Ok let me preface this by saying this DOES NOT mean you are doing anything wrong. This DOES NOT mean you are a bad mom. This DOES NOT mean that you will agree with all the parenting choices I have made. This DOES NOT mean these tips are going to work for you.
Have I made myself clear? Good.
My daughter is 11 months old now and she has been sleeping through the night since she was seven weeks old. I’m sorry, maybe you didn’t hear me, SEVEN WEEKS OLD.
Everyone told me I would never sleep again. I mentally prepared myself for that. But alas, I sleep like a mama bear who gets to hibernate whenever she damn well pleases.
Now I’ve always thought this was strange. Why does she sleep so much? Why is she not like all my friends children? Does my child have mono or something?
Nope. She’s just a bomb sleeper. And when that happens you just shouldn’t ask questions.
Has she woken us up in the middle of the night every so often? Of course. But I could probably count on two hands how many times I’ve had to get up with her in the middle of the night in the last nine months since she started sleeping through the night.
I’m a first time mom just figuring this out. But as a first time (or second time or third time or fourth time) mom, you get all sorts of unsolicited advice. These were just pieces of advice I heard about one way or another and I tried.
And you know what, they worked.
Swaddle that baby.
At first when we brought my daughter home we felt like she was too hot at night so we did not swaddle her. She would flail around and sometimes even wake herself up. One night we decided to swaddle her. She couldn’t move around, so she stopped crying and just fell back asleep. That was the first night she slept longer than a two hour stretch, and that was the first night I started to regain my mental abilities.
I wanna Rock N’ Play all night.
Someone told us that their child never slept in a bassinet or a crib right away, but slept in this handy dandy little thing called a Rock N’ Play. We thought, “Well that’s the one thing we don’t have”, so we purchased one. Best purchase EVER. That thing cozied her right in and she loved it. The first night we used that for sleeping she slept through the night. I mean literally just like that. I did not believe in miracles until I was in the presence of the Rock N’ Play.
See ya, kid.
I know there are many studies that show that having a child sleep in the same room with the parents is beneficial for the baby. It allows the baby to follow the parents breathing patterns and reduces the risk of SIDS.
Yeah, but it also kept our entire family awake.
We have a Saint Bernard, Black Lab mix. He’s five and he’s huge. He has always slept with us from the moment we brought him home. Sometimes he shakes his gigantic head, his enormous jowls shake and make it sound like we are participating in a Civil War reenactment. Other times he may click around on our hardwood floor giving us a small tap dance performance in the middle of the night. My husband and I are used to these noises, but my daughter was not. The dog would wake the baby, and the baby would wake us all and just when we all fell back asleep it happened again.
The night we sent her to sleep in her nursery was a lovely night. I could still see and hear her on the monitor, but her small noises wouldn’t wake me up unlike when she was right in the room. This arrangement just worked well for everyone.
Keep ’em busy during the day…
During the day we do a lot. We play in different places. We go outside. We move all the time. Even a simple walk can tire a baby out (if they don’t fall asleep). If we could have longer stretches of awake time the naps and nighttime sleep seemed to be hard sleeps.
…Keep ’em calm at night.
Once nighttime came we tried to maintain a relatively quiet evening for baby. We tried to have her avoid screens (is that even possible anymore), kept our living room dim, took a bath, read a book and quietly went to bed. This slowly told her it was getting near bedtime.
White noise is better than no noise.
Someone purchased a sound machine for us before our daughter was even born. I didn’t realize what an amazing purchase this was, and I wish I knew who to thank for getting it for us. We have used that every night that she has slept in her room. On the nights we forget to turn it on, she wakes up to outside noises, our loud dog (yes, all the way from our room down the hall), and other random creaks. But when it’s being used, we don’t hear a peep. Since summer we have also used a small fan which has helped as well.
Bye bye, Pacifier!
When my daughter used to get tired she would calm down and pass out when we plopped that pacifier in her mouth. When she would wake up she would see it two inches from her face. Unfortunately for her she did not have the motor skills to place it back in her mouth, so she would scream until we would come to her rescue to plop that thing back in. We learned very quickly that we could not put her to sleep with that pacifier still in her mouth, or we would be her pacifier slaves for eternity.
Keep it light. Keep it bright.
One of the pieces of advice I received was to keep it bright while baby naps. During the day keep the curtains open, the blinds up, or the lights on. When baby sleeps at night it should be the opposite. Keep the lights off or low, and as dark as possible. This will get baby used to daytime naps and can determine the difference between a “nap sleep” and a “nighttime sleep”.
Cry it out, girl.
This was probably the hardest one to follow, but it was by far the most beneficial. If the baby starts crying… just wait. Not forever, but for a little bit. When I started this process I let her cry for five minutes. Then six. Then seven. You get the picture.
I never waited more than ten minutes of crying. Not because I couldn’t wait more than ten minutes, but because typically after about 6-7 minutes of crying she would have fallen back asleep.
You see babies don’t know anything, including how to let themselves fall back asleep. It’s a skill they have to learn. Allowing my daughter those minutes of crying helped her learn how to self-sooth and put herself back to sleep. Eventually I could tell the difference between an “I’m hungry” cry, and a “I’m awake, what do I do now” cry.
Put them down drowsy.
Sometimes I miss the days of rocking and rocking until my sweet girl fell asleep in my arms. But as precious as those moments are, I tried not to always put her down fully asleep. As often as I could I would rock her or walk with her until those eyelids got heavy but were not fully closed. Once I could tell she was tired but still awake, I would place her down and allow her to fall asleep on her own. Again, it taught her how to put herself to sleep.
Fill ’em up!
Typically before we put her down to sleep, we’ve always given her a bottle. Sometimes it’s a full bottle feeding, but depending on when she’s eaten last it may be only 2-3 ounces. Whatever we can do to fill that belly before bed has helped her to last all night without wanting more. Ain’t no better sleep than a milk coma sleep.
These are the tips and tricks that I have tried with my sleepy child and they seem to work wonders. I hope that at least a few work for you and your child, and that you get some sleep soon, Mama!
If you have any other helpful ways to get your baby to sleep that I have missed comment below to share with others.
Thanks, and good luck! Now stop reading this and go take a nap.