Sleep is important.
Not just for your baby but for you also. Want to know how to get your baby sleeping through the night and quick? Keep reading!
First let me start by saying- all babies are different. What works for my baby, Susan’s baby, or Vanessa’s baby won’t necessarily work for your baby. I found the best result by mixing different methods into one and being consistent.
How can I get my baby to start sleeping through the night?
Here’s the juicy part, I’m about to share my secrets with you. My son is 18 months old and sleeps from 8-8. He also loves bedtime and nap time. No fussing. Some nights he even goes into his room before 8 and points at his crib. I know, stop talking and tell you what I did…
—Small thing before we get into this, I AM NOT a professional. I am a momma that has been through it and giving you advice. Please consult with your pediatrician if you have further questions about anything mentioned.—
Move them to their own bedroom.
This is the first step we took. I breastfed and had a hungry baby every 1-2 hours. Talk about exhausting. Once I went back to working a 8-5, something had to change. He had a crib in his nursery that we never used. I started slowly getting him used to his room. You can’t just expect to put your baby in a crib, in a room they are rarely in.
You want them to be comfortable in their room. Spend as much time in it as possible. Play time, nap time, diaper changes, everything. I did this for a week before putting him in his crib and I feel that it made the transition go way more smoothly.
Set a routine.
Set it and stick to it. Same time, same way, every night. We started our routine when my son was 4 months old. Bath, pajamas, quiet play, book, prayers, and bed. At 18 months, we still have the exact routine.
(Let me add, babies do not need baths everyday. We liked how much it calmed him so we did ‘bird baths’ where we just put warm water in his tub and rinsed him off. If you’re baby has dry skin I wouldn’t recommend doing this every night.)
Doing this routine religiously is one of the most important steps. Especially in the first 3 months. You may have to sacrifice some things. Certain family members may not understand why you and your baby can’t be at dinner at 7:00. It’s just like losing weight though, you can’t only eat healthy some days and expect the best results you HAVE to stick to it. This doesn’t mean forever. We make exceptions for special occasions (like holidays.) We bring his pack n play with us and do his routine and put him to sleep at wherever we are at; luckily this work for us. I wouldn’t try this until you have a routine down.
Okay, if you take one thing from this post, PLEASE LET IT BE THIS. This is the magic recipe to sleep. I live by this. Swear by this, stick to this. Even to this day, this is what I go by. It works like clockwork. I didn’t start off using this. Which was a mistake, my son kept waking up 3-4 hours after bedtime and I could not figure out why. It’s because he was overtired/not tired enough.
What are wake times? To sum it up it’s the amount of time between when your child wakes for the day and takes his first nap, between first/second nap, between last nap/bedtime. You can read more in depth about it here.
You base the times off your child’s age. For example, if your child is 3-6 months old, he should have 2 hours between naps and nap for at least 30 minutes but no more than 2 hours. The stretch of sleep between naps increases through the day. The 1st nap (the time between wake up time and first nap) should be the shortest amount of time.
No keeping your child up for 5-6 hour stretches and then expected them to lay down and sleep at night. They are TOO tired. The same with letting your child nap from 3-5 and then expecting them to go to the sleep for the night at 7. They are NOT tired. You have to find that perfect spot and once you do, your life will change.
My biggest tip once you start working with wake times is to have your child bed BEFORE the wake time hits. So yes, if they have a 2 hour wake time..around 30 minutes before the 2 hour mark start preparing baby for sleep. Don’t wait until the 2 hour mark to start your routine, or they’ll be overtired at this point and it could turn into a disaster.
Look for sleep cues.
Rubbing eyes, yawning, pulling at ears or just plain ole turning into a monster. You’ll figure them out. When you see your baby doing these, sleep time should be right around the corner. If you get familiar with wake times as mentioned above; you’ll realize that sleep cues usually hit right on time with your child’s wake time. The goal is to get baby in bed before sleep cues fly into full effect.
Learn the importance of naps.
I’m here to tell you, naps are heaven sent. Don’t. You. Dare. Forget. (If you catch that reference , you’re a cool mom.) But really though, don’t listen to great grandmas advice of just letting them skip the nap. “They’ll sleep when they’re tired.” False, they’ll get extremely over tired, act like a tornado, and cry forever before actually falling asleep. Burn this in your brain, nothing is more important that a babies nap.
Have a routine for naps just like bed time. Make it a little different but do the same thing every day. We use this star machine.
You can purchase it on Amazon. (Click the picture for more details!) It makes my toddler look forward to nap time. All I have to ask him is “Do you want to go look at your stars?!” and he’s running back to his room ready to get into his crib.
Do what you have to do. Life happens but get that nap in. If your baby sleeps well in the car and you have somewhere to go around nap time- leave the house an hour early and let your baby sleep. Sit in the car while they at least get that 30 minute nap in. Go for more if you’re able. Those times sitting in parking lots while baby was sleeping are forever some of my most peaceful times.
Join Facebook support groups.
These are so helpful. Post questions, talk with other momma’s, every one is so nice! My favorite one is Respectful Sleep Training on facebook. Please just be sure to join these groups with an open mind. Everyone on here is open to all ideas. You may not agree with the cry it out method, but some people swear by it. Don’t get into a group ready to judge other mommas. We’re all just trying to figure out what works best. They cover all methods in this group.
Speaking of the dreaded ‘cry it out method.’
Does it work? Is it worth it?
I’ve seen some mean things said to momma’s that swear by this. I don’t think that’s acceptable what so ever. Mom knows baby best, and is only doing what she feels is best. We’re all good momma’s. Especially if we are online researching how to help our baby sleep. Think of all the other things you could spend your time doing, or don’t. You may realize you have many things to do.
We did a ‘gentle cry it out’ type of thing it was worked in 3 nights. Set limits. Do what makes you comfortable. My pediatrician recommended the extinction method, which I could not do. So we set times. Let him cry for 5 minutes, go in soothe him until calm, lay him back down (still awake) and leave room. Each time we would increase the time 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 13 minutes. I never went past 15 (and neither did he) and I never left him in there screaming his head off.
Learn your babies cry. If he’s just doing a sleepy fuss, he’s on the verge of sleep- leave him. If he’s freaking out and worked up-go calm him down.
Lay them down awake.
Another huge goal in this is teaching your baby to fall asleep by himself. I agree that sometimes baby needs momma and their is nothing wrong with rocking your little one to sleep. I still do sometimes if my son is sick. Just make sure you teach them the art of falling asleep alone before doing this too much.
You may be thinking “rocking my baby to sleep isn’t that huge of a deal to me though” it may even be apart of your routine. The problem comes into play when they wake up at 1 am and expect you to wake up and come put them back to sleep. If you teach them to fall asleep they’ll eventually just go back to sleep by themselves when they wake in the middle of the night.
Since I breastfed my son loved waking up to eat. I wasn’t ready to completely cut his night feeds so I made rules to go by.
Before 12? No feed. Let him go back to sleep. After 12? Okay, probably hungry. Go in and feed, once he started to doze off, wake him up and lay him back in his crib. 90% of the time our feeds lasted 5 minutes and he eventually cut them out completely on his own around 10 months. Be sure to get the okay from your pediatrician before cutting night feeds!
My final tip- Invest in a baby monitor!
No argument about this. It makes the process so much easier. Get one that you can see and hear on. It’ll make you feel so much better. Our first one was this cheap on from Amazon and I loved it. It even shows the temperature in his room. It’s a life saver. I still keep his monitor next to me every night.
This one is a little more pricey but it’s what we use now and I love it just as much!
Follow these steps and you’re baby should be a pro- sleeper in no time!
Feel free to share this with momma’s struggling to get more sleep at night. Comment your advice or your struggle with getting your little one to sleep.