How I got my baby to sleep through the night

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I get asked often how I got my baby to sleep thought the night. I’m so convinced that the most difficult issue when it comes to parenting babies and toddlers is sleep. It all comes down to sleep. Your sleep, their sleep…everybody’s sleep. You can see it in the dark circles under the new mom’s eyes or even in the frazzled mom of non-sleeping toddlers. Occasionally you will come across someone who says their baby was an excellent sleeper since birth. Well good for them. I’m pretty sure these babies are the exception to rule. I can’t tell you how many times I googled “How I got my baby to sleep through the night” in desperation only to get so frustrated at reading accounts of people whose babies just magically sleep so well. I hesitated to even write this post for that reason. I can assure you this is not one of those accounts.

I had to work for it and work at it. I don’t have a quick formula or a 10 step plan. If you have a 12 week old that you are wanting to sleep through the night like… tonight then you probably won’t find this much help. I’m just going to tell you what I did with both of my girls that worked both times. The proof is in the pudding and both of my girls sleep 12-13 hours at night without waking even once (95% of the time).

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Emma’s sleep story:

When I was pregnant with my first I read Babywise and thought “Why yes, I would like to give my infant the gift of nighttime sleep.” I tried to implement this plan from the start and spent the better part of her first 5 months stressed and frustrated because she wasn’t sleeping…wasn’t following my plan….wasn’t napping long enough…etc. I wish I could go back to those early days and shake myself and tell myself to reellaaaxxx, take a chill pill,let your baby nap in the swing and go take a nap yourself.

Then we tried co-sleeping out of desperation and that semi worked but not really because I was sleeping so poorly and she was still waking so often at night to nurse. Which made for a cranky and sore mama.

**(Let me just stop and say that I am not someone who expects a baby to sleep through the night before a certain age. I think babies NEED to eat at night for some time and I actually enjoy night feeds…to a certain extent {i.e not every hour})

I was against cry it out from the beginning, my heart could not take it. I knew from reading Babywise that this was what I was “supposed” to do. Instead I continued trying to co-sleep and after several more months of struggling with naps and getting to her to go and stay asleep at night my husband said “enough”. By this time she was 9 months old and I knew we couldn’t continue this way. I was at a breaking point so I agreed to try  a modified version of cry it out.

On the night we chose to start we did our usual bed time routine with prayers, rocking and good night kisses. We put her in her crib and left the room. She cried. Yes she did. She was able to stand up so she spent the better part of 30 minutes standing up crying. We checked in on her every 5-10 minutes depending on the level of her crying. If she had thrown her paci we would pick it up and give it back. After a total of 47 minutes of on and off crying with very frequent checks, hugs, kisses and reassurances from us..all was quiet. She was asleep and guess what??! She slept the entire night. She had NEVER done that. The next day we did the same for naps and night again. She put up a mild 15 minute fuss at naps and a 30 minute fuss at bedtime. Again we checked on her, kissed her, hugged her and reassured her that it was ok to lay down and go to sleep. Again she slept through the night. On the 3rd night would you know that she didn’t cry at all…she laid down and went to sleep for 13 hours. I literally was beside myself with excitement. Of course, I still went in to check on her to make sure she was breathing. She was fine…turns out she just needed her own space.

Since that time she has slept like this and now at 2 years old she still sleeps from 8pm-8:30am and I don’t hear a peep. Now of course we have gone through phases where she will fight it a little more (18 month sleep regression anyone?) or when we took her paci away or if she’s feeling sick.

I think a few things contributed to our success. -Her age: she was 9 months old so it was a little easier to let her cry and I knew she wasn’t hungry. -Our resoluteness: I think she could sense that our minds were made up and this was the way it was going to be.- Her disposition: I do think her disposition had something to do with it. She is a very mild-mannered child and not very stubborn so she didn’t put up too much of a fight unlike her sister (more on that below).

Alina’s sleep story:

This story won’t be nearly as long.

I didn’t read a single sleep help book during my pregnancy with Alina. I had learned my lesson. I let her nap in the swing nearly all the time and at night she slept in the rock and play beside me. I fed her whenever she wanted to eat and didn’t stress about it. We slept snuggled up together often. It was amazing and I will always cherish those days.

When she was 6 months old I knew she was ready . You can read about our struggle with transitioning out of the swaddle here. That was a whole other issue in itself. Once we got that figured out I knew she was ready to sleep on her own. We followed the same plan that we did with her older sister. I knew since she was younger and more strong-willed that I would be going in her room more often and that it might take a little longer. I was right. She cried longer and it took about 6 days. I had a lot of empathy for her and often would go and pick her up until she settled down. Sometimes holding her for 10 or 20 minutes. I would even nurse her sometimes to calm her. I knew this probably went against traditional cry it out methods but I didn’t care. I knew what she needed and I wanted her to know I was there for her. After that first week she figured it out. She began going to sleep on her own and only waking at night if she was hungry which at first was 2 times, then just once and now…she doesn’t wake at all. There was no crying involved in dropping those feedings. I was prepared to let her eat at night for a few more months but she decided she was done. Now she too sleeps from 7pm-8am and is a great napper as well.

I have so much more I could say about the subject of baby sleep. Another day. Today I just wanted to share these stories in hopes that it might encourage someone. If you have any questions or just need encouragement please don’t hesitate to contact me. Sleep deprivation is no joke. Hang in there mama’s! It does get better.

Click here to read what about items I suggest to help your baby sleep better.

  • Emma’s story is a lot like mine. Co-sleeping was not working so eventually we tried our version of the cry it out method and after about a 30-40 mins (with us checking on her every 10 minutes or so) she finally fell asleep. And she started sleeping the whole night. It was great. She normally a great sleeper at night….naps are a whole other ball game. haha!

  • these are great tips! my sister just had her first so i’ll be sharing these with her!

  • Thank you Robyn! Congrats to your sister and thanks for sharing

  • Oh my..good luck with the naps. They can be so frustrating at times.

  • Awesome tips! What mom doesn’t need help with baby sleep at least once in her life?

  • Thank you for reading!

  • The Beauty boulevard

    This is the cutest blog I’ve ever seen and also great tips!

  • Well thank you 🙂