How did I manage to get my baby to sleep through the night
Updated: Sep 21, 2020
Potete leggere questo articolo in Italiano qui.
Are you looking for miraculous solutions on how to get your baby to sleep through the night? There are many websites and blogs that offer them, but do they really work?
When you wish your child to sleep through the night what do you exactly have in mind? What actually means to you sleeping through the night?
If your baby is a newborn, then do not expect him to sleep more than 3 hours without feeding him. If your baby is 3 months old he will resist maybe 4-5 hours without being fed. If your baby is 12 months old then he may sleep without being fed for up to 8 hours.
Then, it depends if your baby is breast or bottle-fed, if he is sick or teething. Each child is unique, therefore you cannot apply general solutions or advice to every child in this world.
Rather than a matter of sleep hours, I will share with you my experience on how I managed to get my baby to sleep well.
Before giving birth, I read a book entitled “The Good Sleeper” by Dr. Janet Kennedy, which is a clinical psychologist in NYC. This book helped me a lot, so I recommend it (https://amzn.to/2xzqRNI).
What I learned is that a baby needs to sleep a lot and, if the baby cannot do it on its own, then the parent needs to teach him how to do it.
It is well known that a newborn needs to sleep up to 18 hours a day, a 3 months old up to 14-16 hours a day, a 12 months old up to 12-14 hours a day. Of course, these hours are divided between the night sleep (the main one) and several naps during the day.
The melatonin production (in simple words, melatonin is a hormone that is released by your body, naturally, when the sun goes down) in a baby begins when he is around 6 weeks old, so this is when you can actually start teaching him how to sleep. By this age he will eat, poop, sleep, cry and all over again. You just have to be patient!
So, when my baby was a newborn, the only thing I made was to create a night sleep routine even though I knew that he would wake up every 2-3 hours. This was because I wanted to start creating a habit for bedtime. Our routine was simple:
bath time, nappy change and feeding;
we were always saying “Good night” to the toys, furniture, stairs, rooms;
I always whispered to him that it was night time and we all needed to have a good sleep.
Also, there was a sacred rule in our house: at night no light was allowed where the baby was. As I needed to change the nappy in the middle of the night, I bought a lamp with a soft light (https://amzn.to/2wNuSOB), which was placed in the baby’s room and lit only when needed.
For the first 6 weeks, he was falling asleep while breastfeeding then moved in his carrycot. In the second part of the night he used to sleep in my arms 😊, but I loved it so much that it didn’t bother me at all and it was something that allowed us both to sleep.
When my baby was around 6 weeks old I also started applying the “90 minutes rule” in order to allow him to develop his body clock naturally. 90 minutes were calculated from the time he woke up, before getting him to sleep again. And I had no rule on how to get him asleep, I used various methods: rocking, keeping him in the carrier, breastfeeding. It did not matter how, the important thing was to make him sleep.
I started observing that when he was well rested, it was easier for him to fall asleep. And I must say that I had learnt this thanks to the book I mentioned before.
By the time my baby was 3 and a half months, thanks to the evening routine and being familiar with the 90 minutes rule, he was falling asleep on his own in his carrycot. At night time he was ready for bed at around 8 - 8.30pm, woke up at 11pm to drink milk and then fell asleep until 4am, drunk his milk and fell asleep again until 6am. He was waking up at 6am due to bowel movements which I learnt were normal at that age.
At the time, the few times I was able to sleep 5 hours in a row were a manna from heaven.
(continue reading the second part of the article here: Sleep Training: How did I manage to get my baby to sleep through the night after the sleep regression)