My husband and I were SO TIRED of hearing, “Get all the sleep you can now, because once the baby comes, you won’t sleep for 18 years!”  Why does it seem so hard to get your baby to sleep through the night?

Seriously?!  Is this how you encourage expectant parents?

Thankfully, throughout my first pregnancy, I had three mothers, at three separate times, share with me their positive experiences and a book that changed their lives and taught how to get their baby to sleep through the night on their own!  

Can my baby sleep through the night?

YES!!  And as the parent, teaching your child to sleep and get quality sleep, is the one of the most important things you will teach your child!

The book, On Becoming Babywise, SAVED our sleep!  It taught us how to sleep train, structure throughout the day (as best you can with a baby!), and why it’s so important for us as parents to teach our baby to sleep through the night.

**If you like the cliff notes verision, get them in my Get your Baby to Sleep through the Night ebook!

 

How can I get my baby to sleep?

Re-establish Day and Night

When your baby is born, their day and night schedule is all messed up.  In the womb, they slept during the day and where awake at night. Therefore, the first step is helping them establish proper day and night.  

To help your baby learn when day time is, you will wake a sleeping baby from their nap.  I can hear you gasp now! You do not want your baby sleeping all day or they will be up all night.  

The best way that I have learned to help our girls learn when to be awake during the day is to follow the Feed – Wake – Sleep pattern.

Feed – Wake – Sleep Cycle

The most effective message from the On Becoming Babywise Book is the Feed, Wake, Sleep Cycle. This cycle repeats itself every 2.5 – 3 hours during the day time and is what teaches your baby the difference between day and night and helps regulate their metabolism.  During the day, once you feed your baby, you want to KEEP THEM AWAKE!

How to work the Cycle:

  • However long your cycle length is, cut that time in half.  
  • The first part is the feeding time and the wake time.  
  • At “half time” mark, it is the baby’s naptime.
  • At the end of the cycle time, wake your baby (if still napping), and start the cycle over with feeding time.  
get your baby to sleep through the night

I’ll share an example on a 3 hour cycle.

  • 6am – Baby wakes, feed time and wake time
  • 7:30 am – Put baby down for a nap (I suggest a crib or pack n play, not on you or another “bed” you plan on transitioning them out of in the future)
  • 9am – Wake baby from nap, feed and wake time
  • 10:30am – Put baby down for a nap
  • 12pm – Wake baby from nap, feed and wake time
  • 1:30pm – Put baby down for a nap
  • 3pm – Wake baby from nap, feed and wake time
  • 4:30pm – Put baby down for a nap
  • 6pm – Wake baby from nap, feed and wake time
  • 7:30pm – Put baby down for a nap
  • 9pm – Feed, Bedtime routine and bed

The idea is to get in FULL feeds during the feeding time, this is to keep them full for the next feeding and once they get to the next feeding, they will be hungry enough to get a full feeding at the next feeding time.  This in turn, will help with nap time sleep, metabolism and helping your baby sleep through the night.

How do you get a newborn baby to sleep through the night?

Modifications for a Newborn

As a newborn, your goal is to work on FULL FEEDINGS first and track the times you are feeding.  At about the 2 week mark, use those times to decide what hour cycle (usually 2.5 hours) to start the feed – wake – sleep cycle.  

Keeping a newborn awake to get in a full feed can be challenging.  This may mean you need to change their diaper, undress them, switch sides, lay them on the floor for a few seconds, put them anywhere that usually makes them cry to try to get them awake, or more to keep them awake while they feed.  

After they feed, try to do your best to play with them to keep them awake for a little while after they feed and then put them down for their nap.  

You are still trying to teach them proper day time, so after a 2 hour nap, if they’re still sleeping, wake them up for a feeding.  

Set up a Night Time Routine

Following the same routine for you baby before nap time and bed time will help your baby prepare for sleep time.  

Our bedtime routine consisted of:

  • Change their diaper
  • Feeding in their room in a rocking chair with the lights off.
  • Listening to Baby Rainforest music while they nursed.
  • Reading the book Good Night Moon
  • Praying with them
  • Swaddling (until about 4-5 months)
  • Laying them down in their crib

How do you make your baby go to sleep without being held?  

First be sure that all of your baby’s needs are met.  They has a clean diaper and they’re not overly hungry.  Also, lay them down for a nap or bedtime BEFORE they are too tired.  

It is ok if you baby does not go to sleep right away.  They may “talk” to themselves. However if they are overly tired, it might be harder for them to self soothe.  This is another reason why having a schedule helps, because then you know when it is time for your baby to get more rest.  

Also it is ok if your baby cries when you lay them down.  

Now I know that is not what you want to hear.  However, if you hold your baby every time they cry just so they can go to sleep, you’re training your baby to think that’s the only way they’ll be able to sleep.  And then you’ll be stuck doing that for a LONG time.

Another method that can help calm your baby before sleep is the 5 S’s.  These tips come from The Happiest Baby on the Block:

  • Swaddle
  • Side position – when holding your baby
  • Shushing – white noise or you shushing in your baby’s ear
  • Swinging –
  • Suck – using a pacifier helps many babies (even though my girls wouldn’t take one!) 

Going through these each time before you put your baby to bed would be a good way to establish a routine of calming so the baby knows sleep time is coming.  

 

 

When should you start sleep training?

I believe you should start the feed – wake – sleep cycle ASAP!  

You can do this cycle even as a newborn, even if they are eating more often.  The idea behind this is to teach them proper day and night, which can be done from the beginning.  

When we have followed this cycle with our 3 girls, the quality nap time sleep and getting our baby to sleep through the night was a natural by product.  

How long do you let a baby cry it out?

This is one of the hardest parts of being a mom, hearing your baby cry.  

When I would put our daughter’s down for a nap or bed time, I would give myself a chore to keep busy the first 5 minutes to give my daughter time to soothe herself to sleep.  I would typically go start a load of laundry so I couldn’t hear her cry.

By the time I was done, she was usually done fussing and/or already asleep.  There were times the crying last longer. However, I would set a timer for 2 minutes so I wouldn’t rush in too quickly.  During this time, I would wait to hear if her crying would soften, even just a little bit. If I could hear a difference in the level of crying, that told me she was trying and learning how to soothe.  Every time I heard the crying level soften, I would reset the timer for another 2 minutes. Eventually, she would put herself to sleep.

I truly believe teaching your baby to sleep is one of the first big tasks we teach our children.  Helping them to learn and establish great sleep is one skill they will take with them for a lifetime!

If you like this blog post, I’d love for you to share it with a friend.  

I would also love to learn and hear from you!!

Tired of only sleeping a couple of hours at a time?

Ready to get back to normal?

Annoyed with people telling you you’ll never sleep again?

If so, this book is for you!

We have 3 girls and all of them were sleeping 8 hours a night
by 8 weeks old!  

get your baby to sleep through the night

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