When my little baby, Sage, was first born in April, he was an absolute angel. He would sleep for most of the day and night and quietly observe his surroundings when he was awake. I couldn't believe how lucky I was to get such a chilled out baby who only fussed a little when he was hungry or wet.
Then - week 6 began. We had good days and bad days. Sometimes he would cry for almost the entire day. I thought it would never stop. During the day it was easy to pack him up in the stroller for a nice walk, which almost always put him to sleep the minute we left the house. Night time was a different story. Reading about bedtime routines would make me LOL ("it's never too early to start a routine," they say). Then I would panic... would I ever get to the point where I could actually have any kind of routine with this baby?! I didn't think it was possible. Here are some humble tips from me, a first time mom, on how to survive that "4th trimester" and actually get a baby to sleep at night:
1. The Swaddle
There are a lot of blankets out there. Swaddle blankets, receiving blankets, crib blankets, oh my! I'll be honest, for me and Sage, all that mattered was getting a blanket - ANY blanket - around him before he would totally meltdown and reach velociraptor status. But of all the blankets I tried, my favorite is truly from Under the Nile - specifically our Muslin Swaddle Blanket. It's big, breathable and super soft. I will admit that I've even fallen asleep with it on the couch many times.
2. The Pacifier
Before Sage was born, I swore I would never use a pacifier. I just didn't want to risk ruining his teeth or deal with having to wean him off it later on. But one day, after hours of screaming, I was ready to try anything. I had been given a Natursutten pacifier at the baby shower and plugged it in his mouth. It was like magic, and I've never turned back.
Epic dreadlocks, right? I cut them off when Sage was 5 weeks old!
3. Bathtime and Massage
Sometimes, a warm bath was the only thing that would calm Sage down. After a while he learned that baths meant it was time to wind down for the night, and we started finding our groove around 3 months. Naturally, I have a huge stock of Under the Nile terry wipes, hooded towels and wash mitts. I've honestly never even bothered trying any other towel or washcloths because I've never found another company that is organic AND fair trade like Under the Nile (and, ok, I may have a slight bias). :)
Ending bath time with a massage became a nightly ritual. I discovered Badger Balm's line of baby products when one of my friends gave me the Night-Night balm for my baby shower. I loved it so much I immediately bought the Baby Soap and exclusively use their Diaper Rash Cream.
4. Lullaby Stations on YouTube and Pandora
For the first 3 months of Sage's life, we pretty much had lullabys in the background 24/7. My personal favorites are Sublime and Pink Floyd. It's a refreshing take on the idea of a lullaby. Any situation where I stay sane and Sage is sleeping is a definite 'win-win.'
5. Just relax, You're Doing Fine
Sometimes I felt like Sage just hated everything about his little life, because he wouldn't stop crying. Luckily (just like the internet and our pediatrician promised) the fussiness started to taper by 8-9 weeks and now at nearly 6 months he's my smiling, chatty, happy little guy. You will be inundated with advice from everyone you encounter. Whatever works for you and your baby, is best. Just power through those cluster feedings and find peace knowing that you will, someday, be able to sleep again.
Sage loves his Bean!
Do you have tips of your own for creating a relaxing bedtime routine during the first year, and/or just surviving those first few months? Please share your advice! We'd love to hear your thoughts. :)
I have three kids (9 years, 4 years, and 3 months old). The sleep advice I’d add to the list is “Put the kids to bed earlier!” My 3 month old goes to bed between 5:30-6:30 and this frees up my hands for dinner. After dinner, we brush teeth, put on PJs and get in bed for stories—usually 3-5 chapters. The girls are out by 8:00 and we attempt to never have late nights. They wake between 6:30 and 7:00. Changing the routine on weekends just creates jet lag and confusion. I made a lot of mistakes learning that with my first (trying to put an exhausted baby to sleep at 7 pm and wondering why she was up frantic until 10 pm!) Start the routine about 1/2 hour before dark and that could be very early depending on where you live.
I’m a Mom of two girls: they are now 3 and 5 yo. The advice I would pass along is : sing “lullaby and good night go to sleep now little baby…” That has been SOOO helpful in putting them to sleep over the years! It’s really quite amazing! Hope that’s helpful!