When I was pregnant I read quite a bit. Books like “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” and “The Happiest Baby On The Block”. I enjoyed reading about everything I was going through, what the baby inside me was going through and what I could expect for the first little while after we brought her home from the hospital. But I was so bombarded with all the pregnancy and delivery stuff (I was pretty scared about going into labour for the first time) that I kind of had no room for all the stuff that came AFTER the delivery. I figured I’d be able to do my reading about that when I had my baby beside me and could actually put into practice what I was learning.
Good joke! Who has time or free hands to read a book when they have a newborn?!
Anyway, one of the ideas I came across before I gave birth was the ‘4th Trimester’ in “The Happiest Baby on the Block” by Dr. Karp. I really loved this idea and knew that was something I’d want to follow from the beginning. Dr Karp believes that all human babies are born 3 months before they’re fully ready to be part of the outside world unlike any other animals who are born ready to survive. The reason behind this is because the human brain grows so rapidly in those final 3 months that if the baby stayed inside the mother the head would be far too large to be birthed naturally. He believes we should treat the first 3 months of a baby’s life essentially as the 4th trimester of pregnancy. This means responding to them when they call (or cry) for you.
I also knew that Baby G would sleep in our room – but in a co-sleeper. I was worried about the dangers of her being in the bed with us. We bought a crib and assembled it next to our bed, but honestly she was so tiny inside it and reaching in and out constantly in the middle of the night was just not working. So after losing my mind a couple of times (and hurting my back and knocking my head once or twice) Baby G began to end up in the actual bed with us which made me very nervous. So I did some research for actual co-sleepers and came across the SnuzPod. This seemed to be the perfect solution – it fit perfectly with our bed, was a better size for our tiny little baby and it easily transforms into a stand alone crib for when we want to start establishing some independence. So I bought the pod hoping it would be the answer to my prayers and well…it kind of was but it also really wasn’t. Feeding became so much easier but Baby G still wanted to sleep mostly beside us in the bed. It’s like she could tell the difference between her mattress and ours and she’d rarely want to go to sleep in it. It was becoming impossible to get her to go to bed on her own. She always wanted to be with us and sensed the second we wanted to put her down and would start crying. She was happier (and quiet) when she was with us.
I also have to say that it’s been this way since day one. I tried to get her to sleep in her own crib beside us from the very beginning but she always hated being on her own.
So then I went looking for ideas. Everyone was telling me over and over that we needed a proper BEDTIME ROUTINE. But how do you establish a bedtime routine with a baby who is different every single day? Some days she’s sleepy, other days she’s active. Some days she’s constantly hungry, other days she just snacks. Some days she’s fussy and other other days she’s so easy going and happy. But we were slacking on a proper routine – but that’s part of being new parents right? So we decided to come up with a real routine to follow.
Our current bedtime routine is this:
- Bring Baby G into the bedroom and close the curtains. Turn on her night light which plays some lullabies to signal it’s bed time.
- Feed her. (If she’s hungry at this point. Sometimes she’s not interested in anything other than a snack).
- Change her nappy and put her into a bedtime onesie. Every other night we also give her a bath.
- Read her a story.
- Rock her a little and then place her gently down in her crib to sleep.
But here’s my problem. Once I get her into the bedroom, she may or may not start crying. And crying. And crying and crying. If she’s crying I can’t read her a story and we tried to soothe her with a bath once but it just made her worse. Sometimes her crying can last 30 minutes and other times it can take me 3 hours to settle her. She doesn’t have collic, and she isn’t a baby that usually cries unless something’s wrong or she wants something. She’s normally very placid.
But for whatever reason, the evenings seem to be our problem. Some evenings the bedtime routine works easily and really makes my day. But on those other evenings, pacing around the bedroom, putting her down and picking her back up to soothe her and trying to put her down again repeatedly for 3 hours is just not sustainable. My back and neck are in bits and it means we have no time together in the evenings. It’s also not fair on her because she spends her evenings before bed so upset. But there’s just no telling what way the routine will go. (You know, I think she might be starting to teethe but everyone’s telling me she’s too young at 10 weeks).
So I went looking for better ideas. Another blogger, Amie from Bump Baby & Me, suggested I check out Tracy Hogg’s “The Baby Whisperer”. Knowing I couldn’t really find time to read a full book I decided to buy the audio book. I listened to it the first night through and went through everything she suggested (pick up to soothe and then put back down once they stop crying). And you know what? That night was the first time she slept through for 6 hours. I thought I’d hit the jackpot!
Until I repeated the routine step by step and almost word for word the following night and all hell broke loose. Nothing I did would help her settle and it took 3 hours for her to just tire herself out and go to sleep. She was awake every 2 hours that night and she hasn’t slept for 6 hours solid since.
Right now I’m itching to implement a proper bedtime routine that works but we haven’t been able to find a consistency that works for us. I’ve even considered letting her cry it out – but I don’t want to do anything like that until she’s at least 3 months old. Even then, I’m not sure I’m strong enough for it. Maybe I have to be. But really how can you rely on a bedtime routine for someone so new to the world? She’s growing and changing so much – some days she’s more alert than others. I can’t really expect her to do anything she doesn’t want to do, right?
In the meantime, I’ve started keeping a baby sleep diary trying to track her routine (I’ll do another post on that soon). I have a few weeks before she is officially 3 months and out of the 4th trimester. Until then, I’m reading small bits when I can, I’m listening to podcasts and audiobooks and I’m watching the baby for any sleep patterns she might have.
Has anyone had similar experiences to me? I’d be interested to hear how you are all getting on with your own bedtime routines. Any and all suggestions welcome!