In order for your baby to learn healthy sleeping habits, you are going to have to make some sacrifices. At the same time, implementing Babywise does not mean you will never see the light of day until your baby is two years old.
Here is how I prioritize sleep with my babies so we still reap the benefits of Babywise without feeling like we are all held captive to being home so the baby can sleep.
1. When baby is 0-3ish months old, go and do whatever!!! Babies in this age bracket tend to sleep well on-the-go. They will sleep in the car seat, stroller and carrier without missing too much sleep from not being at home in their bed. Take advantage. Go and do as much as you wish when your infant is this young and able to sleep just about anywhere. However, don’t overdo it. You do want to start as you mean to go on and if you are constantly on the go, baby won’t learn to sleep at home in bed! You want balance. Home some days, on the go some days.
2. All three of my babies stopped sleeping well on the go at about the age of 4 months. Four to eight months is pretty “restrictive”, if you want to use that word. At 4 months baby is more aware and won’t fall asleep or stay asleep for the entire nap while on-the-go. During this phase with my babies I do plan to be home for most naps. Considering babies at this age are taking 3-4 naps, that can feel pretty restricting.
3. Take heart though. This season only lasts for….a season. It is not forever! In my personal experience with my babies, being home for naptime during the ages of 4-8 months works best. A baby that doesn’t get adequate sleep in this age bracket is very susceptible to becoming overtired. I try to avoid my babies getting overtired at all costs. I would rather miss a social event than deal with an overtired infant afterwards under most circumstances. That is me though. I know others that take the baby along and are fine to deal with the overtired infant afterwards. I just don’t like going there.
4. To avoid having an overtired infant there are things you can do. A) Opt not to go if it interferes with the baby’s naptime. I have passed up many social opportunities when my babies are 4-8 months old. B) Have someone stay back with the baby. That could be a grandparent, babysitter, or even your spouse. There have been many times when Dave and I divide and conquer when we have a baby 4-8 months old. If the girls have a birthday party at 10am, one of us will take the girls while the other stays home with Sarge so he can take his morning nap. C) If baby must go, take a pack n play, sound machine, black garbage bags and tape! If you are going to someone’s house you could probably easily set up a sleep area for baby while the other kids play. Use the garbage bags to black out any windows. Yes- I have done this and it worked perfectly!
5. When we have a baby in the family, we just know that for the first 18 months or so, we are going to have to work around the baby’s sleep schedule and make sacrifices here and there to avoid baby getting overtired. We are definitely on the more “restrictive” side because we would rather deal with missing out on things than an overtired baby! It’s just a season though! Once baby drops the 3rd nap, the late afternoon and evening are suddenly free. This is the stage we are at now with Sarge. He recently dropped his 3rd nap and now we have from 4:30-7:00pm before he goes to bed to do things as a family! Around 15-18 months toddlers drop their morning nap and then suddenly you have mornings free again. That is when baby’s schedule really opens up and you are reaping the benefits of all those times you prioritized their sleep and sacrificed when your baby was younger. They have developed good sleep habits that will benefit them for a lifetime.
6. Interrupting baby’s sleep is unavoidable at times. Life happens. When baby does get overtired there are things you can do to help them recover from the lost sleep. A) Early Bedtimes! Several nights in a row of early bedtimes once your baby is overtired can really help them recover. 30-60 minutes depending on how overtired they are can really help. B) Early naptimes. Laying them down 15-30 minutes early for naps for a few days can help too. C) Baby may need you to help them sleep while they are overtired. Hold them. Rock them. Use the swing. Give a paci. Don’t hesitate to help them find sleep. An overtired baby NEEDS sleep most of all. Help them get there however you can so they can recover and get back on schedule.
Prioritizing your baby’s sleep during the first year will take some sacrifice on your part, but it is totally worth it. As your baby gets older, their sleep schedule will afford you more flexibility and because you prioritized their sleep when they were little, you will have a child with healthy sleep habits and a whole family that is well rested.
It’s Babywise Friendly Blogging Network week and this week you are going to be able to read many posts about sleep as we are all writing on that topic. Here is the week’s schedule:
- Monday: Valerie at Chronicles of a Babywise Mom
- Tuesday: Shea at The Moses Home
- Tuesday: Stephanie at Giving It Grace
- Wednesday: Brooke at Apffel a Day
- Wednesday: Kimberly at Team Cartwright
- Thursday: Carrie at Wiley Adventures
- Thursday: Emily at The Journey of Parenthood
- Friday: Claire at My Devising
- Friday: Elaine at Faithfully Infertile