The dream for a lot of parents is that magical time when your baby starts to sleep through the night. In most literature, sleeping “through the night” is defined as sleeping for over 5 hours straight. In whose world five hours is “through the night” I’m not sure. However all the mums of babies sleeping less than this are screaming “five hours! YES!” And I agree, when your baby sleeps longer than a few hours (and so you do as well) you feel like a million dollars when you wake up. I get it.
Both my girls have been pretty good sleepers from an early age (don’t hate me). Yes we’ve had bad nights (and bad days!), don’t get me wrong. When Miss M first came home from hospital some nights I basically walked between bedrooms for hours settling one, then the other…and so on. But aside from that early period and some issues with day sleeps, night time is normally not too bad around here.
Who knows how much of my girls sleeping is due to luck of the draw or things we did. Either way, I wanted to share some things I did in case I can help some poor, sleep deprived parents out there!
Before I go into the tips, let me say these are the techniques I used with success on both my girls. They’re what I’m comfortable with doing. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt through being a parent, it’s that EVERYONE is entirely different. So work out what you are ok with and go from there.
These tips are mostly aimed at a younger baby (less than three months old); however I’ve found the first two are still helpful at nearly twenty months of age!
Here are my top 5 tips for getting a baby to sleep through the night
1. Routine: my girls thrive on a routine. Maybe that’s because I do and if I’m happy they are? Anyway, from an early age I started a “bedtime routine” of feed, bath & bed. This also helps as they grow older – we still do this now with both girls.
2. Temperature: don’t underestimate how much this plays a part in sleeping through! Warm babies sleep longer & won’t wake just due to being cold. Don’t overheat them though, this can be dangerous. Some products to help:
- I have a “Groegg” thermometer in Miss M’s room. They are a bit pricey, but it is so handy. It even changes colour with the temperature so even when you are “I only had 3 hours sleep” tired it’s easy to see what bedding they need.
- Mattress protectors – most mattress protectors have plastic in them, which makes babies sweat. Try and find 100% cotton (or bamboo) ones.
3. Swaddle: this helped calm my girls down. You need to be careful how you are swaddling, you don’t want to be wrapping up their legs super tight, but I found having their arms held close helps. Naturally once your baby starts to roll they need to be removed. Ways to do it:
- Sleeping bags – there are so many styles around. You can use a wrap over a normal bag, or the ones I like the most are the Ergo Cacoon. They have buttons for the arms, so it’s easy to transition out of (i.e. do one arm at a time). You can also buy a cardigan style jacket to put over the bag once their arms are out (to keep them warm). If you buy this style of bag you don’t have to upgrade when bub is no longer swaddled.
- Using a wrap (blanket): the best blanket I found is the Origami Double wrap. This blanket has covers for the arms and numbers to tell you the order to wrap – so you don’t need a degree to wrap the baby!
4. White noise: we used white noise for Miss H up to three months and removed it with no problem. It was also very useful to calm her down if she was really worked up. We used an iPhone app called “White Noise”. Our favourite sound was “ocean waves crashing”. A big disclaimer on this one, a lot of people say this is a sleep aid and can cause issues later, but we haven’t had any.
5. Dream feed: we started this from 6 weeks with both babies. At around 10.30 in the evening I would pick them up from their cot (without waking) and give them a bottle. This helps them go longer into the night. It is also nice if Mum needs to catch up on sleep, because Dad can do it (if breastfeeding you can just express).
So what do you think – have any of these worked for you? I would love to hear anything else that you do!