Today’s story is written by Chelsea.
Her daughter is named Emerson and was sleeping through the night at 3 months of age.
She achieved this with establishing a consistent routine- and with a “little bit of luck”.
A Little Bit of Luck
Sleep. It’s such a vital part of life! Wouldn’t you agree? Even before having a baby, I needed 7-8 hours of sleep a night in order to function. So imagine my horror in finding out that a baby doesn’t sleep that easily by themselves from the get-go…not at night anyway. I was a hot, hot, HOT mess after Emerson was born, but I won’t go into that. Let’s just say that after our second night in the hospital with her, I was willing to have her put back in my belly for a while. Okay, nevermind, that sounds really disgusting, but you know what I mean. I really think a lot of it had to do with the fact that I was extremely sleep deprived, which poured over into everything else. Without sleep, you just can’t function properly. I’ll never understand why God created motherhood in such a way that at the time in your life when you probably need the most sleep, you receive the least amount of sleep. Not sure what He was thinking there, but obviously He knows what He’s doing, so I’ll just let that one go.
People used to (and still sometimes do) tell me how “lucky” I am (was?) to have a baby that slept through the night so early on. I want to respond to said people with something other than “thank you”, because little do they know that I WORKED MY BUTT OFF to sleep train Emerson. It was no easy task. Also, she was a pretty tough newborn, and so I paid for it during the day when she wasn’t sleeping. I’m 95% sure she had colic the first 3 months or so, but I’ll never actually know.
Back to my original point, getting her to sleep through the night. It required many, many nights of getting out of bed anywhere from 5-10 times a night and required much diligence and determination on my part. “Night” here meaning between the hours of 11p-6a. I will say that we have been extremely blessed with a good sleeper from the get-go. Emerson was never a party-all-night kind of girl, but then again I started a bedtime routine 2-3 weeks in and it has not changed since. We do the same routine every night in the same exact order. I really, truly believe that’s why she’s so easy to put to bed and part of why she knows bedtime is bedtime and not party time.
Why am I telling you all of this? I have had several people ask me over the course of the last couple of months how I got Emerson to sleep through the night so early on. I won’t take 100% credit for it, because I really believe it was a God thing (I believe He knew I needed a saving grace + that was mine), but I will take about 75% of the credit. My post today is to explain how our sleep and nighttime routine works, to the best of my ability and without sounding A- HA-HA-HA-HA-HA about it.
From the get-go, I started Emerson on an “eat-wake-sleep” routine, meaning she would nurse, then be awake for a while, then take a nap. I tried to keep this routine going throughout the day starting from basically day 1. This really helped me determine wake/sleep times, and it helped us get on a good feeding routine that was very consistent from day to day. I definitely recommend trying to get on a similar routine if you haven’t already, unless you just don’t care about a routine, then forget everything I just said. 🙂
As I mentioned above, I started a bedtime routine with her around 2-3 weeks of age. I had read several books/articles and every. single. one honed in on the importance of a bedtime routine when trying to establish day vs. night. From very early on, we made sure that after about 6pm the house was somewhat dim (especially her room) and we kept things very low-key after that time. I should also note that Emerson began sleeping IN HER CRIB IN HER OWN ROOM at like 3 or 4 days old. She was too noisy and no one was getting any sleep when she was in our room (again, this is not for everyone, but it’s what worked for us).
We started her bedtime routine about 6:30p every night, which consisted of the following (in order):
6:30p Warm bath with lavender soap (sidenote: she hated baths until about 1 month old)
6:40ish Lotion, pjs, and a quiet song (usually “You are My Sunshine” or “Wheels on the Bus”)
6:50ish Nurse with mommy in the rocking chair in her nursery (same place every night)
(When she was really little we would swaddle her after nursing and Trey was usually responsible for this because he could ALWAYS get it way tighter than I ever could. Emerson was quite the swaddle Houdini.)
After swaddled, I would hold or rock her gently and sing “Jesus Loves Me”. Then, I’d lay her down, kiss her, insert paci, and leave. Here’s where it got tricky sometimes. She didn’t figure out how to keep the paci in for a quite a while, so reinserting the paci happened several times before she actually fell asleep most nights. Once she was good and asleep, and the paci fell out it then didn’t bother her. The toughest thing for a while was PACI REINSERTION about 5-8 times a night, not including in the middle of the night.
For the first 3 months, she would go to “bed” at 7pm and wake every 3 hours ON THE DOT to nurse. She never skipped a meal, not by my doing…that was ALL her. She ate at 7p, 11p, 1-2a, 4-5a, and again when she woke for the day at 7a. If she woke up to nurse anytime after 5am, I would always put her back down until her daily wake up time at 7a. Around 2 months old I started doing what’s referred to as a “dream feed”, where I would pick her up out of her crib still VERY drowsy and nurse her, then lay her right back down after she was finished (often she would fall back asleep in my arms). I would do this around 10:30p (or before I went to bed) every night. So she’d have been asleep since around 7p, then I’d dream feed at 10:30-11p, and she’d sleep until 2-3a. Around 2.5 months she started skipping that 1am feed and it just kept getting pushed closer and closer to her 4-5am feed. So, I knew she didn’t NEED that 1a feeding anymore. I took it upon myself to wean her off of the 1a feeding by inserting her paci whenever she’d wake. This was TOUGH. It took about 1-1.5 weeks to fully wean her from this feeding before she just started skipping it altogether. Some nights it meant me getting up and reinserting the paci 4-8 times. Everntually, she just stopped waking up for it, so by close to 3 months she was sleeping 7p (dream feed at 11p) until close to 4a. Shortly after I weaned her of that feeding she eventually found her thumb and once she did, the rest was history. She started self-soothing around 3 months old, which is when she started sleeping through the night consistently. She dropped the 4am feed on her own. She just didn’t wake up for it one night and then she never woke for it again. At almost exactly 3 months old, she started sleeping 12+ hours a night, 7p-7a and she hasn’t looked back since (knock on wood).
I don’t know if I explained that very well at all, but I guess the key for us was consistency. From teaching, I know that kids THRIVE on routine and consistency, and that has proven true with our daughter as well. Find out what works and stick to it. Try not to switch things up too much because then you’ll just confuse the baby. In regards to naps, I did use a version of the “Cry It Out” method (though hard to do was VERY successful for us). I won’t go into that because I do believe there’s already a post on it somewhere on my blog. I’ll try to find it later and link it here.
I hope some of you find this helpful. I hope I didn’t make anyone cry or get mad because their baby isn’t doing this. TRUST ME when I say that I WAS THERE TOO! Just remember, it will happen eventually. Just keep doing the best you can, because really, that’s all you can do. Though, I guess a little bit of “luck” doesn’t hurt either…