As a mom of three young kids, I’ve had my share of sleepless nights. Who am I kidding? I’m still not sleeping more than five continuous hours at night! My third child, Baby G, is 9 months old and barely sleeping long enough for me to call it “all night”. When I had my first baby, I was so new at the whole parenting thing that I devoured every book on what I considered important topics: breastfeeding, vaccines, baby’s first year and parenting. Books are one thing, but life experience is another.
By the third month, I had the hang of doing a lot of things, except getting my baby to sleep for longer than 5-hour stretches at night. Desperate, I asked other moms in my circle about how to get Sofia to sleep longer. It never failed, I always had someone answer: My baby slept through the night within a week of getting home from the hospital.
That statement was infuriating, and always left me feeling like I was doing something wrong. Fast forward two kids later and I still hear that phrase! Seriously? I asked for other moms’ advice, not for them to gloat!
The difference now is that I work full time and I need to stay sharp during the day. And sadly, there is only so much caffeine my body can take before I get the shakes. I’m once again on the hunt to find out how to get my third baby to sleep through the night.
If your child is younger than 4 months, I do not recommend attempting the cry-it-out methods, walk-a-ways, water bottles etc. Dr. Weissbluth says it best: “All children have an internal clock, a timing mechanism, that controls when they enter their sleep cycles, sleeping patterns and how long they stay asleep. This is called the circadian rhythm; and you can’t fight it.”
Each of my kids slept through the night at different times. My daughter finally slept 7pm to 6am at around 14 months; my son at 16 months and this third baby is still waking up once in the middle of the night, between midnight and 2am.
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When I tell you that I tried everything I am telling you that I tried things like cereal in the bottle, white noise makers, letting my babies cry it out at 9 and 12 months, and weekly after that…to no avail. So please, hang on to your sanity and avoid any gizmos.
Here is what I found that has helped me get them to sleep better and eventually through the night:
- Be consistent with daytime naps. Overly tired babies don’t go down easily to bed at night and they tend to not stay asleep.
- Have a nighttime routine. Whether it’s dinner, bath and bed or a different order, this needs to be nightly and consistent. Babies learn their routine and the familiarity of it helps them be more secure and fall asleep easier.
- Get rid of crib toys. I used to have baby aquariums and other things but I quickly learned that when wake up in the middle of the night, it just means they have something they can use to stimulate play-time.
- Get the baby to bed earlier. At first, I didn’t really think this would work. I mean…if I put the baby in bed earlier; won’t he wake up sooner? The answer is no. Earlier to bed does not mean earlier to rise; it means baby gets the full rest he needs before his internal wake-up alarm goes off in the morning.
- Feed baby a satisfying dinner. By the time you try to get your baby to fully go to sleep at night, he should be eating some solids. I make baby G’s heaviest meal at night to carry him through the morning.
Remember that there is no one-technique-fits-all and all the “sleep systems” out there are just trial and error methods. The best advice I can give you to help you get more sleep is to be consistent in all that you do during the day.
Whether you work full time, part time or are your household’s CEO; it’s important that you create a routine for your baby. This is the single most important piece of advice I can give you for getting your baby to sleep through the night.