The first week or so home with Liam was rough to put it lightly. He wouldn’t sleep in his bassinet, or anywhere besides Mama or Dad’s arms for that matter. I think part of this was typical newborn behavior, part could be attributed to his silent reflux (more on this in a later post), and part was because we simply had no clue what we were doing. As the Mama to a 14 week old, I am so SO far from an expert on baby sleep methods. However, we have come up with some simple things that work for us and may work for your Little One as well. I know when I was sleep deprived and desperate, I would have tried just about anything. So what does it actually mean for a baby to sleep through the night? For me, it’s sleeping anything longer than a six hour stretch. BUT, sleeping longer than a six hour stretch does not mean that baby sleeps peacefully without a stir or a sound. Think about the way that you sleep. You probably wake up several times at night because you’re uncomfortable, hot, had a weird dream, whatever… The difference here is that you are fully capable of putting yourself back to sleep and your Little One is not. I still have to half-wake up at least 3-4 times per night to put Liam’s pacifier back in his mouth, pat him to give him some reassurance that I’m still there, rock his bassinet (more on this later in the post), or if he’s having a particularly bad night (usually during a growth spurt or a leap) to put him in bed with me.
The number one thing that has helped Liam sleep better is ROUTINE. I cannot stress enough how much babies thrive on routine. We follow our own flexible version of a BabyWise schedule during the day. You can purchase the book here. To be honest though, I didn’t read the book. I just looked up “sample babywise schedule” and tweaked what I found to meet our needs. If I had read every baby book recommended to me, I would be reading until Liam is a grown adult. The whole focus of the schedule is to make sure that your baby is getting enough full feedings throughout the day rather than just snacking. This ensures that baby gets all the nutrition that they need during the day and don’t need to wake as often at night to feed. You’ll also want to get your baby on a routine of “Eat. Play. Sleep.” Liam generally wakes up between 6 and 7 am (though I suspect that he would sleep later if I had blackout curtains, anyways, I digress). We get up, change his diaper, he eats, he plays for about 45 minutes, then I put him down for a nap. Depending on how long he naps, he will repeat this routine every three to four hours throughout the day. This can vary depending on your individual child. Liam sometimes feeds a little more often at night before bed to “load up” and first thing in the morning to “catch up.”
The second, arguably most important part, of routine is the bedtime routine. I find that this helps to signal to Liam that it is time for nightsleeping and not just a nap. Every night about two hours before bedtime we turn off all of the overhead lights in the house and turn on lamps. The dim lighting helps him start to wind down. We give him a bath every night. We use this Aveeno Baby Calming Comfort Bath. We subscribe to it on Amazon so it is automatically sent every two months. After his bath he gets a little massage using the Aveeno Baby Calming Comfort Lotion (we subscribe to this as well) to help him relax. We use overnight diapers and apply a really thick layer of diaper cream to help ensure that he doesn’t wake up because he is uncomfortable from a wet diaper. We use Pampers Swaddlers Overnights and Burt’s Bees Diaper Cream. I cannot recommend subscribing to diapers on Amazon enough. You end up saving between 30-50% and you never have to worry about running out. We dress him in lightweight pajamas as he tends to get hot. Then we swaddle him in a velcro swaddle, or his “straight jacket” as we like to call it (he can bust out of a regular swaddle blanket in no time). Then he gets his last bottle for the night while Mama or Daddy rocks him. We make sure to burp him really well so he doesn’t wake up from gas pains. He usually falls asleep shortly after and we put him to bed.
Lastly, we have come up with a nighttime sleeping arrangement that helps him stay as comfortable and cozy as possible. He sleeps in this bassinet. It’s super affordable and I love that I can rock it when he starts to stir around. Its basically a metal frame with a fabric “basket” that the mattress rests in. I can swing the “basket” part to rock him back to sleep without having to pick him up or even get out of bed. Amazing. We also have the SnuggleMe Organic Pillow, which is my actual Holy Grail of baby products. It helps make my cuddly little guy feel like he’s being held all night long and on the off chance that he does wake up, I can put it in bed with me to keep Liam safe and Mama comfortable. We keep white noise on all night to prevent any background noise from waking him up. We chose to download a free white noise app rather than buying a white noise machine.
There you have it! My tips and tricks for helping Mamas and babies get the sleep that we all need and deserve. Some of this may need to be tweaked since every child is unique. It is also worth noting that until baby has doubled their birth weight, it is absolutely normal and necessary for them to wake up for night feedings! Trying to wean baby off of these feedings before they are ready will not work. Every little one moves at their own pace. Sleeping through the night is a milestone just like rolling over or sitting up and it will be met as soon as your individual child is ready! These tips are simply to help baby sleep as soundly as possible for as long as they are developmentally able to. I hope that this is helpful for y’all. Happy Snoozing, Mamas! What helped your baby sleep through the night? Share in the comments.
The Crispy Mama