Nothing gives this new mama more baby stress than “sleep when the baby sleeps” and “my kids slept through the night at 8 weeks” and “oh yeah, well my kids didn’t sleep through the night for over two years”. I have received more input on sleep (both mine and my baby’s) than any other topic in her first two weeks. All I can speak to is my personal experience.
Eleanor has been a great baby so far. I mean a really great baby. She doesn’t spit-up and she has not yet even needed a burp rag when burping. She gets a little dribble while eating, but after she’s swallowed, she’s committed. The only downside to that is sometimes the gas pain and farts are unequaled. That’s a little gross. But otherwise, she’s a quiet, contented baby.
At first, we woke Eleanor up every three hours per the hospital’s recommendations to feed her on a schedule. As time passed, she started needed feeding before the three hours were up, so we started upping her formula intake from 30 ml to 45 ml to eventually 60 ml without problem. Her wake, feed, sleep cycle seemed to be working on a tight schedule.
After the first couple of days, she would have a brief awake time between 4pm and 8pm. She wouldn’t be awake for the whole 4 hours, but throughout the 4 hour window, she would wake for 30 to 45 minutes and then take another nap. Her evening wakeful time was mostly spent cooing and grunting, trying to focus her eyes on the nearest sound, and kicking her feet and waving her arms. She was a wild one when she was awake – side winding herself into a diagonal position across her bassinet.
But around day eight or nine, I don’t know which – this new mama is sleep deprived and not remembering details well – she started to wake more frequently. Again, the only actions were looking around and not focusing on anything, waving and flexing wildly, and making the funniest baby sounds imaginable. I was excited to see her bright, shining face and have face-to-face time with her. We ooh’d and ahh’d and snuggled. I even tried my first attempt at baby wearing.
On day nine, I woke Ellie up to see her mom after a long day teaching. I brought her upstairs and to my horror, Ellie started screaming and didn’t stop for the next five hours. If you’ve read the Formula Reviews post, this was the day we tried the formula that gave her terrible gas pains. But she was awake for the entire time because she’d start to dose only to awake with another lurch of pain and start wailing again.
Between all the wailing and the pain and the not sleeping, Ellie slept really well that night. When she woke me, it was only for a small amount of food before she didn’t want any more (10ml, 30 ml, 40ml), and she was awake for no more than 20 minutes before dosing again.
That next day (Ellie’s day 10), we went back to our roots, we swaddled Eleanor for each nap and unwrapped her for awake time. Eleanor went back to sleeping for three hours at a time, and she her night routine was no problem. Over the next weekend, we realized just how much sleep Eleanor could need because we did not bother to carve out “awake time”. These early days keeping track of how long and when she’ll sleep can help us when it’s time to be more structured with our nap/wake time.
Day 13 was a great sample day. Ellie slept in the morning with only her usual 15-25 minutes breaks to eat and have her diaper changed. Around 2:30 in the afternoon, she was very awake, so we did a little tummy time and she almost flung herself into a rollover already. No! Don’t grow up that fast!
She was awake for about an hour, and I put her down to nap when she was drowsy but not asleep. She cooed and fussed a little, but she fell asleep after a little over 30 minutes to entertaining herself.
So this is my hope: this thirteenth day of Ellie’s life is the start of a routine our family can continue. If Eleanor can start to develop sleeping habits consistently, then we can start to plan around her and her needs. She can feel safe, secure, and comfortable in knowing each step of her day. And a foundation of good sleep habits will benefit her the rest of her life.
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