Enjoy the sleep now because when that baby comes…
How many times have you heard this phrase since you announced your pregnancy to the world? Nothing will kill the joy of having a new baby than the prospect of spending your next few months sleepless and exhausted.
At least, that was the case when I was pregnant. The prospect of surviving on 3-4 hours of sleep terrified me and I was determined to figure out how to get a baby to sleep through the night before my daughter even arrived.
Guess what? Not only did my daughter sleep through the night by 8 weeks, but two years later, we are still reaping the rewards of our hard work.
If you’re tired of being tired or terrified of the sleepless nights ahead of you, there is hope!
You’ve just stumbled upon my Baby Sleep Series where I share all of the tips, tricks, and research I discovered during my quest for great sleep. I don’t want to sell you on a particular program or product. I just want to give you the resources and information you need so your baby (and you!) sleep through the night.
This particular post serves as the foundation for the rest of the articles in the series.
In this post, I’m sharing the 5 essential tips you need to know before moving on to the specific techniques, schedules, and tutorials. These tips can dramatically help you learn how to get your baby to sleep through the night much more effectively and quickly.
Other posts in the Baby Sleep Series:
- How to Get Your Baby to Sleep Through the Night
- Baby Sleep Training: Everything You Need to Know
- Why Your Baby Won’t Sleep: 7 Surprising Things that Kill a Baby’s Sleep
- How to Swaddle a Baby (That Absolutely Hates Being Swaddled)
- Getting a Breastfed Baby to Sleep Through the Night
- How to Start the Perfect Baby Sleep Schedule
When Do Babies Sleep Through the Night?
This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase from one of the links I will make a small commission at no charge to you. I only recommend what I trust. Blunders in Babyland does not diagnose, treat, or advise medical conditions.
Before we get started on the tips for how to get your baby to sleep through the night, I want to make sure we’re all on the same page with expectations.
Many, many moms wonder, “When do babies sleep through the night?”
Generally speaking, babies are physically capable of sleeping through the night by 12 weeks. “Through the night” meaning, 6-8 continuous hours, maybe from 10PM to 5AM.
According to new studies, researchers have found that some babies can sleep 8 continuous hours as early as 2 months (which was what my daughter and I experienced after practicing the Babywise Method).
Over time, your baby will extend her nighttime sleep to 10-12 hours a night, depending on her individual sleep requirements. For me, this golden age hit when my daughter was 6 months.
5 Tips to Help You Learn How to Get Your Baby to Sleep Through the Night
1. Remove the Mom-Guilt From “Sleep Training.”
This tip might not seem like it’ll help your baby sleep, but it will ABSOLUTELY set you and your baby up for success.
Many, many moms feel guilty, ashamed, or uncomfortable about “sleep training.” So much so that they give up mid-way through or allow others to bully them into stopping.
This half-hearted approach is the destroyer of infant sleep.
Can I tell you a secret? I still feel nervous when I admit that I sleep trained my daughter. Some moms become downright judgmental when they hear that phrase. “Sleep training” has become just as controversial as vaccines or breastfeeding in public.
So, before we get into the meat of this series, I want you to know that sleep training is not a dirty word.
Sleep training is simply training your baby how to sleep.
By sleep training your baby, you are assisting him with learning a brand new skill, something that you will be doing his entire life. As long as you are caring for your baby’s needs, there is nothing wrong with sleep training.
YOU are in charge of the method you use. Some sleep training methods revolve around cry-it-out, others focus on gentle, no-cry methods.
Note: If you’re looking for really gentle sleep training, I highly recommend you check out Taking Cara Babies. Her newborn sleep class teaches everything you need to know about how to set your newborn up for great nighttime and daytime sleep. I took the class for baby #2 and it made a huge difference!
2. Select the Right Sleep Training Method
Oh, my son slept by 6 weeks. My daughter has been sleeping through the night since she came home from the hospital (not healthy).
Have you heard this before? Nothing puts the pressure on tired moms like other moms. That’s why it’s important to realize that every single baby is unique. Some babies sleep train easier than others. That’s a fact.
Sleep train the baby you have, not someone else’s. Becoming familiar with the different sleep training methods can help you assess which one will work for you and your baby.
The most common sleep training methods parents use are:
- Gentle (No Cry) Sleep Training
- The Fading Sleep Method
From here, these methods are separated into different approaches. I have an entire post dedicated to explaining the different sleep training methods and which resources are recommended for each to get you started.
Once you’ve selected your sleep training method, I would try it out for at least a week. This isn’t a fast and hard rule, but it will give you enough time to evaluate if this approach is working for you and your baby effectively.
I also recommend reading the accompanying book, taking the course (etc.) from the expert that teaches the method you decide on. Blogs and anecdotal advice is great supplemental material, but you really need to make sure you have a firm grasp on your sleep training method’s “rules” before you start to implement it.
RELATED POST: Sleep Training 101: When and What Methods to Use to Sleep Train Your Baby
3. Create a Healthy Sleep Environment
Many parents try sleep training and fail miserably. They are left scratching their heads because they did exactly what they were told without great results.
I believe that troubleshooting is the answer in these cases. Just like adults, babies have discomforts and hindrance. Personally, I think there are 7 main things that are responsible for hindering newborn sleep. We will go over these factors in depth in the post 7 Things that Are Killing Your Baby’s Sleep.
For now, keep these factors in mind:
- Sleep props: This is anything that your baby needs in order to fall asleep and stay asleep. The most common suspects are pacifiers, lovies, rocking, a boob, or some sort of motion. All of these things on their own are not bad. Having said that, if it’s disrupting your baby’s sleep you need to consider removing it from baby’s routine.
- Sleep Regressions: These are known time periods of shaky sleep patterns that are usually associated with developmental leaps.
- Breastfeeding (coming from a breastfeeding mama!): Nursing to sleep is a staple of most breastfeeding moms’ lives. However, sometimes it can disrupt your baby’s long-term sleep.
- Baby’s unique personality: Genetics and social factors DO have an impact on your baby’s sleep life!
- Lack of structured routine
- Environmental Factors: Hot/cool rooms, too much light, too much noise…
SHORT ON TIME? PIN IT FOR LATER!
4. Establish a Flexible Routine
My baby’s sleep schedule was the secret sauce for our success. People were amazed when they saw our system. I was able to predict when she would wake up, when she would eat, and (most importantly for tired, new moms) when my ME time would be.
Our routine allowed her to rest well and learn quickly, and me to thrive during early motherhood.
Flexible Routines vs. Rigid Schedules
If you’re feeling a little apprehensive about the words “schedule” or “routine”, let me reassure you, I am not talking about a rigid schedule that forces you to ignore your baby’s cries of hunger.
One of my favorite baby sleep books (hated and loved by many), is On Becoming Babywise. Babywise defines a schedule as simply a guide to plan your day. The a baseline. It helps you and your baby know what to expect. This consistency was the foundation for our great sleep.
In fact, my daughter is now a toddler and she is still on a routine! We love it.
Not only that, but getting your baby on a sleep schedule will literally train his body to sleep–on a physiological level! Your baby’s metabolism adjust to regular feedings (minimizing hunger wakings) and his little developing circadian rhythm adjusts to daytime and nighttime cues better.
If you have absolutely no idea how to create a baby sleep schedule, let alone follow one, don’t worry. We’re going to go over that in the post, How to Create the Perfect Baby Sleep Schedule. Stay tuned!
5. Commit to Consistency
I firmly believe that there are certain techniques you can use that will help your baby sleep through the night, however you must be completely committed to seeing these techniques through.
I’ve heard so many moms talk about their baby woes and the number one problem I see is inconsistency. Inconsistency with sleep training styles, daytime routine, or sleep expectations.
Part of the secret to getting a baby to sleep through the night is tapping in to his natural biological sleep and metabolic rhythms. In other words, you’re training your baby on a subconscious level too.
It’s impossible to do that if you’re sleep training one day and throwing your schedule to the wind the next.
You must be consistent with your feeding schedule, sleep schedule, and your sleep training methods. That’s not to say that you can’t evolve based on your baby’s needs. However, you should always aim to provide a stable, reliable environment in which your baby can learn this new skill in.
How to Get Your Baby to Sleep Through the Night…The Easy Way!
Okay, Mama. These tips will boost your success as you begin to train your baby to sleep through the night. Just remember, learning how to get your baby to sleep through the night is a completely unique process. There will be trial and error.
The Baby Sleep Series will take you through this process and share the techniques you need for success. Basically, I’m going to hold you’re hand through this entire thing. I love helping new moms overcome this very tricky baby blunder. I want to help you succeed!
If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments below. Otherwise, I’ll see you in the next post “Baby Sleep Training 101: Sleep Training Methods Explained.”