Yup! We welcomed our second daughter into the family last November 🙂
Being a mum for the 2nd time and with better understanding of my baby’s sleep, I was definitely a lot more prepared this time around. I knew that I needed to consciously kick-start some good habits right from the start. My little girl is 9 weeks now, and although her sleep isn’t that perfect yet, I know we’re on the right track towards setting some good sleep habits. She’s goes to bed at around 8pm and wakes at 10am, with 2 wakes in between – around 2am and 7am. She takes on average 3 naps, 2 long ones (1.5hrs – 2.5hrs) and 1 short one (~30 – 45mins) and she is now capable of getting herself to sleep with little assistance.
My advice will be to start introducing these 5 tips below at the 7 week mark. Don’t be too hard on yourself in the first few weeks, do spend the first month of your ‘confinement’ getting as much rest as you can, and cuddle your newborn as much as you can, they’re so precious!
So here’s what I did differently this time around:
No nursing to sleep
Nursing to sleep was the biggest mistake I made when I had my first. Being a new mum then, I didn’t know any better, and nursing seem to be the only way I knew how to put my baby to sleep. As a result, I had to sit for hours carrying and nursing my baby till she was in deep sleep before putting her in bed, my firstborn never learnt the skills to soothe herself to sleep until I discovered Sleep Sense. For my 2nd baby, I was adamant that she never fell asleep on my breast! It has been quite challenging to keep my sleepy newborn awake while nursing, hence there’s been a lot of tickling of ears and toes to keep her awake, and I will unlatch once I notice the rhythmic sucking stops. A single nursing session should take around 20-45mins, the length of each session should decrease as your baby grows.
Introduce a Feed-Play-Sleep routine
Wished I introduced this earlier when I had my firstborn… her schedule was all over the place! With my 2nd child, I knew that if I wanted to avoid the “feeding to sleep”, I would need to introduce the Feed-Play-Sleep routine – hence I give her a feed after she wakes from her nap, this will ensure that she’s awake enough to not fall asleep while feeding. We have a little play time (I really enjoy seeing her cooing and smiling back at me!) before settling her for nap again. The only exception to this routine is before bedtime, where feeding is almost at the last step so she goes to bed with a full stomach. Of course, there may be times where she still seem hungry before her nap, and that’s when I would give her a short feed and unlatch once she start to look drowsy. Giving her adequate feeds during the day will ensure that my baby doesn’t play catch up all night.
Put her in bed drowsy but awake
With my 2nd child, I try very hard to make sure that she wasn’t fully asleep before I put her in bed, and honestly, this is the toughest step of all. Of course there were times where baby protested, hence the good news is, it’s ok to go a little lenient with newborns as they need a little more assistance with learning the skills to fall asleep independently. For this I use a pacifier and sometimes some gentle shoosing and swaying to calm her down, this also helps with linking her sleep cycles which will in turn extend her sleep duration. Of course, since the pacifier is also a sleep prop, it will go once she’s old enough to be sleep trained (at around the 4 month mark). It is very important to teach your baby the skills to fall asleep on her own (without any props at all) before she hits the 6 month mark, or you might find yourself with a baby who wakes every hour and constantly looking for her prop!
Note: ‘Drowsy but awake’ applies to newborns only. For babies older than 4 months, it is highly advised to put them down into bed wide awake.
Introduce a bedtime routine
I’ve started putting my newborn to sleep the same time every night since she turned 8 weeks old and introduced a short routine to go with it, ie. bring her up to her room – change her diaper – breastfeed – swaddle – good night song – down into her bed drowsy but awake. I also kept the room dark (with a dim night light) while we were in the room to facilitate melatonin production. A dim room and consistent routine definitely helped with signalling that it’s now bedtime! I also introduced a short routine for her naps, ie. swaddle – nap nap song – down into bed drowsy but awake, easing the transition from play to sleep.
Watch for her tired signs / watch for the clock
I realised how important it was to make sure that my baby wasn’t overtired before I put her to nap/ bed. Overtiredness only messes up her sleep and makes it more difficult to settle her during bedtime. I consciously looked out for my baby’s tired signs, and try to catch her at her 2nd yawn. It’s important to remember that newborns have really short stamina, and for my 9 week old, she can only stay awake for 1 – 1.5hrs, then it’s time for a nap again. Do check out the recommended awake time for your child, it definitely helps if you’re not too good at watching the tired signs.
Also to add, my baby has been sleeping independently in her cot since Day 1. She’s in a separate room and I room in with her when it’s time for me to sleep. This arrangement allows me to enjoy some little ‘me and couple’ time in my own bedroom without having the fear of waking baby up from noise, chattering or bright lights… just the kind of reprieve any mum will need at the end of the day – some peace and quiet 🙂 I will move out from her room and back into my own room once she’s ready to sleep through the night, as I don’t want my presence to be her sleep prop.
Hope the sharing of the tips above will help all new mums out there! Let’s do this together and put our babies on the right path towards developing healthy and independent sleep skills 🙂
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