I receive regular emails from several pregnancy/baby websites (BabyCenter, the bump, Mom Bloggers Club, etc) and lately I have been seeing about a MILLION different views regarding infant sleep training. I realized I haven't really covered a lot regarding how well Liana sleeps and the journey it took to get us here.
Now, I know that Ashton and I have had it pretty damn easy with regards to getting Liana to sleep through the night, but I just wanted to share our journey and the little tips that have worked for us along the way, beginning the day she came home from the hospital.
|One Week Old|
1. From day one, let your baby nap/sleep whenever s/he wants to.I learned very early on that it isn't in mine or my baby's best interest to hold her off from sleep or trying to wake her too soon. Doing either of these can easily cause a cranky baby and can sometimes affect her feeding schedule, which also puts pressure on her sleeping schedule. It's a terrible cycle that I went through for a few days and never again did I try distracting her from sleep!! A well rested baby is a happy baby!
|Seven Weeks Old|
2. Turn all the lights out when putting your baby down to sleep at night.From day one when putting Liana down to sleep at night I put her in a quiet dark room. Actually, for her first six weeks we practiced co-sleeping, so we both went in a quiet dark room and didn't turn on any lights until it was time to wake up for the day. This helped her get a sense of night and day and she learned when she should get ready for a longer sleep. When she naps during the day, I don't go out of my way to keep things quiet or turning out any lights.
|Thirteen Weeks Old|
3. Your baby's "sleeping" location should be different from his/her "napping" location--at least at first.For the first six weeks when we were co-sleeping, we actually slept on a futon in the living room so we wouldn't wake up Ashton several times a night since he works early in the morning. But we always laid down the same way together and she eventually moved to her bassinet at night. During the day I let her nap wherever she wants (in her carrier, in the car, stroller, our bed, the couch, my arms, etc). Now that she is becoming mobile, I do often place her in her bassinet.
|Seventeen Weeks Old|
4. Follow a consistent routine before bed each night.Liana was super easy with this. I know many parents have to do bathtime, a feeding, read a book, etc, but Liana usually takes an evening nap (about 30 mins) and then wakes for a slightly larger bottle (1 oz more than she takes during the day), then she is out for the night. Literally. She sleeps about 10 hours before waking up at all. But we make sure she does this EVERY night. For some reason if she misses her 30 min nap or doesn't take her full bottle she will either be cranky before bed or she'll wake up earlier in the morning.
|Twenty One Weeks Old|
5. Don't talk or play with your baby or turn on any lights during night feeds.Exactly this. I never tried having social time or play time with Liana in the middle of the night. I also avoid harsh lighting (obviously enough to be able to feed her), and often times wouldn't change her diaper in the middle of the night either. I wanted her to understand we are only awake because she is hungry and as soon as I finished feeding her (whether she had nodded off or not) I would put her back down to bed. There were only a handful of times in the beginning when she got whiny and protested sleep in the middle of the night, but by two months, she got the hang of it and has yet to be cranky after a night feed.
|Twenty Four Weeks Old|
6. Don't wake your baby unless you really need to (removing from car seat, medical reason, etc).Like I stated earlier, a well rested baby is a happy baby. Waking her early only causes moodiness, which can often affect the rest of her day. She is harder to soothe and becomes more clingy if I wake her from a nap too soon. For the few times that I have to wake her up, I do so slowly and cautiously. I play with her hands and feet until she becomes aware I am touching her, and I start talking to her in a low soothing voice when she starts opening her eyes. I find she is in a much better mood when she is calmly woken up as opposed to suddenly woken up.
|Twenty Six Weeks Old|
7. Make sure your baby naps during the day.Naps during the day are so important for babies. The amount of sleep that babies get affect their mood, their feedings, their sociability, and their development (among other things). I often hear parents saying that they limit the amount of time their baby naps because they want him/her to sleep longer at night. Many times their plan actually works against them because babies need several naps for brain development and without them, they are incapable of sleeping longer periods at a time. Liana still naps about four times a day, but she only needs 30 mins to an hour and a half to re-energize herself, then she still sleeps 8-10 hours through the night (without waking).
|Twenty Eight Weeks Old|
8. Do what works for YOU and YOUR BABY. Don't force it.Honestly, don't listen to other people when they tell you how to "train" your infant and when to let them 'cry it out' or not to feed them in the middle of the night. If you feel uncomfortable letting your baby cry alone in their crib in the dark for fifteen minutes, DON'T DO IT. If you are sensing your baby is hungry in the night and isn't just waking for another reason, FEED HER. So many parents live by the 'cry it out' method and will let their child cry until they fall asleep. I personally can't do that. Others will say not to feed them in the middle of the night because the baby will be spoiled and learn that he will always get what he wants and will take a long time to sleep through the night properly. People may give you advice, and that is great, but only try it if you are comfortable and you feel that it is what is best for your family. If one method doesn't seem to be working, try another. Don't force your baby into a routine that she is going to spend the next few years fighting you on.
Does your baby sleep through the night? What is your nightly routine? How long did it take to establish?
*Disclaimer: I am not in any way stating that these tips will work for all parents and all babies. I am not saying any of these are medically or psychologically advised in any way. These are the tips and tricks that worked best for my family, and may need to be reevaluated to suit your family's needs.