Alright, second time or more moms, I see you laughing.
I know that babies are unpredictable and each one is different. There is no way I can fully plan out “Sleep Success”! I did learn a thing or two with Leopold that I plan on using (or not using) this go around.
I’m going to share the ways we totally screwed up, and some of the things that worked, and mold it into my current game plan for this little girl. If anything, maybe I can come back here and read my own post when I’m sleep deprived and desperately searching for sleep tricks.
I’ve also come across some pretty sweet gear that is made just for sleeping purposes! I’m excited to share them with you now, then test them out and come back later to verify or deny their effectiveness.
When Leopold was born, my husband and I were total newbies, as most first time parents are. Sure, I’d worked in childcare for many years, even as a nanny! I was often tasked with putting the youngest baby to sleep because I was ‘better at it’ when I lived with a family in Germany. When I worked at a daycare, I had to get multiple babies or toddlers to take naps all within the same time frame! I had some tricks up my sleeve, but nothing really prepares you for having your own child.
There were many mamas in my favorite ‘due date group’ on Facebook that recommended a vibrating, humming stuffed toy from Fisher Price. They SWORE by it. It really was pretty great, aside from it’s automatic shut off function after 10 minutes. With him sleeping in my room, my brain trained itself not to fall asleep until that last song ended and I could push the button to turn the vibrations/songs on again. I was so nervous that he would wake up if it turned off! We took that elephant (we also have a dog one) toy everywhere for a solid two years!
One of my most memorable mistakes was when Leopold was around 4 or 5 months old. He was waking up around 3am fully alert and ‘wanting to play’ according to my husband. Honestly I should have known better, but when my husband suggested we go with it and just let him play for an hour or so, I went along with it. This only happened for a few exhausting nights until a more seasoned mama hinted at my setting him up for bad habits that I would regret in the future. DUH! I should have realized that sooner!
Leopold was always one for comfort nursing, so he would often wake up 2-3 times a night (on a good night) to nurse. I let him, because usually he would go right back to sleep and I loved the snuggles. This carried on until he was about 15 months old. I nursed him until about a week before he turned two and he had pretty much gotten past night nursing at that point. Our pediatrician said we had no reason to carry on nursing at night beyond 12 months, but I just couldn’t let go!
I truly don’t know what I will do this go around, as far as nursing at night. This is very likely my last baby, so I doubt I’ll do it any differently in that aspect. I suppose it all depends on her level of nursing for comfort and how well she falls back asleep afterward!
When Leopold turned 8 months old, he went through a serious sleep regression. He was waking at least every hour and was miserable to put back to sleep. That’s when we implemented a form of sleep training after much research, that ended up working for us.
This time, I know not to engage Finley when she inevitably wakes up ‘to play’ at weird times. Don’t turn on the light and let her play with toys on the floor, Ayana. YOU KNOW BETTER. Keep the lights low, speak calmly, and give her a chance to go back to sleep.
Another thing I’d like to try and do better is not to rush into the baby’s room at the first sound of stirring. I would like to try and give her a chance to settle herself (which I’m sure will be easier since I have another human to look after this time). With Leopold I’ve always been worried that if I leave him for too long, he will wake himself up more and more. I’m not sure how true that actually is, but I wasn’t willing to test it!
I was also ‘that mom’ that would whisper-yell “You’re gonna wake the BABY!” at anyone who made too much noise. I had become the mom I used to make fun of! That’s another thing I doubt I’ll bother with this time. Because again, I will have a noisy toddler. Baby girl will have to figure out how to sleep through the fanfare.
This time, I have the experience, I have the knowledge, and I have the GEAR. Here are a few things I’ve collected that I think will really help our sleep adventures:
This magical creature is similar to the vibrating/humming elephant we had with Leopold, but SO MUCH BETTER. While it doesn’t vibrate, it hums, replicating sounds similar to those heard in the womb. The bear will shush baby to sleep for 40 minutes when the button is pressed, and then slowly fade away after that time. It then goes into standby mode. If baby wakes up or starts to cry again, the Whisbear will switch back on for an additional 20 minutes. I’m already so relieved that I won’t be waiting for that last song to come on so I can push it back on again. the Whisbear does the work for me so I can get some much needed sleep!
A couple of other cool features surrounding the Whisbear:
There are magnets inside each ‘foot’ that make it so you can attach the Whisbear to a crib, car seat, stroller, etc and take him anywhere! This will be great for travel or use in the car! Each leg and ear is covered in a bright and fun fabric and filled with crinkle sounds that encourage sensory play, when baby is awake. Not to mention the rest of the bear is SUPER soft! Way softer than I expected.
Leopold already seems to be impressed by the functionality of the Whisbear, so I can’t wait to see how it works for Finley!
I didn’t purchase any special swaddles for Leopold when he was tiny. We got a couple that came with velcro and complicated instructions, as well as your classic swaddle blankets. After he was about two weeks old, however, he was NOT a fan of being swaddled up tight. This time, we are totally covered in the swaddle department!
I’ve of course got a couple muslin swaddles, like this one from Saranoni Blankets.
I was sent a couple of great transitional swaddle sack hybrids from Ergopouch. These zip for ease of use! The arm holes button closed so that when baby is ready to sleep with their arms out you can continue using the swaddle. The bottom half is more open to promote proper hip placement. A similar, yet different swaddle that I’m also looking forward to testing out is the Love to Dream Swaddle!
I also received an Ollie Swaddle which I have heard works miracles! I have that one packed in my hospital bag, so I am hoping the rumors are true!
We still have some of Leopold’s old sleep sacks, too. These are great if your child isn’t a fan of being swaddled, but you don’t want them getting cold at night! It’s a safe alternative to having a blanket in the crib.
Lollipop Baby Camera
I love this camera so far so I’m excited to see it in action. It streams right to my phone and can be attached directly to the crib, or to the wall. The picture is pretty good, and you can even play music through the camera!
Co Sleeping Gear
I’m still not sure how all of this will pan out, once baby comes, but I am trying to cover all my bases! I have a Dock A Tot, in case there are nights when she ends up in bed with me (don’t judge, I definitely fell asleep a couple times with Leopold on my chest…this would be a lot safer). I don’t plan on bed sharing, because I know for a fact I won’t be able to sleep. Those early days though? Anything goes. We have the rock n play we used with Leopold, and I’ve also bought an old wooden rocking cradle that I would prefer to use so she can sleep flat on her back. I want her to sleep in our room for a couple of months at least. Leopold only made it two months in our room, so we’ll see!
A good night light
We have the hatch baby rest in Leopold’s room, and I’ve considered getting a second one for Finley, or something similar. I’d like to be able to turn the light on low before I even get in the room. You can do that with the Hatch light! For now, we have a touch lamp that has three settings that works pretty well.
You can be as prepared as humanly possible and still have a baby who doesn’t sleep at all. Or even a baby who sleeps like a dream. Every baby is different! Being prepared does a lot for your peace of mind, however, and I need as much of that as possible!
I remember being in labor with Leopold and thinking “I’m so tired”. Then “Oh my gosh, this is my life now. I’m never going to get good rest again!”
But don’t worry mamas, the sleep will come. It may be a few years down the line, or broken up into random segments, but you will get to rest eventually. Until then, you learn to cope! You will drink coffee and snuggle the cutest babies ever and realize you don’t really need all that much sleep. Right?