When Olivia was just a few months old, I can’t tell you how many times I got asked “Wait, Your Baby Sleeps Through the Night???”
Yes, she did, and yours can to! I’m not saying this is FOOL PROOF. Perhaps I got lucky. Perhaps I just had a good baby. Perhaps it’s a mix of things. But it’s worth a shot right? What do you have to lose, besides another night’s sleep!?
1. You don’t have to wake your baby every 2 hours to feed
When they are NEW NEWBORNS, yes, you do. Most likely they will wake YOU up. Once Olivia had gained back her birthweight, I stopped waking her. I read a book (Becoming Baby Wise) that said to do a mix of on demand, but also kind of scheduled. Don’t focus so much on the clock! Read your baby’s cues. You don’t want to wake them up and feed just because it’s been 3 hours. What if they are not hungry? But if they wake up and give hunger cues after 1 hour, you can’t be like oh I can’t feed you for 2 more hours. Babies will clench their fists, and put their hands to their mouth when they are hungry. They move their head around as if they were looking for the nipple. These are hunger signs. You want to catch them before the baby starts a cry meltdown, because then sometimes they are too upset to eat properly. If you can catch the hunger cues early, you will feed a calm baby and they will go back to their sleeping state very quickly.
2. Don’t change their diaper in the middle of the night
Yes, no and maybe. I’d say it depends on your baby. I was lucky and my baby never seemed to be bothered by a dirty diaper. Sometimes I wouldn’t even know it was dirty until I’d check. So, once she started sleeping through the night, I just let her sleep. If you wake them up to change their diaper, they become stimulated and now they are wide awake at 2am, ready to play/eat/etc. I’m willing to bet you’re not though! Haha I’d say unless you have a major blowout, or baby is sensitive to a dirty diaper, leave it for morning.
3. Teach baby the difference between DAY and NIGHT
This was my own idea and was probably the biggest reason for my success at having Olivia sleep through the night as early as 2 months. Nighttime feedings were done quietly, in the dark. I would just pick her up, nurse her in the dark and then lay her back down. No lights, no singing, no rocking back to sleep, no talking, etc. For the opposite, daytime feedings were done in the light. I sang to her, tickled her, talked to her, etc. I wanted her to know that daytime was for fun, nighttime was for sleeping.
If you feed your baby every 3 hours during the day, how do you expect them NOT to want to feed every 3 hours at night? I nursed Olivia on demand during the day, I’d just want for her hunger cues. Sometimes it would be 2 hours, others it would be 4 hours. This helped her go longer stretches without needing food to allow her to sleep at night and not need food.
5. Don’t let baby just sleep all day!
When they are newborns, all they do is sleep. They pretty much only wake up to eat and get their diaper changed. They look around for a bit, then its right back to sleep. They are pretty boring, haha! But the plus is you get a lot of downtime. Enjoy it because you don’t get ANY down time in a few months. Once baby hits a few months and they start interacting with you a bit more, try to stretch out their naps as much as you can and keep them awake for longer periods. If they sleep all day, they won’t be tired at night and will get flipped on a reverse schedule. Sure, it was harder for me to not get any free time during the day, but I’d rather sleep at night. Sure, it was hard for me to deal with a fussy baby at times, but I’d rather sleep at night. I’m not saying don’t let them nap at all during the day, but at around 4-5 months, I was having Olivia nap only twice a day. A late morning nap, and an early evening nap. I never let her nap passed 5pm, so she was good and tired by her bath and bed. Because of my husbands work schedule, bath and bed routine was anywhere between 8pm and 10pm, but we were always consistent in our routine and it worked for us.
6. Don’t confuse a nighttime routine with a schedule
A nighttime routine means doing the same thing every night, but maybe not at the same exact time. Some people may need a schedule, but I think a routine is more important. Babies like routine, it gives them a sense of control in a world where they control nothing. They know what’s coming next. Bath, then jammies, then nursing or book, then bed. Sometimes, we’d put Olivia in the bath and think oh man we are in for it tonight, she’s wide awake and crazy. And it never fails, by the time the water is draining, she’s rubbing her eyes, tired. She knows what is coming next, and it means bedtime. Schedules for us were impossible since my husband gets home every night at a different time. Don’t focus so much on doing everything at the same exact time, rather than just focusing on making sure you do the same exact thing every time.
7. Full Belly!
I nursed Olivia every night before bed. Once I started feeding her food, I feed her a dinner and then I still nurse her at bedtime. At this point, I’m sure it’s likely just a comfort thing for her and not an I’m hungry thing. At first, I would try to rush her and I would pull her off once she seemed to fall asleep and she’d always wake up shortly after crying and I’d have to nurse her again. Once I started just letting her nurse for a long time and pop off when she was done and completely out, she started sleeping better. I’ve learned I can’t be impatient, and I have to just let her nurse until she rolls over asleep on her own. The fuller her belly the longer she sleeps!
8. Buy the Dockatot!!!!!!!!!!!!
Yes, it’s definitely worth the money. At first it was the only way Olivia was able to sleep through the night transitioning from her rocknplay to crib.
The results: At first, Olivia would go 4 hours in between waking up. Then it stretched to 5-6. Soon it was 7-8. At one point, we were up to 12 hours at 6 months. Then, at 10 months, I got it all taken away when she started teething. Her first tooth popped through at 10 months. Her teeth keep coming one by one, instead of in pairs. During the time her teeth are popping through, she’s a horrible sleeper! Waking up sometimes every 2 hours. But once the tooth pops, she’s back to sleeping 8 hours. Some nights she’ll wake up just once and I’ll get say 4-5 hours, then 5-6 hours after that so a total of 10/11 hours but broken up, which isn’t bad. Some breastfeeding mothers still have babies that wake up several times a night so I’d consider 6-8 hours a complete success! I’m hopeful once all her teeth are in (6 more to go) and we stop nursing, she will be back to being my perfect little sleeper.
Leave me a comment if you have any questions on anything I’ve said above or leave me your thoughts if you’ve tried anything and it works.