When I had Essley a little over two years ago, I was, like most new moms, terrified I was going to do something wrong. In addition to the fear that I would somehow kill her if I turned my head for more than ten seconds, I was confused by the myriad of parenting books I had on hand that (along with well meaning friends and family members) inundated me with conflicting advice about the "right" way to put baby to sleep. Eventually, through trial and error, I learned what worked for her, for us as parents, and for our family as a whole. The realization that trusting our instincts and figuring out the best sleep rituals for us was infact the only "right" way inspired confidence in our parenting skills, and certainly has made things easier for us this time around with number two. Each baby is different though, so we've had to tweak some things for Emmett while getting to know him and what works best for him when it's time for naps and bedtime. Today I'm excited to be pairing up with one of my favorite brands, Ergobaby, to share with you our current baby sleep routine.
Getting a baby to sleep is a completely different universe than getting a toddler to sleep, both because there is infinitely less fighting involved from the child (since we're being real here), and because babies sleep much more often and for shorter periods of time - but there are certain techniques we use for both kids, including lullabies. Are you guys familiar with the song "Bye, Baby Bunting?" Apparently it originated in England in the late 1700s, and for those who are wondering, according to Wikipedia, "bunting" is a "term of endearment that may also imply 'plump'." (Good to know.) My mom sang this song to me as a baby, and I've sung it to both Essley and Emmett from the time they were in the womb. Something about it lulls the kids to sleep like nothing else, and I love singing it to them because it's so meaningful to me. There is a lyric in the lullaby that says, "daddy's gone a hunting, to catch a little rabbit skin" that my hippie mama edited to say "...to catch a little pumpkin skin." And that's exactly how we sing it to our babes today. (Hey mom, I get the lyric edit, but why a pumpkin skin? Wouldn't faux rabbit skin have been more appealing? What baby enjoys being wrapped in a wet, pulpy, hard pumpkin skin?) "You Are My Sunshine" is a another favorite with Emmett, and if I sing it while I'm nursing him, it's never more than a couple of minutes before I see his eyes get heavy and feel him slip into slumber. Essley loves to get in on the action and sing lullabies to her brother too. The result is equal parts endearing and hilarious - so many incorrect lyrics and song mash-ups. It's brilliant.
Speaking of nursing, a good old fashioned feeding session also works wonders for helping Emmett to fall asleep. This is such a special ritual that he and I have together, just the two of us. It relaxes us both, creates an intense bond, and especially in the middle of the night when he wakes up, allows him to fall back asleep quickly. (My formula feeding friends say the same ritual works for them with bottle feeding as well. Babes love nothing quite as much as to be held and fed, and it translates to instant relaxation!) I nursed Essley to sleep for over a year (and continued to breastfeed for another six months after), and plan to do the same for Emmett for as long as it continues to suit us.
Another custom we have before Emmett's bed and nap time, and the one that we usually do first, is to swaddle him. Just like his sister did, Emmett loves to be swaddled, and we love to swaddle him because it produces a calming affect that is incredibly soothing for babies. Swaddling also helps them to stay asleep (which is huge! Huge!) by allowing them to feel comfortable and preventing them from startling themselves awake. During the first few months especially, babies require extensive nurturing, and swaddling actually emulates the structure of the womb, which assists with the intense transition into the world after nine months inside of mama. And swaddling my babes has actually helped me sleep better too, because I have the peace of mind knowing that they're safer, since research has shown that when swaddled properly, babies are more likely to stay asleep on their backs and less likely to get caught up in loose blankets, etc.
We've tried several blankets for swaddling and different swaddlers, but our favorite (and Emmett's too!) is the Ergobaby Swaddler. This is the swaddler of the future guys, and I sure wish we'd had one for Essley (who, as my regular readers know, was a major challenge sleep-wise in the first few months of her life). In addition to being aesthetically darling (I mean, look at those little elephants), the Ergobaby Swaddler is super easy to use (I'm talking a world of difference during those middle-of-night diaper changing sessions because you're not forced to remove the entire thing like with most swaddlers), ergonomic, comfortable for your little one, and stays together well during the night when most swaddling blankets and swaddlers we've used have come undone during Emmett's dream time dance parties. I also love that the design allows for natural movement of his hips and legs - it's even been designated as "hip healthy" by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute. Putting Emmett in his Ergobaby Swaddler has become one of the most important (if not the most important) parts of our routine for nap and bedtime.
It will be interesting to see how our current process of getting Baby Emmett to sleep transforms as he grows. For now, our special swaddle/nurse/sing ritual is such a sweet, endearing experience, and I'm cherishing every moment. Those of you with kids (or nieces/nephews, or grandkids, or friends with babes), what sort of routine do you have for getting them to sleep in the first months? Who else loves their Ergobaby Swaddler? (If you haven't checked them out yet, I highly, highly recommend doing so. Just click here.) Anyone have any interesting family lullaby lyric changes you can share?
This post is in partnership with Ergobaby. Thank you for supporting the brands that help make Bubby and Bean possible.
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