How to Get Baby to Sleep Through the Night (a new method)
This question is by far the one I dedicated the most time to as a new mom. I researched literally EVERYTHING about getting my baby to sleep. I read blogs, sleep studies, pediatrician guides…if it was written about sleep and babies…I read it. Now, some of the information I discarded. I have nothing against co-sleeping but knew it wasn’t going to be the right fit for my family (also at this time, my sister was regaling me with stories of how she allowed her kids to sleep with her and now she couldn’t get rid of them…) so that was off the table. But there was also a TON of really good information out there that I thought would work. So, I gave it a try. Here are some of my favorites.
- A routine
- A bath (or some other kind of soothing activity)
- Baby message (Stella loved these!)
- Book or song
- Sleep sack (I’m obsessed with these and HIGHLY recommend them to every new mom)
Can I let you in on a little secret?
They didn’t work. Not a one.
My hubby and I were blessed to have a daughter that slept through the night almost immediately. When others asked how she was sleeping we would sheepishly admit she was a bedtime genius and we were blessed. But things changed. I had no idea at four months it’s normal for a baby to experience a sleep regression. And regress she did. We went from sleeping through the night to up every two hours! Sometimes, bedtime took hours as we rocked and cooed, sang and read, bathed and messaged…anything really, to get our little one to relax and fall asleep. This insane method of ‘sleeping’ continued for six more months.
Ladies, there were nights I sobbed while I rocked her back to sleep for the fourth time. I begged God to just let her sleep so I could sleep. I was so tired. Caffeine was how I made it through each day. A mom I know once asked if I drank tea or coffee. Without hesitation, I told her I drank coffee and was looking for a way to pump the caffeine directly into my veins…maybe through an i.v or something. She laughed and gently touched my arm like I was kidding. I wasn’t kidding.
I felt as though no matter what I did or tried, Stella was determined to sleep as little as possible (nap time was very much the same). Some well-meaning person told me “Sleep begets sleep.” But it’s like, how do you beget more sleep when you can’t get any sleep to start with?!
Finally, at a year-old Stella began to sleep through the night again. Bedtimes were once again a pleasurable experience, we bathed, read books, and snuggled. (Though I was disappointed my excuse for consuming large quantities of coffee no longer applied). How did I do it? I get that question all the time. And the answer, I didn’t. I take no credit in getting my daughter to sleep through the night.
I once heard a speaker on parenting say, there are three things you will never force your child to do.
- Use the potty
I have come to find this to be incredibly true. Of course, there are things I can do as a mother that will encourage my child to perform any one of these tasks, but I have no control over them. This was a humbling realization for me (I naively thought I could control all aspects of my daughter’s new life).
So What Now?
Mamas, stop stressing. Stop spending endless hours researching. Stop thinking that because your little one isn’t sleeping it’s somehow a reflection on who you are as a parent.
Try new things, set good habits… but don’t stress. As hard as it is, when you are rocking that little one to sleep for the tenth time that night, try to remember you won’t always be able to hold your son/daughter so close. Remember they grow up quickly. Leave home. And your mama arms will ache for the days when they were small enough to nuzzle next to your neck. I wish someone had given me this advice as I navigated bedtime with my little one. Instead of hearing a dozen ways I could do it better or do it differently, or create the magic combination of moves, I wish someone had taken me aside, wrapped their arms around me, and told me that bedtime with a newborn sucks but it too shall pass. And then they’d hand me a coffee.
Ladies, I want to be that friend so hear me now…
“Sleeping with a newborn sucks. But it too shall pass. And in the meantime, you are doing an incredible job loving on that bundle of joy. What you are doing is enough. Now, cut yourself a little slack.”
I wish I could look each of you in the eye and hand you a big, delicious cup of coffee. Since that doesn’t seem possible I will do this, I’m going to share with the incredible recipe I use for iced coffee (it’s from the Pioneer Woman). It’s so easy. You can make a big batch of it to have on hand when you need it and it can be a little way of treating yourself and reminding you that your tired mama brain is not alone in the struggle for sleep.
Now, pour yourself a cup of coffee, put on your favorite music and get comfortable cherishing the moments you get to snuggle with your little one.
(click to print)