This is the topic I get the most questions on when talking to other mamas. I don’t consider myself an expert in sleep training, but since London has been sleeping through the night since she was 5 months old, I’ve picked up a few tricks of the trade.
1. Get your baby on a consistent schedule
This is helpful for life in general. When you have a routine, even if it’s just a morning and bedtime routine, your baby knows what’s coming and responds more positively because it’s familiar to them. I read Babywise, and while I didn’t follow it completely, I used it as a backbone to creating my schedule with London. (If you’re interested in what that looks like, keep an eye out for a new post coming!) And if you’re the type B person that hates planning everything out, no worries. At least create a short bedtime routine that you can commit to doing with your baby on a nightly basis. It can be as short as singing a song and tucking them in. Anything that will let them know it’s time for bed.
2. Move your baby to their room
This is my biggest tip for getting your baby to sleep through the night. You’ve gotta cut the cord, mama. It wasn’t until we listened to our pediatrician and moved london to her room that we finally got a good night’s rest. And we were amazed because she did too! It’ll feel weird at first and you’ll probably be awake staring at the monitor the entire first night. But once you get through that initial sad moment, you’ll be happier to get some sleep.
3. If you don’t want them to cry, don’t let them cry
I think this is a common misconception when it comes to sleep training. People think sleep training means you have to let your baby “cry it out”. This isn’t true, however! If you’re totally against the cry it out method, you can definitely still sleep train, it will just take a little longer. This is what we chose to do, because I couldn’t handle hearing London cry for hours! The key is to put your baby down to bed when they’re drowsy, but still awake. I would wait until she was dozing off in my arms, then gently put her down and leave the room. If they start to cry, gently soothe them, and repeat as often as needed. It may take a while, but the crying should become shorter and shorter until they eventually fall asleep. By the third night, she was going to sleep without crying at all!
4. Experiment with bedtimes
You know the saying- every baby is different. Some people will tell you you’re crazy if your baby is awake past 7:00pm, while others will insist you should keep them up until 11:00pm. As with everything, you’ll have to experiment to see what works best for you and your babe.
For me personally, I like to have some time to myself in the morning to clean, make phone calls, etc. So I knew I didn’t want London to wake up at the crack of dawn. We started with a 9:30pm bedtime and she would sleep through the night until about 8:30am. This worked great for us! As she got a little older, we had to make a few adjustments because we noticed her getting sleepy earlier. So now she goes to bed at 8:30pm and wakes at about 8am. It’s all about paying attention to your child’s needs and what seems to make them happy, then going from there.
On that same note, before you try to sleep train your little one, make sure they’re ready for that step. If your baby is under 4 months and still needing those nighttime feedings, definitely wait until they are no longer dependent on that. I know it feels like those 3am nursing sessions will never end, but they will. Don’t rush it, mama! I hope these tips help when the time is right.