Denver finally did it! He slept through the night! I guess you could say that since he slept for 11 hours...too bad he went down at 6:00pm and was ready to start his day by 5:00am. Now all we need to do is push back bedtime a bit...as if this single accomplishment sets a new sleep standard. I guess we'll see over the next few days.
So how did he do it? I searched everywhere and read every tidbit on how to get little ones to sleep through the night. What I learned is that every baby is different...no doy. And although not every strategy met Denver's liking, I did appreciate reading about what other people had tried, whether it was successful or not. I am no expert, and I would hardly call one night a milestone, but I am so excited (and well rested) that I thought I would blog about what works for us...my way of giving back to other new moms, haha.
At first, I thought that if I could keep Denver up most of the day, he would tire out and sleep well at night. WRONG! My mom suggested more regular naps throughout the day, morning, noon, and afternoon. Then our pediatrician told us that "good sleep begets good sleep." In other words, if he rests well during the day, he will rest well at night. She explained that just like we get overtired and buzzy, so do babies.
Around 5 pm Denver gets very cranky. Like I mentioned, I used to try to get him to work through this in an effort to push back his bedtime and tire him out. WRONG! I read about bedtime routines and decided I wanted to start trying our own bedtime routine in the early evening when he is obviously ready for bed. It has definitely eased the crankiness!
I read about a lot of other people's routines and took bits and pieces that work for us. I have to say that our bedtime routine has become my favorite time. It is so calm and relaxing, and it has become a very special time for the two of us.
I start by drawing the curtains in Denver's nursery and I put on Pandora lullabies. Then I lay him on his changing table...it helps that this is by far his most favorite place in the whole world! We talk a little bit as I start to undress him for bed. I change his diaper, wash his face and neck with a warm washcloth. I add a dab of Johnson & Johnson's body wash to keep him fresh and clean. Now that I think about it, I'll probably go buy the bedtime wash. It comes in a purple bottle so maybe it has lavender which is supposed to help you sleep. Noted. Then I put baby powder on him while I give him some baby massages. He loves this. We talk and sing and just enjoy the calmness. I really take my time with all of this because I want him to be relaxed but I am trying to push back his bedtime a little bit, too. I also take this opportunity to brush his teeth. I know it may sound crazy, but we got an infant and toddler oral care kit. It not only cleans his gums, but it massages them for teething and also gets little ones used to brushing their teeth at night. It can't hurt!
Next, we will usually slow dance to a song or two. He loves to dance and it always tires him out. If he's in a really good mood, I can usually get him to sit for a story or two...but this is rare, for now. I think once we sit in the rocker he expects his bottle so a book just annoys him.
So last but not least, I give him a bottle. I usually give him just a little bit more than he is used to drinking throughout the day so that he doesn't wake up hungry too soon. I turn out all of the lights, except for his nightlight and I put on some white noise. I got a great app for my iPhone called Sleep Pillow.
I've tried lots of white noise apps and there are plenty that have a lot more sounds and options, but I like that I can multitask and use other apps (Pinterest) at the same time while he sleeps. He usually falls asleep as soon as he is done with his bottle but I hold him until he is in a deep sleep...otherwise he will wake up as soon as I put him in his crib. I know we need to start sleep training, but that will come. He's already pretty good at putting himself to sleep in his crib in the middle of the night, so I know he'll be able to do it for naps and bedtime when the time comes. Like I said, I truly enjoy letting him fall asleep in my arms. And once he's sleeping, I get to Pin away and look at his gentle sleeping face at the same time! Can life get any better? I submit that it cannot.
I will be thrilled if a full night's sleep becomes more common! I could certainly use it. I hardly had a restful night because I kept waking up anticipating him waking up. The little man sure got me.
The best part of Denver going to sleep is that this is what I get to wake up to in the morning. It's 5 am with poor lighting and blurry, but you get the idea.
FOLLOW UP: I didn't have time to actually post this yesterday but I am happy to report that Denver slept through the night again! And even better news, he pushed back his bedtime by about an hour so he woke up closer to 7 am! Needless to say, I am well rested and very excited about this new chapter...although I'm not expecting it to be this good forever!