*This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own.
Disclaimer: I fully realize just how lucky I am to be living the miracle of two babies under 2 sleeping through the night. I know some babies have health issues that might make this kind of sleep impossible at first. I share this post not to brag, but out of a genuine interest to share what worked for me. Because I was DESPERATE for sleep when we had our first baby. If you are too, this post could be for you!
My story and results will be different from yours, but I feel confident that if you have a baby who is waking up and you want that baby to sleep until at least the sunrise, there is hope. We have a 20 month old who sleeps from about 8 p.m. until about 8 a.m. (often later), and a 5 month old who sleeps from about 9 or 10 p.m. until after 10 a.m. (if we let her – I’m trying to shift her back to the 8 to 8 schedule currently).
Update: Our 6 month old is now sleeping 8 to 8+! And I could not be happier about it!!!
We had our first baby, Claire, at 4:57 p.m. By the time we got over to the postpartum recovery room, it was about 8:30. My husband and I were exhausted from all the hustle and bustle of our induction day, not to mention the life-changing experience we just went through! We were ready for that first postpartum nurse to get her spiel over with and let us turn in early! HA!
My Sleep Deprivation Journey
I had NO IDEA about the kind of sleep deprivation I was in for. Couldn’t someone just have mercy on me and let me take a nap??? NOPE! Well, we did finally have a sweet nurse on night two take pity on us and take Claire for a few blissful hours of uninterrupted sleep. I will always remember her because she was the one who let me sleep.
Then we got home, and I was the primary person getting up with this baby screaming in the bassinet next to me. My husband went back to work almost immediately, so I let him sleep (although he could certainly hear the screaming from the other room).
Did I mention I was DESPERATE? I was a crazy person. I’m sure my husband can vouch for that. I felt CRAZY with sleep deprivation during those first few months. I felt like a zombie. All the time. It wasn’t only that I was deprived of the joy and rejuvenation of sleep, but it was also the immediate loss of me-time that made me feel robbed of my sanity.
I talked to family members and friends. Nothing was clicking. I googled “how to get a baby to sleep through the night” and all of its variations as often as I could.
How I Found the Answer to Baby Sleep Deprivation
One day the heavens were looking down on me because I came across a YouTube video by a mom talking about how her 10 month old sleeps through the night. At least she could provide me the hope that in about 9 months I might get to live the dream she was living. I watched.
She provided some tips on her bedtime routine that were helpful. But the BEST thing I discovered was that 1. She also lived in Phoenix and 2. She attended a live sleep class in Scottsdale where she learned this witchcraft that gets a baby to sleep through the night.
I couldn’t even believe it! How did I get so lucky to stumble across this gem? I didn’t care how much money the course cost. I was so desperate as I was being re-directed to the website. I was pleading that there be an upcoming class with room for me.
I like to think that I cried tears of joy when I discovered that not only was the class affordable, but there was one upcoming that next week and there was indeed room for both me and my husband to attend!
I signed us up and told my husband “we’re going.” We booked Claire’s first babysitter and headed up to Scottsdale to Modern Milk where the class was being held.
Our Baby Sleep Class
I think we were the only parents in the room who didn’t bring their baby, but I was actually glad because I was able to fully pay attention to everything she was saying. There were a few pregnant women in the room. They were smart to think ahead, but I don’t know if I would have been so in tune with what she was saying had I gone pre-desperation.
Cara of Taking Cara Babies teaches the steps to get your baby to sleep through the night in a way that made sense to me. I was able to remember the steps I had memorized with her mnemonics at 3 a.m. when Claire would wake up.
In the beginning, Claire started sleeping from about 10 p.m. until about 5 a.m. almost immediately (she was 8 weeks). This class gave me the confidence to put her to bed when I wanted her to go to bed at night.
I gained the ability to let her cry a little and wait it out to see if she would go back to sleep on her own rather than rushing to pick her up and try to feed her. I don’t have special jammies or even much of a bedtime routine to speak of. I just took what worked from the class and I think the biggest things were these:
- SWADDLE: I got The Ollie Swaddle based on Cara’s recommendation. Before the class, we were swaddling with baby blankets because that’s what we learned in the hospital. Michael was an excellent swaddler. I could never get the blanket tight enough. A friend had sent us some Swaddle Me’s which are nice to have when you have a teeny tiny baby. But The Ollie Swaddle is when the magic starts happening. This serious piece of fabric with serious velcro is magical. It is worth every penny. We bought two so we would have a backup when one was in the wash. After somewhere around 3-5 months they transition out of it (once they start to rollover), but if you are in the first few months, this thing is a life saver.
- Sound Machine: I was playing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star from the musical settings on Claire’s bassinet at 2 a.m. in the beginning. I was CLUELESS. I thought that’s how you get babies to sleep, by playing sweet baby music. NOPE. Babies need a loud whooshing noise like they had in the womb. It’s as loud as a vacuum cleaner in there, as Cara says. We had been given an owl sound machine at a baby shower. I just had no idea how to use it properly. It has a bunch of different settings but the only one I use now is white noise. We still use the owl for Claire and got one for our second baby too. When it’s time to sleep, that thing is on full continuous blast. I am currently listening to it through the baby monitor for Emma while she sleeps. It’s music to my ears.
- Le Pause: Le Pause is French for “don’t run to your baby when she is crying but supposed to be sleeping.” Or so we’ve been told. It’s hard to sit through at first. Of course when your baby is crying, you feel the need to go to her and immediately fix what’s wrong. But apparently we all get up several times a night without even realizing it. And babies often cry when they do this. But the miracle is that they also often put themselves right back to sleep if you wait it out a few minutes. I remember when Claire was somewhere between 4 to 6 months and I was working on getting her to sleep in later in the mornings. If I heard her, I would get up to make her a bottle and if she was still crying by the time the bottle was ready then I would go in. But many times she was quiet again and the bottle went in the fridge.
- Room Darkening Curtains: These are a must! Mostly for getting the baby to sleep past the sunrise, and also for getting in quality daytime naps.
- No Napping a Few Hours Before Bedtime: I’m still working on this with our 5 month old, Emma. She likes to take a nice long late afternoon nap. But then she has to be awake for at least 2 hours, probably 3, before going to sleep for the night. So I have to discipline myself to get her up in time for her awake window before bedtime.
- Pacifier: This one is baby-specific. Claire is a pacifier-aholic. Emma doesn’t seem to care for it. For Claire, glow-in-the-dark pacifiers were a lifesaver, and still are. Also, I love these pacifiers clips. If your baby is addicted to the pacifier, you better be able to find one amidst the screaming!
- Enough to Eat During Daytime: There is so much information out there about feeding your baby enough so she will sleep through the night. Emma started sleeping through the night while she was still exclusively getting breastmilk. People will say all kinds of things: you have to put oatmeal in the bottle to get them to sleep through the night, they don’t sleep through the night until they start eating solid foods, don’t let the baby have “snack” feedings, etc. Just based on my personal experience, while these statements may be true for the people who say them, they were not true for me. I haven’t been strict on when I feed Emma or for how long. With Claire, I was much more regimented since she was on bottles and I could count how many ounces she got throughout the day. With Emma, I have just been feeding her when I need to throughout the day and she naturally started going to bed and sleeping through the night (eventually). All this is to say: figure out what works for you, and ignore the rest.
My big take home message is: don’t let anyone tell you your baby can’t sleep through the night. I have heard so many different comments about this subject. Not even all advice necessarily, just people stating the facts about their babies and their sleep patterns. Just because a friend’s baby has to get up at 5 a.m. everyday doesn’t necessarily mean your’s does.
Like everything in parenting, you figure out what works best for you and your baby and go with that. But getting up throughout the night after a few months did not work for me, so I found another option and I’m so glad I did!
I am certainly no expert and I highly recommend the course I took or a similar course by a baby sleep expert. What tips do you have for getting a baby to sleep through the night? I would love to hear them!