Phoenix-based Yoga Instructor
Before you read on, I just want to be clear that I am not professionally trained, nor do I claim to be an expert. I simply want to share my experience in hopes that you might find some tips that work for you. I applied this method on two children with different personalities and it worked for me.
Consistency is key. In order for this method to stick, it needs to be consistent. This is what creates a natural circadian rhythm for your child. It takes TIME and lots of work in the beginning. If you stick with it, then it will pay off in the end. Sometimes it feels like you are going backwards in progress, and then suddenly your child starts to connect. Expect 1-3 months.
This is about setting a routine and a schedule for your child to create a natural circadian rhythm for their sleeping and eating habits. Ideally, this method can be started from birth. I started at 6 weeks with my first child and found it was a great time for them. I started at birth with my second, but it was just a lose introduction to a pattern.
Sleep props are tools used to soothe your child (rocking, swing, nursing, pacifier, car, vibration, holding) to sleep on a routine basis. Children quickly learn to rely on these habits and it causes challenges down the road in sleeping better.
*Both of my children constantly wanted to suck, so I offered them a pacifier. They sometimes wake when they lose the pacifier and I have to put it in their mouth. Obviously, try not to use this sleep aid if you can avoid (but I did).
Swaddling If your baby is not rolling over yet, swaddling helps mimic the womb. The key to swaddling is a TIGHT swaddle (enough room to slide a finger down) but they really should hardly be able to move their arms. They might FIGHT against the swaddle at first, but stick with it. Soon, they will learn to enjoy the hug of the swaddle. I use the Miracle Blanket because it pins their arms down. My babies got out of most of the other swaddles I tried.
*Swaddle until baby can roll over on their own (3-4 months).
Sleep Environment Creating the exact same sleep environment every time helps signal the baby its sleep time.
Darken the room as much as you can
When it’s time to nap, we do the exact same thing every time.
1. Close blinds
2. Turn on sound machine
3. Change diaper if needed
5. Rock until drowsy (for younger babies)
6. Put to bed
Day Routine The day routine is:
A- Awake time
Y- You Time
Nighttime Routine Once a baby is down for the night, I allow them to wake on their own for feedings. When they fuss, I’ll put a pacifier in and that helps stretch the sleep out maybe another hour. When they cry for hunger, the feed is very quiet and minimal distractions. I use a LED candle as light which keeps the room very dark.
2. Feed on first side until baby is done (usually falls asleep)
4. Diaper change
5. Feed on second side
8. Burp again (swaddling sometimes brings up air bubbles and gassy=fussy)
9. Put back to sleep
Starting a Newborn on a routine
0-4 Weeks Newborns have their own schedule and eating needs. If you can start to get a newborn on a 3 hours eating window, it makes it easier to create a schedule. Sometimes, newborns need to feed more- so follow their cues. As a newborn, they don’t have many self-soothing skills. I would put my babies down when they are pretty much asleep during this time.
During the first few weeks, it’s introducing them to the E.A.S.Y schedule. They usually fall asleep after eating. So, simply burping and trying to play with them a bit. Sometimes they only stay awake 10-15 minutes before going to bed.
There’s not really a “schedule” just more of getting them awake before back to bed and taking full naps.
A sleep cycle is usually 30-45 minutes. A full nap should be 90 minutes. They will usually wake up after 45 mins when they move into light sleep. As a newborn I keep track of the time and the minute they wake up, I soothe them back to sleep. Sometimes they won’t go down, so a swing for second half of nap works well. In a newborn, I’m simply trying to get them used to sleeping in longer stretches. In older babies you’ll notice this 45 minute wake time. Try and let them fuss for a bit. If they cry, then I would help them out and then back to bed for a full nap.
4+ Weeks Babies are usually able to start the drowsy but awake sleeping. They also can go longer between feeds. When babies older than a month are eating every hour or so, it’s called snacking and they aren’t getting full feeds. If you are nursing there is foremilk and hind milk in the breast. Foremilk is clearer and comes out at the beginning of the feed. Hind milk is the higher fat content, thicker milk that comes out towards the end. If your baby is eating often, they may only be getting the foremilk (hence not getting the high fat) and they baby is needing to feed more.
Stretching feeds My first was eating every 60-80 minutes, and was constantly wanting to snack. My breasts were engorged and never got a break. When I started this training at 6 weeks, in order to stretch feedings I would work on stretching it about an additional 15 minutes every 2-3 days until he went 3 hours. When the baby would become fussy at 60 minutes, I would give him to someone else (my mom came into town and helped) and they held the baby off with a pacifier for that additional stretch of time. I had to leave the room and sometimes leave the house. If my baby sensed that I was there or heard me talking, he would cry like crazy. Whenever I left all together he was fine until I came back. I did it gradually, so he wasn’t going hungry. Eventually after a couple days he was a 3 hours and getting FULL feeds, and was happy.
Drowsy but Awake When you put a child to bed, they should be drowsy, but still awake. This allows them to learn to fall asleep on their own. Know that some degree of fussing is normal. Babies will toss, turn, fuss, to help them fall asleep. Allow your child the opportunity to fuss a bit. Learning to understand your baby’s cries helps. If your baby becomes agitated and starts crying, then I usually intervene. I’ll go in, rock until the baby is drowsy again, and restart the process over and over again. Eventually, you won’t have to do this anymore. The baby knows you will support them (they never cry it out) and they slowly learn to sleep.
Sleep Window When babies are tired, they show subtle cues. Rubbing the eyes, looking away, yawning. From this time there is about 3-10 minutes to get the baby down. If the baby is not put to sleep, their cortisol levels raise to wake them back up and they become over tired. This leads to challenges putting baby down as they are tired, but won't sleep. Keep an eye out on your babies sleep cues and get them down in those windows.
0-12 Weeks (3 hour feeding)
7am Wake & Feed
5pm-6pm Catnap (this one sometimes in swing or on walk and newborns might sleep longer)
6pm Cluster Feed
7pm Feed & straight to bed for night
Older babies will drop the catnap, but try to have a newborn up by 6/630 before the bedtime starts.
3 months- 5 months (3 ½ hour feeds)
This is a transition until baby goes 4 hours between feeds
7am- Wake and feed
7p Feed and down for night
4 hour schedule
7am Wake and feed
5p-545 (Maybe catnap for younger)
7p Feed & Bed
8+ Months Eating Solids
7am Wake and feed
630/7p Feed & Down for night
DM me on Instagram @giselewyne with questions!!