Today I am sharing our sleep journey with Otis. Let me start by saying that so many of you requested this post and as always, I am sharing our journey with Otis, how his sleep evolved and what worked for us. Each of our little babies are so different so keep in mind what works for one baby and mama doesn’t work for another. Otis has always been a pretty good sleeper from the beginning. I think it is a combination of him just being a good little sleeper and the fact that we were pretty consistent creating good sleep habits from very early on. Otis is 3.5 months in these photos!
Creating a bedtime routine
So this might sound a bit intimidating but it’s as easy as just doing a few things to set the mood for sleep. We would dim the lights 1 hour before bedtime, diaper change, swaddle, read a book, offer pacifier, and soothe him before laying him down to go to sleep at night. You might think creating a routine is silly but I think was super helpful since newborns don’t know day from night sleep and this was pretty helpful to regulate his internal clock to the “real world” outside the womb. I will also be honest with you, some nights, we would not read the book, some night you forget to turn the lights down. That is ok! You do your best to be as consistent as you can.
Read a book: It’s amazing how much little ones soak up visually and just listening to our voices. It also creates some great family time for all of us to sit together and enjoy this moment in the evening.
Swaddle: I can’t tell you how much we loved swaddling Otis. At first, they fight it, big time. I feel like most babies fight the swaddle and but in the end, it helps them to calm down and keep their little arms from waking them up because of the startle reflex. This was also a great step in our sleep routines. The swaddle would signify sleep. Our favorite was from Ollie.
Turn off the lights: Since Otis was sleeping in multiple places when he was a tiny newborn, no matter what room we were in, if it was night time sleep we would dim the lights.
Use white noise: For most naps during the day, if he was not in his snoo, we used this hushh portable noise machine. If he was napping while we were out in his car seat we would also use this sound machine. We own of two of them and always keep the second one charged. For night sleep, the Snoo has built in white noise so we used just that while he was in there. Once Otis moved to his crib, we use the hatch nightlight sound machine. The white noise works so well to sooth him, set the mood for sleep, and keep him sleeping.
Use the pacifier: Otis has always soothed himself through sucking so the pacifier has been a really great tool for us (I am not looking forward to the day we have to get rid of it!). When he was little we used the wubbanub but found it would easily fall out of his mouth and we had to keep replacing it. We eventually started using the avent pacifiers and they stayed in his mouth much better.
Places to Sleep
SNOO: I get so many questions to this day on whether the Snoo was worth the money. After fully using it and transitioning out of it, I would 500% recommend this to a new mama that is on the fence about it! We used the Snoo mostly at night until he got a bit older to start him doing naps. Since Otis was a houdini escape artist with his arms, we always double swaddled him. Meaning we would swaddle him in our Ollie swaddle and then put him in the Snoo sack that attaches into the Snoo. This was a game changer once we started doing this. To put him to sleep the key to success was making sure he was a little bit sleepy, but not totally asleep before putting him in. We put limits on our motions so that it would not go over level 2. We had a rough patch with the Snoo between months 1 and 2 because we were still figuring out how to put Otis to sleep. Once we tried all the tips I explained above, we had success with the Snoo. And then, our night time sleep got AMAZING. All of a sudden one day, I woke up and it had been 6 hours since my last feed. It was a game changer!! I think the other key thing for me was that he was strapped safely on his back so there was never a moment I had to worry about his safety during those hard nights of no sleep. The Snoo is pretty pricey but in my opinion it’s worth every penny if you are able to budget for it. I also love that they just started doing Snoo rentals to make it more affordable and accessible.
Dockatot: I loved the dockatot. It was easy to move it from room to room for naps and even nighttime sleep. On hard nights where Otis was not taking to the Snoo, we would use the dockatot either inside the Snoo bassinet (turned off of course) or on the bed in between us. We tried to not use it in bed at night and mostly just for the last stretch of nap in the morning. What is so great is that it created a really safe barrier around him and kept him nice and cozy and still safely on his back for sleep. So if you are looking for a good co-sleeping solution to keep baby safe, great place for naps, or place for baby to “hang out in” the dockatot would really fit that bill for you. The dockatot came in handy also for traveling. Since he was used to hanging out and napping in it, we could easily bring it to hotels with us and put it in the crib and he would sleep no problem.
Fisher Price Auto Rock n’ Play: This was also another game changer sleep option for Otis. He loved sleeping in this and it was also easy to move from room to room. We used this mostly for naps. We also used this for nighttime sleep right next to our bed when Otis went through his initial tough period with the Snoo. As parents your start getting creative finding ways to help your baby to sleep and this came in handy so many times.
Baby Carriers: Solly Baby, BabyBjorn One Carrier, Colugo were my favorite carriers for baby wearing naps. I used the solly a lot around the house when Otis was a newborn. It was just so soft and light and it didn’t take me very long to get a hang of the wrap job. The BabyBjorn was one of my friend adjustable carriers and it was such a game changer when we were out and about especially when we had a few weekend trips. So nice to keep baby close and not have to worry about re-wrapping my wrap when I am out and about. A newer carrier I am loving is the Colugo carrier. It’s pretty lightweight which is super appealing to me and snaps together just as quickly as the babybjorn. Basically we have a bunch of carriers in our house an alot of time we have one adjusted for Blake and one adjusted for me.
Other Sleep Tools
TakingCaraBabies Sleep Course: Being a first time mom, I had no idea what I was doing!! And I am someone that loves to research and read to learn anything and everything I can. I had heard such great things about Cara’s course and decided it was worth it to invest in her newborn course. It was a set of videos as well as a pdf and it gave lots of great tips on setting up good sleep practices for a newborn but without being too rigid and plenty of room for flexibility. Even if you don’t take any of her courses, she gives alot of great tips on her instagram account here. Blake and I actually watched all the videos together (during our many sleepless nights) and it really helped us to be on the same page taking care of Otis and coming up with a plan together.
Otis Sleep Schedule
For the first month, there was no schedule. There would be cluster feeds, shorts cat naps. Nothing is set in stone. It’s a bit of a roller coaster that you just have to ride to figure out what your little one needs. While it was unpredictable, Otis did start to get on his own schedule pretty early on after the first month. He was pretty consistently eating every 3 hours so in turn he was also sleeping consistently. The most important things was to watch his wake windows to ensure he stayed awake long enough but not let him get over tired. You can look up what your proper wake window of time needs to be from the start of your feed to when they nap based on the babies age. When they are newborns they aren’t awake for very long and as they get older they stay awake for much longer. This was a big key in getting him to nap and sleep easier. An overtired fussy baby is not easy to put to bed. No fun for anyone.
It was around 2 months that Otis started to sleep 6-8 hours stretches at night in the Snoo and it was the most game changer thing to happen!!! When you are used to only having 3 hours (or less) between feedings when that time doubles and you get to sleep a little bit longer, things just get amazing. You start to finally feel like a new person!! It’s during this time where we started to create some schedules to loosely stick to. We picked 8PM as bedtime and would put him to sleep around then for his bedtime sleep and then we would wake him for a dream feed before 11PM. A dream feed is basically a feeding that is supposed to be given to baby without really waking them up. But more realistically this feeding aligns babies longest chunk of sleep with our own. So we would always go to sleep after Otis had his dream feed. This dream feed worked great for Otis. Once 3 months hit, Otis was in a pretty good schedule. We continued to keep an 8pm bedtime and 7am wake up time.
Below is what his typical day looks like at 3 and at 5 Months. Keep in mind, this is flexible and it never stays on track. But we really try to keep 7AM a hard wake up time. For instance, if he is up at 6:30AM and in his crib chatting and hanging out, we leave him in there until 7 and then go in and wake him up to really reinforce that wake up time for him. Sometimes if he’s too fussy or really hungry we don’t have a choice and have to go get him earlier but we do our best to stick to that.
OTIS 3 MONTH Sleep + Feed Schedule
Wake + Feed #1: 7AM
Nap #1: 8:30-9:00AM
Feed #2: 10AM
Nap #2: 12PM
Feed #3: 1PM
Nap #3: 3PM
Feed #4: 4PM
Nap #4: 6PM
Feed #5: 7PM
Dream feed: 10:30PM
OTIS 5 MONTH Sleep + Feed Schedule
Wake + Feed #1: 7AM
Nap #1: 8:30-9:00AM
Feed #2: 10AM
Nap #2: 12PM
Feed #3: 1PM
Nap #3: 3PM (sometimes this nap gets skipped and he stays awake)
Feed #4: 4PM
Nap #4: 6PM (this is usually a quick cat nap)
Feed #5: 7PM
As far as naps go currently for our little 5 Month old, we are still figuring out what works for him. He is skipping the 3PM nap a lot but usually always needs a nap before bedtime so he is not extremely overtired. Will report back on his nap schedule once it gets a bit more regular for him.
Transitioning out of Swaddle
Otis started rolling over (from back to front) at 3 months and then fully rolling both directions (front to back and back to front) at 4 months. That meant one thing… it was time to transition out of the swaddle. I WAS SO SAD!! I came to love the comfort the swaddle gave Otis but once they are rolling it’s time to free their arms so they are able to roll freely in their crib. So around 3 months we started to transition him out.
Since Otis was still sleeping in his snoo, we realized that the medium sized snoo sacks have little snaps at the shoulders so you can swaddle them with their arms out. We started by transitioning Otis to 1 arm out during this night sleep. The best time to test this out is at night when baby is at their sleepiest. So we tried one arm out. It was kind of a disaster. Having his arm out just woke up him and he quickly woke a few hours after going to sleep. So once he woke up, we fully swaddled him again until the morning. Each night, we would swaddle him with 1 arm out and see how long he could sleep before having to swaddle him completely again. This is an easy way to test out the waters and get them used to it slowly. We tried the cold turkey method and it just was NOT for us. He acclimated a lot faster than I would have thought given how rocky the first few days were. After about a week he was sleeping normally again with 1 arm out and we even tried naps with 1 arm out once he was sleeping well at night.
After 1 week, we decided to go for it with 2 arms out of the swaddle. The great thing was that he was still being “hugged” by the sack but his arms were free. Took him only a few days to adjust to 2 arms out of the swaddle. This weaning off the swaddle really worked for Otis. Slow and steady and letting him lead the way.
Transitioning from bassinet (Snoo) to Crib
This process scared the living shit out of me. At this point, Otis was still sleeping in his snoo in our bedroom right next to our bed. The idea of moving him out of the snoo AND out of our bedroom just broke my heart. My little man!!!! I wanted him close but honestly it was time for him to be in his crib with his rolling I had to man up and get him prepared for that.
Since he was already used to sleeping arms out in the snoo, I decided to make sure he would be comfortable in his crib to test out some naps in the crib wearing a sleep sack. The sleep sack I sleep him in is from halosleep and I love that it still swaddles his upper body because otherwise he pulls and chews the extra fabric. We monitored him closely over our baby monitor to make sure he was ok rolling in this crib and comfortable in his sleep sack during his daytime naps. Of course there is a learning curve with each new transition but Otis was doing great. After about a week of naps, we were ready to make the jump.
We moved the snoo from our bedroom into his nursery to make the first transition. We let him sleep in his snoo for 2 nights and then decided since his sleep was the same, we would move him to his crib on night 3. I WAS SO NERVOUS. I don’t think Blake and I slept a wink that night. Going from the safety of being clipped into the sides of the snoo to free roaming in a swaddle in this giant crib intimidated me but our little Oats was ready.
On night 3 we laid him to sleep in his crib wearing his sleep sack, closed the door, and hoped for the best. Our eyes were peeled on our monitors all night. I am a bit overboard here and we use both the Nanit (which we have mounted on the corner of our crib until he is standing in crib) and then we have a Nest Cam in the corner of the room that shows the whole nursery. So we were able to check multiple angles of him in the crib. Like I said… overboard. But, you do what you feel comfortable with. I think the scariest thing once they start to roll is that they start to sleep on their stomach and you just worry about whether they can breathe. Blake and I would go in just to put our hands on his back to make sure he was breathing some nights. Also sometimes he would get onto his stomach and just get so frustrated that we would have to still help him roll back over even though he was totally capable of doing it on his own. So there was a transition here of making sure to give him the help when he needed it. He really got the swing of things within a week of transitioning him into the crib. I AM SO PROUD. It’s amazing how these milestones just creep up and all of a sudden, you have this grown up baby, sleeping in their own room. At first, I was so sad… the empty spot where the snoo sat next to my bed, the empty dresser where our changing station used to be. But then Blake reminded me, “Our little Oats is growing up! It’s a time to celebrate his achievements.” He was so right. I am one to get overly sentimental during these changes but he always puts things into perspective that these developments just mean we have a healthy and happy man that is growing and changing and that is a beautiful thing.
Overall, these transitions went pretty well for us. But don’t let that fool you. We still had nights where we woke up multiple times to pop in his paci, roll him over, or help him. Baby sleep is a rollercoaster of ups and downs but I do have to say that Otis is a great little sleeper.
The 4 Month Sleep Regression… that never really happened?
So the 4 month sleep regression is a REAL thing. The stories I have heard from some moms… it’s tough on both baby and parents. I think because we were going through so many changes with getting out of the swaddle, getting out of the bassinet, and moving him into his crib that for me, it didn’t seem he regressed with night time sleep at all.
Where I did see a regression was with naps! He was always a great napper until about this time. Even now at 5 months naps are a new challenge for us and we are still learning what he needs. When I say he regressed with naps, he just lost his consistency with them. He used to take nice long naps until this regression and then they became much shorter, he would skip some, and it just made for an overall cranky bedtime since by the end of the day he was really exhausted from the missed nap time. Now that he has hit 5 months, I feel we are getting closer to knowing how many naps he needs during a day and to make sure to watch his sleep cues. Basically his awake windows are much longer now since he is older so it’s important for us to keep him up longer but to also recognize when he is on the edge of being tired but not overtired. I look for his yawns, rubbing his eyes, heavy eyes and his behavior and mood. So we are getting back on track with naps and of course will give you all our experience once we have it figured out!
Weaning the dream feed
I get a lot of questions about whether Otis sleeps through the night, which he does! (OTIS YOU ARE AN ANGEL!!!) I was still doing the dream feed through month 4. At this point, I was waking my baby who was dead asleep to give him his dream feed. I mean out. Like I really needed to coax him to wake up to feed him. So one day I thought to myself, what if I don’t wake him up for his dream feed? Will he still sleep till 7am?? I thought it was time to experiment.
My thoughts here was that if he truly needed that 6th feeding of the day, he would eventually wake up again (about 3 hours after his last feeding) and be cranky because he was hungry and needed to eat. So one night I just let him sleep and cut out the dream feed and pumped milk instead. And guess what? HE SLEPT TILL 7am. I decided that it was important to give this a few nights to make sure he wasn’t waking up looking for that additional meal. After 3 nights, he was still sleeping through the night so we decided to fully drop the dream feed. I also eventually dropped the dream pump as well. Because more sleep was key. By the end of the day, even though Otis is sleeping through the night, I am still exhausted and sometimes try to go to sleep when Otis does. Or I pass out on the couch often. Mom life right!?!? It’s nice to be one less feed a day. I just need to watch my boobs since I am SUPER full in the morning now.
Soothing Baby to Sleep
So at this point, we haven’t started sleep training Otis officially. But, we have been practicing good sleep practices since birth so I think it’s all helped him on the way to being a good little sleeper. We noticed that Otis would soothe himself to sleep pretty easily so once we noticed that, we tried to keep encouraging it by putting him in crib awake, offering his pacifier, putting our hand on his chest with a little love, and then leaving the room immediately. It’s amazing to see that sometimes he just puts himself right to sleep. There are other times that we need to go in, quickly replace his pacifier, and then quickly leave the room. We try to keep our intervening to a minimal.
We try not to rock him to sleep in our arms unless he’s unusually fussy. I think with all the transitions with learning to wear his helmet and going through leaps and growth spurts that we have been having to rock him a bit more recently but overall, we try to let him put himself to sleep. Like I said, we haven’t started any formal sleep training yet but when we do, I will let you know how it goes! I think having the patience to sit through a crying baby is really hard. But it’s clear that he can put himself to sleep. A lot of times in the night, he will sleep cry and even if you go check in, his eyes are completely shut and he cries out in his sleep and then goes back to bed. I didn’t know that baby can “sleep cry” but it’s a thing! Wild.
That’s all for now. I feel like we are constantly learning and evolving as parents and what our little ones need and I will keep you posted as we move into the months ahead. Feel free to leave any questions on this blog post and I will be happy to answer or update the blog post to reflect them.