As a new Mum, the one burning question I asked other parents was how to get babies to sleep through the night.
I generally do believe in babies sleeping through the night when they’re good and ready. However, I think that there are some things we can do to encourage that and make the baby as comfortable and happy in bed as possible. As a sleep-deprived parent, anything is sometimes worth a go!
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My Newborn Baby
My first baby was a terrible sleeper from the start, which is quite normal. As a new mum, I naively thought I was prepared for the lack of sleep at night time but I hadn’t quite bargained for the lack of sleep ANY time – day and night.
For the first month, she seemed to be awake all of the time. All. Of. The. Time. And when she was awake, she was generally crying – unless I was carrying her around, upright, in the sling. Not sitting down. Not even ‘perching’ on the back of the sofa. CARRYING – walking, all of the time.
As the weeks went on, she would fall asleep in the carrier and be content to then lie on me for a few hours sometimes which was lovely – we could both rest and I could sit down and relax but of course, I couldn’t sleep myself with her in the carrier so I was still shattered.
At night time, she would sleep no more than 40 minutes so that myself and my husband would take it in turns to pick her up and walk around with her upright until she fell back asleep – only to put her down and have her wake up after 30 seconds of course.
We were exhausted, physically and mentally. She was a breastfed baby and I’d had supply issues from day one which also didn’t help my mental state and by 6 weeks’ old, I was climbing the walls with what little strength I could muster.
By about 7 weeks, she was doing much better at night but still waking 2-10 times which I now know is very very normal in a new baby but at the time, I felt it was getting very difficult to manage. I didn’t have friends locally who could take her for a walk so I could catch up on sleep and my family were all living on the other side of the world – me in Australia and them in the UK at the time.
I must have googled it a million times over – how to get baby to sleep through the night. Over and over!
How to get Babies to Sleep for Longer
One day I was confiding to a friend how hard I was finding the night wakings and she told me about a book she was reading – ‘Save Our Sleep’ by Tizzie Hall. All I needed to hear was that there might be a possible solution and I ordered the book to be delivered the next day.
My friend warned me not to take everything in the book too literally and I would definitely suggest letting your own common sense prevail rather than following the book to the letter. I read it as fast as I possibly could. I read it standing up, walking around carrying her in the carrier!
Another reason I liked the sound of the book is that it gave ideas for ‘routines’ and ‘schedules’ to follow to ensure your baby was getting enough of everything – naps, sleep, feeds, baths etc. As a very very new mum, I wanted to make sure this was happening although of course I fed on demand and didn’t follow this part of the schedule too strictly.
At first, the schedule I followed made me laugh – e.g. ‘wake your baby at 6.40am’ – um hello, I have a 7-week old baby, do you seriously think they’re not already awake then?? It also gave suggestions on how much breastmilk I should express and with my low supply issues, this wasn’t possible at all. These are 2 examples of using your common sense and gut instinct on what to do for your baby.
However, I liked the idea of the schedule it provided – we ignored some parts but roughly did:
7am – feed
8.45am – swaddle baby and put down for nap
11.00am – wake baby and feed
12.45pm – swaddle baby and nap
3.00pm – wake baby and feed
4.30pm – take baby for a walk to nap
5.15pm – wake baby and bath
6.30pm – feed
7.00pm – swaddle baby and put to bed for the night (ha ha).
After 4 days, something strange happened. She slept from 7.00pm to 3.00am. The panic I felt waking up at that time and seeing her start to stir was immense! Mums who can remember the paranoia when your baby is sleeping will understand. When the shock died down and I knew she was alive I was elated! As was my husband :) I hadn’t slept the whole 8 hours of course but I had slept enough to (almost) feel like a new woman. Mr M had slept the whole 8 hours.
I realised that this might have been a one-off and tried not to get too excited. We continued with the routine and things only got better. By 8-9 weeks old, she was sleeping from 10-12 hours per night. Every night. She has done so every since too except for times of teething, illness or jet lag.
How we got our baby to sleep through the night
To this day I do not know for sure whether it was our adopted ‘Save Our Sleep’ routine. Or the other sleeping ‘aids’ we used or just sheer random good luck. A lot of me suspects it was the latter but I will certainly be trying the same for baby number two anyway!
In terms of the other sleep aids we used, I’ll tell you what we did. Firstly at about the same time, we started to ‘double swaddle’. YouTube has some great videos from other mums showing how they do this. It keeps the baby very snug so their own arm movements cannot wake them up. Not all babies like this but mine did.
We also downloaded an iPhone white noise app. It on the white noise setting from the second we put her down to nap or sleep. I think this helped me sleep too!
We were also guilty of feeding to sleep and ‘rocking to sleep’. When you have a baby who sleeps through the night though, rocking them for 5 minutes beforehand really is not a big deal. It wasn’t to us anyway.
We tried not to tell many people of our happiness in having a sleeping baby. We didn’t want to brag. I hope this article does not do that. I simply want to give some of my tips to other mums in the chance it may work for them too.
My baby slept in her cot from day 1 in our room until she was 4 months old. Then she moved into her own room.
I hope my experience helps you in some way – remember it is my opinion only and what happened for me. It might not hold the solution for your baby but I hope it gives you some ideas. For our next one, we will definitely be double swaddling and playing white noise and when we feel the baby is ready, we’ll incorporate a loose routine like the one above as well. And then we will keep our fingers crossed!
These are my tips on how to get a baby to sleep through the night – what are yours? Here are some more tips.
Wishing you all a long and peaceful night’s sleep :)
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