Secret Sleep Formula

I understand the following post may cause a lot of you parents out there to hate us, but since this is partly doubling as a scrapbook, I’m going to post this anyways: Nolan is a good sleeper, and has been from Day 1.

I’ll wait till you’re done cussing to continue.

My theory is that he’s a good sleeper because he’s got a daddy that can sleep through nearly anything. And because he’s lucky enough to not have GERD or other sleep-robbing health concerns. And because Karma owes us a good sleeper after surviving Cooper’s infancy stage (that child got up twice nightly just to eat until he was about 9 mos old…besides being a light sleeper and having colic). Even Gavin wasn’t as good a sleeper as Nolan, though I have no complaints about Gavin sleeping five hours at night by age 8 weeks.

Nolan, however, has broken the mold, and was attempting to sleep four and five hours at a time from the first night home. In fact, he would fight us to sleep even when we had to wake him to feed him round-the-clock due to his drop in weight and his bilirubin levels. Yes, I know high bilirubin numbers can create a drowsy, less-responsive baby, but he would actually tighten up his mouth and close his eyes tighter if I was bugging him to wake him, even after an hour of pestering him. But if I started bugging him about the time he was going to get up, he’d wake up just enough to nurse and poop (always the poop with this kid!). Oh sure, he’d fuss a bit that first week and didn’t want to sleep by himself in his cradle, but after a few nights of snuggling with us and wrapping him up in his swaddle blanket, he began to have sort of a Pavlovian response to our very minor bedtime ritual.

One thing this kid hated for the first three weeks of life was to have his diaper changed. And I really and truly mean he hated it because the second we undid the diaper, he would start shrieking like someone stabbed him and would go into the most distressful panic mode I’ve ever seen in a child. I can honestly say he had a worse reaction to diaper changes than he did to his shots or the daily heel pricks he endured when his bilirubin was so high, which made those 10 diaper changes a day a bit frazzling on the nerves for everyone involved. Every diaper change took twice as long as it might normally need since he was screaming hysterically and flinging his limbs all over (you’d be surprised how strong a 7-lb baby is!), nothing we did would calm him during it (talking or singing, playing soothing music), and he would usually take up to ten minutes to calm down after a diaper change.

That changed once he realized it was bedtime. At only a week in age, he would still thrash and scream during his last diaper change of the night, still fighting me and howling as I wrapped him in his swaddle blanket. But the moment I fastened that last velcro fastener and popped a little hat on his head, he would go instantly calm and was usually asleep in mere moments. And then he would sleep and sleep and sleep. I never saw anything like it!

I tried the same tactic during the day and that little stinker knew it was daytime, and would still howl. I tried changing his diaper while still wrapped in the swaddle blanket, but he would shriek and wriggle the rest of the way out. It was only at bedtime that he would just suddenly shut down, almost like someone turning off the power.

I started to think that maybe I was making the blanket too tight and he was passing out, but even when I kept it a bit loose, it still had the same affect on him. And only at bedtime. I thought maybe it was the little hat, but even when I omitted it, he still slept. I thought maybe he was getting too warm (he was often a bit sweaty on his back in the morning), but even with lighter jammies and adjusting the thermostat to stop the sweating, he still slept.

As time progressed (and his weight and bilirubin numbers improved, so I didn’t need to wake him up), he stopped freaking out during diaper changes and he slept longer and longer. And today, at two-and-a-half months of age, he will typically eat around 10pm or 11pm and will sleep until at least 7am. And for that I am eternally grateful since his brothers usually get up BEFORE then.

About the Author


This is a blog where I will share my adventures and mundane tasks as a work-out-of-home-mom. I now have 2 kids and my wonderful husband, so the juggling has gotten a little bit more tricky (man-on-man defense). We also have 2 dogs and 3 cats (we used to have 4) so as you can imagine, our household is pretty busy. Since I never feel like I'm being listened to, I figured I'll just start talking at the general Internet community and see what happens.


Sharon Murphy

OH WOW! I have some swaddle blankets, similar design, but haven’t tried them yet. My hubby and I tried the swaddle technique with the light square blankets we have, and sure enough she’ll worm her way out of them. I’ll have to start using the pre-made ones when it’s time for Clair to be put down for the night 🙂


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