I didn't work much on teaching Nora to sleep on her own the first few weeks. This is the norm for me and my new babies. I am mainly just getting the e/w/s pattern down, enjoying snuggling with my baby, and trying to rest. I also can't emotionally handle any possible crying from baby at this point. I have found that helping babies take long naps is really beneficial, even if they are taking them in your arms (the same goes for night sleep). It helps get them into a pattern of spread out eating and sleeping.
Nora was pretty sleepy the first 2-3 weeks. She fell asleep pretty easily in my arms, with or without a pacifier. If I set her down, she almost always stayed asleep for a couple hours. This was amazing! None of my children have done this. I know to very thankful for this, and the fact that she fell asleep easily. Jacob, my 6 year old, literally didn't have a single sleepy day in his life and he never ever fell asleep easily, no matter how may sleep props you used.
After about 2-3 weeks Nora started to have a harder time falling asleep in my arms. She usually had 1-2 sleepy periods a day where she'd fall asleep somewhat easily, and the rest of the time it started to take her up to 45 minutes. She'd be restful and start to fall asleep, but then keep waking up. I decided that it was time to work on having her sleep in her own room since she was obviously starting to get too stimulated by her surroundings to fall asleep in them. Books usually say that babies have to be older to not sleep well wherever, but that has never been the case for my children.
Sleep Plan and Naps
With my newborns I have a general plan of how I'll help them learn to sleep, but I vary it based on how baby responds and on how I am feeling emotionally and physically. I am far from hard core with my methods with a brand new baby. I adjust what I do (and get 'stricter') as baby gets older. Nora has done really well with naps. I swaddle and do white noise. I hold her and pat her back to get her calm (and get extra burps out) then set her down. I hum a sleep song while I do this. Sometimes she just doesn't calm in my arms and I seem to be making her more agitated. If this is the case, I set her down for sleep. I have found that holding babies in situation often ends up prolonging sleep and increases crying overall. Nora will sometimes not cry at all when I set her down to sleep, but most of the time she will cry a bit, usually under a minute. She rarely cries for more than a few minutes, and if she does, I will pick her up and get her calm and lay her back down again or I may offer a pacifier if she seems to just need to suck. If she's not settling well when I check on her after a few minutes, I might hold her the rest of her nap. Like I said, I have no hard and fast rules at this point.
Nora sometimes wakes up part of the way through her naps, but not usually. Most of the time when she wakes up part way, she goes back to sleep on her own after fussing/crying for several seconds. The couple times she hasn't, I have helped her fall back asleep. You can read tips on newborns and sleep on my newborn sleep post.
Out and About
Nora slept super awesome in her carseat the first 2-3 weeks, but then she started having a harder time falling asleep and staying asleep. I try to not have too many naps in the car seat, but it is unavoidable at times. Offering a pacifier helps make car seat naps more possible for her, though.
When Nora was first born, I almost always swaddled her, but if I didn't, she usually still slept OK. Now she has to always be swaddled or she doesn't sleep well. For the first few weeks of her life I used the swaddleme or halo sleepsack swaddle but she started to break out of them at night, so now I use the miracle blanket at night. You can read more about swaddling on this post.
Nora eats about every three hours during day. I have to wake her for most of her feeds. She goes 3-7 hours between feeds at night. She has woken up for more feeds during the day the last few days and eaten every 3-4 hours the last few nights. I think she's in a growth spurt. She nurses from one side right now. All my kids have only eaten off of one side the first 1-3 months until they start to eat more and I start to produce a little less.
Nora usually sleeps in her room for her naps and in my room at night.
At night Nora sleeps 3-7 hours. She was starting to get a little consistent with her sleep patterns at night before this growth spurt started. She falls asleep on her own without a problem about half the time after I feed her at night (followed by a few minutes of burping and rocking). The other half of the time she will wake up when I try to set her down or not even settle well in my arms. I have left her for a few minutes to settle at night, but it 1) hasn't been very effective and 2) I personally can't handle leaving a baby to cry at night at this age. I'm sure night sleep will improve and get more consistent with time so it doesn't worry me too much at this point. Like naps, I find that getting her into the pattern of sleeping during the night after feeds, even if she is falling asleep or staying asleep with my help, is really beneficial for sleep at this age.
I woke Nora to eat every 3 hours at night the first two weeks. I did it this frequently to help keep up my milk supply and to help prevent engorgement and blocked ducts and mastitis. I have a big problem with too much milk early on and frequent feeds are a must for me. I started letting her sleep longer at night after this. You can read tips on newborns and sleep on my newborn sleep post.
Evening fussy period
She has been a bit fussy in the early evening. It isn't terrible and it varies from day to day. If it was my first baby it would probably make me very stressed out (have I ever mentioned what a stress-case I was with my first!). Since it is my fourth, I don't really worry if something I ate caused this, if she got overstimulated, if she's overtired, if it's just fussiness, if she could be sick...you get the gist. I may think of those things for a moment, but it doesn't stress me out like it did with my first baby. I just try various things to soothe her--pat her back or bottom, change positions, offer a pacifier, shush loudly until she calms--and she's pretty easily soothed if I don't let her get too upset. Most of the time I can get her to sleep during this time, but sometimes I can't. If I can't, I don't worry about it and just try to keep her as happy as possible--and turn on a fun show to watch :)
Baby Items I Couldn't Live Without
My Breast Friend - Yes, a silly name, but it's awesome. I have used it with my last three children and LOVE it. It is my top recommended item for breastfeeding mothers. It is about a million times easier to breastfeed with than the boppy (although the boppy has other great uses). I know I sound like an info commercial when I talk about this nursing pillow, but it really is so awesome and was such a life saver for me. You can find it here.
Newman's ointment - This is a prescription nipple cream you can get from you doctor or midwife. It has anti-inflammatory, anti fungal and antibacterial properties. Really helpful to prevent mastitis and to help with sore nipples. I have used this with all four of my babies and it has been very helpful.
Swaddle blanket - I personally prefer and recommend swaddle blankets for babies compared to just a plain blanket because they keep baby swaddled better, and they stay put and out of baby's face better. Like I mentioned above, I prefer the swaddleme, halo swaddle and the miracle blanket.
Muslin Blankets -I keep a muslin blanket in my diaper bag at all times. I use it to nurse, burp baby and I swaddle baby with it if needed when I am away from home.
Snuza baby movement monitor - Nora is the second baby I've used this with. I love it. I wish I had used something like this with all my babies. It totally gives me peace of mind. You can buy it here.
Rock and Play Sleeper - Right now, Nora sleep fine flat in her crib for naps, but she seems to sleep better at night in the rock and play sleeper, especially in the early morning hours.
Pacifier - I started off using the soothie pacifier that they give you in the hospital. Then I moved on to the mam pacifier a couple weeks later because it has always stayed in my children's mouth better.
Costco Baby wipes - I've tried them all, and the costco ones (if you have a membership and can get them) are so much better than most. My family and friends kind of worship these (which happens when you have A LOT of little kids around).
How I'm feeling
I always feel a bit incompetent shortly after having a newborn. I get this feeling that I must be doing lots wrong. It mostly isn't based off of anything I'm actually doing or any results I'm seeing from my baby (a happy baby, a sleeping baby etc), it's just a feeling I get. That I don't like. Who would? I definielty get discouraged when I feel like my baby isn't sleeping perfectly. I think, hey, I should be able to get a baby to sleep pretty awesome, shouldn't I?! Just like I remind all of you, I have to remind myself that it doesn't mean you are doing anything wrong if your baby isn't sleeping great. Many babies simply won't at first without some time and a lot of work. I wrote a post about this once upon a time.
I have felt some baby blues creeping up on me lately. It comes and goes. I had postpartum depression with my first so I am always a little nervous about that, but so far it is just some baby blues. One of my good friends died very suddenly a week before Nora was born, so that has be making me more emotional than I would be otherwise. Especially since I feel like she kind of shaped me (and indirectly this blog) as a mother. When you look at her picture you can just see the love and kindness radiate from her. Life can be so unexpected and hard at times.
My tiredness is catching up to me. My thinking isn't as good as I'd like it to be. Sometimes it feels like I have no memory. Thankfully I know this'll improve somewhat soon. I don't get as much rest as I should. I don't always sleep so good at night because I can't shut off my brain (which is super annoying when you only have a short window of sleep before having to get up for baby again). Life is also busier with more children, especially when you have older ones that have to be places. And especially if you have a little 2 year old named Stella. Stella has special needs and keeps me busy every second with various appointments and therapies. I feel like I haven't had a moment to catch my breath since Nora was born. I would like things to be a bit calmer and, I don't know, simple, but they can't be. I feel frustrated about this at times, but I am trying to accept it. Every baby period has it's own challenges, and this is one of mine right now. I'm sure it'll feel more under control soon. Right now is just a big time of learning to juggle things and accept things as they are.