I have a friend who just had a baby 2 months ago and is having problems getting her baby to sleep through the night. Even though I have two teenagers now, I still remember those early months when they were babies with the lack of sleep and waking up in the middle of the night to feed the baby. Sleep is a must for everyone with a newborn baby, and the more sleep the better!
I'd like to share with you my trick on getting my kids to sleep through the night when they were babies. Maybe it will work for you and your baby too! The premise I based my baby ritual on was the fact that babies like routines. The more routine the schedule the more predictable the moods are of the baby and the less frustrated you will be. I started this process when they were around 4-6 weeks old. Once you start, you must be consistent. Remember, it is a ritual. The more consistent you are, the quicker the baby will pick up on the ritual and the quicker and longer your baby will sleep.
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You begin the nighttime ritual at midnight. Yes, it sounds late but just keep reading. At midnight, you give the baby a warm bath in a very softly lit room. Hint: invest in some dimmers for the bathroom; it makes a wonderful relaxed atmosphere for the baby! When you are giving the bath, keep your voice soft and try not to talk or talk too much. The purpose is to relax the baby and calm him/her down while they are bathing in the warm water. Think baby spa atmosphere!
After the bath, dry, diaper and clothe your baby and then swaddle him/her. Most babies like to be swaddled, but if yours doesn't, just be sure he/she is warm and cozy. Again, try not to talk or if you do, whisper. The goal is to reduce stimulation to your baby so they become relaxed. Next, go into the baby nursery, keep the lights off and sit or rock in the rocker gently as you give him/her the last feeding of the night. Remember, lights are off the whole time (use a night light if you need to). Then after the baby is done eating/nursing, gently place your baby in the crib and quietly walk away. They may rustle, whimper or cry for a while the first few nights, but keep up this ritual night after night. Your baby will slowly pick up on the ritual and will fall asleep quicker each night and will stay asleep longer. If they happen to wake up a few hours later, and you're confident he/she is hungry, just repeat the "lights off feeding time" and try not to talk to your baby. This helps your baby discover when it is daytime and nighttime. Talking is for daytime, sleeping is for nighttime.
Then, as your baby begins sleeping through the night, you can start adjusting the "start" time of the ritual. For example, if you start at midnight and a few weeks later your baby is sleeping for 6 hours straight and is waking up at 6am, then start the bedtime routine at 11 p.m. The baby may still sleep for 6 hours and wake up at 5 a.m., but slowly over time he/she will begin waking up at 6 a.m., which is 7 hours of sleep in a row. Then back off the start time to 10 p.m., and I bet in a few weeks your baby will begin waking up at 6am, which is 8 hours in a row! Then back off the start time to 9 p.m., and so on and so forth. In no time your baby will be sleeping through the night and so will you!
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The key to this bedtime routine is consistency! Don't stop the routine the first night your baby was only asleep for 2 hours. You must keep up the routine until your baby figures out what you are doing and adjusts to the new sleep routine. Give it a try and let me know if it works for you!