Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Baby Sleep Trick!

When Wade was born, I proudly bragged to anyone who asked "He's an awesome sleeper! Only wakes up twice a night, even though he's only (insert age here)!"

I really should have known better, as Karma can be a royal pain in the tush. As he's now two months old, he's gone through approximately eighteen growth spurts which, of course, include cluster feeding, general fussiness and, you guessed it, not sleeping very well at night. Drat. As I've never been one to function well on less than ten hours of sleep, this posed a huge problem.

Eventually, this sleeping pattern started to become more of a habit than the result of growth spurts. He would wake up fussy every two to three hours instead of every four (which makes a huge difference...we're talking about the difference between waking up two times a night or five) with no real reason except to make noise, apparently. Until recently, my plan of attack was to simply get up every time, feed him until he fell back to sleep, put him back in the crib and repeat two hours later. Never once did I consider that simply plugging his pacifier back in could gain me another hour or two of shut-eye. I couldn't even have Tanner help with feedings as I'd completely given up pumping; it's a little discouraging to spend twenty minutes at it and end up with an ounce.  Therefore, I then made up for my lack of sleep by bringing Wade to bed with me around five o'clock and sleeping until nine (for some reason, that was the one time he would actually sleep long stretches).

The trade-off was that Tanner had to go to work without breakfast every day, and I felt like a lazy bum the rest of the day. Something about waking up late does that to me. I was slowly morphing from a ModernVintageHousewife to a DesperateForSleepHousewife to a NeglectsHerHusbandHousewife. Not pretty. A new plan was needed.

That is why I was found on Pinterest Monday afternoon, searching the phrase "baby sleeping through the night". There were more pins on the topic than one could shake a stick at, so I rolled up my sleeves and dove in. Turns out, everyone's tips are based along the same principles:

1) Get them on a schedule during the day and/or give them a bedtime routine.

2) Put them to bed earlier, because overtired babies don't sleep as well.

3) Try swaddling!

So that night, I tried the first two. Until then, my "routine" had been to play and cuddle with him until it looked like he was getting tired, then change his diaper if it needed it and lay him down in his crib. Now, in the interest of establishing a legitimate routine, I take him to the nursery, only turn on the lamp so it isn't quite as bright as in the living room, change his diaper, put on fresh footies, and read him a book or sing a bit while rocking him before laying him down. I did all this around 7:30 instead of 9, like I had been doing previously. I took swaddling off my own list, because he's never been a very big fan of it. He usually sleeps (gasp) on his tummy, actually, and loves it. (He's actually got the okay from both his pediatrician and my midwife on this...he's been a pro-head lifter since he was about two days old!)

To my surprise, it actually worked pretty well! Even though one day hardly constitutes a routine, it seemed to settle him down enough that he only woke up three times, and even gave us one four hour stretch of sleep! It was wonderful, but I knew he could do better. So, as I went about my chores yesterday, I pondered, and queried, and brainstormed. It was when I changed the sheets on our bed that I had a moment of brilliance and finally put two and two together.

Wade sleeps better when he's in bed with us!

I yanked the pillowcases from the pile of sheets and laid them down in his crib. That night, because he could still smell us, he only woke up twice!!

I'm still patting myself on the back for my sheer genius. Just to prove to myself it wasn't a fluke, I left them in there for his nap. He usually sleeps for half an hour, but is now going on an hour twenty!

So, next time your baby won't sleep, add "Let him sleep on your used pillowcases" to your arsenal of baby sleep tricks!

This post hosted by Tweak it Tuesday, Wow Us Wednesday, Whatever Goes WednesdayCreative Muster, and Growing Homemakers blog hops.


  1. Auntie Sue figured out pretty early on that the old wife's tale of never letting a baby sleep with their parents was just that... a wife's tale. Dale woke up every couple of hours during the night. About 2:00 am, when he woke the first time, Sue would bring him to bed to nurse him. They would both promptly fall asleep. A couple of hours later, switch sides and repeat. He would spend the rest of the night with us, and both Mom and baby got more sleep. (She did have to lift my arm off of him a few times, but I was mostly conscious of him there.) I still think that it was a good solution to a problem that has been developed by over-anxious Drs. and midwives.

  2. Oh, we do that sometimes...from what I hear its not really frowned upon--it has more to do with how comfortable the parents are with doing it. Some deep sleepers are scared they'll smother the baby, do they just avoid it. I personally don't sleep as well when we co-sleep, but occasionally a longer stretch of shut-eye helps, despite not sleeping as deeply.

  3. Desperation: The Mother of Invention. Way to go, love :-)