Blessed Sleep + A Sample 6-12 Month Schedule
Let's talk sleep for a minute--one of my favorite things.
George has started to sleep through the night somewhat regularly (hallelujah and fingers crossed) and I thought I'd share what I've done in the way of sleep for all three babies, who have all started sleeping through the night--which I define as 12 uninterrupted hours--right around 7/8 months. (For me this is pretty good but if you have babies who do this way sooner, feel free to disregard this entire post! You are most blessed.)
I think a huge component of good sleepers is a schedule. Oh, I love a schedule. They work really well and kids can love them too because they like knowing what to expect. I've started with a schedule earlier and earlier with each baby, and had George on a loose schedule starting at two weeks old.
I think it's SO IMPORTANT for kids to be able to self soothe when it's developmentally appropriate. I know that for centuries families shared a bed, and if that works for you and you all sleep well that way, or if you function just fine while sleep deprived then more power to you! I am not one of those people. I need my space, I need my sleep, and I need my adult time at night. Our kids have never slept in bed with us and are promptly placed in their own room within their first month of life (or on day 3 if you sleep like a truck driver).
(*That being said, I always feed my young babies on demand when they wake in the night and don't attempt any kind of sleep training until 6-8 months of life, and only if it's completely necessary. Eloise learned to sleep through the night on her own and George is looking like he's doing the same, and Mimi needed help learning that nighttime isn't for being happy and playing.)
I thought I'd share our 6-12 month old schedule, which is the stage we're currently in.
6-12 MONTH SAMPLE SCHEDULE
7am wake, nurse
8am breakfast (solids)
9am nurse, put down for a nap
11am wake, nurse (this feeding goes away once solids are well-established)
12pm lunch (solids)
2pm nurse, put down for nap
3/3:30pm wake, nurse (this feeding goes away once solids are well-established)
5pm dinner (solids)
7pm nurse, put down for bed
When they're newly sleeping through the night, sometimes this means they wake before 7am due to hunger (or in our case, older siblings who act like feral animals when they wake up), and if they're awake for the day I do get them up if they're fussy, but try not to feed them until 7am because in my unscientific experience, their bodies metabolize to their first feeding. I didn't really learn this until George but it has been huge for us in preventing early morning wakings. If I feed him at 5:45am, this means he'll continue to wake at 5:45 ready for the day. If I feed him at 7am, I'm finding that he gets the picture that his day should start at 7am.
Same goes for naps. If he wakes before the usual end time of his nap, I get him up if he's fussy but try not to feed him until when his nap should have ended. And if he's happy in his crib, and then I let him play until he fusses. All of my babies have learned to love their cribs, and I think leaving them in there for short periods when they're awake and happy helps with this.
Other things that I have found to help with sleep:
putting them in their crib drowsy but awake
swaddling until 4-5 months
pacifier use until 3-6 months
a bedtime routine--ours is a book and a song
no dessert unless it's a special occasion
room sharing with a sibling--built-in comfort
minimal TV and nothing scary or intense
a good noise machine
If you'd like sample schedules that have worked for all three babies at different ages and stages, please let me know because I could talk about sleep schedules ad nauseum! Let me know if you have any questions!