Parenting Advice on Sleep

Yesterday, I finally checked in with my friend Dee, who is now on her fifth baby. I trust her quite a bit on everything related to kids, so I wanted to summarize her advice where other people could benefit from it. Here it is:

  • Her kids have had pretty different sleep patterns from each other. One, for example, had a 48-hour schedule where she slept most of the day on one day, then not much at all the next day.
  • What she thinks of as “standard” baby sleep would be a big chunk from around 7pm-8am (waking upf or feedings every few hours) and two or three naps during the day.
  • She thinks travel will mess things up, because babies can sense that they’re not at home and may not like it.
  • Her experience has been that babies have pretty short sleep windows where it’s easy to get them to sleep, and that it’s much harder if you miss them. She hasn’t found the clock to be very helpful in determining when her babies are tired, and she recommended that I watch closely and figure out Lydia’s cues. She said yawning and droopy eyes were late indicators–signs that I’d missed her window.
  • She never wakes up her babies when they’re sleeping.
  • She finds that taking baths with her baby in the evening, including nursing in the bath, have worked quite well to relax her kids, and that white noise from the shower and vacuum worked, and that white noise generators didn’t work for her. (She reported some risk that the baby would poop in the bathtub.)
  • She never had success with baby swings, but said many of her friends did.
  • It has been harder for her to catch the sleep windows in the evenings because she tends to be busier getting dinner together.
  • She thinks that early on, every month gets easier, and reminded me that my current worries would soon be a distant memory. The advantage, she says, of this period, is that I can pretty much go about my normal life while doing baby care. Lydia is, after all, asleep most of the time. She said everything gets more involved around when they start crawling and then walking, but then gets easier the more the kids can actually communicate to us what they want.

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