Throughout my pregnancy I can recall several people giving me two pieces of advice…
- Get as much sleep as you can
- Sleep when the baby sleeps
Like almost all advice, I considered it and then I didn’t take it to heart. In my mind, it sounded ridiculous. After all, sleep can’t be stockpiled and saved and if I sleep when the baby sleeps, am I supposed to cook when the baby cooks and clean when the baby cleans?!
Friends, as silly as this advice sounded at the time, I realize now that I should have listened. Today I relay those two pieces of advice to every expecting mom I meet.
Sleep deprivation hit me early. It began before my baby bear was even born. Like a lot of first time moms, I was a week late and I decided to be induced (I was OVER being pregnant). After we checked into the hospital I spent the next 36 hours waiting on Rhett’s arrival and I didn’t get any rest in the process. When he finally made his appearance I was exhausted, but I was so excited to finally have him in my arms that I didn’t sleep. The sleep deprivation got worse and worse during my 5 day hospital stay. I was taking care of a newborn, getting woken up by nurses, and sleep was nearly impossible.
I was irritable, emotional, and down right tired. I was at my lowest point in the hospital and remember sobbing while my husband and baby slept next to me. I wish I could go back and tell sleep deprived Ashley that it would all get better. This would all be a distant memory.
You’ve probably seen the shirts saying…”I woke up tired”, “Mom-bie”, “Constantly Caffeinated”… I laugh because these were my life at one point.
Then it happened….at 3 months old I placed my baby in his room and he slept through the night!
I was in shock. I was relieved. Most importantly, I finally felt well rested.
My friends all laughed and warned me about the dreaded 4 month sleep regression. The regression hit for a week, then we were back to sleeping through the night. Boo-ya!
You may be wondering… when will I get a full night of sleep? How do I get my sleep back? Will I survive?
Yes, you will survive. You will get a full night’s sleep…soon!
I didn’t title this…How To Get Your Baby to Sleep Through the Night because I only know what worked for us! Every baby is different, and I simply cannot provide a formula that will work for every single child.
I hope that these strategies will help you get your baby sleeping through the night, like they did mine! It’s time for mommy to get her sleep back.
Things to Consider
The time before baby comes is a time when it’s important to discuss your expectations with your partner. This includes your long term sleep expectations for your child. There are two options: co-sleeping and crib-sleeping. Here are my opinions on the pro’s and con’s to both:
Pros: strong bond between baby and parents, easy for nightly feedings
Cons: difficult for baby to fall asleep on their own, limited alone time for parents, dangerous if not using barrier (such as doc-a-tot)
Pros: eliminates distractions (outside noises from other people), freedom for parents, child learns to be independent
Cons: child may have difficulty being separated from parent, child is out of parents line of sight
Tough decision? Don’t worry, there is still time to decide after your little bear arrives because they will likely be rooming with you in the beginning! Luckily, your child’s sleep setting is not set in stone once you decide… there is always room to do both. Only you can decide where is best for your little bear!
Before my baby was born, I spent many hours and nights on Pinterest looking at baby sleep schedules. I stumbled upon one article that was titled, “How to get a 6 week old to sleep through the night”. I made that my goal. When my baby didn’t sleep through the night at 6 weeks, I felt like a failure! I did everything by the book so why wasn’t he sleeping?
The truth is, your 6 week old will probably not sleep through the night. If they do, you are one lucky momma! Newborns simply aren’t able to sleep through the night for a few reasons.
- Newborns need to be woken up to feed every 3 hours
- Growth Spurts
- Night and Day Confusion
Why Your Baby Isn’t Sleeping
- Lack of routine
- Change in environment
- Developmental Milestones (Rolling, teething, crawling)
- Growth Spurts
- Gliding/rocking baby to sleep
- Not taking long enough naps ( If a baby doesn’t sleep during the day, that doesn’t mean they will sleep better at night! Sleep deprived babies actually have a harder time sleeping at night.)
How I got my Baby to Sleep Through the Night
Before you bring baby home, decide with your partner where you want baby to sleep long term. Of course, baby will be in your room in the beginning. There is not one right answer to where baby should sleep, but try to keep in mind the setting you will want your baby to sleep in long term! Luckily, your child’s sleep setting is not set in stone once you decide… there is always room to do both! Only you can decide where is best for your little bear!
What worked for us: Crib!
My husband and I knew from the beginning that we wanted a separate sleep setting for our little bear for two reasons:
1) for our freedom and to have alone time together
2) so our little guy could be more independent
Not only does Rhett sleep better without us walking in the room and making noise to get ready for bed, but we also enjoy our alone time while he sleeps in his room!
With that being said, we have done a combination of co-sleeping and separate sleeping. Our little guy sleeps well in the crib at home, but when we travel he likes to co-sleep. We take each day as it comes at us and do whatever feels right!
2. Smooth Transitioning
There is a lot of discussion about when it is appropriate to transition your baby to a crib. For us, we felt comfortable when our son was 3 months old.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, babies should sleep in their parent’s room—but not in the same bed—for at least the first six months of life, ideally for the whole year, to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome(SIDS) by as much as 50 percent.
I believe that if your baby can sleep for 6 hours or more, it’s a great time to think about transitioning them. In order to make the transition from a bassinet to a big open bed more comforting, we had baby sleep in this . The Babynest is similar to a Doc-a-tot (and a little more budget friendly). We also use the Babynest for travel and place it in the pack-n-play.
While it’s hard for your newborn to establish a routine, it’s important to start early! Our family established a routine after all our visitors and family had left (about 2 weeks).
My husband believes in the power of routine! Although Rhett can’t tell us, we know that he knows the routine. From reading a book together to listening to his prayer bear, Rhett has the same routine every night. When the lights go out, he gets a goodnight kiss, and starts to get rocked, he knows it’s bedtime.
Here are some suggestions for bedtime routine.
Myth: If my baby doesn’t sleep during the day, they will sleep better at night.
Truth: Good naps= a good nights sleep!
Hi, my name’s Ashley and I am a little OCD and type A. I love schedules and will typically panic if I don’t know what my day will entail or if my routine is thrown off. You know who also loves schedules? Babies!!! If you establish a routine with your baby early, it will become very easy to read what your baby wants throughout the day.
Our family follows the E.A.S.Y Schedule which stands for Eat, Awake, Sleep, and You Time. We decided on the E.A.S.Y. method because this allows your baby to fall asleep on their own (and not rely on you!). A great example of this type of schedule is shown at noobmommy.com. You can download it here.
There is one important thing to know…schedules need to be flexible! If you’re a schedule-centric person like me, you may have difficulty going with the flow. For example, if my baby woke up or wanted to eat at 2 1/2 hours instead of 3 during the day, I panicked because this threw off our schedule! I had to learn to adjust and read my baby’s cues.
My general rule of thumb: 30 minutes before or after your scheduled time will NOT ruin your baby’s schedule.
5. White Noise
People are amazed at how Rhett can sleep through just about anything…me vacuuming, loud restaurants, sleeping with the TV on, etc! How did we get him to do this? We started white noise early! We taught him how to sleep in these loud settings.
We love using the Skip Hop Moonlight and Melodies Night Light! Not only is it adorable and gender neutral, it also plays four songs, four sounds, and has a night light that projects stars onto the ceiling.
Read my previous post, Must Have Apps for Moms, for what to download on your phone for white noise when you’re on the go!
6. Sleep Sack/Swaddles
Babies love being wrapped up tight and cozy (just like they were in the womb). Keeping your baby in a swaddle or sleep sack will also help so they don’t startle themselves awake. We found that traditional swaddles can be difficult to wrap in the middle of the night (especially at 4:00 a.m.), so we recommend using velcro swaddles and zip-up sleep sacks.
Check out our favorite swaddle- The Love to Dream Swaddle UP
7. Dream Feed:
A dream feed is a feeding that takes place between 10-11 p.m. This feeding should “top” baby off for the night. The goal of the dream feed is to not wake baby up completely, but instead offer them food and feed them till they fall asleep. This is the only time I will say to feed your baby to sleep! During this time, keep the lights off, try not to talk to baby, and feed them while they are swaddled. Even if our baby doesn’t wake up on his own during that time, we will wake him up for a dream feed. After that, he’s out till 7:00 a.m.!
The dream feed is when my husband gets to help out with a feeding. Giving baby a bottle during this time worked great for us because it gave me a break and it allowed us to know precisely how much he was getting for food (and to fill him up a little more)!
8. Choosing Your Battles!
Getting your baby to sleep through the night doesn’t just happen over night! It’s a gradual process. So, stick with it! No two days are the same.
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