Just gave my baby boy his first sustenance of the day, he slept right throught from 9pm, so a 5am feeding after a 7-hour-stretch ain't that bad.
And it's off to bed again for me, as I can hear my baby boy's heavy breathing again, sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite.
For those of you who are still reading this after being (mis)directed looking for the first flight schedule out of Penang, sorry!
For those of you who are intrigued and wanna know how train a baby 'sleep through the night' (sttn), read on. Yeah, how to sleep through the night.
This is my experience. I don't claim to be an expert but this is what I have learned as a new mom.
First, sleep training starts from newborn, yeah, the moment you bring him home from the hospital.
This tip of training them young came from my 60-year-old aunt.
My aunt was helping me out during the first month and she is a babysitter/nanny for over 30 years. She took care of me when I was a chubby baby and fast forward 33 years later, she was taking care of my baby boy.
Rule No 1, less 'cuddling'.
Of course you can hold your baby anytime you want but when you see him sleepy (I have a boy so for a general term I'm gonna use 'he' instead of 'she'), learn to read his cues like smaller eyes, puffy lids, keep rubbing his eyes, using his hand to rub his head and face, making sounds like grunting, or in my baby's case, he makes sing-song sounds, you know he is sleepy. Put him down to sleep when he is sleepy but not overtired. If you have a habit of holding him till he sleeps try putting him down before he really fell fast asleep. If you are happy to hold him the whole time he is asleep then I guess you don't need any advice. My aunt said: "babies love to be held. He will sleep for as long as you hold him and you can forget about your toilet breaks, eating and bathing yourself"... Sarcastically said to me during the first month when I couldn't resist holding my newborn for longer than necessary everytime he cries.
How much is longer than necessary? If he is falling asleep in your arms then that is longer than 'necessary'.
My baby started sttn at Month 3. Semi-sttn at Month 2 onwards.
If you don't agree with me, go ahead and let your baby sleep in your arms or on your chest every time. Attachment parenting is another approach in parenting so I won't judge. Read on if you are open to more sharing.
Rule No. 2 - NO need to turn down the volume.
If you turn down the volume of everything including your own voice, then your baby will expect the whole world outside to do so as well or he couldn't fall asleep. Which isn't practical or even possible. Who are you to control the PA system at the mall or say 'sssh' the public chattering away near you when your baby needs to take a nap in his pram?
I am not saying you turn on the tv at full blast or talk and scream at the top of your lungs. Just carry on with life normally. My baby can sleep right through with me and hubby watching a show on the bed and he is in his crib beside us. He can sleep in the living room when we are watching the tv. He can sleep in his pram in a noisy restaurant, usual dining places and of course not dance party or clubs. He can sleep in his car seat while Gangnam style is playing on the radio. You get the drift.
All these started from Month 1. If you follow someone I know and turn down the volume for everything you do around the baby, then tough luck getting him or her to nap anywhere out of the house due to the baby getting used to a controlled environment in order to fall asleep.
Rule 3 - Differentiate Daytime naps and Night sleeps
This one I have also read in sleep training articles written by experts. My aunt always made sure my boy sleeps in a darkened room at night and sleep outside the room anywhere else but the room during the day. This agrees with what the experts say according to what I read up myself. You need to teach them from newborn stage what is day and night. Easier on you who are taking care of them.
Do you need to leave the night light on, up to you. I used to need a night light but now anything goes.
I find that even with the sleep regression that happens a couple of times already in 7 months, this basic that we have ingrained in him helped tremendously.
Oh and another thing, don't let him get used to a single place to nap/sleep. If he is only used to his crib for his nap and sleep, then good luck in making him doze off out of the crib when he is older!
In the first month, my aunt used to place him in a bassinet and push him near to the front door with a grill door, with the dog on a leash nearby, her theory was, "to make him hear the dog barks at the occasional stranger and he can still nap on". All the 'startle reaction' is called Moro reflex that will stop gradually once he is a couple of months old, even if it is all quiet he will still have the Moro reflex, so chill. Or put him on the sofa next to you while you are watching tv and the newborn sleeps away. ALERT: *Don't leave him unattended once he starts rolling over from Month 2 onwards!*
Places my son has slept/napped for his first seven months of his life:
- In my arms (naturally since is is very comfy there), while waiting for his turn to see the doc - this is a no brainer but in moderation please, put him down to sleep if you can once he is semi asleep
- in his crib/bassinet when newborn
- on the sofa of my aunt's house, my mom's house and our own home during the first two months until he could roll over
- on mattress on the floor in the living room
- in the airplane while being carried, another no-brainer cos he was being held. Maybe I should write another article on how to survive flight rides with an infant. He has flown twice so far and going on another flight in a month's time. Flying is the only way to return to my hometown as East and West Malaysia is separated by the South China Sea.
- in a swing, rocker, pram/stroller, all the baby stuff.
- nap on an adult bed (before he could roll over), we don't co-share the bed. We only co-share the bedroom. Sleeping next to each other in our own bed/crib in the same room.
He used to have this Fisher-Price musical seahorse that plays songs for 5 minutes before fading, with a tummy that glows and with waves sound in the background. I'd like to believe that helped too, until the seahorse couldn't play anymore at 5 months plus as the electronic board broke or something and he has learned not to rely too much on it. I only introduced it to him after Month 2 anyway.
Another thing you may consider is the use of a pacifier/dummy. I restrict the use to only when he needs to sleep/nap and not while he is awake/normal times. Sometimes he even refuses it and can fall asleep on his own especially after Month 6. It is very useful when you need a 'snooze button' to buy time for you to visit the toilet when he is stirring and going to start his 'engine' demanding to be fed and you just need to go, so pacifier it is.
Find a natural teat closest to nipple shape if you are Breastfeeding. This is very subjective so up to you. In the first six months of their life babies cannot really self soothe unless they suck and suckle to pacify themselves, so the pacifier is heaven-sent. You know how they fall asleep in your arms while you breast feed them with their little mouths still latched on? Yeah, some moms on the forum says: "human pacifier" = moms.
I bet some may even wonder if this will change beyond Month 7. I shall update this blog post till he gets older than a year okay?
The Azan (dawn prayer call for Muslims) has sounded. It is 5.53 now. 50 minutes have passed and my boys (hubby and baby) are breathing heavily deep in sleep so I shall join them.
Need the rest for the rest of our trip. Happy (early) birthday to me. :)
Pix of hubby holding baby to doze off before putting him down to continue his zzz.