Baby Sleep Tricks: 9 Ways to Get Your Baby to Sleep at Night
There are those of us who have those sweet cuddly newborns who seem to understand the concept of sleeping through the night. Then, there are children like mine who think night time means party time. I’m guessing if you are reading this, you are closer to being the latter.
After getting shingles with my first child, I put my foot down. There was no way I was going to continue waking up through the night.
I read all the books I should have read before having a child. I talked to friends with similar situations. I read endless amount of websites and blogs attempting to find the solution. I end up listening to my doctor’s advice and letting her cry it out. After 2 ½ hours of screaming, I knew that I never wanted to be in this situation ever again.
There were some basic concepts that I followed with my second child that proved to be extremely effective. I plan to follow these tips for every subsequent child.
1. Protect Their Sleep
Life gets busy. There’s this meeting to go to, there’s a friend in town, family in town, a holiday and so much more going on in our lives.
I realized when it was too late that protecting my child’s sleep was essential for getting a full night of sleep. Our little blessings are known for being poor sleepers at first. So, I did not catch that my inconsistent nap and bedtime was taking its toll until we reached 6 months. She should have been sleeping through the night, right?
I also knew all children were different so I tried to keep that in mind. She did not naturally start sleeping through the night. Children love consistency and thrive on it. Sleeping also needs to be consistent.
2. Maintain the Schedule
Once, your baby gets into a routine. I know it may feel like forever the first month or so, but it does happen. They start forming their own schedule.
Most likely, they will nap around three times a day out of the new born phase.
My babies needed to nap about two hours after they woke up. Then they napped again after lunch and late afternoon.
It was essential they kept the schedule. The better they slept during the day, the better they handled dreadful dusk. The hours where nothing seems to satisfy them. When I say hours, my little one could make dreadful dusk go until midnight.
3. Keep a Bed Time Routine from the Start
What do you imagine at bedtime for the next few years? Whatever you imagine, start on the skeleton of that from the beginning.
I wish someone would have told me this. Your routine will let your little one know, that it’s time to sleep. My only hot tip is to use music.
At first, newborns do well with music or white noise. This is a great signal to let them know it is night time. You can play it all night long or it can eventually be turned off. If it turns off, it’s great to have one you can turn on from a different room.
4. Separate the Sleep Situation Earlier
We all make our choices about our baby’s sleep situation. I chose to have my little ones in a bassinet next to my bed. When I say that, I mean they ended up in my bed for feedings and got put back in their bassinet in theory.
This worked well when they were newborns. My mind’s eye can see my very vocal 5-month old screaming mama while looking at me from his crib next to my bed. Separate the sleep situation to make sleeping away from you easier and sleeping through the night a better possibility.
I know there must be co-sleeping babies out there who sleep well through the night. I’ve never met them. In my experience, a good time to separate the sleeping situation between 3 months and 5 months. I find that babies get more stuck on patterns the longer the pattern exists.
5. Let Them Learn to Fall Asleep
I’m not a sleep doctor, but I do know that there are different stages in our sleep. Naturally, there is a lighter portion in our sleep where we wake up and go back into a deeper sleep.
When babies wake up at night, they don’t know how to put themselves back to sleep. When they are more tired, they seem to do even worse.
It is a good idea to practice letting your baby fall asleep on their own during the day. I say during the day because I really covet my time at night. This helped me stay sane.
In order to implement this, put your baby down when they are awake. I always put on their sleep music to signal that it’s a sleeping time. Like any new thing, it will take them some time to learn.
For my little ones, it was not instant. They learned to rock themselves, roll over and suck their thumbs to soothe themselves to sleep. If anyone could tell me how to get rid of the thumb sucking, I’m open ears.
6. Reduce the Night Time Reaction Speed
Stop being so quick to respond to your little one. This might come naturally to you because you’re sluggish from sleep. I was more like runner waiting for the gun. Being so quick to respond told my little ones that they could just cry and get mommy.
This was much faster than trying to fall asleep on their own. I started doing this on purpose when my second child was growing like he should and reached a hefty 12 pounds.
7. Encourage a Comfort Object
A teddy, monkey or puppy, it doesn’t matter what you choose as long as it comforts your child. I didn’t let my children put anything in their crib until they were mobile. I wanted to make sure they could move it.
(I also chose one that wasn’t too big. I wanted it to bring comfort and not be a suffocation hazard.)
Both my children were able to get around their crib by 7 months. This is something they can hold onto when they feel alone in the crib in the middle of the night. It makes a difference.
8. Let your Husband take Charge of Night Wakings
Letting my husband take over night wakings solved the problem with our first child. We tried cry-it-out before going this route.
My husband was much less sensitive to our little one’s cry. Most of the time, I had to wake him up to go to our child. It also took away the option of getting nursed at night. He would bring a bottle of water and comfort her for a minute before putting her back.
He was a trooper. The night waking became less frequent and eventually non-existent.
9. Use Cry-It-Out by 9 Months as a Last Resort
There are so many articles out there saying don’t do cry-it-out.
I get it.
I’ve never felt more tortured than when I listened to my child scream and cry for hours. After a few days, she started giving up on waking up through the night. It didn’t go away completely until after my husband took charge.
With my second child, we did cry-it-out, but it was uneventful. We had done most of the above consistently, and he’s a different person. He cried for 10 minutes before he laid down and fell asleep.
A note of caution, make sure your child is not sick when this happens. We did find our child in a pool of vomit a couple months after she was sleep trained. We thought she was regressing. It’s a good thing we have mommy’s intuition; we couldn’t see her vomit on the baby monitor.
If you are in the midst of sleep interrupted nights, I understand what you are going through. I’ve been there.
I hope this helps you to avoid Cry-it-out and to feel refreshed again.
I also understand that many people have many different opinions about this issue. I found these concepts to work for me. I’ve observed children who still wake up through the night at 23 months. It does not get easier the older your child gets.