It has been the same story since I was a kid- if I do not get 8 hours of sleep each night, I will inevitably get sick or turn into a real version of The Walking Dead. That last part is obviously an exaggeration, but you catch my drift. And even worse- anyone that has to deal with the post-crappy sleep Erica will definitely regret that they even know me. Let’s just say this: I am a girl who loves my sleep.
When I found out that I was going to have twins (my first pregnancy!), one of the first thoughts that came to my mind was OMGosh- I am never going to sleep again!
I know that a lot of moms can relate to that sentiment.
How on earth am I supposed to take care of two babies if I am not rested? Personally, this just would not work for me. In addition, I am not a stay-at-home mom and I planned on keeping my job- which at the time, was that of a middle-school geography teacher. I could not imagine staying up all night with two babies and then going to school at 7am and teaching hormonal adolescents until 4pm! YIKES!
I am someone who Googles and researches to the extreme when I have an sort of worry or issue. The market for Baby Sleep Tricks is flooded with a ton of contradictory information that can be difficult to navigate. Someone is telling you to “not spoil your baby” while another someone is telling you that it is “impossible to spoil a baby”. I borrowed tricks and tips from several different books and articles and blogs- but I ultimately found my own method that worked best for me in getting my babies to sleep through the night.
4 years later, I am a happily-rested individual who is working full-time and has successfully sleep-trained 3 boys to sleep through the night by the time they were 12 weeks old. My method has been so effective that my boys have never experienced sleep regressions, difficulty sleeping when they are sick or teething, or difficulty adjusting to time changes or seasonal changes.
I want to share 5 of my main tips in hope that they will work for you as you begin the process of sleep training your baby! Remember, all of these tips take time and I generally believe it takes a week or a new method to transform into a habit.
*I want to note that I read a lot of resources on the subject and some of my tips are variations of sleep training methods that are already ‘out there’. However, any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author. All information provided on this site is for informational purposes only. Living Generation Millennial makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, currentness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information.
5 Tips to Get Your Baby to Sleep Through the Night (By 12 Weeks Old)
1.Wait Until the Time is Right– Babies who are younger than 8 weeks really cannot be sleep trained. First of all, they are too little. Second of all, they are still used to being awake at night and sleeping during the day. When they were in the womb, your movement during the day essentially rocked them to sleep and your lack of movement at night kept them up. This is the time to cuddle up your baby and give them comfort and love :). It is important that your baby eat and grow during the first 8 weeks of their lives; it is a strange new world for your baby! I did not start the sleep training process until my boys were at least 8 weeks old, were eating 28-32 ounces a day and weighed 10lbs. Some sources will say that you can start sooner than this, but these are the numbers that worked like a charm for me!
2. Feed on a Schedule & Use the Bonus 5th Feeding– I know this can be a highly debated topic; whether to feed on demand or feed on a schedule. As a mom, you have to choose what is right for you; this is no proven correct method!
However, I found that feeding on demand will bring your baby to sleep harmony so much faster. And if you are like me, this is the ultimate goal! I stated above that I do not sleep train until at least 8 weeks old, but I will say that I do try to make good habits happen before the baby is 8 weeks. My boys’ eating schedule looked like this:
- Every 2 1/2 hours their first 2 weeks
- Every 3 hours from weeks 3-8
- Every 4 hours when I started sleep-training (in this case, after 8 weeks)
So, my boys were typically eating at 7am, 11am, 3pm and then 7pm when they would go to sleep for the night. That was just our schedule, you have to adjust for what works in your family.
Now, that bonus 5th feeding comes into play. I noticed that my babies would be hungrier in the evening so oftentimes I would add a bonus 5th feeding in between the 3pm and the 7pm feedings. This feeding would generally have less ounces than the other feedings but allow the babies to get to 7pm and not be hungry. Your 4-5 feedings per day should add up to 32 ounces. If you are breastfeeding and you do not know how many ounces your baby is eating- you could try to pump for a day to see how much you are producing and that would give you good insight into how much your baby is currently eating (this is what I did). If you are exclusively breast feeding and not pumping, you probably have a good idea of when your baby is full anyway. For my boys, 32 ounces was the amount of milk that they needed to make it through the night. If your baby is not able to drink this amount of milk spread between 5 feedings, you can adjust the timings between feedings as it works for your baby. The important thing is that you stick to the feeding schedule that you set & and you do not let a feeding last longer than 30 minutes.
3. Don’t Rock Your Baby to Sleep, Use White Noise Instead!– I rocked my babies in the first few weeks of their lives because I was just SO excited to be a mom and have sweet little babies to rock- but never rocked them to sleep. Nor did I let a swing rock them to sleep. My babies all slept in their cribs the very first night they came home from the hospital. It is important for the baby to learn to sleep in their crib right off the bat so you do not have to make this adjustment later. My boys always loved their crib because they had never slept in anything different. This was their own personal space from the beginning. Swings and bouncy seats are great for soothing a fussy baby, but I never recommend letting your baby sleep in them.
Instead of rocking my babies, I invested in a sound machine to play white noise for my babies as they went to sleep. Babies do not like quiet environments and logically that makes sense! They just came from a noisy womb.
Our sound machine worked like a charm in getting our babies to fall asleep and stay asleep!
4. Early Bedtimes- My twins are 4 and they still go to bed at 6:30pm. Over the years, this has been met with varying opinions, and oftentimes people cannot believe that I put my kids to bed so early. But they are kids- and sleep is good for kids; it is the time that they grow, heal & re-energize.
I realized when my babies were young that the earlier they went to bed, the longer they slept-in and the better they slept throughout the night. My youngest son, Vincent, started out with a 7pm bedtime, but he kept waking up earlier than his ideal first feeding. Once we moved his bedtime to 6:30pm, he easily slept until 6:30am the next morning. I have offered up this tip to several of my friends in the past- if your baby keeps getting up early, put them to bed earlier. It has ALWAYS works like a charm.
5. Be Consistent- Babies can sense when they are able to dictate the schedule. But this baby is joining your life and becoming a member of your family, it is important that they adapt to that family. You must be consistent in your feeding routine, your early bedtimes, and your resistance to rocking your baby to sleep. If you allow yourself to break your own rules- even once- your baby will expect this in the future.
For example, if your baby simply won’t go to sleep at night and you think, “I will just rock them this one time”, the baby will come to expect this comfort every single time. I cannot stress the importance of training your baby to fall asleep without you! Learning to self-soothe is an important skill! I love my children very much and that is why I want them to be sleep-self-sufficient. Now, whenever one of my 4 year olds gets a cold or my 1 year old is teething or we are faced with Daylight Savings Time, there are absolutely no disruptions in their sleep because they have learned to self-soothe.
These tips should work for a baby of any age! If you are reading this and thinking- well shoot, my baby is already a year old!- it doesn’t matter! It is NEVER too late to start sleep training your baby!
These are my top 5 tips for getting your baby to sleep through the night. I hope that they can help you and bring you some much-needed rest!
Until next time,