Z is 8 weeks, 2 days old. Yeah, yeah, I know, we still count days. We've, of course, been trying to get him to sleep "through the night." Many folks, myself included, think that "through the night" is kind of a mythical goal and I've said it when asked. A few days back he slept from 9pm to 3am and that was "through the night" as far as I was concerned. We have continued our quest for a few more hours sleep, though.
Now, I know all babies are different and this all may be a fluke and there will be times when he's 8 years old and won't sleep through the night, but for the most part, I think our general technique is working. I'm sure you've got similar tips.
Z slept from 11pm until past 8am last night freeing us (and particularly my wife) up to sleep 9 hours. Here's what my extensive () eight weeks of parenting has taught me.
- Routine - Babies love routine. We put him down, plus or minus an hour, at around 9pm ever night. This will likely head more towards 8pm.
- Food - We are breast feeding exclusively (no formula) and pumping with a breast pump. We give him one bottle of pumped milk a day, so he's used to it in case of emergency.
- We give him a bottle just before bed to really fill him up. Babies seem to get comforted by the boob more than the bottle, so he'll drink as much as 4oz with the bottle, eyes open while he'll go into "buffet mode" on the boob and pass out. When he's that full, and keeps it down, he'll sleep for hours, not being awoke by hunger.
- We'll also sometimes "top him off" just before he's put into the crib (which is next to our bed)
- Another technique that is well thought of that we haven't tried is to give a breast-fed baby one formula bottle a night. Formula is harder to digest and says in the tummy longer, letting babies sleep longer as a result.
- Warm Bath - After he eats and gives us the obligatory and nearly immediate gift of poo, he takes a bath(picture above) in water that's warm (100 degrees F). We'd been using lukewarm water and he used to freak out. When we switched to using rubber-ducky thermometer that checks for temperature safety we make it hotter. He loves the tub at only eight weeks. Totally relaxes him.
- Set the Stage - We've also started lowering the lights and turning on the radio around this time. Too much light seems to freak babies (at least this one) out. We slow down, talk quiet and generally prep him for a quiet time.
- Swaddling - Don't use a receiving blanket to swaddle, it'll never work, too small. We use this blanket because it's huge - 42"x42". When he's on lockdown he can't wake himself up with spastic arms.
- Down is down - Now that he's put down he'll cry here and there, but we believe he's to young for us to Ferber him (in the hardcore way). However, we do avoid picking him up when he's down as it just starts the whole process over. We stoke his face and comb his hair and generally watch for the difference between "sobbing" and "crying." He sobs when he's tired, he cries when something's wrong.
None of this is rocket science and I assume it's all up for debate and variability. However, it's working better each night and knock wood, it'll continue to work for the most part.
All of this means a happier baby when he's awake and gives the wife and I time together before we collapse from exhaustion, wake up, rinse and repeat the process for the next eighteen years.
It's also easier to write posts like this when he's happily asleep :)