Never before released: Meet Abby and get advice on how to prevent and treat the 4-month sleep regression.
And if your baby is like many babies and has a serious case of FOMO, don't panic. Set up a free consult to get some advice and see if coaching is right for your family.
When trying to stretch your baby from every 3 hours or less to every 3 hours or more (ideally every 4 hours) in order to improve your baby's nighttime and daytime sleep, scheduling your baby’s feeding times can be tricky.
Parents often ask about this and it’s top of mind for me right now becauseI am currently dealing with this with my own baby! In a nutshell, prioritize sleep schedules over feeding schedules.
That may mean that you need to feed your baby right before she goes down for a nap. In that case, it’s recommended to move it a few minutes earlier to (hopefully) prevent your baby from falling asleep while eating.
Continue to move the feeds a few minutes further apart each day until you have arrived at your ideal schedule. Once you are there, you can more carefully schedule your baby’s feeding times around her naps.
The most common feeding schedule is 7-11-3-7ish but it doesn’t need to be exact. In the case of this schedule, I would actually recommend that your baby’s final feeding be at 6:30 so that she is in the crib at 7 pm. She’ll then wake up a few minutes before 7, most likely, in order to be ready to eat at about 7.
I generally recommend that babies start their days between 6 and 7 am, but if your family’s schedule would do better with a slightly different schedule for your baby, that’s fine as long as it’s not too different. For example, I would never recommend a 10 am to 10 pm schedule, because that is too different than when daylight and darkness happen (unless you live close to the Arctic Circle, in which case all bets are off).
But for my family, it works best if the baby wakes up at 5:30 am and eats then so that I can work out immediately afterwards, before I am occupied with the other children. This seems to work fine for her for the time being but I may have to adjust it as she grows older. Time will tell.
As they say, the only constant with babies is change!
If you can’t quite believe that your baby could sleep through the night and be on a more predictable daytime schedule… there’s hope for you! Schedule a free consult and let me show you how we can make it happen. Results are guaranteed or your money back.
With Valentina on the way, I ordered some new swaddles to try them out. I was particularly excited to try out one of the arms up swaddles because I had heard folks rave about them.
Well, to my disappointment, it was a huge disappointment for us. Having her arms up near her head meant she kept swatting herself in the face. She barely slept in it at all – her arms kept waking her.
Ultimately I went back to my favorite from my older girls, the Miracle Blanket.
What I like about the Miracle blanket is:
The newborn months pass quickly but when it’s needed, a swaddle is really needed.
Soon we’ll be moving to the Magic Merlin Suit and then the Woolino sleep sack. I’ll post reviews as we do!
Want help getting your new baby sleeping longer stretches, even without sleep training? Set up a free consult and find out how we can get your whole family sleeping better in two weeks or less, guaranteed! (I also work with families of older children.)
7 weeks and 7.3 pounds! She feels so heavy now after starting at 5 pounds and being even lower than that for 2 weeks.
We are getting some social smiles down. Sooooo rewarding! It makes such a difference! Valentina got both her Mexican and American passports in the past two weeks. Little dual citizen! Taking newborn passport photos is a special kind of hell.
Sleep has been better. Only one night waking per night, admittedly a really long one. I feel so lucky my partner has been getting up with her! Sleeping mostly through the night is a total game changer for my mood and energy! I had my first two on my own so this feels truly miraculous.
But then the last few nights we are back to two night wakings again. Long ones, mostly. So my partner was up with her intermittently 12:30-30 and then I had her 3:30-4:30 and 6 am onwards.
I don't feel ready for any kind of sleep training yet and she is no longer eating every 3-4 hours — it’s half as much and twice as often, it seems. But maybe we will try again with that soon.
In case you didn’t catch the news already, I am very (very) pregnant with child #3.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my own newborn sleep plan. I was not a child sleep consultant back when I had my first two children, but I did a ton of reading when my first was an exhausted cranky mess, and learned a lot.
I am hoping to share my journey with #3 – with all it struggles as well as successes – with all of you. So this is my first post with that in mind.
“Juanita” is expected to come via induction at around 37 weeks. At her last check-up, she was in the first percentile for weight. While there is some room for error, given that this was her 5th measurement where she was less than 5%, it’s very very likely that she’ll be very small. Plus three weeks early. Which does make a difference, even if lots of folks say that 37 weeks is full term.
So given all that backstory, and given the uncertainties of pregnancy and childbirth in general, and a high-risk pregnancy (due to her small size) in particular, here is what I am thinking.
Well, this is my plan, anyway. Remembering very little of what it is like to actually have a newborn. Feel free to laugh, either now or later, when it is undoubtedly 100 times more complicated than I expect.
And if this helps anyone else who is pregnant, awesome!
And if you'd like help coming up with your own personalized sleep plan for your child, newborn or otherwise, set up a complimentary sleep consultation ASAP, before I go out on maternity leave!
The American Academy of Pediatrics recently reduced their room sharing recommendations from the first 12 months of life to the first 6 months of life.
This is good news for many parents, as sharing a room with an infant past the early months of life can lead to many night wakings. Now you can sleep well and not feel guilty. Win:win.
But Emily Oster goes a step further in her recent article, New AAP Guidelines on Breastfeeding and Safe Sleep, and says that actually, the evidence the AAP cites says that the risk of SIDS actually drops significantly at four months, not six. Meanwhile, she says, the protective benefit of room sharing is weak.
So she suggests that actually, parents could stop room sharing safely at four months, and lots of evidence she has found says that babies who sleep better at 4 months continue to be better sleepers at 9 months and even at 30 months.
And anecdotally, in my work, I see a huge decrease in the number of night wakings for both parent and child when children are moved to their own bedrooms (or to their siblings’ bedrooms, assuming their siblings are relatively good sleepers).
Of course, Emily Oster is not the AAP and if you want to be extra conservative, go with their recommendations. But I find her arguments quite persuasive.
Parents, it's not to late to finish out 2022 well-rested! Book a complimentary sleep consultation here and find out more. Better sleep is guaranteed.
The American Academy of Pediatrics updated their safe sleep guidelines in July, stating they now recommend that parents share a room – but not a bed – with their infants for at least the first 6 months of life. Previously, the recommendation had been for 12 months.
While the AAP doesn’t state their reason for the change, I suspect it’s because the risk of SIDS drops radically after the first four months, and 90% of deaths occur in the first 6 months of life.
In other words, the risk of SIDS is much, much lower (90% lower) in the second six months of life.
Researchers don’t really know why sharing a room with a parent reduces the risk of SIDS, but hypothesize that perhaps the sounds of other humans in the room prevents the newborn from sleeping too deeply.
It is not known, unfortunately, known if room sharing with siblings provides the same protective benefit.
As a sleep coach, I was very happy to read of the updated recommendations because I almost always recommend not room sharing during sleep training.
Often times, this looks like having one or both parents sleep in the living room, since most of my clients are NYC-based and don’t have guest rooms.
Other times, if the baby is breastfed, we will have the non-breastfeeding parent (if there are two parents) sleep in the bedroom with the baby while the other parent sleeps in the living room. That’s because the smell of breastmilk very close by can make it harder for a baby to sleep through the night. Most of the time, this easily helps the baby sleep a lot more and cry a lot less.
A third option, if there is a sibling in a separate bedroom and the parents are planning to have the children share a room, is to move the baby into the sibling’s bedroom and move the sibling – temporarily – into the parents’ bedroom, into a floor bed. That way the baby can learn to sleep in the bedroom where they will eventually be sleeping every night with a sibling.
This, of course, requires a sibling that is willing to give up their bed for a few nights. But most children like the idea of having “a little nest” (it helps to describe it appealingly!) on the floor of a parent’s bedroom. And young children don’t feel the hard floor the way we adults too, so it shouldnt’ be too uncomfortable. I don't recommend having the older child sleep in the parent's bed, even temporarily, because that can be a hard habit to break!
Once the baby has met the parents’ sleep goals – and the goals should always be set by a parent, not by a sleep coach – the baby can resume roomsharing with either the adults or children in the family.
The AAP still strenuously advises never sharing a bed (or worse, a couch) with an infant.
If you are ready to get some solid sleep again, let's set up a complimentary sleep consultation and get your family sleeping blissfully in two weeks or less, guaranteed.
“Is There A Way To Teach My Newborn How To Be A Great Sleeper So I Don’t Have To Sleep Train Later On?”
This was a question I received from Fatimah, my first client in Saudi Arabia.
She hadn’t sleep trained her older son until he was a year old. At that point, he was waking up seven times a night to nurse. And sleep training him was excruciating.
Now eight-week-old Farris seemed to be following in brother’s footsteps. Fatimah really didn’t want to endure the same nightmare again.
Also, Farris was heavy, and rocking him and nursing him to sleep multiple times a night was really hurting Fatimah’s back. She has almost no time with her older son because Farris seemed to need her all the time, and she was feeling a lot of guilt about that. And of course, she was exhausted from nursing and not-sleeping all night long.
But she didn’t want to do anything that would harm him, of course. So she scheduled a free call with me, and we decided to move forward in a gradual, gentle progression. Neither of us wanted him to cry for long periods of time. Older babies can handle this but newborns aren’t ready for that.
Newborns have immature nervous systems and often need a lot of help falling asleep…. But that doesn’t mean they can’t learn to take over the job.
Here’s some of the strategies we used. None of them involved crying:
Some of the changes she noticed in Farris, “He actually now prefers to fall asleep on his back in his bassinet instead of in my arms. He often wakes up happy now, whereas before, he was really fussy. Sometimes I don’t even realize he has woken up because he wakes up happily, without crying!”
And about herself, “I have so much more energy now that I am sleeping more. I would never have been able to do this on my own. It was scary at first, because I never sleep trained my older son at this age. I am so glad that I could message you with questions, or even just to rant! That really helped.
Farris sleeping independently will make it so much easier for him when I go back to work. I am so excited that his sleep habits will continue to grow and I will never have to sleep train Farris like I did with my older son!
It's also great having some time to relax and connect with my husband in the evenings.
I am so happy I did this!"
If you would like to help gently guide your newborn to better sleep, it is absolutely possible! Better sleep is in your future. Schedule a free chat and let’s get your family the sleep you deserve.
Many new parents think that they have to night wean in order to sleep train.
This is not true! You can maintain night feedings AND sleep train.
Usually, the key issue here is separating sleep and eating.
Once breastfeeding and weight gain is well established, usually by 2 months of age, a breastfed baby should be able to go at least 3-4 hours between feedings at night, if the breastfeeding parent so desires. (Some parents are perfectly happy to breastfeed all night long; this post is not for them.) Check with your child’s pediatric healthcare provider to confirm that weight gain is good and that there are no feeding concerns.
Typically, by this age, the first or second stretch of sleep is the longest and then feedings are more frequent. But they need never be more frequent than every 3 hours during the night, again, as long as weight gain and breastfeeding are going well.
Formula-fed babies should be able to go at least 3-4 hours between feedings as well.
If your baby is feeding more often than this, she is most likely using nursing (or less commonly, bottle feeding) as a way to soothe herself to sleep. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this. The problem is when this interferes with either the baby’s or the parent’s ability to get restful sleep.
You can start by just logging the feedings as they are now, either on paper or in a free app like Huckleberry. If you are breastfeeding, make note during which feedings you feel a letdown or can observe your baby swallowing repeatedly during the feeding. If you are bottle feeding, make a note of which feedings are a substantial volume. If your baby takes, for example, less than one ounce in a particular feeding, you can feel confident that he wasn’t hungry at that time.
Next, pick a target time for the first night feeding. It should be at least 3 hours after bedtime but might be longer if your baby already sleeps a longer stretch.
If your baby wakes up before that target time, use a different method of soothing him back to sleep. Breastfed babies often do better if they are soothed back to sleep by a non-breastfeeding caregiver. Even if the target feeding time arrives but your baby has still not fallen back to sleep, do not feed.
Wait for your baby to fall back to sleep. The next time he wakes after the first target feeding time, promptly go to him and offer a full feeding.
The next target feeding time will be at least 3 hours after the start of the first feeding. Again, if your baby wakes up before that time, use another method of soothing to get her back to sleep. The first time she wakes up after the second target feeding time, go to her promptly and again offer a full feeding.
And so on, if there is a third feeding (or more).
Try, whenever possible, to put your baby down awake after the feeding, but with a young baby, don’t stress unduly about this. Just decoupling feeding from sleeping some of the time will help.
During the day, also work towards putting the baby down awake after feeding when possible, but again, don’t stress unduly about this. Many parents find it helps to feed when the baby first wakes up, rather than right before a nap, to separate feeding from sleeping. If your baby is only for awake for an hour at a time, he shouldn’t need to eat twice during that time.
Taking these steps are a gentle way to gradually work towards improved sleep, especially at night, without doing any forced night weaning or any "crying it out."
If you have questions about how to do this, scheduled a free chat and get your little one gradually on a track towards better sleep.
Life with my first newborn, almost nine years ago now, was often miserable.
She was generally pleasant during the day but by late afternoon, all hell broke loose. She cried for hours. I felt like the worst mother in the world. And I used to be a neonatal ICU nurse! How could it be this hard to comfort my own child?
I sat at my mother’s dining room table with a breastfeeding pillow around my waist and my shirt bunched above Calliope’s bald head, doing my best to wolf down food one-handed.
My mom would take Calliope from time to time and bounce her repeatedly, which calmed Calliope momentarily but then she would cry even harder a few minutes later.
About the time that I was nearing my breaking point with the crying, having not left the house all day, my mother would hand the baby over and chirp cheerfully, “well, I’m getting tired, I think I’m going to go get ready for bed now.”
I frantically swaddled and swayed and nursed and rocked Calliope in her little swing. Nothing seemed to help. I was exhausted. And as a single mother by choice, I didn’t have a partner to turn to. My mother changed diapers and burped Calliope after feedings when she could, but she was a full-time attorney and busy with her own life.
My blog from 2011 says,
Calliope doesn’t seem to have any comfort mechanisms besides nursing. I know they say you can’t overfeed a breastfed baby... but I don’t believe that. If she is eating for reasons other than hunger, to my mind, that’s not necessarily healthy, just like it wouldn’t be healthy at any other age.
However, I still let her nurse whenever she wants to... but when she cries and roots while the nipple is still in her mouth, I feel beyond frustrated and helpless. Clearly she isn’t hungry. But I just don’t know how to help her.
Finally she fell asleep and II left her swinging in the den. I gathered my strength to climb the stairs to my bathroom. And cried in the shower.
I don't know how I can keep going like this. I love her but I can't bear the exhaustion."
Then my friend Catherine, another Brooklyn single mom, told me about a book called The Sleep Whisperer, by Tracy Hogg. She said it helped with her newborn son, Jack, just a few weeks older than Calliope.
I was desperate. And so tired I couldn’t imagine staying awake long enough to read a book. Desperation won out. I didn’t love the author’s tone. It was a bit too colloquial for me -- she addresses her clients as “luv.” But I forgave her for that because the information she shared changed our lives.
I finally understood that I was keeping Calliope awake too long. At just a few weeks old, she should have been awake for only an hour at a time. She should go to bed before she even looked tired, at the first sign of a yawn. And those too-late naps were thus too-short naps... which were absolutely causing the late afternoon witching hour(s).
I promptly put Calliope on Hogg’s EASY routine. EASY stands for Eat, Activity, Sleep, You.
Eat. Rather than letting her eat all the time, and especially before sleep, I only fed her when she first woke up from a nap. I aimed for feeding every three hours. I stopped feeding her to sleep.
Activity. For a newborn, activity was simple. Mostly it was a few minutes lying on her activity mat but other times, it was even less. It turns out that newborns don't need all that much in the way of stimulation. As she got older, this period gradually lengthened out.
Rest. I aimed to put her back to sleep after only an hour awake. If I saw a yawn after only forty-five minutes, I would put her down even sooner. I used four of Harvey Karp’s 5 S’s: swaddling, sucking (a pacifier), swinging and shushing (white noise). Back then, it was acceptable to let babies sleep inclined in swings. Now we know this is a risk factor for SIDS, unfortunately. All babies must be put down to sleep on their backs.
You. The part I lived for. This was time for me. To shower, exercise, call a friend, check email or (less fun) pursue the disability insurance folks. Getting a guaranteed break for myself made all the difference in the world to my emotional health. I never managed to nap but getting time off during the day meant I didn't stay up too late at night, trying to soak up some personal time.
Within a few days of putting Calliope on this schedule, she was a different child. She literally never cried. I could figure out her needs just by glancing at the clock.
It was hard, sometimes, to be so ruled by a schedule... but it was worlds better than hours of crying every afternoon. And I found I could compromise let her nap in the stroller occasionally without suffering the consequences at night.
And with just this routine, including the feeding schedule, Calliope was naturally sleeping 8 hours at a stretch at night without any formal sleep training by 6 weeks old. (The swing might have been an unfair advantage, though!)
I am not exagerating when I say that this schedule saved my sanity. I know I was lucky that she was a good sleeper... but I know it wasn't all luck, since she wasnt' a good sleeper before this schedule changed everything for us.
Moreover, it saved me from having to do any hard sleep training. This method didn't involve any crying at all. (In another post, I'll talk about the sleep training method that got me to 10 hours by 10 weeks. That was even better.)
It's never too soon to instill great sleep habits in your child. I started this schedule on our first day home from the hospital with my younger daughter. I never did any sleep training with her at all. She slept ten hours by ten weeks, too.
If you would like to get your little one on track and aren't sure where to start, schedule a free consult with me and get your life back on track.
Abby Wolfson is a pediatric nurse practitioner, certified child sleep consultant and certified life coach for parents. She divides her time between Brooklyn, NY and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.