Getting Your Baby to Sleep Through the Night

To all new mums,

I wanted to write this because as a new mum (I’m sure most of you may agree) I had a certain idea in mind about how all this parenting malarkey was going to go.

My son is now 9 months old and I have thoroughly enjoyed raising him thus far and I am more than sure I will continue to do so! Like any baby, he has his moments that will test my patience but that is what I have come to learn. With most babies, it is all about having patience.

I am writing this for anyone who needs a little help with bedtime. When my little boy turned 6 months we put him in his own room, I also stopped breastfeeding and he is now happily on the bottle. Like most breastfeeding mums and any sort of childcare health professional will say, ‘breast is best’. Which I agree, it is, if you can manage to do so. Unfortunately, my sister struggled with her daughter latching on and soon got mastitis and had to give it up after just a few weeks. However her daughter is now 18 months old and has been on formula ever since and has turned out perfectly fine, would you believe! So never feel like a bad mum if its something you can’t do or even just choose not to, it’s what suits you and your child.

I changed to formula because my little man was getting bigger and grew teeth, I have no idea how mums continue after their children have grown teeth, credit to you all. I am also returning to work in a few months so I knew it would be the easier option. Not only that, he sleeps so much better! Which leads me back to my main reason for writing this.

Sleep. As I began to say, our son went into his own room at 6 months and is now on formula. The first few weeks of him being in his own room were absolutely exhausting and my patience was wearing thin. I was trying to introduce a bedtime routine, make the atmosphere a bit calmer, have a bath, have milk, read a book and off he goes to sleep. NO. As soon as I started rocking him to sleep he just cried and cried and cried and eventually when he fell to sleep and I put him in his crib, he’d wake up and cry some more. It was a continuous cycle until eventually he was just too tired and finally fell to sleep in my arms. I thought to myself most nights, this doesn’t seem fair to him or me and I can not keep doing this EVERY night, it’s exhausting, something had to change.

So like most people might do in this situation, I took to Google, hoping for someone to give me the answer on how to get your child to go to sleep easily and peacefully. There were a few bedtime routines I tried but nothing worked. Then I found an article, much like mine, and thought I was on to a winner. Only to get to the end and for them to say I had to pay for their knowledge. I don’t think so! So I am writing this, from one new mum to all the others that just want a little advice and not have to pay for it, because why should you? Us mums should want to help each other.

I’m not saying this is guaranteed for all babies because they’re all different but it’s definitely worth a try if you’re at your wits end with everything else.

So here it is… The trick to sleeping!

Patience. It’s all about patience. It takes a little while but once you get there you’ll be glad you had the patience and took the time.

I didn’t want to have to spend ages rocking my baby to sleep, quietly putting him in his crib and slowly sneaking out of his room as to not wake him (you can’t deny, you have probably done this) so I decided, I’m going to teach him to go to sleep by myself, we drift off on our own, I’m sure he can too.

The first 2 or 3 weeks are tough but now about 4 to 6 weeks later, bedtime is a breeze. Firstly, make sure you’re doing plenty with him through the day to keep his brain working (it’s not hard) and don’t try and keep him awake thinking he’ll sleep for longer, that will only make matters worse.

My boy has a half hour nap about 2 hours after he’s woken up then has about 1-2 hour nap anytime between 12 – 2 pm waking between 1 – 3 pm. He generally doesn’t sleep past 4 pm. After his last nap he has a bath (every other day) his tea and 4oz bottle just to keep him on until bedtime. Depending on the time of his last nap, usually around 6 – 7 pm I change him, put his pyjamas on and give him an 8oz bottle (I do all this in the living room). It’s mostly about timing and knowing your baby, I can tell when he’s ready for bed because he starts talking gibberish and rubbing his eyes. This is when I take him up to bed.

His room is pretty much blacked out (this really helps as it has to be different to during the day so they actually notice there’s a difference). He has a night light which projects stars onto the ceiling and that goes out after an hour. I also use a teddy called Ewan the Sheep who plays white noise (he’s had this since he was born, he can go to sleep without it, but sometimes it seems to really help calm him) which turns off after 20mins and that’s his bedroom sorted.

Once in his room I give him a cuddle and kiss, tell him its bedtime, lay him down in his crib and say ”Goodnight gorgeous, sweet dreams, I’ll see you in the morning, love you.” (Repetition is also helpful in this, he knows its bedtime and that he’ll see me soon so is happy to go off to sleep). Once you’ve got through the hard part, it’s really as easy as that.

Back to what I was saying about the first 2-3 weeks being the hardest. Obviously, your baby will not be used to you just putting them to bed and leaving so inevitably they will cry.
My son cried most nights for the first 2 weeks but eventually when he finally realised what was happening, he settled down. I would only let him cry for 10 minutes, no more than that. After 10 minutes, I would go see him, give him a cuddle, tell him its okay and that it’s bedtime and as soon as he’d settled from crying, I put him down again. He would sometimes cry again after this but only for 3-4 minutes and then drifted off to sleep. He would never cry a time after this, the next time I saw him would be in the morning around 7 am.

Now 6 weeks on and I am no longer anxious about bedtime. I love putting him to bed and I’m so proud of him and myself that he can now drift off quietly and happily by himself.

This also works for my son’s naps during the day. Make sure the room is light so they know the difference. As soon as he looks sleepy, I put him in the crib & I say ”enjoy your nap, I’ll see you soon” and within about 10 minutes he’s napping.

It really is just having the patience to try this, the hard work is worth it and it will pay off. Patience, repetition and knowing your baby’s sleepy signs.
I also try not to drag out his bedtime routine otherwise he gets past it. Keep it quick and simple (that’s why bath time is as soon as he wakes from his last nap). And there we have it.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and I really hope it helps in some way or another.

Thank you so much to my lovely friend Elizabeth for sharing this advice. She is a wonderful mum, and I know that I’ll be following this advice whenever I have a baby.