Hello tired momma and papa. I know that you have already searched pinterest, google, and the entire how-to infant section at Barnes and Nobles and still your baby is NOT SLEEPING. I’ve blocked out most of those early sleepless days but I do remember being so tired that when I actually did laid down to sleep my whole body would convulse because my body was in sleep deprivation mode. You don’t think that you can do it for one more day but you do and then do it the next day, and the day after that. I remember my friends and family telling, “It’ll only last the first four or five months and he’ll start sleeping better!” FOUR OR FIVE MONTHS?! I thought to myself there is no way I can physically make it that long. I swear we tried everything from Babywise to routines to gripe water to sound machines in every possible combination possible.
Here are some things that helped us get Mason to sleep through the night. Every baby is different and these tips might not help but hey its definitely worth a shot.
1) Routine! We do the same thing night after night. Yes our social life is limited to only those activities that fall before 5pm but sweet sweet slumber is worth it. My husband and I think that establishing a bedtime routine was the number one thing that helped Mason sleep through the night. Our schedule is as follows: Bottle around 3-4, Bath at 5pm, quiet play/reading with mom and dad, and then down to bed when he started showing tired signs around 6-7 pm. We change him into a nighttime diaper and dream feed him around 8-9pm and then STRAIGHT TO BED. He wakes up around 6-630 am! Woohoo! I hate to tell you but the first couple of nights that your little one sleeps through you probably will not. You have trained your body to wake up every few hours and its a hard habit to break. I also checked incessantly every couple hours those first couple of night to make sure Mason was still breathing because I could not believe that we had actually made it!
2) Late to bed does not necessarily mean late to rise! Yes you heard right. Making your infant stay up during the day when they are tired is a certain recipe for an overly tired cranky baby. And an overly tired baby is a terror. Babies who are overly tired have a hard time self-soothing and are usually so grumpy that have a hard time going down to nap or sleep.The days that Mason gets good naps during the day he usually has a great nights sleep. Also, he tends to be a happier baby with lots of coos and laughs to go along with that. Now with that said, I do try to limit his afternoon nap and not let it go after 4 or 5 so we can get him to bed at a reasonable hour.
3) Establishing day and night rhythms
Oh how cozy it is all warm and dark in the womb until suddenly and violently your baby has to come out to the real world! Mason had major day/night reversal issues for the first week or so after he was born. If you baby kicks a lot at night there is a good chance that is his awake period and that will continue out of the womb as well. During the day we would open all the blinds and would try to engage mason with stimulating activity and talking. At night we would close the blinds and dim the lights and started our bedtime routine. In less than a week the issue corrected itself!
4) Cry it out?
Beware! Controversial topic ahead! There are tons of books on sleeping and getting your baby to sleep through the night and various techniques on how to get your baby to sleep through the night. I’ll admit it I bought the babywise book. At four weeks I tried to get Mason on the strict babywise schedule of Eat, Activity, Sleep, You time and it be blunt it didn’t work for me at all. I might get the first couple of hours on schedule and then the whole day would be off and then the next and so on. I also tried the cry it out method but I was right there along with him definitely crying it out. However what did work for me as stated before was a bedtime routine and once he was around 3 months when I knew for certain he was tired I would lay him down. If he cried I started letting him cry for about 5 min then go in and shoosh him and pat/pick him up if his screams sounded like they originated from the bowels of hell. Then lay him back down and keep going in at 5,10,15 min increments. As he got older I increased the time slowly. This method for me seemed to work however an infant below 2-3 months of age is not neurologically capable of self-soothing and the cry it out method will not work.
5) Sound machine
We were skeptical at first but many friends told us that they thought that the white noise of the sound machine helped get their little ones asleep. At this point I would have spent a small fortune to get him to sleep. I broke down at Wal-mart one day and said what the hell. And don’t you know the damn thing worked. Now it didn’t get him to sleep through the night but it was helping him to sleep and stay asleep longer. Amen to that!
6) Know your babies sleep signs!
This is key. Like I said before an overly tired baby and if your baby is already crying its too late. When Mason is tired he usually likes to rub his head on things, rub his eyes, yawn, his arm and legs movements tend to get jerkier, and he tends to become less engaged in activity. There are some good videos on YouTube on sleep signs for babies.
7) Cluster feeding hell
Your nipples are sore from your little one constantly wanting to eat for short bouts of time and every time your baby eats she falls asleep! Sleep and feedings are intimately related in infancy however when feeding your infant try to tickle your babies feet, shake their legs, and talk to your baby and try to keep them awake during feedings for a full belly and hopefully longer nap!
8) Earlier transition to crib
Mason started sleeping in his crib around 1.5 months old. He was outgrowing his bedside bassinet but it also helped with his sleeping to be in his own bed in his own room. For one, I wasn’t waking up every time he’d make the smallest peep and a lot of time if he did wake up he would soothe himself back to sleep by the time I got up to get him. I think sleeping separately helped him with self soothing and independence in his own bed. However, I know many parents choose to co-sleep and that is an individual family decision.
9) Utilize your partner!
Welcome to mommyhood Dairy Queen! Even if you are breastfeeding take help if your partner or family and take a night off. Make bottles ahead of time or pump if you need to and take a break. Sometimes you do everything right and you baby will still wake up screaming and you’re going to need a break Momma.
Good Luck all you exhausted mommas and papas out there! Keep your hopes up because one night your little one WILL fall asleep and sleep through the night. Mason one night when he was around 3.5-4 months just all of a sudden started sleeping through the night and has ever since. My husband and I like to think we had some part in that but I think Mason is the real mastermind behind all of it.