How I Had My Babies Sleeping Through the Night by 10 Weeks Old
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Hannah Southerland is a young mom of two little boys and a wife to one handsome man. She loves helping women in their marriages and motherhood and feels like community is the best way to make it through this crazy thing called life. She is the lover of all things coffee and chocolate. On the weekends you could find her snuggled on the couch watching “Fixer Upper,” or spending time with her family playing the very dramatic game of “Pictionary.”
I was in the middle of my first pregnancy when a friend of mine had her first baby. It did not take long for me to realize that the image of the peaceful sleeping baby in those diaper commercials was a complete lie and reality struck, OH MY WORD, this is going to be a lot harder than I had imagined. Babies don’t just start sleeping through the night on their own!
My friend and her husband were now prisoners on their couch, each taking turns holding the baby all night while one got to sleep. I was petrified. What was my life going to become? I loved the night time with my husband, cuddled in our bed, watching our shows and talking about our day. So, I decided I was going to use the remainder of my pregnant months to figure out ways to troubleshoot sleeping with a newborn.
The secret sauce my husband and I used to have our boys sleeping through the night for 10 hours straight by 10 weeks old is really quite simple, but putting in the work is the hard part.
First 6 weeks = survival
Wake, Eat, Play, Sleep Routine
This is the routine I followed all day, it can be regimented to specific times or relaxed but this is the meat and potatoes to getting on the right track.
Wake Up Time
Start every day at about the same time; make mornings a big deal no matter how bad the night may have gone. Open the blinds turn the TV or music on and make breakfast. Once breakfast is done, change clothes, even if it is into different pajamas.
This was a big deal to me because I didn’t want my boob to become a pacifier, or when we started using formula I didn’t want to waste half of a bottle every feeding. Do anything to keep your baby awake and actively eating those first few weeks when they are just so sleepy. Undress them, stop and burp them mid feed, anything to keep them awake and focused on the task at hand. Otherwise, if they fell asleep after a few moments of eating and there is milk left in the bottle, that’s money wasted and the baby will be hungry again a short time later.
This is also an important step because it sets up their metabolism for the day, their body starts to realize they are eating every 2-3 hours during the day and can go a little longer at night, setting the parents up for 3-4 hour stretches at night.
Sit them up and face them while talking, reading, singing, show them toys, lay them on their play mat, or in the swing by the window. Change it up so they didn’t get used to one certain thing. I didn’t want to get in the habit of holding them the whole time; they are okay being away from mom.
Nap Time Sleeping
When play time is coming to a close it will be obvious, they will start getting antsy, and irritated. Lay them down for a nap in a pack and play, swing, crib, basinet, or if there are errands to run, planning nap time for the car ride or outing is always an option.
The biggest goal in this whole process is to get your baby sleeping through the night, so be very consistent in this area. Change their diapers, put their pjs on, and feed them their last feeding of the “awake” day.
Then swaddle them, lay them in their cribs, or wherever they will sleep at night, this should be consistent. Make sure the room is dark and the sound machine is on. Say something like “night-night, I love you, see you in the morning” and walk out. If they fuss it is okay, let them fuss or cry for a few minutes before rushing back in there. There will be times they just need to settle themselves in, sometimes they are not going to go to sleep right away and in that case, go in and make sure they are situated ok, and then leave again. Do not let them get up, come to bed, or hold them until they fall asleep. Moms can tell the difference in their kid’s cry, between protesting and actually needing something.
If the baby gets up in the night to eat these are things not to do:
- Don’t turn the lights on. Only turn on necessary lights, to make a bottle or breastfeed, walk, change them and put them back to bed.
- Don’t turn the TV on, or have a lot of noise going.
- Don’t make eye contact or interact with the baby.
- Don’t drag the feeding out. Feed the baby and burp them on the way back to the crib.
Following these guidelines were what helped both of my boys in sleeping through the night, one achieved this at 7 weeks, and the other at 9 weeks. I wasn’t just blessed with naturally good sleepers; it was something my husband and I thought to be a priority for us so we worked hard at it. There are of course instances where this may take longer to achieve but always keep the end goal in mind. Putting in the initial work and setting up the structure for my boys was so rewarding. I could plan outings, prep dinner, even have time for a quick work out and shower all the while knowing I had some time while the baby slept. Sleep training has a great reward for everyone in the family, parents are rested, the baby is rested and rest equals happy parents and happy parents can tackle anything.