The Sleep Chronicles: Kristin’s Story

Today I’ve got another edition of the Sleep Chronicles for you – I really hope this series is helping you all!  Kristin is one of my favorite people in the blog world.  I’ve been following along with her since she and her now husband got engaged, and her little girl Kenley is only about a month older than Abbie.  I’m 100% sure that if we lived in the same city (or even state), we’d have playdates/mommy drinks wine dates ALL the time.  Check her out below!

Hi everyone! I’m Kristin and I blog over at Mama and Mou…a blog all about me, my baby girl Kenley and all the things that go along with being a mama. Stop by and say “hi!”

I am so excited to be taking over Jess’ blog today to talk about SLEEP! Ahhh, sleep. I feel like more than any other word “sleep” came up most while I was pregnant. ”Make sure you sleep now while you can” was probably the most overheard phrase of my pregnancy and if I’m being completely honest, it drove me nuts!  Wouldn’t the smart thing be to NOT sleep to prepare myself for this baby everyone is telling me is never going to sleep?
 
I also think that baby sleep is one of those hot topics that everyone has an opinion on AND every mom worries, researches and stresses over. I am blessed to have a daughter who has been an incredible sleeper from the start. When I would tell friends and family about Kenley’s sleep habits they’d always tell me how lucky I was and how #2 is sure to be a terrible sleeper and frankly I took a little offense to this. I think that a good sleeper is partially NATURE and partially NURTURE. I am incredibly grateful to have a healthy, happy-natured, calm baby but I’ve worked hard to help Kenley be a great sleeper and think at least a little of the credit should go to parenting. Of course, if your baby is colicky, or gassy, or sick, it may be more difficult to establish good sleep habits and there’s certainly no “perfect recipe” for a good sleeper. But, even before Kenley was born I knew that it was up to me and my husband to set Kenley up for success in the sleep department.
So here’s what we did & my tips for a rock star sleeper {along with some pictures of my adorable sleeping baby}…
 
SLEEP BOOKS ARE NOT THE BIBLE. There are a TON of sleep books out there and I’ve read a lot of them. Some I like, some I don’t. I think it’s totally a personal preference. The two sleep books I LOVED and recommend to all of my friends are “Happiest Baby on the Block” and “Bringing Up Bebe“.
 
While I loved these books and thought they had great points and ideas {which I used}, I did not live my life by them. Use books as resources to try something new but don’t pigeonhole yourself into ONE method or idea because guess what…every baby is different. What might work perfectly for your best friend may be a disaster for you. So keep an open mind and figure out what works for you and sets up your baby {and family} for success.
 
TRY NOT TO FREAK OUT. You’re a brand new mom and your brand spankin’ new baby is asleep in her bassinet next to your bed and you’re waking up every two seconds to make sure she’s breathing because you’ve read so many reports on SIDS you’re just sure something awful is going to happen if you fall asleep. SIDS is terrifying, trust me, I’ve put my finger under Kenley’s nose and my hand on her chest more times than I care to admit but if you use your common sense and make sure your baby is sleeping in a choke free, suffocation free area…that’s really the best you can do. Checking on your baby, bugging your baby or God forbid waking your baby every three minutes is not going to get anyone in the house rested.
 
BABIES SLEEP CRAZY. The noises that come out of my child while she’s sleeping are nuts. She sleep moans. Sleeps cries. Sleep squeaks. My kid will even sit up and look around in her sleep. If I jumped out of bed and picked her up to comfort her every time she made a peep I WOULD NEVER SLEEP and neither would she. Adults actually wake up several times throughout the night, but we put ourselves back to sleep without thinking so we don’t even notice it….babies do the same thing people….you just need to let them. If your kid is crying for you, by all means, go comfort! But give them the opportunity to learn to put themselves back to sleep first.
 
GET IN A ROUTINE. I started a night time routine with Kenley the first week she was home. At the same time every night I would give her a bath, a baby massage, put on her jammies, feed her and put her down in her bassinet in our room with all the lights off. Did she need a bath every night? No. Did she need to go to bed at the same time every night as a newborn? No. But I wanted her to learn as early as humanly possible the difference between nap time and bed time.  And she did. Within two weeks she would go down without fussing.
 
DON’T WAKE YOUR BABY TO EAT. Before you freak out, when you are first establishing breastfeeding, yes you should wake your baby to eat. It’s important for your supply and also important to make sure your baby is eating enough. With that said {and this comes straight from my lactation consultant} feel free to space out feedings as time goes on. I went from every 2 hours the first week to every 3 hours the second week and then every 4 hours the third week. When I saw my lactation consultant week 4 she told me to stop waking the baby….and guess what happened….SIX HOURS STRAIGHT of luxurious sleep. One week later Kenley was sleeping through the night {at 5 weeks old} and has been ever since. If your baby is hungry they will tell you. If you consistently wake them to be fed for months and months on end…they are going to get into a habit of waking up and eating, so whether they are hungry or not they will expect to be fed.
 
CREATE A SLEEP SPACE. Those first few weeks of maternity leave Kenley slept pretty much wherever I was. Whether she was asleep on my chest or in her Rock N Play in the living room, girlfriend slept wherever she fell asleep. As she started to get into a little more of a nap time routine {I’d say around 4 weeks old} I started to leave the Rock N Play in our bedroom and put her down for naps in there. Then, eventually we graduated to naps in her crib. I wanted Kenley to get used to and comfortable sleeping in a room by herself. She familiarized herself with the rooms and knew where she was so she wasn’t scared if I put her down and walked away. This definitely took some time but I imagine if I would have kept up with the living room routine for much longer, it would have been a tougher transition.
 
CRY IT OUT, TO AN EXTENT. Is there anything more controversial than crying it out? I’m sure there is. But still, it’s controversial. I know people who are very passionate about both sides of the spectrum and to each their own. I can honestly say, I’m in the middle. I know my baby and know that she will fuss and moan and even “chat” before she falls asleep. It’s her way of trying to fight it and eventually she gives in. However, there have definitely been times where she’s upset or teething or so overly tired she’s delusional and she will scream bloody murder. As a mom we learn our babies’ different cries and you KNOW the one I’m talking about. If I hear the “mom I’m scared or in pain and really need you” cry I will not under any circumstances let her cry it out. I want Kenley to know she’s not alone and that I am here for her when she needs me. BUT, like I said above, if I run to her every time she makes a squeak she’s going to learn really quickly that gets attention and it’s guaranteed she’d use it to her advantage. Again, I want to teach her to go to sleep on her own.
I could talk about baby sleep for hours…and it may have just taken you hours to read that novel of a post. Whoopsies. But, I really think the key to a good sleeper is giving your baby the opportunity to learn…if you don’t let go of the bike, they’ll never learn to ride alone, right?

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If you’re a mom who’s interested in sharing her child’s sleep story, please let me know!  I’m currently looking for more stories!  Email me at [email protected]!
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11 Comments

  1. KRISTIN F.
    January 23, 2014 / 9:31 am

    Thanks Jennifer! 🙂

  2. KRISTIN F.
    January 23, 2014 / 9:32 am

    Thank you Jess for letting me take over your blog today! And I definitely think a mommy-drinks-wine date needs to happen at some point in our lives…and I guess the girls can play too. 🙂

  3. Sara McCarty
    January 23, 2014 / 11:44 am

    Great post. I wish we would have established a schedule and bedtime routine earlier with Mac. I think that would have helped. I’ll file that away in the back of my mind for #2 one day. 🙂

  4. January 23, 2014 / 12:05 pm

    Such a great post Kristin! 🙂 I know you’re an amazing mommy, and Kenley totally is awesome because of you!!

  5. lindsay
    January 24, 2014 / 8:10 am

    love this series! looking forward to following!

  6. January 24, 2014 / 2:33 pm

    Love the way you talked about CIO – my husband and I had great success with it, but it is pretty controversial, like you say. I liked your disclaimers though – and it’s so true – CIO…to an extent, within reason. Even sometimes when I’m convinced something is wrong and my husband convinces me to wait another minute, my son calms himself down and goes to sleep 9 out of 10 times. If I had rushed in there, it would’ve been harder on both of us.

  7. January 27, 2014 / 3:02 pm

    I loved having you! Now come visit…I have a bottle of wine ready with your name on it!

  8. January 27, 2014 / 3:02 pm

    Good plan 🙂

  9. January 27, 2014 / 3:02 pm

    I agree! 🙂

  10. January 27, 2014 / 3:03 pm

    Glad you like it! Let me know if you want to contribute!

  11. January 27, 2014 / 3:05 pm

    It really is true – it’s good within reason. We had to do a little bit of it too, and now we have a great sleeper! (knock on wood)