Newborns: Schedules and Sleeping Through the Night

 

I can hardly express in words what a joy my little girl is. She, Jane, is a happy baby and I love to hold her! On her own she is a great baby, but I can truthfully say that without guidance through parenting, she would not be as easy as she has been. I will explain why.

 

This is Jane as a Newborn
This is Jane as a Newborn

Jane, who is now 3 months, is on a good schedule. During the first couple of weeks, as a newborn, it was hard to create much of a schedule but I was flexible and went with the flow while keeping a few things in mind. I fed her about every 2 ½ to 3 hours unless she really seemed hungry earlier than that, but it was rare. Each time I fed her I worked to keep her awake as much as possible and get her to eat a full feeding (see my article on specifically nursing!), and to stay awake directly after nursing. As mentioned earlier, I was flexible. Newborns, as discovered, can be extremely difficult to wake up or keep awake. Actually, impossible now that I recall. But I would try and if it seemed futile I would let her sleep but I would lay her down usually to sleep. If I was holding her and she was falling asleep, I laid her down in a bassinet or somewhere flat so that she could fall asleep on her own. Occasionally, I kept holding her.  I did have family around and my mother-in-law was staying with us. I didn’t want to deprive anybody of that joy so if somebody was holding her and she fell asleep oh well. I didn’t fret; I was flexible. My sister said she loved holding her newborns and rocking them to sleep. My newborn was held and rocked to sleep, just not most of the time. I was okay with that. I didn’t feel deprived and there were plenty of times that I held her while I was nursing and in the middle of the night and I let other people hold her while she fell asleep and I am still good with that. This was a good precedent to establish Jane’s ability to fall asleep and stay asleep in different ways. After a couple of weeks, and more so after a month, I was more consistent. If she was falling asleep, I laid her down.

 

From day one at home I had her sleep in her own room in a bassinet. I left the door open and, nature would have it as a new mom, I would pop right up in the middle of the night if she cried. She can be a noisy sleeper and that would not have worked well if she was in the same room. That also meant that if she needed to eat in the middle of the night, I was out of bed and up in her room with her, not half asleep in bed with her. I was worried, however, that I would be so tired that I wouldn’t wake up to her crying or that she would sleep too long, so I set an alarm clock to wake me up between 4 and 5 hours after I last fed her. From everything that I have researched, I understand it isn’t good for them to go any longer than that when they are within a few months old (until 6-8 weeks).  Around  8 weeks she starting sleeping six hours through the night. Now, at 14 weeks, she is sleeping around 9 to 10 hours through the night. Having her on a schedule, as I will clarify next, seemed to allow her to naturally start sleeping through the night like that. I really didn’t have to teach her or coax her, it just happened. However, there are an occasional night where she will wake up in the middle of the night but I give her a pacifier and go right back to my bed. I know she is able to go through the night without eating. She might cry for another minute or two and she goes back to sleep.

 

Jane as a Newborn Sleeping
Jane as a Newborn Sleeping

Schedule. For the first 3 months, I was not so good with waking up at the same hour every morning. I was tired! So, whenever my baby woke up in the morning, usually around 6 but sometimes earlier and sometimes later, that’s when I started her schedule for that day. About 2 ½ or 3 hours later, she would start to fuss and I would feed her again. About 1 or 1 ½ hours after she nursed (starting from the beginning of when I nursed her) I would lay her down for a nap. For example, she woke up at 6am and I nursed her, laid her down for a nap about 7am and then she would nurse again either at 8:30 or 9am. (Note: About a month later at 13 weeks I moved her schedule to 3 ½ to 4 hours and she is sleeping around 9 ½ hours at night. I have also started to consistently start her schedule at 7am).

 

A handful of times in the beginning she would cry for 15 or 20 minutes before she fell asleep but I would leave her alone so she would fall asleep. Babies need their sleep and funny thing, as I have come to realize, they need help and guidance with it. Jane now lets me know when she is tired. I lay her down in her crib and she gets her pacifier (that’s usually the only times she gets it), she puts her hands up by her face, turns her head and dozes off. She is happy when she wakes up! In fact, I know when she is tired because she starts to squirm and fuss. It becomes clock-work. It’s amazing and I love it because in the first several weeks it helped me to figure out why she was crying- depending on where we were in the schedule: was she tired, hungry, or was it something else that I needed to figure out. Now, I can know when to expect her to be sleeping and when she will be hungry. I can work my day around so that when she is awake I can devote it more to her and when she is napping I can get chores done and to-do lists. Simple! And when she is awake she is so happy. I love going into her room to get her up from a nap and she is laying there cooing. When she sees me she gets the biggest smile on her face and is happy to be awake again.

 

I have learned so much in a short amount of time and for me it is fun to learn how to be a good mother to my little daughter. I have read books and talked to a million other mothers and asked questions and researched online until finally having this opportunity to put things to the test and finding what works. I write because there were times when I wanted to know how other mothers did it. Some good sources that I have found to be helpful I will list below. I will say there have been hiccups and times when I should have known better but had to re-learn the same thing again. I will write about those as well so look for my other articles. Please let me know your questions and I will try to answer the best I can.

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