Sleep. Oh, how we take this for granted before we have kids.
I knew waking up every 2 hours to feed would be tough in the beginning.
After a couple of months, however, that gets old quick.
Nobody wants their life to revolve around their child’s sleep schedule.
End your sleep deprivation with these tips on how to get your baby to sleep through the night!
At first, I expected my kids would settle into their own natural schedule and eventually sleep through the night when they were ready.
We didn’t want to have to follow an intense schedule, or put our babies through any traumatic crying spouts.
We quickly realized that we needed to provide a little more structure than we initially thought, but it was much simpler than anticipated, and most importantly, it worked like a charm!
It got them sleeping through the night in less than a week!
Having a consistent bedtime routine is important for setting baby’s internal clock.
Babies love routines, and a good bedtime routine will help them wind down and get ready for a long night’s rest.
Babies usually have day and night mixed up at first, and this routine will be what teaches them that bedtime is for long stretches of sleep, rather than a short nap.
Some enjoy winding down with bath-time, reading a story, feeding in a calm and dark environment, snuggling in the rocking chair, whatever you prefer.
Try to keep it simple, because this will likely be their bedtime routine for a while.
Don’t commit to anything you don’t want to do consistently down the road. Make this a calm and enjoyable experience for both of you.
Also, try to avoid anything that ONLY mom can do. This will allow anyone to be able to put the baby to sleep, even when mom needs a break or isn’t home.
My daughter used to take naps during the day on her own, but then fall asleep at random times on her swing or my arms. She would sleep for about 30-45 minutes tops, and always be fussy when we had to put her down at bedtime.
We learned that if you wait to put them down until they are so exhausted that they fall asleep randomly, they’re already over-tired and will not get quality sleep (thus only napping for 30-45 minutes.)
We started putting her down for a nap around 2 hours after she woke up from the previous sleep. She always seemed to be wide awake at these times, so I never thought it would work.
We also started putting her down in her crib at these times and surprisingly she went down easy!
Over time, she would start rubbing her eyes at these times and eventually go right to bed when I put her down and sleep for 1-3 hours at a time!
We made the mistake of thinking the more she slept during the day, the less she would sleep at night.
Babies need a lot of sleep, and if they are over-tired, they do not get quality sleep. If they don’t take enough naps during the day they WILL be overtired at bedtime and not sleep well throughout the night.
Better quality napes = better quality sleep through the night.
CRYING IT OUT
This part can be tough.
We never want to hear our sweet innocent little baby cry, and when we do we want to rush to their side and comfort them. Not doing that goes against all motherly instincts.
It’s hard, however, it is effective for teaching them to self-soothe.
Babies need to learn how to self-soothe.
It is extremely important for their overall development and IMPERATIVE if you have hopes of them sleeping through the night.
Just remember: whatever got them to sleep initially will be what gets the back to sleep when they wake up in the night.
If you’re rocking them to sleep, feeding them to sleep, etc. then that is what they will need when they wake up in the night.
Give them the tools to self soothe and put THEMSELVES back to sleep quickly and easily.
The key is putting them down “drowsy but awake“.
This allows you to get them sleepy and ready for bed, but gives them the opportunity to put themselves to sleep.
Start with naps and allow her to cry for as many minutes as weeks old they are.
For example, if they are 8 weeks old, put them down for a nap and let them cry for 8 minutes before going in to comfort them.
Once the 8 minutes are up, go in, comfort them, let them know they are safe.
Soon they will end up putting themselves back to sleep before having to go through this cycle too many times.
Keep them in their crib for a minimum of 1 hour during nap time. If they cry the entire time, that’s okay, go in to comfort them every 8 minutes (or however long depending on their age.)
Just take them out after the hour is up and try again next time. If they cry for 45 minutes and sleep for 15 that is fine too, as long as they are in there for at least an hour.
Eventually, sleep time will increase and crying time will decrease.
WHAT IF I DON’T WANT TO DO CRY IT OUT?!
If you are opposed to the cry it out method, that is completely okay!
All you need to do is take things much slower. Big changes all at once can be the cause of a majority of the crying.
Many believe getting it over with all at once, or the “cold turkey” approach can be easier and more effective, but it is not the only way.
Taking it step by step, and slowly incorporating new routines and expectations can work as well.
Start by having a calm bedtime routine that will let baby wind down, get sleepy, and begin to associate this routine with bedtime.
Next, begin to phase out any “crutches” for falling asleep such as nursing or rocking to sleep. Cut down the time little by little each night until baby has adjusted to no longer need these things.
Eventually, baby will be drowsy at bedtime and won’t need to rely on anything to get to sleep. This is a game changer!
Their crib will be their familiar space for sleeping, and falling asleep on their own won’t be such a scary task. Whatever situation they are used to falling asleep with initially will be what will gets them back to sleep during middle of the night wake-ups.
Again: If you are rocking or nursing, this is what they will need. If they are able to fall asleep on their own, they will be able to get back to sleep on their own as well!
Get them used to sleeping in their crib as soon as possible. In the early weeks, naps in the swing, bassinet, or in your arms are great.
Later down the road, it’s important to get them comfortable sleeping in their crib and having a place that’s solely for sleep.
We started with naps in the crib at around 2 months and she slept better there than she did anywhere else. Soon after, we made the full transition to the crib.
Having a nice calm and dark environment helped both of my children get better sleep.
Remember: Until the startle reflex is gone (around 4 months) it’s best to swaddle them any time they are sleeping in the crib. If you don’t, when they startle, they will wake themselves up.
>>> I LOVE the Halo SleepSack, it is a total game changer for swaddling.
I wasn’t comfortable leaving my kids in their rooms unless I was able to hear them and keep an eye on them.
We got a video monitor, which allowed me to feel comfortable with them sleeping in a different room.
Once you get them sleeping longer and only have one middle of the night wake up to eliminate, try turning off the monitor. I know, it sounds scary.
For my kids, they weren’t feeding at that time, and every time I got up to soothe them, they were completely fine. I knew they didn’t need anything, so we tried it.
We could still hear them cry a little bit from our room, but it got shorter and shorter until they finally just stopped waking up.
Sometimes we tend to automatically jump up to get them as soon as they start crying. Turning off the monitor when they are ready can help you to give them the opportunity to learn.
>>> The monitor we use and LOVE is the Infant Optics DXR-8 Video Baby Monitor with Interchangeable Optical Lens
These are not safe if you are using the old school kind.
DO NOT use a regular crib bumper.
It is linked to SIDS and does not allow proper air flow.
I recommend a mesh crib bumper.
These are safe. It only took one time where I heard my daughter screaming bloody murder as I rushed in and saw her poor little leg stuck in between the panels of her crib.
That minute, I purchased a mesh crib bumper on Amazon and never looked back.
>>> My favorite: Mesh Crib Bumper
Disclaimer: Please only do what you feel comfortable with and feel is right for your baby.
I hope these tips help you as much as they helped me! Every child is different, but I hope this information helps anyone out there attempting to get back to a regular sleep schedule.
Let’s get your baby to sleep through the night! Good luck!!!
>>> Check out my New Mom Must-Haves for my COMPLETE list of every item needed for the first year!
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