleep sacks for warmth in the winter and for safer sleep without a blanket.
Before I had Nicholas I read the book On Becoming Babywise. The biggest takeaway I got from that book was establishing a routine or pattern of events for your baby so they know what to expect next. The pattern they suggest to follow goes Eat Wake Sleep. This ensures they get enough to eat to have the energy for a productive wake time, which allows them to be tired enough for a good nap, which in turn allows for them to have the energy to have a productive feeding. They also recommend not using any sleep props; this includes swings, bouncy chairs, rocking and swaying the baby, etc. You want your baby to be able to put themselves to sleep, thats basically the whole point of sleep training; that and sleeping in their own crib. They do recommend using a pacifier though as it does reduce the risk of SIDS. This is information you can Google but also our pediatrician says the same.
As far as “crying it out” goes Babywise says to let your baby go 15ish minutes I believe, but here is what I do. I lay Emilia down as shes getting sleepy, give her the pacifier and walk away. If she starts to cry I give her five minutes, go in give her the pacifier back, and get her to calm down WITHOUT picking her up. If she cries again I give her 10 minutes, give her pacifier, calm her down, and leave the room again. I do this pattern up to 20 minutes and then I would pick her up and get her to calm down and start over agian. I have never even had to go in for the 10 minute check in.
Thsi is our schedule for Emilia at 9 weeks old. Like I mentioned before no day is perfect, this is just what we aim for. Eventually the goal is to get her sleeping a full 12 hours at night. We are currently at 8 hours through the night, and then an additional 3.
5:00 AM Early morning feed and go back to sleep
8:00 AM feed and wake for the day
10:00 AM down for a nap
11:00 AM feed and wake
1:00 PM down for a nap
2:00 PM feed and wake
3:30 PM down for a nap
4:30 PM feed and wake
6:00 PM down for a cat nap
6:30 PM feed and wake
7:30 PM down for cat nap
8:00 PM start bedtime routine
8:30 PM feed and down for the night
9:00 PM down for the night