Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Night, night. Sleep tight.

Sleepy Myles.
So, my sister and I had a conversation over the weekend about teaching Josephine, her daughter, to sleep (she is nearing three months old).  I am certainly no baby sleep expert (there are plenty of books out there, though).  She seems to think I am...simply based on the fact that she remembers "this one time when I was at your house and you just laid Jillian in her bed and said goodnight and left the room...and SHE WENT TO SLEEP!!"  Ha, so I just gave her a few tips (because she asked for them - don't worry - I'm not one of those mom's that has an answer to everything).  Since then, she begged me to post about baby sleep tips.  I'm not sure if she realizes - Myles is almost six and Jillian is three and a half.  Those baby years are a bit foggy.  Not to mention, what worked for one kiddo doesn't necessarily work for another.  I am a firm believer that a mom knows her baby best.  Nevertheless, I promised her I would.  A promise to a sister is as good as gold. are a few tips.  Take 'em or leave 'em.  You know your baby way better than I do!  OH - and if you have your own baby sleeping tip - post it as a comment to this blog.  Maybe it will help another desperate mom in need of some sleep!!

Jillian sleeping.  It was one of the first
times falling asleep on her own at her Nana's.
I remember taking the picture to mark the occasion.
1.  Babies need to be taught to sleep.  It is no different than eating, walking, and talking.  They need practice and need to learn how to self-soothe and fall asleep on their own.  I loved rocking both of my babies, but I didn't want to be "stuck" doing it all of the time.  So, for each of my kiddos, I started "teaching" them how to sleep somewhere between two and three months old.  When all the stars were aligned and Myles or Jillian had a great day - good naps, good feeding, etc.  I would just swaddle them (actually only Jillian - Myles HATED to be swaddled), put them in their bed drowsy, give them a kiss, and walk away.  Sometimes it would work.  Other times, I would need to return and rub/pat their bellies and give them their paci (maybe once, twice, even three times), but I would try not to pick the baby up.  Sometimes, (especially during naps) I would let them have a soft rattle to play with.  They would fall asleep and I would go back in and take it out.  This may be dangerous - especially depending on your baby's age.  I was always close and peeking in - seeing how the "practicing" was going, so I was comfortable with it.  That is your call.  Other times, I would eventually need to pick them up.  It's practice and we don't always land a triple lutz every time.  That is why they call it practice.  Yet, practice makes perfect (or close to it.)

2.  Sleep begets sleep.  Tired babies don't sleep well.  They need good naps throughout the day in order to fall asleep well at night.  Also, I found keeping them up late doesn't mean they will sleep through the night, especially if they are overly tired (which will produce the opposite of what you desired).  I have to admit though, I used to "top off" both of my babies. They may have gone to bed around eight, but before I went to bed, I would sneak into the baby's room to nurse them.  I would probably get smacked by some baby nursing / sleeping doctor right now, for waking a sleeping baby...but mom knows best...remember?  Besides, they were drowsy and would just drink and return to sleep no problem.  AND - I would get more sleep.  That has to be worth something, right?

Swaddled and sleeping Jillian.
That girl loved to be swaddled.
3.  Routines!  Whatever it is - whatever works for you, but babies (and toddlers, preschoolers, and school-agers) love routines.  It gives them expectations about what is going to happen next.  Both of my kids did great adapting to routines and schedules.  It gave and still gives them structure.  My kids still have a routine before going to bed.  It is an adaptation of what they experienced as a baby and it still works for us.  They take a bath, go to the bathroom, brush their teeth, read a book, and we sing a song or two.  Then, it is a kiss and a hug goodnight.  Lights off and we don't hear a peep until the next morning.  I love it.  The process takes 15-30 minutes, depending on bath time fun and then I am a free mom.  Free to watch TV, write, read, spend time with Ben, anything I want!  Gotta love that.

4.  All bets are off with a sick baby.  It is still that way with a preschooler and school-ager.  I remember as babies that I would worry about getting them back into their good sleeping habits after needing to rock a feverish baby to sleep several days to help him or her feel better.  It would take a few days after the illness, but things would eventually get back to normal.  My first priority was always to help the tiny little sick one as best as possible while they were feeling icky.

 What sleeping baby tips do you have to share?  Comment below!  We would love to hear about them!


  1. Great post, Nik! Sooo many moms and dads struggle with getting their kids to sleep. Both my girls were good sleepers. Katie was sleeping through the night at 6 weeks. I'm not sure if it was me or them or a combination of both. I followed the book "Happiest Baby on the Block". Both my girls HAD to be swaddled to fall asleep. With Katie, the tighter the better! Just like you, I established a routine when they were infants. They were sure to fall asleep when they had the following: 1. a full tummy, followed by a LARGE burp. I found that if I didn't get a good burp, they were up with tummy discomfort or worse, spitting up all over their bedding. I also kept them upright for 15 minutes before lying them down. 2. a nice tight swaddle (arms in!) 3. a pacifier 4. a sound machine! I swear by sound machines! Both my girls still use them. The routine has evolved as they got older. Now, stories are added in for Samantha and Katie is no longer swaddled, but sleeps in a sleep sack instead. The temperature of the room should be on the cooler side. I was always worried that they were either too cold or too hot , but I soon learned to feel the back of their neck. If it was too warm or sweaty then I knew they were too hot.
    Good luck, Sarah! And congratulations!! What a beautiful name!

    1. What great tips, Lisa! Thank you!! I found myself saying, "Yup, yup, YES!!" as I read your comment! :) Thanks!!

  2. Hello! Visiting from SITS! I enjoyed the post and looking at the pics of the beautiful sleeping babies! I forgot all about swaddling - these are all good tips. I just wished someone told me that the sleeping struggle doesn't end after infancy - but that's another story :-)

  3. Exactly--especially about how babies need to be taught how to sleep. Also, sleeping habits should be well in place before the 6-9 month age.
    My best sleeping tip is to buy a good cradle swing....and if that doesn't work, run the vacuum.

    1. I totally agree about timing of the teaching!! Thanks for stopping by!

  4. I've been considering a night cap. Libby tends to wake up at 5 or 5:30 every morning and as you and I both know, that's a tad early. I haven't tried it yet since I was concerned the idea may not play out as nice in real life as it is in my head, but now thay I know it worked for you, it's worth a shot....after Thanksgiving of course.

    1. Hopefully she goes back to sleep after a feeding at 5? Try the night cap. If it doesn't work...don't get mad at me!!!! :)

  5. We have Quinn on a very strict schedule and it totally works for us. He started teething earlier than most though, so he was not sleeping through the night regularly until about 10mos. He is trying to pass molars now. I feel like we get it down and then something changes. My suggestion is always be a little flexible and don't get frustrated...easier said than done :)


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