Keeping a Sleep Log


Keeping a sleep log is a great way to make sleep problem solving much easier and faster. It allows you to look over the patterns of the last several days to determine what needs to be changed and what should be kept the same. Why the last several days and not just a day or two? Short term success may be a fluke and not an actual
success at all (i.e. baby slept longer than normal one night because he was way overtired, not because he was on a good routine) and actual success may be so small that you wouldn't notice it if you didn't have a log to refer to.

If you're like me, at first keeping a log seems like extra work and you figure you will just keep track of things in your head. But then you realize you don't function like a computer, especially in your sleep deprived state! Writing things down really does make it easier. I suggest making some sort of excel sheet (that you either keep on the computer or print up) to make things easier for you. As time goes by you will have much less things to keep track of and may be able to throw out your pencil and paper and keep track of things in your head.


I have to throw in one warning here. Don't get obsessed with keeping track of things. You are doing this to help you and your baby out. If the opposite is happening then it is time to re-evaluate what you are keeping track of and how much time you are spending evaluating things. As a new mom it can be pretty easy to get carried away with things. I know, I've been there!


When to keep it:

A sleep log is going to be especially important the first few months since baby goes through so many changes with naps and waketimes. It will also be important during other times baby's sleep schedule is changing or is likely to change.

If you can't keep track of baby's normal sleep routine in your head during stable times then it will probably be a good idea to write this down too so that you will know what "normal" to return to if things get off track for whatever reason (illness, trip etc.).


What to keep track of:

You can keep track of anything that is of interest to you, sleep being just one of those things. Here are a few suggestions of things to keep track of:
  • waketime length
  • waketime activities since this may make baby more or less worn out
  • how baby went down for a nap (did he cry or fuss, etc.)
  • sleep cues
  • when baby went down for a nap and when he actually fell asleep
  • how long was nap
  • when baby woke at night, for how long and what you did (feed, pacifier etc.)
  • feeding times and lengths/amounts
  • wet and poopie diapers
  • child's disposition (since sleep and waketimes affect this so much)
  • mom's diet (if breastfeeding) and baby's disposition if baby seems to be upset with something mom is eating

What Next?

I like to write a little summary of the night each morning (number of awakenings, sleep span lengths, total sleep, etc.) and a summary of the day each evening. This way I can look over a whole week or so with much more ease. I admit that I've had times when I felt a wee bit lazy and didn't do my daily summaries. What I ended up with was pages of information that were so overwhelming to look through that I had a hard time figuring anything out. So anyway, that is why I suggest a daily summary. Not just because I want you to do even more writing :)

Another useful tool that I haven't personally used but have heard about is the Itzbeen Baby Care Timer. It helps you keep track of diaper changes, feeds, naps etc on a sort of high-tech timer.

2 comments :

  1. The What to Expect Baby Tracker app for the iPhone also makes keeping track of sleeping, feeding and diaper changes easy. I use it at the moment because my little boy went from being a great sleeper at night and day when a newborn, to a horrible day napper and is constantly night waking.

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  2. Jules, thanks for that helpful info!

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