How we got our Baby to Sleep Through the Night
Sleep. Never in my life has this word meant to so much to me. It’s been the subject of many frantic google searches and in my opinion, the hardest thing about being a mom so far. The first few months of Weston’s life, I think I was running on adrenaline (or something… who the heck knows). I was breastfeeding (meaning I was the only one who could feed in the middle of the night) and my hungry baby was waking up every two hours. Looking back, I’m not sure how I survived, but I remember feeling pretty good during those first few weeks of motherhood. But, that quickly changed and by about month 5, I was on the verge of losing my mind (literally) . I knew something had to change. I remember having a full on breakdown one night and not even wanting to go to sleep because it just meant that I would be woken up in a few short hours. At this point, waking up throughout the night was more painful than just being awake (if that makes any sense at all). The next day, we sat down and created a bedtime routine that changed everything. Here’s how we got our baby sleeping through the night.
The Pre-Bedtime Routine
We decided that I wasn’t going to nurse Weston to sleep anymore and created a bedtime routine around the idea of putting him to bed “drowsy but awake”. Starting at 6:30pm, I nurse, feed him a bowl of cereal, and pass him off to his daddy. My husband takes him to his room, turns on the sound machine, changes his diaper, puts on pajamas, reads him a book, and sings “you are my sunshine.” Then gives him a kiss, lays him down, and leaves the room. I’d be lying if I said there were no tears involved here. The first night, I think he cried for about 10 minutes. Every night after that, it got better, and now it’s surprising if he cries for thirty seconds. The beautiful thing about this routine is that anyone can put him to bed with ease which makes it really nice on the rare occasion we have a babysitter.
Middle of the Night Wakings
Here’s where things got really difficult. We made a commitment that I would no longer nurse in the middle of the night. Our pediatrician assured us that nutritionally speaking, Weston did not need to eat throughout the night (especially every two hours). Instead of me and my milk filled boobs going in to soothe our son, my husband handled all of the middle of the night wakings. He would go in, pat Weston on the back for a minute, and leave the room. Then he’d wait five minutes and if Weston was still crying, he’d go back in and repeat, each time increasing the amount of time before he returned to the nursery. I’ll be honest, hearing my baby cry for any amount of time was painful (I mean really painful). But, the first night we did this, Weston went from waking up five times a night, to only waking up twice. When I went to get him from his crib the next morning, he had a huge smile on his face and it made me feel so much better (he didn’t hate me after all). The second night, he again, woke up twice. By the third night, our son slept through the night for the first time in his life. It was a MIRACLE!! He also woke up a happier, well rested baby which meant smoother mornings.
If you don’t think you can handle this method of sleep training, but you’re desperate to find a way to get your little one to sleep through the night, you might want to consider Baby Sleep Made Simple. To be honest, if I would have known of it’s existence when we were sleep training Weston, I would have jumped at the opportunity (and probably would have done things a little differently). Baby Sleep Made Simple offers step by step guides on how to get your baby to sleep through the night that are safe and in tune with your parenting philosophy. You can learn more about the program and sign up for the free Exhausted Moms Survival Kit here!
I noticed that as soon as Weston started sleeping through the night, his naps improved as well. I started him on the 2, 3, 4 schedule and that has worked very well for us. Two hours after he wakes up, he lays down for a nap. Three hours after he wakes up from that nap, he lays down for his second nap. He usually wakes up about 4 hours before bedtime (give or take… but we always start his bedtime routine at 6:30pm).
Teething, Sickness, Developmental Leaps, and other Crazy Things Babies Do
I’d be lying if I said it was smooth sailing from there on out. Babies are brand new to this world and they’re bodies and minds are always changing at lightning speed. To think that their sleep is never going to be disrupted is crazy. When he got his top front teeth, it was awful. My poor baby had a fever and was in a lot of pain, which lead to waking up in the middle of the night. Every time he goes through a develop mental leap, he wakes up in the middle of the night. The best thing we can do is be consistent, trust our gut, and do what we believe is right for our baby and his much needed sleep.
Now that we’re through the thick of it and consistently getting a good night’s sleep, it almost seems like it was easy, but I know it wasn’t. It took a lot of commitment, sticking to our guns, and most of all, teamwork. If you’re a momma searching for some sleep solutions, I wish you all the best. Find something that works for you and stick to it. The best thing you can do is to keep trying. Babies love routine and knowing what to expect, so the more you commit to doing something, the easier they catch on. You got this, mama.
UPDATE: We’ve welcomed baby number two into our family and this time, I decided to give Jilly’s program a try. Things are a whole lot different when there’s another kiddo running around. I can’t do a leisurely nap time routine and any crying in the middle of the night is going to wake up Weston as well. While I’m still a couple months out from sleep training, I’ve started educating myself with Baby Sleep Made Simple and implementing small things along the way. I’m hoping that once we hit the 5 month mark, we’ll be able to get him sleeping through the night in no time. I’ve been so impressed with Jilly’s program so far and have already gotten Elliott to sleep in his crib for naps. The lessons I’ve learned already are priceless to this tired mama!