As a new mom, sleep can be hard to come by. I feel like it’s either a hit or miss with babies. Some sleep really well while others refuse to sleep at all. I’m one of the fortunate ones who has a baby that is an excellent sleeper. Her first few weeks, she only woke a couple times each night . Once sometime between 1 and 3am and again between 4 and 6am. Usually she’d go about 4 hours in between. Since she started out sleeping so well, I slowly started to find new ways to keep her asleep longer at night. And nowadays, she sleeps all the way through the night. I’m talking 9-12 hours! And she’s only 11 weeks old! We’re loving it! I get a few questions here and there from other moms wondering how we manage to get her to sleep so long at such a young age so I thought I’d put it all into a blog post.
While not all babies are the same and not every tip and trick works for everyone, I wanted to share what exactly it is that we do that helps her sleep longer at night. All moms could use a few extra Zzzz’s at night so if these tips and tricks can help you, then I’m a happy camper!
OUR BEDTIME ROUTINE:
Our bedtime routine is the same every single night and we started it the day we brought her home from the hospital. I find it to be super important to stay consistent in order for it to become a routine that really sticks. If it’s a bath night (every other night) then our bedtime routine starts sometime between 7 and 7:30pm (otherwise, it starts between 7:30 and 8pm). Allie and I will turn the water on in the bath tub and head to the bedroom while the water warms. I’ll then get all of her things ready for after her bath: a clean diaper, towel, a clean onesie, lotion, baby powder, etc. I like having everything out and ready on her changing table so I’m not wandering the room with a cold, wet, baby. Just makes my life easier.
Once she’s undressed and everything is gathered on her changing table, we’ll head back to the bathroom for her bath. Jack will sometimes come in with us to supervise (anyone else with a dog that just LOVES to watch everything you’re doing with the baby?). He’s quite a large dog so sometimes I have to kick him out if he’s in the way, but we manage to make it work most times. Currently we’re using Aveeno Baby for her shampoo and body wash. Her body wash is also lavender scented which helps put her in a nice, calm mood for bedtime.
Side note: I found out at her 2 month check up that you’re apparently not supposed to use lavender scented product on babies? I guess it can cause an allergic reaction. But at that point, we had been using it for 2 months and haven’t had issues. Plus, I’m not sure why they’d make lavender scents for babies if they can’t have them. So proceed with caution here! Obviously, if you notice a rash of some sort, then switch products!
Allie’s bath typically takes about 10-15 minutes. It’s super quick since she’s still so small and really isn’t into playing with toys or anything yet. So once she’s out, I wrap her up in a town and bring her back to the bedroom to dress her. I like to use baby powder on her after her bath to prevent trapped moisture down there. We’re using Burt’s Bees Dusting Powder which I’m loving! I actually had to order this off Amazon because I couldn’t find it in any store I went into. So I bought a couple large sizes as well as a couple travel sizes for our bag. Once her diaper is on her, I’ll give her a massage with her Aveeno Baby lotion (also lavender scented) and get her dressed in a clean onesie for bedtime.
While I’m getting Allie bathed and dressed for bed, Zack is typically cleaning up the living room and pre-making her bottles for the night. We’ll bring in three bottles just in case she wakes up during the night. I’ll just measure out her formula into each bottle and then I keep bottled water next to the bed to mix them when needed. This eliminates the need to walk out to the kitchen and turn on lights during the night if Allie wakes up. It keeps her in that calm, drowsy state while I feed her (making it easier to put her back down when she’s done).
So by the time Allie is dressed for bed, everything has already been shut down for the night in the living room so we can just crawl right into bed with Zack. I’ll swaddle her up and give her one last bottle while we watch tv. Usually this bottle is slightly larger than her usual bottles to keep her belly nice and full. She’s usually passed out by the end of the bottle. If not, then I’ll burp her and lay her down on my chest until she passes out. Once she’s out then I’ll move her to her pack n play and voila! We’ll then spend another hour or so watching tv until we finally shut down for the night.
This is the same routine we have every single night. Even if we’re out to dinner or something and don’t get home until later in the night, we’ll still do this same exact routine once we arrive home. Babies need consistency in order for routines and habits to really stick so no matter how tired and ready for bed I am, I still keep it consistent for her. And it works! So now here are my top tips for helping her sleep longer at night.
MY TOP TIPS FOR SLEEPING LONGER:
- Fill their tummy. Fist and foremost, I make sure Allie is going to bed with a full tummy. During the day, she’s eating about 5 ounces every 2-4 hours (some days it’s closer to 2 hours due to her going through a growth spurt). Before bedtime, I typically increase her bottle to 6 ounces to ensure that she’s going to bed full. Some nights she drinks every drop and other nights she’s not as hungry. So I really just play it by ear with her feedings. But generally speaking, if she’s full then she’s more likely to sleep longer and better.
- Create a bedtime routine. I know it’s strange to think of a newborn being on a bedtime routine and again, every baby is different so some might not take to a schedule this early on. But I tried to establish this as early as possible. So at this point, we’ve established a good, consistent routine (as outlined above).
- Be consistent. As frustrating as it is sometimes, your routines and strategies should be consistent at all times. Otherwise it’s just not going to end up working. Don’t be consistent for a couple nights and then go completely off schedule. I know it’s hard when things come up, but going off schedule long before the routine has clicked means you’ll have to start from scratch once you’re able to get back on the routine. All progress you might have made in that time will probably be lost. So stick with it! If something’s not working after a week or two, then change something. Every child is different so really watch your child and find a routine that works for them.
- Swaddle! I know not all babies like being swaddled, but if your child doesn’t mind it then use it to your advantage! Like I mentioned before, I use this as a way to differentiate between nap time and bedtime and it really helps a lot. Plus it seems to calm her a bit as well. Swaddle + her pacifier is a winning combo in our home when it’s time for bed. I personally recommend the Swaddle Me velcro swaddles which you can purchase at Target. Allie gets out of normal swaddle blankets way too easily so these are lifesavers! Plus they come in various sizes so you can continue to use them as your baby grows.
- Differentiate between naps and bedtime. It’s important to make nap time and bed time different in your home. For example, Allie only sleeps in her pack n play at night. I’d never put her down for a nap in it during the day. During the day she typically sleeps in her rock n play. I also only swaddle her at night. And lastly, the atmosphere. At night, we obviously keep the room dark and quiet and since we’re also sleeping in there as well. Daytime hours are much louder and brighter which we like because it gets her used to sleeping in multiple environments. I don’t need or want a child that can only sleep when its silent.
- Keep the room chilled. First off, our doctor highly suggested this to us as overheating can be a cause of SIDS. Second, there are tons of studies out there that show that people sleep better in chilled environments. Not freezing cold, of course. Be sure that it’s a comfortable temperature for everyone. But do try not to let your room get too warm.
- Keep the room dark. We need black out curtains for the mornings, but the one big thing for me is keeping the room dark and creating a space meant for sleeping. Since Allie drinks formula, I actually keep everything we need right next to our bed (diapers, wipes, her bottles, the formula, bottles of water, etc). That way we never have to leave the bedroom and turn on other lights while we’re feeding and changing her. We do have a small nightlight next to my side of the bed so that I can see what I’m doing, but it’s not bright enough for it to distract her or make her think it’s time to wake up.
- Be short and sweet. If your child does happen to wake up at any point during the night, keep your interactions brief. I’ve found that the longer I’m holding her or talking to her, the harder it is to get her to go back down. So if she wakes up and doesn’t need anything then I’ll simply pop her pacifier back in her mouth and silently rub her head until she falls back to sleep. If needed, then I’ll change her diaper quickly, re-swaddle her and put her back down. Most times I can get her to fall right back to sleep without having to add in a feeding (but of course be sure to listen to your baby and feed when they need it! If she’s crying and wont go back down after an attempt or two, then I absolutely pick her up and feed her).
While not all babies are the same, I’ve found that these small things have helped us a ton in creating more of a bedtime routine in our home and helping her sleep longer at night. So I want to know! How old was your little one when they started sleeping through the night?