March 27, 2018

How to Get Your Baby to Sleep Through the Night

A conversation that I find myself frequently having is how I got my baby to sleep 12 hours a night. Some people are fine with 4 or 5 hours of sleep a night. Not me. I need 8-10 hours just to function. Getting my baby to sleep that much so that I could sleep that much was something I was determined to accomplish very early on.
During maternity leave, I wasn't overly concerned about my baby sleeping through the night because I didn't have to be. Once my maternity leave ended and I was back at work was another story. I was nursing every 3-4 hours during the night then getting up and going to work. After a week I was completely exhausted and decided that something had to change. Sleeping is one of those things that you take for granted until you aren't sleeping. When you aren't sleeping everything is awful. You're tired, probably a little delusional, and you don't fully get to enjoy your baby (or life, really). I was trying to catch up on 3 months of work while completely sleep deprived and no amount of coffee was going to get me through it.

One of my good friends gifted me a life-changing book about sleep training called The Baby Sleep Solution. So, after my first week back at work I sat down and read it cover to cover. After a week, my baby was sleeping 8 hours a night. A month later, she was sleeping 12 hours a night and has been ever since. Unless she's sick she hardly every wakes us up at night. And it's magical.
I've recommended this book to countless friends, lent it out numerous times and if I could go on the Today Show and tell the world about it, I would. So what's so great about this book? For starters, it's easy to read and easy to understand. I read the entire thing cover to cover in an afternoon while my baby was taking a nap. The chapters are broken down into how many weeks old that your baby is, so it's all very digestible information and doesn't get overwhelming.

To be successful, there are 3 requirements before you start sleep training, all of which I wholeheartedly agree with-
      1. Your baby must weigh 9lbs
      2. Your baby must be eating 24oz in a day
      3. Your baby must be at least 4 weeks old
All common sense and simple enough! You don't want to start sleep training too early because it's really about listening to what your baby needs. You also want to make sure that he/she is steadily gaining weight and eating enough. For us, this took a little longer because our daughter was a slow weight gainer. We didn't start sleep training until she was 12 weeks but still had fantastic results.

Whether or not your baby meets the above requirements there are still things you can (and should) do to prime him/her for a good night's sleep. The most important thing is to start monitoring when and how much your baby is eating so that you can establish a routine. I can't stress enough how much having a routine has an effect on your baby's sleep habits. We have always put our daughter to bed between 7-7:30pm with zero exceptions. Sure this has had an effect on our social lives, and we frequently eat dinner at 5pm but, at 14 months, our baby expects to be in bed by 7:30 (and is cranky when she isn't). This gives my husband and me a few hours of quality (quiet) time together each night. The first night that my husband and I got our baby down at 7:30pm, we snuggled on the couch and watched a movie together. I know it may not seem like an earth-shattering activity, but it was the first time that we both got to relax together since our baby was born. 

After you've established a routine, the author you gives you these amazing "toolboxes" that will help you eliminate nighttime feedings without going crazy. I was worried that our daughter was going to cry uncontrollably but thanks to the "toolboxes" we experienced minimal crying and saw results within a week. After our daughter realized that waking up in the night didn't equal food she started putting herself back to sleep. Amazing, right?
Now I will say that I'm not a baby sleep expert and that sleep training isn't for everyone. This book is what worked for us. Did we take every single piece of advice? No, we did what was right for us and for our baby. Our daughter was a slow weight gainer, so we fed her more often throughout the day than what was recommended. We also listened to her natural cues and waited until we felt like she was ready to start sleeping through the night. If you decide to read this book, I sincerely hope that it helps you as much as it helped us! Happy sleeping!

Cheers!
Mandy

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