How to Get Your Newborn to Sleep Through the Night- Without "Crying It Out".
October 12, 2016
Those wonderful sleepless newborn nights. Oh how I miss getting up every two hours to feed, rock, sing, read, persuade and stand on my head to get my child back to sleep... said no momma ever.
I mean, don't get me wrong. I know parenting comes with certain responsibilities that we, as parents, need to suck up and learn to deal with. But I need my sleep. When momma's tired and cranky- ain't nobody happy.
We're told that newborns get up every two hours to eat... that that's just the way it is. And while that may be the case, I surely wasn't going to sit back and accept that norm. Enter Experiment #1.. eh.. I mean... welcome our firstborn baby.
We had purchased one of those pack 'n plays with the bassinet attachment on top. Everyone told us we needed a bassinet. I mean, a newborn is SO tiiinnnyyy.. she just couldn't possibly sleep in her crib until she's much bigger. She won't feel safe and snuggly in a big ole crib. So we used that bassinet until she literally grew out of it around 9-10 weeks old.
What's wrong with that, you ask? Well, this bassinet had an incline built in. A baby gets used to that incline really quickly. Our daughter also got used to this small, snuggly space, so when she grew out of it it was a challenge to get her used to her flat, big crib. We ended up using a rolled towel under her crib mattress to mimic the incline. It took a couple of weeks until she was comfortable with her new digs.
It's so fun to snuggle an itty, bitty newborn right? I was so afraid our daughter would wake up (and stay up) if I didn't wait to put her in her bed until she was completely sleeping.
Now as much enjoyment comes from snuggling your baby, you are seriously setting yourself up for disaster later. I know, I know... some of you reading this are ready to attack this way of thinking. But I'll let you in on a little secret.
This mistake is probably the biggest reason moms try the cry it out method later on... and fail.
When I needed to change a poopy diaper in the middle of the night, I turned on a dim light so I could see what I was doing. I mean, seriously, who needs poop on their fingers when you're already half-dead from lack of sleep?!
We used a standard cotton crib sheet in our daughter's crib.
How the heck did that make the list?! That's what everyone uses.
WELL, if you were all snuggly warm while someone was holding you and then that someone put you on a cold, cotton sheet- you wouldn't be very happy either.
So bring on Baby #2! My husband and I had learned from our mistakes with our first child and we were determined to try some new things the second time around.
Skip the bassinet altogether. Seriously. It's not needed and an entire waste of money.
I ended up with an emergency c-section (for the second time- but that's an entirely different story), so I wasn't able to sleep in my bed for a couple of weeks. I used the bassinet on our pack 'n play for that temporary time when I had to sleep in the recliner in the living room. When I was recovered enough to get back in my own bed, our son also went to his. The pack 'n play was retired to storage.
Our son never had a "transition period" from bassinet to crib. He slept so peacefully in his crib.
Put your baby in his crib when he is relaxed and sleepy. Do not wait until baby is completely sleeping. This teaches your little one how to fall asleep by himself.
I did this with my son from day one. Of course, it doesn't mean you have to give up snuggling and rocking. That bonding time and interaction is very important for your baby's development. Just cuddle your little one for a while and place him lovingly in his own bed to drift off to sleep. It's all about balance.
Get a special nightlight. This one was actually gifted to us, but it was one of the BEST GIFTS EVER. Let me introduce you to a directional nightlight. See what I mean here: http://amzn.to/2dAPRZ5
When our son was a fresh newborn, I had the light directed toward the ceiling and it gave his room a nice glow. Very importantly though, it was not too bright like a lamp... or Heaven forbid... you use the actual room light. It was just bright enough for me to avoid poopy fingers, but dark enough that it didn't cause a stimulation overload that would cause him to feel alert.
When he was 7 weeks old (and sleeping through the night), I changed the direction of the nightlight to shine behind his dresser so the room was darker. The last thing you want is your child to wake up just because the room is light.
Our son loves it! With two for the price of one, you have an extra in case there is a leaky diaper issue or.. you know.. you do eventually need to wash it. Eventually.
Here's a bonus tip for you!
If you're a breastfeeding momma, try not to nurse your baby to sleep at night time. Babies tend to be so comforted and warm that they fall asleep before their tummies are full. One of the best tips a friend shared with me is to pump and use a bottle for the last feeding before bedtime. This ensures your little one has a full feeding and may sleep much longer.
Ok, last one. But it is SO important I had to add it.
Create a bedtime routine and give your baby a bath each night. I know doctors debate back and forth whether this may cause dry skin issues, but let me tell you this. Bath time (if done right) will relax your baby SO much more, and they will simply sleep better. It really is that simple.
After implementing all of these tips and tricks with our second child, we went to our son's 2 month checkup and amazed our nurses and doctor that our baby slept a full 11 hours straight at night! Learn from our mistakes and get back your sleep! You can absolutely train your baby to sleep better at night from the very beginning.