Ducks In A Tub

Taking life's adventures one day at a time.

Friday, October 20, 2006

How my babies slept through the night and were in their own rooms by 3 months old

That’s right…3 months.

When my babies were born, my first goal was getting them to sleep through the night.

And I succeeded.

In less than three months.

See, I require at least 8 hours of sleep in order to function as a normal human being, so if my children sleep then I wake up happy and alert and ready for whatever the day holds. Call me selfish, but that’s how I am. Now, I’m not an expert, but my “method” has worked on two children, so take what you can get from it.

The basic idea is to turn your baby’s clock around. When you are pregnant, your baby is awake when you are asleep and sleeping while you are up and moving all day long. Your body motion rocks him to sleep all the hours you are active. As soon as you stop this gentle motion, he wakes up and wants to play. (Hence the sleepless nights because of the baby kicking you during the last couple months of pregnancy.) When your baby is born, he is used to his “schedule” and you need to teach him what is night and what is day.

Are you ready for the secret? This is going to sound mean, but it works. You need to wake up your baby. Creating a routine and a schedule starts at birth. (Well, a few days after birth when you’re home and ready for the challenge.) Who is crazy enough to wake up a perfectly peaceful and sleeping baby? A tired mommy, that’s who!

Most newborns will sleep 2, 3, or 4 hours at a stretch during the day. You want those pleasant hours to pass at night so YOU can get some rest. To accomplish this, wake up your baby every two hours or so. Move his arms and legs like he’s playing, undress him, rub his tummy, blow on his face, munch those cute cheeks and neck, talk and sing “it’s time to get up,” maybe use a cool (but not cold) washcloth on his chest and neck. Once he wakes up and gives you that squawky “Mom, leave me alone” cry, then you change his diaper. Maybe even let him cry for a couple minutes (not too long, of course) just to make sure that he’s good and awake. Then you feed him.

This can get tricky because your baby just wants to go back to sleep. As soon as you put the bottle or your breast close to his face he might drop right back into dreamland. Fight him! Tap his cheek, move his limbs, twist the bottle in his mouth – whatever you have to do to get him to finish that meal.

Within about a month (maybe less) your baby will be doing “the schedule” on his own and won’t need you to keep reminding him when it is time to eat. You’ll find that he now eats, plays, and naps about the same time every day. Slowly, his nighttime sleeping will increase until he has reached a solid 8, 10, or even 12 hours of down time. This blessedly calm night should happen before he is 3 months old, but only if you are diligent in imposing the schedule on him.

Admittedly, it is easier to get a formula-fed baby to sleep through the night than a breast milk baby, simply because formula is so much thicker and sits with the baby so much longer. I only nursed my first born for about 4 weeks before I switched to formula. I know, I know, that’s very un-politically correct of me, but it was the decision I made.

HOWEVER, before I switched to formula my son was sleeping 6 hours at a stretch at night. SIX HOURS!! And he was less than a month old. Maybe it was his temperament, but I like to think that it was me pushing him and waking him up regularly during the day. I did not nurse my daughter at all and she was sleeping 8 hours and in her own room at about 2 ½ months because of this “method.”

FYI: if you are nursing and you try to get your baby to sleep through the night, your fertility will probably return quicker. Just be aware. Postponed fertility with nursing is usually only true with frequent nursing. A 6 or 8 hour break is not frequent enough to delay the return of fertility, so be careful about getting pregnant again too soon.

Pleasant dreams!

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  • At 5:38 AM, Blogger Anna Venger said…

    I need about 7 hours to function like a normal human being. I almost never get them, which I suppose could explain why I am not normal. :)

    BTW, where were you when I needed you?

  • At 7:21 AM, Blogger Karmyn R said…

    Well, it would have been interesting to try - BUT, my daughter breastfed EVERY 2-3 hours until she was 6 months old. Even to this day (at 3yrs) she is a little bird eater - eats small and frequently.

    So, unless I had given her formula (which I didn't want to do at the time) I doubt she'd have slept through the night. I think she has an extra small tummy!

  • At 12:13 PM, Anonymous Julie said…

    Very interesting. We were just blessed with another grandchild. I am going to pass your post on to her. She might be interested.

    I wish I could get 8 hours of sleep. I really only need 7, but an extra one every now and then would be nice.

  • At 3:34 PM, Blogger Pamela said…

    good job.
    I don't even remember that far back.

  • At 4:16 PM, Blogger CyberCelt said…

    Great idea. And like all great parenting ideas, people will think you are being cruel. They, however, will be the ones with the big, pink puffy eyes. hehh

  • At 11:22 AM, Blogger Mayberry said…

    Wow, I'm with Anna, where were you 18 months ago! My toddler is still a crappy sleeper.

  • At 12:59 PM, Anonymous kailani said…

    My baby is 9 months and can sleep 12 hours every night. Maybe I should start putting her in her own room.


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