Babies are tough and newborns are especially tough. With blow-outs, colic, The Purple Period, breastfeeding woes, etc. etc., it’s practically a guarantee that very little sleep will be had with that beautiful bundle of joy around.
Having a newborn was exceptionally challenging for my husband and I as first time parents. Riley had difficulty latching while breastfeeding, was incredibly fussy all of the time and would nurse 19-21 times a day in her first few months of life. No joke. Thanks iBaby Feed Timer for documenting how little sleep I got in those early days. We later found out Riley had acid reflux and a cow’s milk protein intolerance, both of which likely led to her colic and fussiness.
For the first few months of life, Riley would start her nights sleeping in the Rock ‘n Play Sleeper next to our bed and then she would end up sleeping in bed with me. Her tiny little head cradled upright in my arms. Co-sleeping and bed sharing in particular was something my childless, pregnant self scoffed at. I remember a co-worker asking me if I would bed share when the baby came. Petrified by the thought I immediately retorted “hell no!” and waddled my pregnant self away as fast as I could. My naive, know-it-all self believed if I let my baby sleep with me I’d never get her to sleep in her crib later on.
It’s amazing how everything changes once you have a little one.
As Riley got bigger, I started to tire of waking up with my arm numb. I also realized with her in bed with me, I was never truly sleeping. I was constantly in this strangely aware sleep state. Always in a statue-like sleeping position, I’d sense each breath and movement Riley made. I was always afraid my husband would roll onto her and crush her. Utterly exhausted, I was ready for Riley to sleep in her crib.
For many babies, it is very trying to get them to sleep flat, in their crib. Here’s how I got Riley, a colicky baby with acid reflux to sleep in her crib.
Have a bedtime routine. I would read about this during pregnancy and it was another thing I scoffed at. How could a 2 month old have any awareness of a routine? Guess what? They are more aware than you think and babies thrive on consistency. Our bedtime routine has changed very much as Riley has gotten older but in the early days it was very simple. Our routine consisted of me nursing her, singing to her, putting a “binky” in her mouth and rocking her to sleep in her Rock ‘N Play in our bedroom.
Get your baby used to laying flat. Some babies, especially those with acid reflux hate laying flat. Riley was the anomaly. She loved tummy time but when it came to laying flat she’d fuss. Putting her in a baby gym helped distract her and got her used to laying flat while awake. We used a baby gym that converted to a ball pit for when she was older! See below:
Switch out that Rock ‘N Play for a Pack ‘N Play or Co-sleeper. I used an Arm’s Reach Mini Co-Sleeper and when she got bigger placed a Pack ‘N Play next to our bed. I’d follow our bedtime routine and put her in there to sleep. But she wouldn’t at first. So I did this:
Use a heating pad to warm up your flat sleeping surface. I realized Riley was used to being warm and toasty. The Rock ‘N Play conformed around her little body and made her feel secure. It was more comforting and womb-like than being exposed on a cold, flat surface. While I’d nurse and rock her, I’d have a heating pad warming up the Co-Sleeper to get it nice and comfy. I’d take the heating pad out as I lay her down to sleep. Hoping this is common sense but DO NOT LEAVE THE HEATING PAD IN THE CRIB/CO-SLEEPER/PACK ‘N PLAY/OR WHATEVER WITH YOUR BABY! After a short time I was able to stop using the heating pad and place Riley to sleep directly in the Co-Sleeper.
Start putting your baby down for naps in the crib. Once Riley was used to going to sleep flat in the Co-Sleeper and her Pack ‘N Play, I started to put her down for naps in her crib in her bedroom. This went surprisingly better than I had anticipated. Within a week or so, I was able to put her down in her crib to sleep at night.
It took a few weeks with the steps mentioned above, but Riley was sleeping in her crib by herself at 3 months old! I suppose I should disclaim that these tips are to help get your child to sleep in a crib, not sleep through the night. At 10 months old, Riley still wakes to eat a few times a night but easily falls back asleep in her crib after her feeds. I can’t wait for the day for a full night’s sleep!