As a new mom, one of my main goals was to help my baby learn to sleep through the night. I did some research, read a few sleep books, and implemented my findings. I was shocked when my baby began sleeping through the night at two months old.
At first I thought it must be a fluke. How could I be so lucky? I had heard the horror stories of sleepless nights from brand new parents. However, I personally found there are a few things that successfully help a baby learn to fall asleep and stay asleep.
1. Create a bedtime routine
Babies love routines, and from an early age can grasp a sequence of events. At around three weeks old, I began creating a routine for my baby that included dimming the lights in the house, a nightly bath, reading a book or two, a final feed and a lullaby.
I chose a lullaby only to be sung at bedtime. The lullaby is key to signaling time for a long stretch of sleep. My baby melts in my arms when the song is sung, relaxed and peaceful. When the song is finished, I immediately lay my baby down in the crib, turn off the lights, close the door and let the sandman enter.
2. Stay consistent
Consistency is key. A baby can easily be thrown off schedule, so it is important to decide on a time each night to put your baby down to sleep and then stick to that time. There may be a few off days, but try to keep those to a minimum.
3. Pause and listen
A baby learning to sleep through the night will often awake during sleep cycles. It is important when sleep training to pause and listen to your baby. Sometimes the baby is startled for whatever reason and needs a few moments to resettle in order to fall back asleep. Sometimes the baby is hungry and needs to be fed. Before rushing to your baby’s side, just pause and listen to your baby’s cry.
If your baby needs to be fed, try to teach your little one that it is still nighttime by keeping the lights dim and speaking in hushed tones. After the feed is finished, lay the baby back down and turn off the lights.
4. Daytime naps
Sleep begets sleep. It’s true. The more sleep a body receives, the more prepared the body is for sleep. Hence, why naps are essential for babies. I’ve found the rule of thumb is to try and put a newborn down for a nap within two hours of their initial wake time. So if my baby wakes up at 9:00 a.m. I should aim for an 11:00 a.m. naptime.
5. Earlier Bedtime
Initially I thought I should try and keep my baby up until I was ready to go to sleep in order to maximize my sleep time. I found that if I tried to keep my baby up past a certain time, fussiness and fatigue would ensue. However, if I put my baby down at an earlier time, before the onset of fussiness and fatigue, my baby would surprisingly sleep even longer. In no time at all, my baby was sleeping 10-12 hours throughout the night. Straight. No interruptions.
Every baby is unique and has his or her own distinct personality and characteristics. Some babies may naturally find it easier to settle into a nighttime routine, while others struggle. As a parent, it can be difficult to stay consistent and find a routine that works for you, the family and your little one. Trial and error will play a huge role, but if you stay consistent and don’t give up within, time you and your baby will find a routine that works perfectly for you both. Happy sleeping.