I debated whether or not I wanted to discuss this hot topic, as it has a tendency to rile people up. I’m not an expert on babies or sleep, this is simply what worked (and continues to work) for my son. I consulted with his pediatrician, and did ample research on my own, before making any decisions regarding sleep training methods. Since I’ve found a lot of tips and tricks that have helped us along the way, I thought I’d share what I did with Wyatt and how it’s worked out for us. Of course, always consult with your pediatrician, do your own research, and do whatever YOU (& baby) are comfortable with.
Our Sleep Journey
For the majority of my pregnancy, I did not give much thought to babies and their sleeping. Of course, I heard the normal bits of advice from well-meaning people. You know, the “you’ll never sleep again”, “enjoy sleeping while you can”, and “get lots of sleep before baby comes” comments. I assumed they were right, that I’d never sleep again and that nighttime would be miserable until my kids were 18 (or whatever). At some point, I realized that doesn’t have to be the case. Babies learn to sleep just like they learn everything else. Some have unique reasons that makes it harder for them to get it all figured out, but that’s not always the case.
First off, I exclusively breastfed Wyatt until he was just over a year old. For the first several weeks, we did a hybrid of feeding on demand and on a schedule. Basically, I would let him feed on demand UNLESS he reached a certain number of hours without eating and then we’d go to a “schedule”. We did this until he had reached a healthy weight and development.
I’ve heard the “never wake a sleeping baby” advice, but I completely ignored it. This meant that during the night during the first few weeks, I set a timer for 2-3 hours from the time he started nursing. This was tough. I’m pretty sure he would have slept much longer, but I think that not letting him get to the point of waking up hungry helped with getting him on a sleeping schedule.
All of the tips listed below + a lot of hard work (& patience) resulted in Wyatt sleeping 4-6 hours straight by 4 weeks old and completely sleeping through the night by 6 weeks. By 8 weeks, he was sleeping 11-12 hours consistently and transitioned to his crib.
THE KEYS TO SUCCESS
Start a routine early
This is my favorite word when it comes to any type of parenting topic. There are a lot of psychological studies that show that human beings thrive on routine, INCLUDING (and especially) babies! A routine isn’t the same for everyone, but just having one makes life so much easier. As soon as we brought Wyatt home, I did a few things every single night to get a nighttime routine established early:
- Turn on sound machine
- Change diaper + SWADDLE
- Sing lullabies + say prayers
- Put Wyatt down sleepy, not sleeping & turn on mobile/lullaby music
I didn’t include bath time, because we did not do that every night when he was a newborn since he had such dry skin + they don’t really need it that often at that age. (Honestly, we still don’t do baths every night.)
After all of that, I leave the room. I did this even when he was brand new and slept all the time, because I wanted there to be a difference between sleeping in his mamaRoo (or wherever else) and the bassinet/crib.
Swaddle, swaddle, swaddle
Swaddling is a must. I honestly don’t know what to say when people tell me their baby didn’t/doesn’t like to be swaddled, I probably just stare back blankly. Around 4-6 weeks I almost fell into that thinking, but quickly corrected myself and I haven’t looked back. I won’t go into the science of why it helps baby sleep, but it totally worked for us. Wyatt still uses a sleep sack today (they make them for many ages) and just putting it on makes him start yawning.
These are the ones we used and I recommend:
Use a sound machine
Sound machines are imperative, especially since we have dogs that bark no matter what I do. Plus, I didn’t want to create the expectation that things would always be completely silent when he was sleeping. There are a lot of studies that show many other benefits to using sound machines, even for adults. I know that I personally sleep better with some sort of white noise (from a fan or sound machine)!
This particular sound machine is my favorite because it actually has a motor inside of it, so it’s true white noise. And it’s pretty loud, but not too loud. Still using it as I type this!
Helpful Resources + Other Products
When I was first getting sleep training all figured out, these videos really helped me figured out what I wanted to do and how. I tweaked things here and there based on Wyatt’s needs, but overall I can attest to the fact that this method worked! I also love that she has two children that each had their own unique experiences. That really helped ease the “what if” questions I had going into this. (Also, I love her YouTube channel!)
Finally, I highly recommend having a mobile that displays some sort of lights or pictures on the ceiling. This really came in handy when we were transitioning to the crib. Wyatt would just lay in bed (when he slept on his back, we definitely don’t do that anymore) and watch the pictures or lights on the ceiling until he fell asleep. Totally worth the money & still being used. This particular one also has some high tech features like bluetooth and an app to control the settings from your phone.
Above all else, just know that this is a phase. It will pass. The sleepless nights are so tough, but someday you might just miss them. Try to soak up each moment (even the unpleasant ones). I try to remind myself of this daily when things get hard, which happens at least once a day. (That’s probably an understatement.)
Do you have any special tips for getting babies to sleep through the night? Share them below! Please share this with anyone you think may need it (or will soon!).