Hazel was a terrible sleeper for the first 1.5 years of her life. Well...to be honest...she's still not great but the nights where she woke up every 90 minutes are behind us.
When you're sleep deprived you will kinda do or buy anything to improve the situation. As such we ran through about a hundred swaddles, a handful of noise machines, rockers, sings...a small fortune for the distant hope of a 6 hour stretch of uninterrupted slumber.
Of course, hardly anything worked but there were a few things that made, shall we say, incremental improvements to our family's collective well-being.
Every kid is different, but here's what helped us take back the night.
#1 Noise...Glorious Noise
The theory is the womb is a super noisy place. Kind of like being underwater in pool. Actually, pretty much exactly like that. If the first ten months of your kids life is in a noise environment it stands to reason that noise would give them comfort once they've escaped mom's belly. Which is of course why new parents have all sorts of noise machines throughout the house.
Our favorite noise machine, by a mile, was the Marpac Dohm:
The Dohm is mechanical. That means you won't be staying up at night waiting for a recorded static loop to repeat. And trust me, that's absolute torture. Instead it has a very natural sound. It's soothing and the closest thing we found to that low, swooshing background noise that babies seem to like.
It's a little pricy (usually less than $50) but totally worth it.
#2 The Uncomplicated Swaddle
We ran through a ton of swaddles. At first we started off doing it manually with a swaddle cloth. I thought I was a pro after successfully swaddling a doll in our parenting class. But let me tell you...wrapping a real live baby is a wee bit different experience.
When the kid is moving and thrashing your perfect folds don't come out so hot.
At some point we gave up on traditional methods and went with the Miracle Blanket:
Let's be clear - this wasn't exactly a miracle - but it did cut crucial minutes off of our bedtime prep and Hazel was much less frustrated by the process.
It's just plain simple and it basically works every time. Plus, the fabric is nice and breathable (we weren't super happy with the fleece ones we tried).
Save yourself some grief and try one of these swaddles. Worth the investment.
#3 It's Called a Pacifier for a Reason
I know a lot of people are afraid to get their kid hooked on a binky. We were too. We'd also heard a lot about how pacifiers impact breast feeding and mess with teeth...etc.
But I'll tell you - they totally work.
We tried a bunch but always came back to the soft bendy ones like the Avent Soothies (they were also the ones they gave us at the hospital).
Those pacifiers can be tough for a little one to manage and we were stuck on paci recovery detail whenever it escaped Hazel's mouth.
And then a friend told us about the WubbaNub:
As you can probably tell, it's just a stuffed animal with a Avent pacifier sewed into it's mouth. It's not exactly the most brilliant invention (and to be fair most of you could make one for cheaper) but it does give your little one something to hold on to. In the likely event that the bink falls out during the night, it's much easier for them to locate the WubbaNub and put it back in their mouths.
So yeah, you may not think it's worth the price (about $24)...I get it...but it really did make a difference for Hazel and brought her a little tiny step closer to blessed self-reliance.
Oh Yeah, Every Kid is Different
This stuff may not work for you...but it did for us. Many other factors went into molding Hazel into a child that actually sleeps. But every little bit helps am I right?
We'll share a few other sleep strategies in upcoming posts. For now, good luck and trust me...if you're in the midst of a sleep battle...you friend are not alone.
Here's to a few extra winks.