It Is Possible…

Many people have commented on the fact that I’m lucky that my ten month old son sleeps through the night, and that he has done so since he was about 5 months old. And when I say ‘sleeps through the night’ I mean he sleeps from 6:30pm until 6:30am. 12 hours, solid.

Lucky? Really? I dont think it’s luck. It took me a lot of hard work, patience and persitence to get there. A lot of tears and sleepless nights. Believe it or not. Sleep for babies is one of the things that most mothers know so little about. And one of the things there is so much controversy and conflicting advice.

So I thought I’d share what worked for me. Repeat: what worked for me. You and your baby might be different, but then again, maybe not.

It’s a common mistake to think that if your baby sleeps too much during the day, he will not sleep well at night. In fact, I’ve discovered that the better he sleeps during the day, the better he sleeps at night. In other words, sleep begets sleep. It’s also important not to keep your baby awake for too long, because then he becomes overstimulated and is grumpy and miserable. He’ll hit a second wave of energy, and just become overtired, making it harder to get him to sleep.

A baby of eight months has an awake capacity of two hours*. Staying awake longer than that means they go into the ovrstimulation zone. Try putting your baby down for a nap every two hours, and you will notice the difference. He wont sleep for too long – 45 minutes is the longest mine sleeps, with one of his day time naps being about 1-2 hours.

Watch his behaviour for signs of tiredness –
* rubbing eyes,
*arching back,
*crying,
*irritability

when these are present – it’s naptime. Try swaddling securely, after a feed and placing him in the crib with the mobile to look at. This will make him drowsy and he will soon fall asleep. In the beginning, there might be crying and wriggling out of the swaddling. Just go back in, and re-swaddle and leave him in the crib. It takes some patience and getting used to – but now my son takes about 5 minutes to fall asleep.

A good bedtime routine is important. Make sure there is no boisterous play at least an hour before bed. Dinner, and then a hot bath. Followed by a feed, and then swaddle and place into crib. I cannot stress how important the bedtime/wind-down routine is. I do the dinner-bath-bottlefeed-swaddle-crib routine everyday, no matter where baby and I are. Babies of 8 months should be going to bed between 6-7pm. Keeping them awake longer doesn’t mean they’ll sleep later. It only makes both of you more cranky.

Ensuring your baby is getting sufficient nutrition is another good thing to do, if you want him to sleep through the night. Switch to the follow-on formula (ie: Step 2) after 6 months. Dont introduce solids until your baby has at least 1 tooth. Allow him to drink as many bottles as he wants during the day – dont worry about over-feeding – it’s impossible to feed a child that isn’t hungry!

Eventually your baby will drop night feeds, if he is getting sufficient milk and solids during the day. Most wakings at night are hunger-related, so ensure that he gets plenty during the day!

These are articles that I read that changed my view of babies and sleep:
How Much Sleep Does My Baby Need?
Getting your baby back to sleep at night

The Best Sleep Advice You Never Heard.
Swaddling Your Baby.

What I Wish I’d Known About Establishing Good Sleep Habits.
What I Wish I’d Known About Getting A Baby To Sleep.

Baby Sleep Basics: Birth – 3 months.
Baby Sleep Basics: 3-6 months.
Baby Sleep Basics: 6-9 months.
Baby Sleep Basics: 9-12 months.

So, as you see, I’m not ‘lucky’ as such. Just practical.

Let me know if any of the tips I provided have helped you.

*It obviously differs with babies of various ages. Find out how much sleep your baby needs, here.