Getting your baby to sleep through the night is one of THE most controversial topics out there for moms. There are so many thoughts on what works and what doesn’t work. Something that works amazingly well for one baby could fail miserably for another baby. But I have one tip for you that I think works on most babies.
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If you have been following me for awhile, then you know that while I share tips and advice for what worked for me, I am by no means saying that this is the ONLY way to do things. If you cosleep with all 5 of your children, then by all means, you do you. That simply doesn’t work for my family.
Babies and Sleep Patterns
Babies have sleep patterns just like adults do. They pass from REM (light) sleep to Non-REM. It is common for both babies and adults to wake up while transferring between sleep patterns. Adults fall back asleep because they have practiced sleeping for many, many years. Babies, on the other hand, often have a hard time falling back to sleep and need a little extra comfort. We all want to give our babies comfort, right? Why is this a ‘bad’ thing?
Don’t Start Something You Don’t Want to Continue
When does it stop? Are you going to comfort your child back to sleep until they are 2? 3? 7? My personal preference for parenting is to gently teach my babies to fall asleep on their own. This way, when they wake up between sleep cycles, they can put themselves back to sleep. If you nurse your baby to sleep, they will rely on that to fall asleep both when going to sleep initially and also passing between sleep cycles. It is possible that they outgrow it on their own; it is also possible that they don’t.
I didn’t follow this with Theo, my first, and he became so reliant on me to fall asleep. He HAD to be nursed or rocked to sleep. At around 4 months his sleep cycle changed and he didn’t fall into as sound of a sleep right away. I’d rock him to sleep, put him in his crib, and BAM! He would wake up screaming. I would start the process of putting him back to sleep all over. It. Was. The. Worst. We got to a point where I drove him around in the car to get him to fall asleep and then caaaaarefully tiptoed his heavy car seat up to his room. Did I mention that It. Was. The. Worst? Because it was. My entire day was spent driving this kid around so he would sleep! When I found out I was having twins, I knew this could not happen.
Here’s the Tip that Worked Amazingly Well for my Twins:
As SOON as you have your baby, start putting them down to sleep on their own, at least a few times a day. Start it from the hospital, or as soon as you get home. Don’t nurse or give a bottle, or rock them to sleep. Give them some snuggles and kisses, put them down in their bed, and that’s it! It’s time for sleeping.
If your baby learns to fall asleep on their own, they will be able to fall back to sleep when they wake up in the middle of the night. If they rely on you to put them to sleep, they will continue to rely on you in the middle of the night as they shift between sleep cycles.
What if My Baby Falls Asleep While Nursing?
For this reason, the Eat Play Sleep schedule works really well. I would feed my babies AS SOON as they woke up. They are well rested at that point and less likely to fall asleep. Then they would have a little bit of ‘play’ time (usually only 45 minutes or so for a newborn) and then it’s nap time. You can absolutely rock and sing to them, just make sure you place baby in their bed before they fall asleep.
I’m not saying don’t rock or nurse your baby. I’m not saying that if they’re sick or teething to not do everything you can to make them comfortable. I’m just saying don’t start something that you don’t want to continue. If you have no problem waking up to nurse your baby back to sleep every 2 hours, then that’s your right as a mom to do just that.
We did this with our girls and not only did they learn to fall asleep on their own, but we never had to do any official ‘sleep training.’ People would come to visit and at naptime, they would help me carry one baby up and place her in her crib. They would stare in amazement as the girls cooed and smiled and gently drifted off to sleep.
For a more in-depth version of how we got our twins to sleep through the night, check out this post.
Click here for the book that changed our lives and taught me everything I know to help get my babies to sleep.