Four of my closest friends had babies within a few months (even weeks) of when Elin was born. Looking back it was one of the greatest gifts that I’m eternally grateful for. We had ongoing text chains, went on walks together and exchanged knowledge like crazy. As a first time mom it was a saving grace for those moments of feeling like I had no idea what to do. With this in mind I jumped at the chance to join a virtual group of fellow bloggers (who also happen to be moms) on a group series, “Real Talk, Real Moms”. Each of us will share our thoughts and experiences on three topics—sleep, eating and working with baby—while linking to each other so we can all soak in bits of advice from one another. So here it goes, our story in a nutshell on sleep.
Elin is now 9 months old and I’m happy to say is a solid sleeper—knock on wood. The first time she slept 7 pm to 7 am she was 10 weeks old and yes I was a horribly paranoid mom checking on her every 5 minutes. Looking back one of the biggest lessons I have learned is that everything is a phase when it comes to babies. Some weeks are tough and some leave you wishing for ten more just like them. It all passes and it passes quickly, which always tugs at my heart. I decided the best way to tackle tips on the last (almost) 9 months is to break it down by age/phase.
The first 4 weeks:
There’s nothing like the first month. So much sweetness, so much change and it flies by faster than you’d ever imagine. Elin gave us 3-5 hour stretches during this time, which I credit to her healthy birth weight. She slept in a bassinet (swaddled in a miracle blanket) next to me and snored, snorted and squeaked in her sleep. Half the time I was up staring at her and listening—as a nervous first mom would do. During the day I tried to wake her to nurse every three hours and attempted to keep her from falling asleep while feeding, although that was nearly impossible. She had some acid reflux, which threw us for a loop. We put a wedge in the bassinet so she slept on an incline and the doctor prescribed baby Zantac, which seemed to help a bit. I also cut out dairy and egg as I heard from other nursing moms that it was worth a try.
Around 6 weeks she started sleeping in her crib in her nursery. I have to say, when that happened everyone started sleeping better. Our rooms are close enough that I could hear her cry (even little snores) and we didn’t have to worry about waking her if we got up. Also around this time I tried getting Elin on a sleep schedule. I was successful half of the time (getting info from books and blogs) but kept running into scenarios that I wasn’t quite sure what to do. The first person I reached out to was our friend Tiffany Jaeger who after three babies started her own business Eat Play Sleep—in our circle of friends she’s dubbed the baby whisperer. She gave us the tools, knowledge and support that I was needing and a few weeks later Elin was sleeping 12 hours and napping regularly. I’m still emailing and texting her for advice from time to time. And like I mentioned not every day is perfect but helping Elin become an independent sleeper was a hurdle I’m so glad we took early on. A few things we rely on for a good night of sleep: this sound machine, Love To Dream swaddle-up from 4 months on, sleep sacks 5-6 months on, pacifiers (she loves falling asleep with one) and a dark/cool room.
I remember thinking when Elin turned 6 months that things just felt easier. She took two naps a day and a third cat nap, which she dropped at 8 months, and her personality was coming out more and more. Shortly after the 6 month mark the teething started in. Oh teething how I loath you. She only had a handful of bad nights but it seemed to be the daytime napping she had the hardest time with. I’m pretty sure I could fill a few pages with all the different remedies, suggestions and tips I got for a teething baby. But the top 5 that seem to be working for us is this: filling a boon silicon feeder with frozen peas or banana before bedtime, sticking wet soft wash clothes in the freezer and letter her chomp on them, amber bead necklaces (I’m convinced they help), teething tablets and baby advil. Another thing she started to do around this time was spin around in her crib. She’d do a 180º and then start crying when she couldn’t find her pacifier. So now we put 3-5 scattered on each end. Sometimes she’ll wake up let one little cry out before finding a pacifier and falling right back to sleep.