Baby Boot Camp: Sleeping Through the Night

Sona Charaipotra
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Newborn Baby Sleeping
Photo by IamPatSajak
As a new first-time mom -- yes, I'm typing this with one hand -- I'll be exploring the often stressful, always magical first six weeks of little one's life with the scoop on things like car seats, cradle cap, cuddle time, and other newborn issues in CafeMom's Baby Boot Camp.

When little Kavya was just about a month old, my husband and I fell prey to the idea that it was time to establish a bedtime routine. Boy do we feel silly now.

Strong-willed Kavi -- like many a newborn -- had her own ideas about when, where, and how she wanted to sleep. And her sleep pattern (or should I say lack thereof) changed from night to night.

When people would ask whether she was sleeping through the night, we'd reluctantly say no. And with other parents, it almost felt like a competition. But what could we possibly do to win?

We thought a bedtime routine would help baby Kavi fall asleep and stay asleep. Unlike a lot of newborns who reportedly slept a good six to eight hours by the time they were 4 weeks old -- yeah right! -- she didn't care to cooperate. She'd be up every one or two hours to eat, which one mom friend blamed on the fact that I was breastfeeding. "She's not staying full," she explained sagely, suggesting I give her formula at night. Bah!

Another suggested a warm, soothing bedtime bath. Which sort of made sense. Kavi seemed to love her bath, and we'd use that soothing Aveeno nighttime wash and sing songs. It seemed like such an idyllic bedtime setup. But instead of sleeping soundly after her bath, she'd wind up ever so slightly wired. Not what we were aiming for.

Then we thought maybe we needed to settle her down in a quieter environment. We live in a duplex, so in the beginning we had her downstairs until we were ready for bed. Instead, I tried nursing her upstairs and putting her down in the crib to sleep. But she'd wake up wailing about 10 minutes after I headed back downstairs. She didn't want to be left alone. I don't really blame her. So much for that idea.

Here's the thing. I slowly realized that since she was so little, she craved the coziness of nursing until she fell asleep. And sometimes that meant nursing three, four, five, six times a night. Some say that's a no-no, that it spoils your little one and sets up long-term expectations. But whatever. It helped my little one sleep. After all, she was just a newborn, in a big new world, and my husband and I were her only source of comfort and familiarity. Waking up alone would be a scary experience for anyone in that situation, no?

The more I read about it, the more I realized that as much as some new parents might talk up their super-sleeper newborns -- and perhaps they do exist, though not in my household -- Kavi was just a normal newborn, which meant that, yes, we'd be experiencing a few more weeks (or months) of sleepless nights. And that was okay.

Thankfully, now, at nearly 4 months old, she's starting to pull those legendary six- to eight-hour stretches. Yeah, we had to wait a few months, but looking back, I'm glad I got to spend those cuddly nighttime hours with my little one.

Does your newborn sleep through the night -- or even for a few hours straight?

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