You can read and read and read on the subject of how to get your child(ren) to sleep through the night. There are many disputes about what works and what some would consider to be harsh. This is not one of those topics. I have plenty of views I’m sure are controversial but this little tid bit of information I think we can all agree can’t be misconstrued as ANY form of child abuse.
Let me first preface this by saying each of my children slept through the night early on, and I DO mean early. Our oldest was 10 weeks old, our second child was 9 weeks old, and the third was 6 weeks. At 12 weeks each child was sleeping 10ish hours straight at night. There are multiple reasons for this, in my opinion, and I honestly feel I know what works based on the fact we had three do just that.
Now if you’re good at math, you’re probably wondering why I’m not talking on the fourth child. Here’s why, our number four did really well just as the others did. He slept through the night at 8 weeks and again by 12 weeks he had several night we was sleeping 10 hours straight. It was great for the most part, but he was inconsistent. Sometimes he’d go two weeks waking up around 2am every night. While I basically knew what the problem was I wasn’t always in the position to fix it.
With the first three children I kept a log of when they ate, when they slept, for how long, and so on and so on. If I had questions I could look at the log. I didn’t do this with the fourth because he was the first child born when we put kids in any sort of school. Basically, instead of the family working around baby’s naps and feedings, we were making him nap and eat around our schedules. The hard part was having to wake our poor baby nugget up to put him in the pumpkin seat to go grab the big kids.
Ultimately he wasn’t getting enough rest during the day and therefore wasn’t sleeping through the night.
You’re probably thinking I’m crazy, but this is true. As an adult I have a difficult time going to sleep at night if I’ve napped during the day. I’ve very rarely “slept when baby slept” because I just physically couldn’t handle it, but kids are different. In their case, sleep begets sleep. I know exactly when I’ll be getting up in the middle of the night with the baby and it is usually when he’s only taken cat naps all day long, but if he gets at least one three hour nap during the day, then he’s typically out for 12 hours (he’s 8 months old).
How do you get your child to sleep for three hours instead of cat naps? It takes awhile, but it can be easy.
1. Lay the baby down often during the day. Most mothers know their child’s signs telling them they’re tired. All four of mine, as infants, will spit up (hours after a bottle) when they’re sleepy, or they’ll rub their eyes, or if I’m feeding them a bottle they’ll refuse. Lay them down or do your sleep routine to get them down.
2. If your baby wakes from their cat nap without crying, let them lie for awhile. Let them lay in their crib and talk or whatever they do. Even if they fuss a little, they may actually go back to sleep.
3. If you have a written schedule about when they eat/sleep/need a diaper, you’ll have little to guess about when they’re fussy which will also help with sleeping.
4. Give it time, encourage sleep during the day as much as possible.
This article isn’t just about babies. I’m what you might call the Nap Nazi. Some people are just astonished I would make my four year old take a nap. They’re three year old has already grown out of their naps. Then they ask what time our kiddos go to bed and typically wake up and they’re jaw literally drops. My kids go to bed at 8pm and are usually asleep by 8:30pm. They wake up at 6:30am or 7am. Our four year old will take anywhere from an hour to a three hour nap. Our three year old will get a good 3 hours in, and the two year old will either take on three hour nap, or she’ll split it between two naps total.
Sleep begets sleep!
The better naps the kids get throughout the day, the better they sleep at night. This prevents little pitter patter feet roaming the house at night as they make their way to mom and dad’s bed. It prevents a lot of late night bottle feedings for the little one, too. This is something that has worked for every single one of my kids. It could quite possibly be luck, but it seems to me a pattern developed.