Getting Your Baby to Sleep Through the Night
Every parent has had those sleepless nights where baby just won’t settle down. Unfortunately, a lot of parents go through this every night.
Whether you stay at home with your baby, or you leave the house to work during the day, endless nights of waking up around the clock will eventually wear you down.
You’ll get exhausted, moody and won’t be able to even think straight! Or maybe this already sounds familiar to you.
Most parents suffer from sleep deprivation at some point. Its just part of parenthood. Even those lucky enough to have babies who are good sleepers eventually have to deal with getting their toddlers to stay in bed.
What gets really frustrating is reading so much conflicting information about getting your baby to sleep through the night. But what you must understand is that every baby is different, so not every sleeping method works. That’s why there are so many different opinions out there. But I’m not here to give you an opinion or tell you what to do. I’m just going to tell you exactly what I did to get my son to sleep through the night.
How I got my son to sleep through the night
First, you have to understand that I only breastfed my son until he was seven weeks old. I had to have surgery shortly after he was born and couldn’t breastfeed for a few days. I tried hard to pump and keep my milk supply up, but I finally had to stop torturing myself and my son and start feeding him formula.
A few weeks after that, he started sleeping through the night. What also happened at the same time is I started putting him down awake (breastfeeding would always put him to sleep). At just over 2 months, I was sure that it wouldn’t work, but to my surprise it did.
The trick was to put him down at the precise moment he started to get sleepy. I watched him like a hawk and eventually I could tell when he looked tired. His eyes would get red around the rims and they would start to look heavy. This was the only sign. Occasionally he would yawn, but his eyes would give him away sooner.
I had always read to watch for babies rubbing their eyes when they were tired, but neither of my babies did that until they were a little older.
I had also read to create a bed-time routine, but I have yet to do that with my son and he’s now 8 months at the time of writing this. My daughter didn’t have a bed-time routine established until she was almost a year old. So far, both my children have been excellent sleepers.
Why does it work?
Now, you may be wondering how putting a baby down when he’s awake will help him sleep through the night. Here’s my thoughts from experience. When a baby is put down after they are asleep, they’ll eventually stir and will probably wake up. If they aren’t being held in your arms anymore, they might get upset and want to be back in your arms. So they’ll cry until they are.
If you put them down while they’re awake and they fall asleep on their own, they won’t be startled when they wake up because they’ll be right where they were before they fell asleep.
Of course, I have no idea what goes on inside a baby’s head – so this is just what I think, not what I know. I do however know that when my babies were put down awake, they slept through the night more than they did if they were put down already asleep. They also slept longer into the next morning which is sure nice. The better they sleep at night, the better they nap during the day. And the better they nap during the day, the better they sleep at night.
If my son does happen to wake up in the night, I usually just put his pacifier back in his mouth and he falls right back to sleep. Some mothers may want to crucify me for this, but hey – it works! He’s happy, healthy, and well rested. (And so am I!)
Getting your baby to sleep through the night probably won’t happen in one day, so here are a few things to think about to keep you sane during those sleepless nights:
Listen to your instincts. Remember you know your baby best. Take all advice you get as what it is, advice. Never let it replace your own personal judgment. You know your baby best and only YOU know what’s really right for him. If it feels right to rock your baby to sleep, then do it. If it feels right to bring your baby into bed with you then do it.
Stop the guilt. Don’t take it personally. A lot of us suddenly feel instant guilt when our baby cries. Are we doing the right thing? Does she need feeding? Is his diaper wet?And on and on…
Comfort them. Remember your baby could be crying for a number of reasons and some are out of your control. Did you know that babies are born with the crying reflex but not the laughing reflex? Well they are… it’s instinctive for babies to cry. We’re going back to primitive times. Babies cry to have their needs met. Sometimes those needs are just to simply cry it out for a bit while feeling the warmth and comfort of their most loved person … you!
Become an expert. Go online or to the library and read a few books on baby sleep and sleep patterns. Arm yourself with all the knowledge that you can so that when others come your way offering advice you can politely say you know exactly what you’re doing.
Whatever you decide, the main thing to remember is that sleepless nights are part of having a baby. Do what feels best for you and remember that this is a normal phase of your baby’s development and will soon end. Those tiny little treasures will soon be running all over the house creating havoc. So enjoy each precious moment (even if its a sleepless one) as much as you can, because it sure doesn’t last long.