4 Tips to get your Infant Sleeping Through the Night
It was about 4 weeks in and I was thinking to myself, will I ever get to sleep again!? I was so drained and feeling so exhausted that making it through the day was tough. I also found it really hard to sleep during the day, I couldn't turn my mind off! I've always been that person who NEEDS 8 hours of sleep to function, so this was particularly difficult for me.
I wanted to do the right thing by my kid too! So, to researching I went. I wanted to know the best methods to help your kid learn how to sleep. And with some trial and error, we found what works for us. I'm not going to act like I'm a huge expert - I have one really good kid. But, if I can help even one person, I wanted to type it up!
It's important to remember that every baby is different, and honestly, the same baby is different every day, so these are some of the main ideas that really work for us every day. It wasn't perfect and some days were more challenging than others, but I really feel that these ideas are the reason I have such a great sleeper!
Around 4-ish weeks I did A TON of googling and reading (I recommend the book babywise) and decided to start implementing the ideas right away.
#1 Establish an Eat, Wake, Sleep routine
You want to keep the baby awake after they eat so your baby doesn't associate feeding with sleeping and can soothe themselves to sleep. When they’re really young, them being awake is literally while you feed them. Or like 5 minutes...but I would feed, change her diaper, and then basically wait for her to fall asleep. I had her sleep anywhere. The couch, her newborn lounger (the best thing ever!) on me. I kept the tv on, lights on, and tried to get her used to sleeping in any setting. I hoped this would help as she got older. The verdict is still out on that one.... As she got older, the wake times got a bit longer and the number of naps she took grew less. When Parker woke up over night, would change her diaper before I fed her instead, because I wanted her to go right back to sleep!
#2 Wake and Feed at the same time every morning
Every morning I feed Parker at 7 am. At first, even if she ate at 6 am, I still fed her at 7 am. This way, her body knows that she gets fed at that time. The idea is that since her body knows she will get fed, she will sleep until that feeding. It helps them drop one of their over night feedings. So what happens if she wakes up before 7? I definitely struggled with what I was supposed to do. This was some trial and error and getting to know your own kid's needs! If she wakes up early, I try to wait as long as I can to get closer to 7 am. Like, cuddle, change her diaper, etc. However, sometimes the baby needs food NOW, so I start the feed early. It's not an exact science!
If she is still sleeping at 7, I wait until like 7:15 and see if I can nudge her awake then. I wake her by 7:20 so she can eat by 7:30. Basically, I give myself a 1 hour window and feed between 630 and 730! As she gets older, she gets more and more consistent with her bedtime and wake time.
Pick a time that works in your schedule. I am fortunate to be on an extended maternity leave and can wake up at any time, but 7 am worked for both me and Parker!
#3 Good day-time sleep
I realized early on that if Parker didn’t sleep enough during the day, her night sleep was bad too. It seems backwards, but that’s how it was for us. If we had a busy day or she fought naps, she was almost too tired to stay asleep overnight. It is hard for me as a mom, but I had to make sacrifices during the day to keep her on our schedule. As we get older, it is much easier to run errands or even just go to Starbucks to get out! However, this whole nap-thing has been a struggle! (I’ll get more into that later!)
#4 Naps Under 2 Hours
I know some people swear by not waking a sleeping baby, but I always woke after a 2 hour nap. It didn't happen often (she hates napping) but if it did, I woke her up! Our pediatrician said 3 hours, but that seemed long to me, especially when her night stretch was only 4 hours... 3 seemed too long! Not only was this to protect night time sleep, it also helps make sure that she eats enough during the day so she 's not as hungry in the middle of the night! I never went more than 3 hours without feeding.
This step is especially important early on because they have the whole day/night thing backwards and you want the long stretch of sleep to happen overnight!
These methods worked really welI for Parker. I really do think that implementing these is why she was sleeping 5-6 hours overnight when she was 6 weeks old! Plus, the hours she slept over night gradually increased over time. At 8 weeks we were at 8-9 hours!
We were in a great rhythm until Parker caught a cold around 10 weeks. She needed to be nursed more and cuddled more. Has anyone had a sick 10 week old? It was soooo tough seeing her so sick!!! Obviously, I wasn’t focused on keeping any sort of schedule because the priority was taking care of my baby! Because she was struggling I started nursing her to get her to sleep. She also started waking up in the middle of the night, and regressed to her sleep stretch being about 6 hours. Once she started getting better, after about a week, she started getting that sleep stretch back up. At 12 weeks, she was back up to 8-10 hours each night.
As her night sleep got longer, I had a harder and harder time getting her to nap.
Because I was nursing her to sleep while she was sick, we had kind of fallen into nurse-to-sleep trap for naps. Which kind of put a little damper on my #3 above, but it all worked out eventually. My next post will be about how I’m working on a nap schedule and getting Parker to soothe herself to sleep again!
One difficult thing about being a mom is that you want to do what is right for your kid, but no one really knows what the right thing is!
Every kid is different and we have to adapt to help them.
Also, it seems like once you find something that works, something changes, and what worked yesterday does not work today!
This has been a major hurdle for me as a mom. Trying to have a plan and then the plan changes the next day LOL
Being a mom is definitely a learning experience! I'm thankful to have learned from the one of the best mom's out there! (do you think she reads this??? we'll see)
Now, Parker is almost 4 months old, and sleeping 10-11 hours over night! I should add, that I really do think these methods would work for any kid, but they might work at a different pace. Parker was a BIG baby starting at 9 lbs 7 oz, so she may have moved a little more quickly than a 6 lb baby would. But in all the research I did, I found that it is quite normal for kids at 12 weeks to be sleeping 8+ hours, or at least have the capability of doing so with the right help and surroundings!
I'd love to hear how your kid sleeps!! Good or bad? Any other tips you can add to my list!?