How I Got My Newborn to Sleep Through the Night

Photo Credit by  Jenny Quicksall

Photo Credit by Jenny Quicksall

My newborn sleeps through the night.  Milly has been sleeping through the night since she was six weeks old. At the time of this article Milly is 10 weeks old.  In fact, she’s been such a good sleeper since she was born that I used to need to set my alarm to wake her up and feed her. Also, because I would miss her so much. 

Yes, I think she’s a good baby, an amazing baby actually but I also take partial credit for her good sleep habits because I’ve been committed to the same routine since she was born.  Many of you have reached out asking me how I’m able to get her to sleep so well. I’m happy to share our bedtime routine in the hopes that it might help even just one of you restless mamas.  I even compiled some helpful products I use along with some helpful tips.

PERSONALITY  First, lets get this straight out of the way: @LittleAmazing is a Unicorn, at least that’s what her doctor says.  I truly believe her sleep patterns have a lot to do with her personality so please take that into consideration when comparing your baby’s habits to hers. Oh better yet-don’t compare! Comparison is the thief of job! The last thing I want is for any Mama to feel like their baby should be on the same schedule as Milly’s.  She is our laid-back beach babe born in the water and calm like the ocean. She truly just loves to observe the world and is a go-with-the-flow kind of babe.  As soon as you view your child like a tiny adult you’ll soon realize that they have a mind of their own and have traits and characteristics innate to them. They might need something different to relax and get ready for bed so really tune in to who they are and what you think helps them relax and get sleepy.

EXPECTATIONS  During growth spurts, milestones and leaps the same thing that worked on your baby the night before might not work today.  Babies are constantly changing and growing-especially during this first year so be nice to yourself as you navigate a new routine that works for your baby and their ever evolving life. 

MEALS, not SNACKS  Milly is breastfed on demand unless she's with her Daddy.  But on average she eats every 2.5 hours (she's 10 weeks old).  She is typically on the breast for 15-20 minutes.  I've talked to a lot of Moms who have difficulties with their child falling asleep at the breast so they aren't eating enough calories throughout the day and therefore, hungry more often.  Milly's pediatrician recommended putting a cold wet wipe on her neck or back to stimulate her to keep her awake.

WATCH & LISTEN Babies make lots of noises. Funny noises. They grunt and they squirm and squeal. They do a lot of kicking (usually to relieve gas) and moving around. We found that when Milly did this she usually was fine and fell back asleep.  Most of the time she would settle down and fall back asleep within a couple minutes.  Sometimes she would even yelp (not cry) but we would wait and watch her and see if she was just making noises or actually upset and in need of something (hungry for milk, in need of a burping or a diaper change). We would never let Milly cry or get upset but sometimes even just talking to her or rubbing her back soothed her back to sleep.  I definitely don't believe in the "cry it out" method especially when you are talking about an infant.   I encourage you to watch & listen to your baby and pause a beat before you pick them up. This is the first step to teaching your child how to soothe themselves.

ROUTINE  Babies crave routine, structure and consistency.  However, leave some flexibility in there too! The other day we stayed out late for a birthday party so Milly didn’t get her typical nap before bedtime. Everyone wanted to hold her and she was being over stimulated so there was no way she was going to sleep. However, on the drive home she slept a bit and then as soon as we got home we followed the same routine we do before bed.  I really think our babies are incredibly smart and are tuned into what lifestyle we set up for them.  Milly has gotten used to our routine so much so that she will immediately put both arms down when I swaddle her at night. She actually smiles at me before bed EVERY time.  She knows it’s time for bed. There’s no crying or fighting it-she understands it’s sleepy time and she falls fast asleep.

Milly’s sleep schedule has pretty much coordinated with her weekly age since she was born.  At three weeks old, she was sleeping 3 hours at a time. By four weeks, 4 hours at a time, five weeks-5 hours at a time, six weeks-6 hours at a time, seven weeks-7 hours at a time.

Here’s our routine at the age of 10 weeks (I've made updates to this schedule after Milly turned 3 months. You can find them in italics below.):

  • Between 7:30pm-8:00pm: I feed her from the breast-this is her last true feeding of the day. Our last feeding is always in her room with a dim light on only.
  • From around 8:00pm-9:45pm she gets skin to skin time with Daddy.  She usually is awake for 30 minutes to an hour and then passes out on him. 
  • No matter what -at around 9:45pm my husband gives her a diaper change. She is mostly still asleep.
  • While he is doing that, I’m turning on our sound machine and our humidifier essential oil diffuser in our bedroom (Milly sleeps in a bassinet beside our bed.) Also, I plan on writing a post eventually on the essentials oils I use in there for sleepy time. 
  • Around 10pm I give her a "dream feed." We do this with the lights dim in her nursery and she usually feeds with her eyes closed. 
  • Then I burp her and carry her to her bassinet, swaddle her (I've found that as long as I use an arm swaddle, you can put any other swaddle over this. I prefer one that zips up), and tell her affirmations while massaging her forehead and third eye.  
  • She falls fast asleep within a couple minutes.
  • She wakes up 7.5-8 hours later between 5:30am and 6:00am.
  • My husband usually unswaddles her, changes her and then hands her to me where I feed her in the nursery with the lights dim. She usually eats for about 20 minutes and then if I can-we take a nap together for a couple hours. She is in the dock-a-tot and I'm on the couch or I put her in the bed with me. 
  • At around 8:30am-9:00am, Milly wakes up and is ready for the day! 

Here's Milly's routine from the age of 3 months and beyond:

  • Between 7:00pm-7:30pm: We change Milly's diaper, put her in her pajamas and then I feed her from the breast-this is her last feeding of the day. During this time Daddy reads her a couple books. 
  • Around 7:30pm/7:45pm: After I burp her, I put her in her swaddle and place her in her bassinet. Currently we use the Dock a Tot Sleeper in her bassinet for sleeping.  I tell her affirmations but usually she falls asleep within seconds.
  • She has not woke up during the night since this new schedule.
  • She wakes up between 6:30am and 7:30am.
  • Currently Milly takes three 1.5-2 hour naps a day. I find that the more she sleeps during the day, the easier she goes to sleep at night but since we are "always on the go" she naps in the stroller, car seat or in the carrier.

SECRET WEAPONS  The following products are newborn Mama lifesavers and I truly believe each one helps create the best possible environment for success.

And if you can really INVEST or splurge on a smart bassinet. I'd highly recommend the SNOO. Some people have compared it to having a night nanny.  Several of my friends said this was a lifesaver for their fussy babies.  DISCLAIMER: My friend actually gave us the Snoo but we didn't end up using the functions because Milly was a little sleeping beauty. 

Again, every little one is different but this is what has worked for Milly.  I hope this truly helps some of your restless Mamas! I'm happy to answer any questions as well.