Sometimes I laugh at my past new-mother self. And sometimes I just want to give her a hug.
When your baby’s not sleeping well, the one thing you want is a quick-fix (ie sleep; lots of it). And you want it fast FAST. So that means that if baby fell asleep last night after being rocked for 15 seconds, cuddled for 3 minutes, rocked again for 7 minutes, nursed for 3 sucks and then put down, you’re going to try those same exact steps all over again the next time around… except, often, that just doesn’t work.
(But that, on the rare occasions it does work, is how prop dependencies are made. But more on that a different time.)
And that was me, nearly 3 years ago — trying to figure out just the thing to get them to sleep. Rocking the perfect length of time (ooh! Don’t let the rock’n’play squeak!). Paci in – but what if they spit it out? Noise machine on full blast… (and lights on. oops!)
Fast-forward 3 years, though, one of the main reasons my clients – especially newborn clients – are so successful is because of one piece of paperwork that I never thought of.
Why Logging (and it’s not just sleep!)
Let’s be practical here, ladies. Much as we would like to say we remember everything, the fact of the matter is that when you’re not getting so much sleep, your brain isn’t quite as useful as you’d like it to be.
So that means that you might remember things as being way better than they actually were — or you might remember things as being way worse than they actually were. And there’s no real way to know what actually happened.
On top of that, even if you’d be able to say “my baby usually wakes 2 times a night” by the time a week has passed, you likely don’t remember how long it was between sleeps, or if he was consistently waking at 3:30 for a feed, or whatnot. And if you don’t know the specifics then the data is quite useless (and I wouldn’t really call it data at all).
And the truth is that many (most?) coaches and professionals will tell you that the only way to make change is to track progress. If you want to eat better, one of the first steps is to keep a food diary and make note of what you’re eating and how it made you feel. If you’re looking to organize your financial life, the first step is going to be to track what you’re spending every month. In running my business, I’ve also discovered how valuable tracking is — noting where I’m putting my time, and what the results are. Professional organizers take before and after pictures.
You get the picture: tracking is where you start so you can see what’s going right, what’s going wrong and how you can tweak to make things better.
So if something’s going wrong, or you’re about to dive into a major change, or you just want to see if your newborn’s making progress then you’ve got to write it down.
How to Log
It doesn’t really matter how you do it. You can write it on a piece of paper, you can make a visual log or use the one I have in my guide, you can do it on your phone or computer (but not in the middle of the night!) – whatever works best for you.
The main things to keep in mind when you log are:
- Consistency. If you only log half a day every time you log, you’re not going to get that much out of it.
- Log the time your child went into bed and how she fell asleep (in awake without any props? Has a paci? Rocked in a stroller?)
- Make note of what she did when you put her in (cry? Whimper? Talk? quiet?)
- Log when she fell asleep (approximate is okay).
- Make note of any nighttime wakings, cry-outs in the middle of the nap.
- Write down when she woke and her temperament when she woke.
I know that all sounds like a lot, but that is the way to get some real information out of it.
The best way to get real data out of it is to do it for a week.
If you’ve got a newborn and are just doing a maintenance check, then doing just 1 or 2 times a week every week, as a sort of snapshot, may serve your need.
Logging for Patterns
Once you’ve got your log, and you’ve got your data, it’s time to know what to DO with it.
As with everything I talk about, it’ll all boil down to the 5 basics habits:
- Habit 1: Routines
- Habit 2: Tired but not Overtired
- Habit 3: Sleep Sanctuary
- Habit 4: Props
- Habit 5: Consistency
So let’s say we’re struggling with early morning wakes, and you notice that Princess has been waking at 5:30 every morning this past week – same time every day. So you start to get curious: what could be making that happen? Well, your husband wakes up at 5:30 and there isn’t such a thick wall between your room and hers, so: Bingo.
At 5:30 am every day, her sleep sanctuary is disturbed by your husband’s alarm.
Or maybe you notice that it hasn’t been every single day — but only 5/7 days in the last week — and those are the days that she was up a little longer before bed. So: Bingo.
5/7 days this past week, your baby was overtired, and that’s why she’s been waking at 5:30 am.
By looking for patterns between a sleep difficulty and a potential cause, you’re more likely to pinpoint WHY your baby hasn’t been sleeping as well, and, therefore, you’ll be able to fix it. (Yes! More sleep for everyone!)
Logging for Change
Sometimes, you may not be logging because there’s an actual problem, but because there’s something that you need to experiment — say you don’t know how long your baby’s awake time limit is. This is a great way to use logging, too.
You’ve got a pretty well rested 6 month old, and you just can’t nail when his awake time is. First, you do what you’ve been doing for 2-3 days and just log it. (My FREE guide on the 5 Habits You didn’t Know Your Baby Needs will walk you through this bit).
You think it might be around 2.5 hours, so you try giving him a 2.5 hour awake time limit for a week and see how it goes — and you log it. At the end of the week, you sit down, see what your data tells you, and either stick with a 2.5 hour awake time limit, or you switch things up — maybe you’ll try 2 hours and 15 minutes, or maybe 2 hours and 45 minutes and again, log it for a week.
Or maybe you’re sending your baby to a new babysitter, and his naps aren’t as great and you want to know how that’ll affect the rest of his day: again, logging will help you see what the effect of this new routine is.
This little piece of paperwork…
So this little piece of paperwork might just have the power to change your sleep – and your baby’s or child’s sleep too.
And, as an added side-bonus — if you’re a SAHM now no one can claim you don’t have a “real” job — you even have the paperwork to prove it!
So what do you think? Don’t really think it’s worth it? Or did I change your mind and you’re going to start that paperwork tonight?