Today I have the pleasure of introducing another mom to you in the sleep chronicles – my little, Shelly from the Bigs and Littles program. She’s a sweet Chicago mom to Josephine, who just turned one! Read her story below!
My name is Shelly and I blog at Windy City Baby. I am the mama to a newly-turned one-year-old and a full-time high school English teacher. I am so thrilled to be featured on Jess’ Sleep Chronicles and to share Josephine’s sleep story.
Part 1: Sleep
Before having Josephine, my husband and I did not read any sleep books or take any parenting classes. I was just always under the assumption that parenting would be instinctual and sleeping would just happen or not happen, depending on our baby’s personality and whether or not we stuck to a good routine.
We intended for Josephine to sleep in a beautiful, oak cradle that had been passed around my husband’s family. The cradle was all set up next to our bed and we thought we were totally prepared. Fast forward to our first night home with Josephine…
She wanted nothing to do with the cradle. I mean nothing! Thank goodness for a friend who gifted us a Fisher Price Rock n’ Play. I had not registered for one and never even knew they existed, but she swore that all her mama friends could not live without one. We assembled it that night, put Josephine in a SwaddleMe, and we were left with a happily sleeping newborn.
Her sleep habits the first two months were those of any newborn: up 2-3 times in the night for a bottle and falling back asleep. If she would wake earlier than normal in the morning, I would oftentimes put her in our bed and she would sleep for another hour or two. We were so lucky to have a baby with good sleep habits.
We definitely attribute her sleep habits to her routine. Starting with her first night at home, we put her on a nighttime routine. Anywhere between 7-8pm, we would take her upstairs for a bath, massage, story, and bottle. That routine still continues to this day. I am a huge proponent of any kind of routine you can set for your baby. I feel that routines make for the happiest, healthiest babies.
Things got a little more difficult around two and half months. We attempted to transition Josephine to her crib and out of the swaddle. Because she had severe reflux, she did not take to her crib very easily at first. She preferred to be on an incline in her Rock n’ Play, and we were not about to force her into her crib just yet. Plus, her pediatrician had no qualms about advising us to keep her in our room until she was four months old because of the reflux. It gave us peace of mind to continue to have her in our room because she would spit up quite a bit in the night. Having her next to us allowed us to wake up when she would spit up, make sure she was ok, and soothe her back to sleep with ease.
Around three and a half months, we tried the crib again. It must have just been a better time because she took to it right away, alternating between sleeping through the night and waking for one bottle around 4-6am. We were so worried that breaking her of the swaddle was going to be an issue, but it wasn’t at all. She slept in her crib swaddle-less from that point on. At the eight-month mark (just in time for me to return back to work), she started to sleep through the night regularly.
Now, as a one-year-old, she is on the same nighttime routine. Most nights around 7pm, she points up the stairs and lays her head on the bottom stair, signaling that it’s time for her bath and “ni-ni”. If she doesn’t fall asleep in my arms while I rock her with her bottle, she is able to soothe herself to sleep if I lay her down still awake. I know there are people out there that might discourage me from continuing to rock her as a one-year-old, but I know the time I have to rock her to sleep is growing short and it just works for us. I am sure things may get a little hairy for a while as we begin to wean her from formula and her bottle. Stay tuned for a post on that adventure over at my blog in the next few weeks.
I comment all the time on how Josephine is a “crib diva”. She refuses to sleep anywhere but her crib. She will occasionally fall sleep in the car for a short period of time, but we are talking about a baby that refuses to sleep in a pack n’ play or the crib my parents so generously bought for their house. Her refusal to sleep anywhere else but her crib made for an interesting trip to Florida this past December and is sure to cause some sleepless nights and napless days when we travel to Miami next month. I cannot blame her for this though, as I believe this is totally genetic. I am a bit of a “bed diva” myself. I prefer my own bed and cannot sleep in cars, on planes, or anywhere else that is not a bed. I can sleep in hotels or away at families, but not very soundly.
I am fully aware that we are beyond fortunate to have had very limited sleep struggles with Josephine. We are banking on the next child to the complete opposite.
Part 2: Naps
We did not experience the same ease with her naps that we did with her nightly sleeping.
Josephine’s newborn months were characterized by several catnaps throughout the day. They were catnaps that had to be taken while being held by someone. Having been home for the first eight months of her life, this did not bother me. Sure, it made my summer one that was spent mostly indoors or holding a sleeping baby under the umbrella on my parent’s patio, but I did not mind in the least. I knew there would be a time (that time has come) that she would not want to be held because she would want to be running around and exploring everything there is to explore.
Around the five-month mark, we attempted to transition her to her crib for naps. It was a struggle for a of couple months. She would only nap for a half hour or 45 minutes if we were lucky. These short naps would occur, maybe, twice a day. By the time the second bout of crabbiness would occur, I would cave and just hold her for the nap because she would sleep soundly and for a longer period of time than if I tried her crib.
At eight months, I had to return to work. Josephine was starting to get the hang of a longer nap in her crib, but was only taking one a day. With my return to work, my mom came to our house to watch Josephine. I actually credit her for “nap training” Josephine. For some reason, as soon as my mom began watching her, she would go down for a late morning nap and stay asleep, in her crib, for 1-2 hours. Her naps can still be a little unpredictable, as they can range from 1-3 hours. The one hour naps make for some long, unproductive days for me; I can’t get much housework, lesson planning, or grading done in just an hour.
With her sleep habits being much more regular now, daily life is easy. We can plan errands and activities before and after her nap, and they go very smoothly.
We will continue to work on getting her to sleep in a pack n’ play because we like to travel, and with two Florida trips in the next four months, having her maintain her healthy sleep habits is super important to us.
I know there are no right and wrong ways to set up and maintain healthy sleep habits with a baby. I believe is doing what is best for your family. You know your child the best out of anyone else, so trust that you are making the right decisions. I know our routines and beliefs are not the “right” ones, but they have worked for Josephine and us.
Thanks so much for stopping by to read our sleep story and thanks so much to Jess for letting me share it!