I’m not a sleep training specialist by any means, but I have trained two babies to sleep through the night from 2-3 months and I am sharing that experience with you! All babies are different, so even if this plan doesn’t work for you, it will help you formulate a plan of your own that does work for you and your baby.
I originally wrote a post on getting baby to sleep a couple weeks ago when I was just starting the beginnings of sleep training. I had tried this routine with my first baby and it worked for her, but I wasn’t completely sold on whether it would work for my second. So, I gave it a try and this post is for my feedback and what worked best to get my baby girl sleeping through the night (at 9 weeks old).
I don’t use a strict routine but I do follow a general guideline throughout the day. I focus on consistency so baby knows what to expect.
Daily Routine for 2-4 month old (for 5+months, drop the last nap):
7/7:30AM – Wake baby up and bring her into an awake environment
7:30AM – breast/bottle feed (or whenever they woke up)
9/9:30AM – 1st Nap (follow nap time routine)
10:15AM – breast/bottle feed once baby wakes.
12/12:30PM – 2nd Nap (follow nap time routine – usually the longest nap)
1:30PM – breast/bottle feed once baby wakes
3:30/4PM – 3rd Nap (shortest nap so they can make it to bedtime without being overtired)
4:30PM – breast/bottle feed (don’t let sleep later than 4:30PM)
6/6:30PM – breast/bottle feed (cluster feeding to prepare for night)
7:15PM – Start night time routine, bath, book
7:45/8:00PM – breast/bottle feed
8/8:30PM – Sleep for the night
Between 10-11:00PM – dream feed
I found that sleep training was not overly effective until 8 weeks old. I do gradually start promoting ‘falling asleep by themselves’ from around 6 weeks so it’s not a shock for them, but it’s mostly for my own sanity because I’m so concerned I’m never going to sleep again. Besides, who doesn’t want to cuddle, rock, hold their sleeping newborns! It’s an amazing feeling, so use that time to get lots of cuddles in without feeling like your compromising yours/their sleep. Some suggestions:
- I follow the E.A.S. routine: Eat, Active, Sleep and repeat. This helps make sure baby doesn’t fall asleep while feeding (babies wake several times through the night and need to know how to sooth themselves back to sleep – so how can baby learn to sleep on her own if she needs to be fed or use a prop to get back to sleep?).
- On that note, I’ve never been a fan of the soother. Both my babies liked their thumbs and I like that they like their thumbs! It’s the only thing that can’t get lost if they need to self-sooth 🙂
- While I follow the E.A.S. routine, I’m not completely glued to it. My first handled it very well, but my second gets a little hungry before she can sleep a lot of the time (as she gets older, she probably won’t need to eat quite so often). If that’s the case, I’ll feed her before sleeping but change her diaper or keep her awake for 10 minutes or so after feeding so she is not asleep on the boob! (she also is quite gassy and needs to be burped really well or she will spit up while sleeping – so we need that break time before napping)
- After each sleep, I will go into her room with an overzealous ‘HELLOO babyyyyy’ to let her know that sleeping is done/she did a good job/it’s not scary to nap because I’ll be right here when she wakes up…. etc.
I try make sure baby has one longer nap (1-3 hours) and one to two smaller naps (30-60 mins) throughout the day. Some suggestions:
- Naps are when I work on sleep training the most. The more I focus on a consistent day/nap time routine, the better her nights get. Besides, I am way too tired to try work on ‘letting her fall asleep on her own’ or any type of training at night (literally anything goes at night).
- Make sure baby is in comfy clothes and either swaddled/wrapped or in a sleep sack (using a sleep sack every time will help her associate it with sleep). Lay baby down drowsy but not completely asleep. This may seem difficult at first (actually, it is damn hard for the first little while!) and requires some patience (you may be picking her up and putting her down several times until she gets it).
- Try have one nap in the crib. We all have busy lives and half the time baby is falling asleep in the stroller when we are out and about. It’s good for her to be able to sleep in different places but sleeping in the crib will promote falling asleep by herself.
- If baby wakes up early (less than 20 minute nap), I’ll try put her back to sleep. If she slept longer than 20 minutes, I would just move on and try again at the next nap (consider it a cat nap).
- I don’t let baby fall asleep past 4:30PM (after 3 or 4 months I wouldn’t let them sleep past 4:00PM to ensure they can go back to sleep at bedtime). Other than that, I don’t wake baby up unless it’s been over 3 hours.
- Awake environment: I start with washing her face in the morning, changing out of her jammies, opening the blinds, turning on the TV (aka making a bit of noise).
- Play time for a less than 3 month old is kind of difficult! What can they do! Talk to her, give her toys to look at or that will rattle if she moves them, tummy time, giving them a mirror to look into, etc.
- The dream feed started working for us from around 9-10 weeks onward (once baby has the ability to sleep for 6+ hours relatively consistently). It seems a little daunting to go in for a feed while baby is still asleep (spend so many hours putting them to sleep, then risk waking them up!) – but trust me, this works…and they do stay asleep.
- Change diaper first, right in the crib. Works best with a sleep sack since you can just unzip the bottom and change away.
- Feed, burp, and lay right back down. My babies never even woke up when I gave them a dream feed and it helps them last till the morning.
- Any other night feeds: If baby is still having another feed through the night, make sure she is very full! :). I make sure baby is really awake before giving her a night feed (sometimes she is just making noise/shifting while she sleeps). If she does need the feed, I’ll start the feed, change her half way through, then continue feeding her to make sure she is really full and getting the fattier hind milk.
Good luck Moms! Let me know if you have any other suggestions to get them babies to have a good nights sleep!