The one thing Daniel and I “screwed up” on with Olivia was her sleep. We were never able to nail down a routine with her when she was a baby, so as a toddler she still needed one of us to sleep with her. Sometimes it took up to an hour for her to sleep and back when I was doing it, I often ended up falling asleep with her instead of working on one of my many business ideas. I don’t necessarily regret this, as it was actually quite sweet to fall asleep with her after a nice end of day chat. Instead of being upset, I just figured we’ll make money later; there’s no rush. Nonetheless, we need some time at the end of the night to work on various tasks, so we knew we would need to work on Chloe’s sleep.
The last four months with Chloe have been such a great learning experience. She was a great sleeper early on in the newborn phase, which I recall Olivia was as well. It was a whole different experience though, because now we knew not to wake Chloe up, whereas with Olivia we were frazzled first time parents who worried she was sleeping too much and always woke her up to eat at the 3 hour mark. Around the 8 week mark, when sleep didn’t come as easily to Chloe, I took the Taking Cara Babies sleep course and learned so much. I bought the Ollie swaddle and it made such a difference because with Olivia, if she protested a nap, we assumed she didn’t want to sleep and gave up trying. Now that I learned to swaddle Chloe and read her sleepy cues, I realized her protest was just her fighting falling asleep, but not sleeping itself. It’s fascinating to learn that all babies know how to fall asleep, but need to feel safe enough to do so because back in our hunter-gatherer days, babies got eaten if they were left alone to sleep. The swaddle, pacifier, and Cara’s advice were super helpful for the next month and a half, but since last week Chloe’s been going through a sleep regression (from eating once a night to twice to three times last night!). She’s been showing interest in rolling as well, so I figured it was time to ditch the swaddle.
Since Olivia was not a swaddle baby, I didn’t really know how to transition out of the swaddle, but I had occasionally practiced putting Chloe down for naps without it, so I knew she was capable. I officially transitioned her to her sleep sack two nights ago and she has been fine with it. She had been very squirmy in her swaddle in the last days so I’m sure she’s happy to be out of it too. What surprised me tonight was that Chloe didn’t even need her pacifier tonight to go to sleep.
Last week I ready a book called The Happy Sleeper and it taught me the sleep wave method. I was planning to do that with Chloe when she turns 5 months, but if she’s able to keep up her current sleeping skills, I might not have to! For tonight, we just did our typical bedtime routine of eat, change diapers, change into PJs, warm towel wipe down, a song, and then put on the sleep sack. I put Chloe down in her crib and tried to give her the pacifier, but she didn’t want it. I left the room after saying good night and hung out in my office next door. Usually I have to go in once, twice, or a couple of times before she falls asleep to replace the pacifier. Tonight I just listened for an actual cry (she was whining a bit) but it never came. I learned from the book to trust my baby can self soothe and to give her time and space to learn to do it, and I’m really glad it worked, at least for tonight.
Being a second time mom is really interesting because I have perspective from my experience with Olivia. I’ve learned to discern my baby’s cries instead of being anti- any type of crying at all. I feel terrible for messing up Olivia’s sleep, but she has been doing so much better this week too, after I told my husband about the reverse sleep wave method the book suggested to help mitigate sleep issues with a toddler. As of this week Olivia no longer needs him to lay next to her to sleep (!) and it takes her about 20 minutes of alone time to fall asleep. I am so proud of her, so grateful for The Happy Sleeper book, so grateful for the newsletter that recommended that book to me, and thankful for Chloe as well, because we never would have been pushed to improve our sleep game if not for the necessity as a family of four.