Getting Baby to Sleep Through the Night

Seems like the number one goal as a mother to a newborn is getting baby to SLEEP through the night.

sleep1{Levi Campbell}

I am definitely not an expert on this topic but I am an advice seeker and I do have many friends with great sleeping kids. I have also read a ton of baby books. ha ha. I’m just passing along the great tips I’ve received and some I’ve tried.

I hope these ideas help and maybe solve some of your sleep problems. These things take time and trying it for one day probably won’t do anything. You have to stick to one of these for at least 4-7 days in order to see any change in sleep patterns.

So here’s the word on the street…

sleep{Davian Diaz}

Things to Try

1. Routine. We started the eat, play, sleep routine (BabyWise) with Harper at 3 weeks and by the end of the week, at a month old, she was sleeping 8 hours at night!! I actually woke up a couple of mornings panicked because it was daylight and I hadn’t fed her in the night. Even called the pediatrician to ask if I should wake Harper up to feed her. Pediatrician laughed and said NOO!!! Most babies that are on a routine get themselves sleeping through the night. One big part of this routine is NOT nursing baby to sleep. Get baby used to being put down to fall asleep on their own, aka self-soothing.

2. Cluster feed. Try cluster feeding in the afternoon/evening. Around 4pm or 5pm try feeding baby every hour or so before bedtime. This worked for Harper, filled her with enough calories in the evening so she could sleep longer through the night.

3. Dreamfeed. This one worked well for us until I decided to drop the dream feed and everything went CRAZY! Basically you pick baby up around 10pm or 11pm and feed them without waking them. I’m not sure if I’ll do this with the next baby because I feel like it made her dependent on a night-time feeding, but who knows– when you’re desperate for sleep you’ll do just about anything! ha ha. Also, I wasn’t consistent with a weaning schedule- because we went to bed at different times and I would just dream feed her before going to bed.

*The easiest way to wean from a dreamfeed is to move the late night feeding earlier and earlier. So if you usually dreamfeed baby at 10pm every night you would start the feeding at 9:30pm for a couple of nights, then move the feeding to 9:00pm for a few nights after that, then 8:30pm for a couple of nights and so on until baby adapts to getting his/her last feeding at their initial bedtime.

sleep5{Hannah and Willam Miller}

4. Calories. Make sure baby is getting FULL feedings during the day and not just snacking. Maybe baby is ready for solids? This was the case for our little one when she got closer to 6 months. She was sleeping 11-12 hours for a couple of months but around 5 ½ months she started waking up in the night. The first day I gave her solids she went back to sleeping 11-12 hours. Seems like she just needed more calories.

5. Pick up, put down method. Basically, do exactly what it’s called. If baby wakes in the night, allow baby to cry for a few minutes. If baby doesn’t stop crying, go in and hold baby for just a few minutes. Calm baby down then, lay baby back down in crib. Wait 10-15 minutes, if baby cries once more, try to pick up, put down again. If momma is nursing, daddy should go in first so baby doesn’t think he/she is getting milk.

newborn4{Oakley Weber}{Katie Weber Photography}

Don’t

1. Don’t keep your baby up for a long time to try to get them overly tired, this usually backfires!

2. Don’t allow baby to take super long naps too close to bedtime. Long naps should be earlier in the day not late afternoon.

3. Don’t Rush in!!! Something I’ve read in pretty much every baby book is DO NOT RUSH IN every time baby makes a peep. So if baby wakes up in the night, give baby at least 10- 15 minutes to settle themselves back down and maybe fall back asleep. Babies wake up all the time when they’re transitioning into different phases of sleep. You don’t want to disturb baby if she is just in a transition phase. Obviously if baby is screaming her head off, it’s probably not a transition stage although I will say there have been plenty of times that Harper has screamed in a way that made me think she was hurt but she’d fall right back to sleep in 5-10 minutes. 

sleep4{Hayden Hatch}

My favorite book that I would recommend to any new momma is, On Becoming Baby Wise.

babywiseI truly believe this book is the reason my baby girl is such a good sleeper. She thrived and continues to thrive on a routine. Although she went through many phases including weeks here and there of not napping well or waking through the night, these phases never lasted too long. Some things in the book seem very strict but we just used our parental judgement. We didn’t follow every single thing in the book but we did follow most of the wise advice.

Like I mentioned above after starting the suggested routine in this book, Bug began sleeping 8 hours a night at 4 weeks. Around 3 months she was sleeping 10-12 hours at night with a few naps in there. Now, at 12 months, she still sleeps 12 hours and takes 2 wonderful naps around the same time everyday. She loves her crib and even reaches for it when she is tired. She very rarely cries when we put her down for naps or bedtime instead she curls up and waits for us to put her blankie over her.

Some of these things could work for you or none of these things could work. Every baby is different and as a new parents you’re basically just trying different things to figure out what works best for YOUR baby. There were days I would completely stress myself out for no reason. If Harper was having a rough couple of days or nights I felt like I needed to FIX IT! But remember, babies cry and wake up in the night, they skip naps and have fussy days. It’s all a part of parenthood, so don’t stress yourself out! You’ll get the hang of it soon enough. Good luck!

I would love to hear any other advice or things that have worked for your baby! Feel free to comment and share your golden nuggets about SLEEP!

Great Books

On Becoming Babywise

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child

Happiest Baby on the Block

sleep4{Hendricks Shore}

I loved using all these precious baby sleeping photos! Thanks friends!!


You May Also Like:

Sorry You Don’t Approve of My Child Spacing

Diaper Price Comparison

Thankful For The Aches and Pains

18 thoughts on “Getting Baby to Sleep Through the Night

  1. Great advice Molly!! Thanks for sharing and it’s awesome that Harper has done so well! Something that I try to keep in mind- that I think is possibly in Babywise is keeping daytime stimulating, with noise and lights and interaction, but keep night time boring, no interaction or talking or bright lights. I also love having a sound machine that plays white noise because she doesn’t require silence to sleep nor does she wake up over every little dog bark or truck driving by.

    • Love it Brittany! I completely agree– our pediatrician told us to be loud and active during the day and keep lights off at night and use a whisper voice around baby!! We love the white noise machine too! Thanks for sharing.

  2. I remember how hard it was not to be able to sleep during the nigh. We coslept with my son, so it was a bit easier but still. It is quite hard for the sanity. It was so good when he started sleeping the night trough.

  3. All those sweet sleeping babies make my heart smile! Great advice. We did not follow baby wise, but our baby girl was sleeping through the night by two weeks old – praise God! I think cluster feeding, which you addressed, was our biggest help. She started cluster feeding on her own and we went with it. Only downfall was that dinner date nights were a challenge since it would require many pumped bottles and I would come home very engorged, so we chose to do late night date nights after she was in bed. Win win – more time with our awake baby and easier on the babysitter. You asked for additional advice, but I think you covered most bases – great read! All I could add is if you’re a momma who would prefer to nurse your baby to sleep at night (as opposed to putting baby to bed awake), you can totally nurse to bed at night and still accomplish healthy sleep habits. The key is still having structure and routine, but nurse to sleep within the routine. Have a bed time, dim lights, soft voices/music, etc. Our daughter nursed to sleep until she was about one year old. She always slept through the night. At about one year old we continued to nurse after dinner, but started to put her to bed awake in order to bring teeth brushing into the healthy bedtime habits, etc. She adjusted to the new routine right away because everything was the same except we replaced nursing to sleep with singing a song by the bedroom door. She loved the novelty of it and did great. Every baby is different but it totally is doable to have a consistent routine while nursing to sleep. Thanks for another great blog post Molly!

    • Thanks for all your insight Lisa! Wow– Sleeping through the night at two weeks?? Never heard of that or knew that was possible!! Crazy!
      Cluster feeding is pretty great!

      I do agree that it is okay and even wonderful nursing baby to sleep. I would also say that this habit can easily become a sleep prop where baby becomes dependent on momma and her breast in order to fall asleep. For a time, Harper would only fall asleep if I nursed her to sleep. After seeking advice from more experienced parents we kicked into action a plan to break the habit that WE had created. Soon after, we could put her down AWAKE at friend’s houses in a pack n play with no problem. We could leave her with others who could put her down awake and she would fall asleep without needing me. Like every baby, she definitely had her days and every night didn’t go perfectly- but we were and are thankful she does not NEED us in order to go to sleep anymore. This was just our experience in this area.
      You’re right though, every baby is different and every parent is different!

      • Didn’t you say Harper was sleeping through the night at three weeks old? Yes, we too were pretty shocked when we woke up to her sleeping through the night at two weeks old. (She was sleeping six to eight hours straight.. Six hours straight is considered sleeping through the night.) We too frantically ran into her bedroom to make sure all was okay and consulted her Doctor to see if we should wake her. She said she was gaining more than enough weight and to let her sleep (phew!).. As for the nursing to sleep thing – I always tell Joe that just because Jolie didn’t develop dependent habits does not mean our next baby won’t. Perhaps we just got lucky this time around with our easygoing baby girl. So, that being said, next baby we may consider a different order (like that of baby wise) since having two kids may make it a little harder to nurse to sleep. Time will tell. 🙂 this baby, though, is an example of success with nursing to sleep. Funny how two babies from the same family could be complete opposites though, so we shall see.. 😉

        • Oh, I should add that we did NOT nurse her to sleep for naps, which was probably a big help. This ensured that she also knew how to put herself to sleep awake. As a result, she always did great falling asleep for a babysitter or family member or at someone else’s house, daytime and night. Therefore, if you’re a mommy choosing the nursing to sleep method at night, my personal suggestion would be to put baby to bed awake for naps to ensure that your baby is used to both ways. 🙂

    • Thanks for stopping by Nicole! I hear ya. It’s so nice to have a break and get things done when they’re sleeping, it crazy to think about waking them up!! I had a hard time with waking my little one up from naps too, but I was always thankful when she slept that night. lol.

  4. Such great tips, thanks for sharing Molly. We found swaddling our son as well as white noise helped him to stay asleep longer. We stil have to implement a schedule on our lil girl and will probably start soon. Thanks so much for sharing what worked for you and so glad that the book helped Harper sleep so well 🙂

  5. All of these are awesome things! I would say making sure that the baby gets the necessary naps during the day and that they are long enough is also key. For us, Nathan had to have good naps, or night time sleep was not good. I would also recommend the book The Baby Whisperer: Solves all your problems by Tracy Hogg. It answers any question you could ever have about sleeping, feeding and just issues that arise being a new parent. It follows the feed-wake-sleep routine as well. All of the advice is great, I would just add the daytime naps being key to nighttime sleep! Nathan was sleeping through the night at 9 weeks (11 hrs). Oh and I actually had to drop my dream feed in order to get him to make the stretch. Waking him to slightly to nurse actually made him wake up in the middle of the night and once I dropped it, he made the stretch. Good stuff Molly!!!

  6. There’s some really great advice in here. Maya’s 5 weeks now and she’s slept through the night a few times but I really want to get into establishing a bedtime routine w/ bath and a story before bed and stop having to do the middle of the night feedings consistently. Pinning and following from the #BLTribe

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *