My goal is to get Ava to sleep 14 hours per day. In fact, this is what she's doing right now as I write this blog post, getting her afternoon nap. I was concerned about her sleep when we Ava moved out of the newborn nursery into the older baby nursery at 6-months. Her naps at daycare were often disrupted by a loud cry or a group of babies playing. My daycare has been great about working with her to give her a little rocking or stroking her head to coax her back to sleep if needed. They follow a schedule and turn out the lights and to help the babies sleepy. It's taken some weeks, but Ava has been doing great. I read a really good book early on called the No Cry Sleep Solution (check out this link for resources at tools for sleep), which points out that day sleep affects night sleep. So the if the baby isn't resting throughout the day, then it will make them over-tired and it will be difficult to sleep at night. The author talks about creating a predictable nightly routine that the baby or toddler can experience very night. This really works for us. I loved the author's approach because the cry-it-out method is so counter-intuitive for me as a mother.
Sleep is ultra important for a baby's brain development and to help keep up with their rapid growth. At 8-months old, my goal is to get her to sleep a total of 14 hours per day. Ava's night sleep is around 10 1/2 hours per night and day sleep is about 3 1/2. With that said, it's very unrealistic to expect a small baby to sleep 10 1/2 hours or more at a stretch without waking up to nurse or feed. This is especially the case for breastfed babies since breastmilk is easily digestible and they need to nurse often.
In Ava's case, she goes to sleep for the night between 8:30 and 9:00pm and wakes up around 6:30am or 7am (maybe 8am, too!). But she wakes up to nurse around 3 - 5am. Sometimes we're nursing twice in a stretch, but it's fine with us because she sleeps in her cosleeper bed next to me. I pull her into bed and she starts nursing and we both fall back asleep easily. Cosleeping has amazing advantages because it helps us BOTH get more sleep. Since she's nursing, it extends her sleep longer and it's restful for all of us for her to nurse in bed. As a full-time working mom, getting better sleep for all of us is my top concern. The bonus part is that night nursing also helps keep a healthy milk supply because moms produce more volume of milk overnight due to the hormone levels. Moms and babies cosleeping together does amazing things, including keeping the baby secure and comforted to sleep longer. Mother nature is fascinating!
As a cosleeping baby you might think she won't sleep by herself. On the contrary, Ava is flexible to sleep in a crib at daycare. Now that she's gotten used to the nap schedule and the noises in the room with the other 11 babies, Ava sleeps about 2 to 2 1/2 hours there and another nap at home before bed. To help keep her comfortable, I bring a thin receiving blanket from home with my scent on it so she can lay on that and smell that instead of the daycare crib sheet, which they change daily in her crib.
Our nighttime routine...Ava is a cluster feeding baby. When I arrive at daycare, we nurse there. And in the evening, she nurses a lot to catch up from the separation. At home before bed, she nurses a lot at night. We start winding down about 8pm. I take a shower and she's with me in the bathroom chilling out. Then I put her last diaper for the night and we read a book together. She says goodnight to Daddy and they have laughs and kisses. Then she nurses for the last time and falls asleep. Yep, she falls asleep nursing. I know in the mainstream parenting information, that's "bad," but at least for my baby, she sleeps so well at night usually 6-7 hours before waking to nurse, then going right back to sleep. My pediatrician is flexible and supportive, which I love. Lots of pediatricians tell parents, to have their baby fall asleep on their own by putting them to bed drowsy. Maybe I'm lucky, but it's working for us.
When she's at daycare for 5 hours, she typically takes one 3-oz bottle or a full 10-hour day she'll take three 3-oz bottles for a total of 9-oz. She prefers to nurse when we're together. At my nursing mothers group, La Leche League, we've talked about the general rule of thumb is that a baby needs about 1oz per hour that the mom and baby are separated of expressed milk. Also, according to the LLL Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, most breastfed babies take 2-4oz of human milk in a bottle when separated from their mom. At daycare, Ava's caregivers were a little concerned because compared to the other babies she took so little in each bottle. But Ava is the only breastfed baby in the room so I shared this info and they felt better.
I loved this post by my friend, Jill, about cosleeping being seen by the mainstream as a "Bad Habit." Well said!
Well, gotta run, Ava is stirring and is starting to wake up from her 2 hour nap! I hope you all sleep well, too!