Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Sleeping Babies

I often get asked what my 'secret' is to get my babies to sleep so well. They have been sleeping through the night since 8 weeks and have not once regressed. So I thought I'd write out everything I do during the day and at night to help my girls to sleep through the night.

However, I will preface this by saying that every baby is different and has different needs and wants. I really think that I just got blessed with really good sleepers, but either way here are some things I do.

The first thing is maintaining an iron clad eating schedule. Every 3 hours on the nose, my girls get their bottle (except for their 1st two bottles, which are 2 hours apart). I've been on this schedule since they were born and in the hospital. The nurses encouraged it and I followed it, even when I came home. Now in the very beginning, sometimes they are hungry more than every 3 hours and that's ok. Feed them! What I did in the beginning was give them their "normal" bottle every 3 hours and if they were hungry between scheduled bottles of breastmilk (since I was pumping right away), I'd nurse to "hold them over".

Here is our schedule now, at 6 months. But besides adding in the solids (since last month) and the fact that they sleep through the night instead of waking up for bottles, which obviously all newborns do, it's been exactly the same since they were born.

7am: bottle
7:15: change diaper and back to sleep in the crib
9am: bottle
10am: fruit
12 noon: bottle
2pm: nap
3pm: bottle
4pm: veggie
5pm: nap
6pm: bottle
7:30: bath (every other day, usually)
8pm: nap
9pm: bottle
9:15pm: bedtime

So as you can see, we go by the "eat, awake, sleep" routine, every 3 hours. When your baby is very little, your awake time won't be very long. But usually after a baby eats they are happy, so encourage awake time at that point and play, read a book, etc. then about an hour before their next bottle, encourage a little nap.

Many people also ask when I dropped a feeding. I didn't. They did. One night they went 4 hours after going to bed and their first nighttime feed. They did that for about a week. Then they went 5 hours, etc. This will definitely throw you off your schedule, but you can get it back during the daytime. I always just nursed to hold them over to their next scheduled bottle.

Another thing I always used in the beginning was the miracle blanket for swaddling. They rarely escaped and it kept them snug and secure. We broke from the swaddle at around 5 months by leaving one arm out for a week, then both arms out, then we eliminated it and just put them in the sleep sack, which they sleep in now. They have also never had a paci in their crib. They use a paci during the day for naps, but they never seem to need it at night. Every night is exactly the same: bottle, change into jammies/nighttime diaper (since we cloth diaper), put the sleep sack on, put on their mobiles and sound machine, and it's lights out. They usually fall asleep instantly. Sometimes it takes them a few minutes to settle down, but they always do within minutes.

We also keep a sound machine on "ocean sounds" all night. If you don't have a sound machine that plugs into a wall outlet, get one. Leave it on all night.

And I think that's about it! I hope some of my methods work for you and your baby! Sleep is a wonderful thing for everyone!

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