A look at our baby sleep schedule, from newborn up to 6 + month old. I’m sharing our routine, how we got Sage to sleep through the night and tips we’ve learned along the way!
One of the most common things you hear when you’re about to be a new mom is… make the most of being able to sleep while you can! I heard horror stories about never sleeping again, and of course when you have a baby you do miss out on a lot of sleep, but let me reassure you. There is hope!
Wow, Sage’s first month seems like a lifetime ago! It’s true what they say, it goes so so fast. You get kind of wrapped up in this whirlwind of establishing some kind of routine and getting used to your new normal, and the weeks just fly by. The thing to remember in these early days is it’s a scary world for your newborn baby! They’ve just gone from being all safe and secure in your tummy to being out in this bright, loud, overwhelming world. They’re experiencing everything for the first time.
In terms of sleep, I didn’t have any expectations for this first month. You can plan all you want but at the end of the day you’re going to be on your baby’s schedule. Also, remember they have no concept of night and day yet, and they need to be feeding regularly since their tummies are so tiny.
While we’re on the subject of feeding… cluster feeding will probably come into play! This is when your baby feeds, then takes maybe a 10 minute break and then wants to feed again. I know… it’s intense. There were days when I thought ‘Will I ever sleep again?’ But it’s for a good reason – baby is trying to increase your milk supply!
Sage was always a pretty alert newborn so she wouldn’t really sleep in a rocker or anything. She slept on me a lot after breastfeeding, which I know some people tell you not to let them do because they’ll become dependent on you to sleep, but honestly I wouldn’t change it for the world. Cherish those moments where they want to sleep in your arms because it is so fleeting. She’d also sleep in her bassinet which had a rocking motion or in her carrier when we went on walks.
Our Snoo bassinet was a little overpriced, but we managed to get it second hand and I think it was well worth the money. The advantage is once your baby transitions out of it you can sell it on for a similar price (as long as it’s in good condition!) I did think the swaddle that’s built into it wasn’t warm enough, seeing as she was a fall baby, so I actually double swaddled. We’d wrap her in a regular swaddle blanket first and then zip her up into the bassinet swaddle.
I remember as night time approached I’d often get really sad because the nights just felt so long and lonely. We quickly realised there was no sense in both Matt and I getting no sleep. We needed at least one of us to function, so he started going to bed with the full get up. Earplugs, eye mask, the works! That way he was still human come the day time and could help me out while I had naps throughout the day. Once that clock hit 6am it was off to dad she went. A slight tap on Matt’s shoulder and it was now his turn to be with Sage, take her out of the bassinet, change her, etc.
We also knew that if I ever had a really rough night and she just wasn’t going to sleep that we would do shifts. One of us would take her for the first few hours and then we’d swap. It’s all about tag teaming and leaning on each other to survive because, let me tell you, those first few weeks with a newborn are probably the most challenging and testing times. I was just trying to get a handle of my new reality.
If there’s one tip I could give for that first month, it would be to mentally prepare yourself. Accept that you won’t get any decent sleep (Sage woke up through the night every 45 minutes to 1.5 hours) but tell yourself that it’s okay. You can have some naps during the day – I needed to just to be able to function and not be a walking zombie mom! You can turn the night feeds into a kind of slumber party with a movie on your phone or laptop and a snack caddy. This made me not dread the night feeds so much – I actually started to embrace them and (almost) look forward to them because they were mine and Sage’s special time together.
I think the moment I started changing my view point on the lack of sleep is when I truly started to enjoy this special early time with Sage and our breastfeeding experience. Even though it’s exhausting, try to enjoy those baby days because you’ll blink and they’ll be gone.
Around the 4-6 week mark we started to get ourselves into a ‘routine’. As your baby gets older, you’ll get to know them and how long they’re okay to be awake for before they get tired (or worse, overtired!) This is known as ‘wake times’. We worked out that Sage could be awake for 2 hours before getting cranky, and that the ideal time for her morning nap was around 11am.
Pro tip: Please don’t try to stick to someone else’s schedule. As much as they can be a handy guide, each baby is different and will require a different amount of sleep. What worked for us was to track Sage’s sleep and awake times using this app, and over time patterns started to emerge. Having said that, I found this guide to be super helpful combined with tracking her sleep.
The 2-3 month stage was actually pretty great for us in terms of sleep. We were starting to get into a routine, Sage had regular naps and she would go down fairly easily. We even managed to get about 4-6 hours of undisturbed sleep at night, and one night she actually went 9 hours with no dream feed! It was kind of a ‘honeymoon phase’! If you find yourself in this position, MAKE THE MOST OF IT! I hate to break it to you, but it probably won’t last!
And it didn’t last for long! Introducing the 4 month sleep regression. Ours actually started creeping in around 3 and a half months and let me tell you… it’s no fun. It kind of felt like we’d gone backwards. She was back to waking up every 2-3 hours, sometimes every hour, and also started to fight being swaddled. She was drooling a lot and starting to teeth, and she wanted her hands free so that she could suck on them. I started leaving one arm out of the swaddle, and then both arms, and for sure she slept much better with her arms out. Again, take your cues from your baby!
At 5 months we actually started working with a sleep consultant called Lily from @lilbabysleep. We did a consultation with her and she was honestly amazing. We talked about what our ‘sleep goals’ were and our nap and bedtime schedule. She really helped us to understand the behavioural side of baby sleep. There are tons of resources out there, so do get support if you’re struggling with your baby’s sleep!
When it comes to sleep training, everyone is different. You’ve got to do what feels right for you. Some parents are happier to use a slightly stricter approach with the view that the long term gain is worth it, and some refuse to do any kind of sleep training. There is no right or wrong, it’s just what feels right for you and your baby. Lily helped us adopt a gentler sleep training approach that we both felt comfortable with.
The other thing we spoke about with the sleep consultant was how our amazing bassinet had become kind of like a crutch. As good as it was in the early days, it was a bandaid to our sleep troubles, not the solution. We wanted Sage to be able to get herself to sleep without it, especially as she’d soon be transitioning to a crib, so we turned off the rocking motion. Luckily Sage responded really well to it and honestly her sleep got so much better. She finally slept through the night with only one dream feed!
We started transitioning to a crib at 5.5 months old, which is a little earlier than I had expected. We started with naps so that she could get used to it, and she did great, and also transitioned from the swaddle to the sleep sack. I love the sleep sacks because they’re cosy and warm like a little duvet. They’re also really safe because they zip up around their body and there are little arm holes so there’s no chance of the fabric rising up over their face. We also didn’t want to stop with the white noise that was built into the bassinet, so we purchased a separate white noise machine for Sage’s room.
After a full week of naps we did her first night in her crib and it was honestly life changing. The second she was in her crib in her own room at night she started sleeping so much better! She went down at 7pm and slept straight through to 4.30am with no dream feed. She did have a poop explosion at 4.30, which was super fun, but then went back to sleep until 6.15am.
At 6 months we started introducing solids, and I know they say solid food doesn’t encourage better sleep but it certainly seemed to for us. She started sleeping through the night without a dream feed until 4am, at which point we’d bring her into bed with us so I could feed her and get an extra couple of hours sleep. I was always worried about starting “bad habits” with her in our bed but honestly we all slept better. I read somewhere that the best sleep routine is one where the whole family sleeps. Now, at nearly 7 months old, she sleeps through until about 6am.
We’ve transitioned to 2 longer naps a day. The first one will be 1.5-2 hours, which is great because I can get things done like doing a workout and having a shower, and then her afternoon nap tends to be about an hour long.
Looking back at those early days, I remember how hard it was, but my now further-mom-self is here to tell you it does get better. Sleep is around the corner. Just hang in there and enjoy your popcorn and movie nights. In a strange way you’ll miss that time. Believe it or not, you’ll start to learn to function off short intervals of sleep and then even 5 hours feels like a full night’s rest. Just another super power that moms have built into us. Who knew? And now, as I write this, I’ve never felt more rested!
What does your baby sleep schedule look like? Let me know in the comments below!
If you’re interested in seeing more about my life as a mom, you may also want to check out my 24 hours with a 6 month old blog post and my 18 Must-Know Mom Hacks for your First Year With Your Baby.