Being a new parent is exhausting.
When we came home with our daughter we were told by doctors to not let her sleep more than 4 hours at a time without waking her to eat.
The reason: they wanted to ensure she was getting enough food and gaining enough weight.
Bottom line – she had interrupted sleep and so did we.
We were exhausted and found ourselves switching off taking naps, allowing things around our home to go undone and it just felt like we continually put things on the back burner because sleep became all we could think (or dream) about.
This exhausting schedule went on for the first month of her life (which felt like an eternity) but by her second checkup we were given the go ahead to allow her to sleep through the night.
This meant that while she slept, we could sleep too.
The only issue now was that we had gotten her used to a routine. Every 4 hours like clockwork, we’d wake her up to feed her if she didn’t awake herself.
How could we possibly get her to go a full 6 – 8 hours without waking to eat?
After a little bit of trial and error and a new routine, we had our new baby sleeping through the night by the time she was 6 weeks old.
No, it was not magic.
I am about to tell you how we did it…
How to Get Your Baby to Sleep Through The Night
All you want to do is sleep when the baby sleeps. But, that isn’t a good plan because then everything else – the house, the bills, work, taking care of other kids – it all gets put off and puts you further behind. All of this causes stress which in return, makes you even more exhausted.
Once you are to the point where you know you and your baby are ready to sleep through the night, here are a few things to try that worked well for us:
Get your baby on a strict schedule.
Start by choosing the time you want your baby to officially go to sleep for the night and work BACKWARDS. This may sound counterintuitive but hear me out…
You have to decide when you want your baby to eat, sleep, bathe, etc.
We knew that we wanted our daughter in bed by 10 PM every night. Our older kids are in bed by 8:30 PM every night and we allow ourselves a few hours to unwind and spend time together before we head to bed.
When we were ready to head to bed by 10, we wanted our baby to be too.
So, her last feeding was to be at 10 PM (or right before we headed to bed).
That meant, we knew she needed to be awake as much as she could before heading to bed. Yes, I know this can be rough because your baby sleeps a lot in the beginning and that is entirely okay.
What I mean is, we wouldn’t try to force a nap on her and instead would allow her to stay awake as much as she wanted to.
So, decide the latest you want your baby to go to sleep for the night and schedule the rest of your day around that.
Allow your baby to self-soothe.
You’ve probably seen/read several different things surrounding self-soothing but let me say that from experience you MUST allow your baby to self-soothe.
With my first son, I constantly found myself catering to every little cry and sound he made. It didn’t matter why he was upset, I was there to try to make him feel better.
That was not a good plan because he never learned to calm himself. He just knew that as soon as he was mad, I was there to comfort him.
It made things so much harder on me too because I felt as though I never had a break and new parents need breaks!
Admitting you need a break does not make you a bad parent, it makes you a good one!
Don’t get me wrong, comforting your baby is a good thing but it has to be within reason.
Sometimes babies cry and no matter what we do, they are still upset.
If you know your baby is not sick, hurting or hungry, allow them to cry it out.
Self-soothing will allow your baby to learn to calm themselves and help them get and stay asleep. Each time they do, it will get easier and easier and you’ll find it will take them less time to calm down.
Figure out what comforts your baby besides you.
When it comes to comforting a baby, every baby is different.
For example, my boys loved being swaddled. My daughter hated being swaddled.
My boys never took to the binky, while my daughter loves her binky.
We found for our daughter, she loved having her feet covered, having white noise in the background (our fan did the trick) and loved being able to see out of her crib (we removed one side of the crib bumper).
This step takes a little bit of trying different things but once you do, you’ll soon figure out that there are certain things you can do to make your baby feel comforted even when you aren’t holding or caring for them.
By doing these few things, we have taught our daughter to sleep through the night.
She is currently 3 months old and has slept a full 6-8 hours each and every night since she was 6 weeks old.
She is happy, healthy, well-rested and so are we.
While these tips may not work with all babies (especially if you’re breastfeeding) I certainly think it’s worth giving a try.