FAMILY, LIVING with kids | August 20, 2012

Parenting Tips: How I Get My Baby to Sleep All Night

How to get my baby to sleep through the night?

My husband and I are the lucky parents of a loving baby that sleeps all night since he is 3-week old. We can’t take all the credits since Zack arrived from his 3-week hospital stay this way.

At four weeks, Zack made us understand that he didn’t want us to wake him anymore for feeding. His doctors said it was OK to let him guide us to what he needs. He drank plenty of milk during the day. He quickly moves to sleeping 6 hours, 7 hours, 8 hours and so on, without a bottle. He sleeps for 10 to 12 hours every night in his nursery since he is 3 or 4 months.

At a time where having a good night sleep is a luxury for most new parents, I felt truly blessed. So, I did some reading to make sure that my baby continues to sleep well. I learned that a few simple rules made it possible. For the ones who doubted that it applies to most babies, you should give a try to know if it works before you make a decision. I read that this method provides a high success rate.

Differencing Night and Day

The first rule for sleeping all night is that your baby must grasp the difference between night and day. Once your baby distingues nighttime, you can teach your baby that night is made for sleeping. It starts by lowering the lights and reducing the noises in the house near bedtime. The light and noise trick comes from the hospital. This is what they do at the NICU.

Short Bedtime Routine

We try to keep our bedtime routine short and simple. Ours used to take up to 45 minutes when he was a few weeks old. Now that he is 17 months old, it takes about 10 minutes. Zack understands it. In fact, he is looking forward to our bedtime ritual. Our babysitter reproduces the same ritual once a week with the same level of success than us. While my husband is prepping his last bootle feed, I change his diaper and put on his pyjama. We feed him in our living room before we move him to his room upstairs.

For about a year, we waited until he was asleep in our arms and then, gently put him in his crib. Sometimes after he reached one year old, we slowly moved away from waiting that he was completely asleep before leaving the room. Later, our son started to tell us that he did not want to be in our arms and that he prefers to go straight to his bed.

We currently feed him a bottle, brush his teeth, mommy quickly gives him a kiss and he goes straight to his crib. After putting my baby in his crib, we turn his pendant light off, we strategically place two OXO nightlights around his room and illuminate his ceiling with stars and a moon. We tell them the story about how the sun went down and the dark sky gets brighter. We only provide him with a dark sleeping environment at nighttime. We have a little play session with a plush toy or we sing him a few songs before we tell him good night. A baby can easily relate to these steps and understand what is coming next.

Everyone, including my baby, is happier since my baby falls asleep by himself, at naptime and at bedtime. I feel that you must do that step when your baby is ready for it.

Give Your Baby Time to Learn How to Sleep

Babies must learn how to stay asleep when they are transitioning from one sleep stage to another stage. This is one of the reasons why they cry. Waking them when they are transitioning from one sleep stage to the next only makes it harder for them to learn that most important skill when it comes to sleep. When this happened, your baby can still be asleep. Give your baby the few minutes he/she needs to make the transition. So wait a few minutes — my limit is 5 minutes —before you rush by the crib. It will be a lot easier to do this if you must get up in the middle of the night and walk to their nursery than if your baby sleeps next to your bed.

Comfort only when Needed

From what I read, the earliest a baby can learn how to sleep on his/her own, the easiest it will be to acquire the skill. I can bring comfort to my baby in my arms if he woke up in tears (arrived a lot when he does his teeth), but he will return to sleep in his crib after that. I often found that he only wants a fresh diaper. Like I said earlier, we quickly reached a point I didn’t need to feed him during the night.

Keep the Noise Down at Night

To further help your baby distingues between night and day, it is best that they sleep with no noises at night and that they can nap hearing your day activities.

What about Naptime?

To not confuse them, rely on a different routine at naptime. Your baby needs to know that we only expect a short sleep.This is why when he was younger, he slept in his room only at night. He napped in the crib of his playard in a corner of my living room during the day.

As he grows older, I tried several napping techniques.  To tell you the truth, I had more problems with establishing a regular naptime than sleeping at night. My boy used to fight me even when he was tired. For the past few months, we found a way that suits him. I tell my son that I will see him soon and that we will play after he sleeps. I often leave him with a book in his crib. He decided when to fall asleep; which is usually a few minutes after I left his room. One important visual cue remains: I partially close his blinds so he sees that their is still light outside.

I know that every parent and baby is different. My technique might not suit your parenting style. My goal is simply to provide food for thoughts. Any comments, any tips to add? How did you teach your infants to sleep at night?

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4 Responses to “Parenting Tips: How I Get My Baby to Sleep All Night”

  1. I used the same method when my daughter was young.. She did her nights at 6 wks ! She is now 20 yr-old… And can’t wake up any longer in the morning though ! ;)

  2. These are such great tips! I need to pass this along to my boyfriend’s aunt. We had a conversation this weekend about how her son is having a hard time sleeping alone and sleeping all night. Thanks for these wonderful tips!

  3. Wow! You did such a great job! I also taught my 3 kiddos to learn to fall asleep on their own and it has paid off immensely! They all were slightly different, but roughly they all were sleeping 10-12 hours by 3 months old. We followed generally the same principles you stated except we didn’t let them fall asleep in our arms. And yes, you guys are truly blessed! :-) Great work, mommy!

  4. You are right, Corry, that it is best to not let them fall asleep in our arms. Learning how to fall asleep is a part of the training. Even if we knew that, we could not stop. Holding him in our arms made us happy. We had to wait until our son wanted his independence to be able to change that requirement. Since it is our only child, we don’t regret having doing it, but new parents must know that it is an habit that is hard to break for the baby.