Who knew there would be so much that went into how an infant sleeps! Before I got pregnant, I just assumed they slept when they needed to and there wasn’t much that the parent needed to do. I could not have been more wrong if I tried! There is so much that goes into babies and their sleep schedules!
A few notes, we are not currently “sleep training”. I am not here to judge anyone for what they are doing or what they are not doing. This is simply a blog on where we are at with Oakley as so many people ask! I will also be updating this blog as she gets older and as things change. I also truly appreciate utilizing my affiliate links below if you are purchasing the products mentioned in this blog because I referred you to them, it allows me to keep my blog ad free!
The first few months of a baby’s life can be categorized as: eat, sleep, and poop- emphasis on the sleep. We learned very early on how important it is to watch for sleep cues (yawning, rubbing eyes, looking away from you, etc). I think the most important thing any new parent can learn is to watch for sleep cues. That being said, our days are busy and it’s not the easiest thing to remember when the baby woke up and when you should start watching for those cues. Luckily very early on I found an app called Huckleberry that helps predict baby’s next nap once you have logged enough of their sleep. It takes virtually no time at all and it’s actually quite freaky how accurate the app is when it comes to nap predictions. There is a free version and a paid version, we utilize the sleep analysis tools in the paid version and it made a world of difference in the first few months of Oakley’s life.
We downloaded the Wonder Weeks app while in the hospital based on a nurse’s recommendation and it too has been such a lifesaver in understanding baby’s developmental stages! We did not start making it a point to have her in her bassinet for every nap until about week 6!
I am not a sleep expert, will never pretend to be one! Which is why I recommend several different sleep courses, some I am affiliated with and some I am not (for full transparency). We took all of the classes below before Oakley was born and I am currently in the middle of a few at the moment given her age:
Parent Prerequisite– use code BOWMAR15 for 15% off
Taking Cara Babies (newborn class)
Bridget Teyler YouTube (free option)
That being said, the first 3 months of Oakley’s life really set the foundation for us on sleep cues and nap timing. As she gets older, the time in between naps is getting longer as she is needing less frequent naps. It seems as soon as we figure her out, she completely changes! A few tips we learned during the first few months: we elevated her SNOO on the side her head lays and it made a world of difference. We also ensured that we she had lotion on her face for every nap and nighttime sleep as she has dry skin and that was irritating here and waking her up from her sleeps!
The first three months of her life, she was in here arms up swaddle and we utilized all of the features of the SNOO for naps and nighttime sleep. At the end of month 3 and beginning of 4, she started consistently rolling over and her doctor recommended we started with arms out and weaning her off of the functions of the SNOO. The first few months, she was waking every 2-3 hours to eat. Towards the end of month 3 she was waking about every 4 hours to eat during the night.
Month 4 we started transitioning out of the arms up swaddle to eventually be arms out. We started by doing one arm out for each nap (alternating arms), and keeping both arms in for nighttime sleep. After a week of this, we started alternating arms out for night time sleep and about two weeks later she was fully transitioned out of the swaddle and was completely arms out for all naps and all nighttime sleep. The swaddles we used are linked below for reference! I feel like I bought every swaddle under the sun until I figured out what she likes. Now she sleeps in a footed zip up that has the fold over sleeves (otherwise I would have to put mittens on her) and a weighted sleep sack to keep her warm.
During month 4, we also stopped using the movement and sound features of the SNOO. There is a weaning option where you can use the sound only and if baby starts getting upset, the movement feature will turn on but we wanted to see how she would do without either (as she has an external sound machine) and it took about a week but she now just uses the SNOO as a bassinet and we haven’t turned it on since. At first we would turn it on and then turn it off once she fell asleep during naps for those few days before we just stopped turning it on all together. During month 4, she was still waking about every 4-5 hours to eat in the middle of the night!
There isn’t really much that has changed from month 4 to month 5 except we started putting her down much earlier for nighttime sleep (which I am kicking myself for not doing sooner). We used to put her down around 830-9pm and she would sleep until 6am but now we are starting her bedtime routine around 630 and she is in bed by 7pm and still sleep until about 630-7am every night. Right now she is still waking up once in that 12 hour stretch to eat in the middle of the night around 4am. She is still in our room and will be for at least a few more months as it is recommended to have baby sleep in your room until they are at least 6 months old, ideally until they are a year old to prevent SIDS as much as possible.
I also know I mentioned we are taking several sleep courses right now and we are not fans of the “cry it out” method. Again, everyone can do their own thing but it’s not anything we are currently doing. I will let her cry for a few minutes before I go back in our room to comfort her or put the pacifier back in her mouth (pacifiers while sleeping are actually shown to help reduce SIDS as well).
She is down to 3 naps per day and she is awake a little more than 2 hours between naps. We are still utilizing the same app as mentioned above!
Baby girl obviously started rolling over on her own so it was no longer safe to continue to use her SNOO after Month 6 as she could peak over the top and I was worried about her rolling over the edge. We wanted to keep her in our room and I did not want to dismantle the crib so we decided to get a pack and play for her to sleep in in our room, this also helped tremendously when we would travel as she would sleep in a pack and play then- so hotel rooms were a breeze. She was in that until the end of month 9. She also went from 3 naps to 2 by the end of month 8. Bedtime has also reminded the same between 5 and 6pm and waking up between 5 and 6am.
Months 10 – 12:
At the beginning of month 10, I started doing naps in her crib in her room and nighttime sleeping in our room in her pack and play. We did this for about 4 weeks until she was 11 months old and she is now fully transitioned into her crib for all naps and nighttime sleep. At month 11, she is down to 1 nap per day for about 60-90 minutes and sleeping at night from 12.5 hours to 13.5 hours each night! She is truly a rockstar when it comes to nighttime sleep. I do think she has FOMO during the day which is why her nap duration is “shorter” than the “average” baby but she’s healthy and thriving and getting a lot of sleep when you add her nap and her nighttime sleep.
Bedtime Routine (newborn):
Her bedtime routine is about 15 minutes long. We always start off with getting her in her pajamas, putting her lotion on, getting her owlet sock on her foot, nighttime diaper, and then moving in to our room with the darkness and sound machine running. She typically eats about 8oz before falling asleep at night around 7pm. Around 1030/11 before we go to bed, either of us will get her out of her bassinet and do a dream feed while she is still asleep- she typically eats another 4-6oz during this time.
While we are putting her to sleep, I always have soft baby jazz playing as well on my phone. This signifies to her that it is time to go to sleep and has helped tremendously for her!
We do baths every 2-3 days with her before we start her bedtime routine. She absolutely loves baths but with her dry skin, her doctor recommended us to not do them daily. I wish we could because she loves them so hopefully that is something we can start doing as she gets older!
Updated Bedtime Routine:
Oakley is 18 months old now and her bedtime routine has changed a little bit! We now do baths in our tub before bed each night. I start the bath about an hour before her projected bedtime and we are usually in the bath / doing lotion and pajamas for about 35-40 minutes. Once she is in her pajamas and hair is brushed, she picks three books and we read those before she gets in her crib. It’s definitely a much longer bedtime routine than when she was a newborn but I absolutely love it because of our unplugged time in the bath together.
Month 14 – 17
A lot has changed since my last update to this blog! Oakley is not 14 months old, down to 1 nap a day, and sleeping 12-13 hours a night! While her sleep routine has certainly changed, a lot of the same principles we have used since she has been born have remained the same. I would like to preface again, I am not a sleep expert. There are many sleep coaches online that you can pay for their services if you feel it to be necessary. Your coach all depends on your personal philosophy when it comes to sleep.
The most important thing when it comes to sleep is that EVERYONE has to be on the same page when it comes to routine, bedtimes, etc. If one parent does one thing and another does another thing, even in the same household, it could take days or even weeks to recalibrate and get back on schedule.
Oakley is still on one nap per day and more often than not, she actually skips her nap.
- If she takes a nap, her routine is typically:
- 6:20 am wake up and reads in her crib until 7 (I will take books to her once she wakes up and turn her light on)
- Lay her down for a nap around 10:30, she falls asleep from 11-12
- Bedtime around 6pm
- If she skips a nap, her routine is typically:
- 6:20 am wake up and reads in her crib until 7 (I will take books to her once she wakes up and turn her light on)
- Lay her down for a nap around 10:30 and quiet time until 11:30 in her crib
- Bedtime around 5pm
I have been using this app since she was about 2 months old (as soon as I discovered it). We pay for the premium version which I think is $40 annually. It gives you the baby’s optimal wake windows, nap time “sweet spot”, and you can log more than just sleep- diapers, food, etc. It is a manual timer but multiple people can be logged into the same app which is great for both parents to be able to log sleep or nanny / babysitter. It gives you weekly and monthly trends as well as an entire graph for the longevity of the use of the app. It is such a vital tool in learning your baby’s sleep schedule. As a premium member, you also can submit a very detailed questionnaire for a sleep consult every few months!
Babies thrive on a routine and schedule, especially at her age. I can almost predict within 15 minutes of when she will wake up based on when she fell asleep. Her nap is then exactly 5 hours after she wakes up and bedtime is exactly 5 hours after she gets up from her nap. She has never been a great napper, most of her naps now are just over one hour long but she is sleeping 12-13 hours a night which is nothing to complain about. Keeping baby on their routine is the best way to prevent an overtired baby and the best way to have predictable sleep.
Oakley thrives with a 5:30 bedtime. Don’t be afraid to put your babies down early, some just prefer it! I am sure it will shift as she gets older but as soon as we realized her early bedtime actually kept her asleep longer, it was an absolute game changer. Especially with the winter coming and the time changing!
Cry it Out?
We do not and have not and will never do “cry it out”. If you do that, I am not here to judge. Based on my research, it’s not something our family will ever participate in. We do not let her cry for longer than 5 minutes in her crib. Fussiness is not the same as crying but I have found that if she cannot calm herself down in under 5 minutes, she needs something- whether it’s a diaper change or a bottle- she is usually asleep within a few minutes after I go in to take care of her. There is a fine line though between going in too much and not going in enough, which is why we have the 5 minute crying rule. Again, whimpers and simply making noise are not the same as crying! Also, don’t be alarmed if your baby doesn’t fall asleep right away. Sometimes it takes Oakley 20-30 minutes of just alone time in her crib before she falls asleep. I don’t fall asleep right away so it’s not realistic to assume my child will either.
Bottles In Crib?
I know there are conflicting viewpoints on bottles or cups in the crib. For me personally, I would get super thirsty if I was sleeping 12-13 hours a night. Sometimes I give her milk before bed and always ensure I brush her teeth after breakfast to prevent any cavities. She is completely off formula now so I will leave a bottle (transitioning away from bottles when she’s 18 months) of water and she goes through 2 bottles of water throughout the night. Again, like I said, I can’t fault her- I would get thirsty too if I was sleeping that much at night.
Avoid Car Time Near Naps
A random tip I have found to be helpful is to avoid car time around the start of nap time or bed time. They never sleep as long as they would in the crib and having a car nap can throw the entire schedule off. Obviously sometime it’s unavoidable but I recommend preventing it as much as you can.
Products We Love:
I also have a full review on many of the products we love above, and that blog can be found here
Additionally, I have her favorite pajamas linked here
It’s also very important to note that if you have sleep concerns, please ask your doctor!