Written by Bethany Harold
Hey Mamas! Today I wanted to talk to you all about how I got my son to sleep through the night at 3 months old. First, I do want to say that I know how lucky I was to be blessed with a baby boy that loved to sleep and was able to sleep through the night so early. I know that is not necessarily “normal”. I also want to say that if your baby isn’t sleeping through the night at an early age, there is nothing wrong with him/her. Now I do know that babies love routines and I know that I love routines so everything I did was very routine-based! Here are a few things I did religiously (borderline psychotically) each day and night in order to get our son to sleep through the night.
To start, I will say that our son did not sleep well those first 2.5 months. He would do the classic, “I’m going to tease you and make you think I’m going to be a good sleeper because I slept through the night on night one.” That’s right, we fell into the trap of thinking that because night one was easy that they all would be. Then night 2 happened… and night 3, 4, 5, and so on and so on. Our son would do a solid 4 hours of sleep straight through and then would be awake usually every hour after that. I knew that something needed to change but I also didn’t want to start anything too strict too early. At this time, my husband had deployed so it was up to me to figure out this new baby and find the sleep we were both desperate for.
During the day, our time became pretty routine. I didn’t worry about a nap time schedule or a feeding schedule, just followed his sleepy cues and breastfed on demand. I would follow the “eat, sleep, play, repeat” method. He would wake up, eat, we would play, then he would sleep, and we would repeat this all day long. It really helped me understand his cues and it made sure he was getting enough daytime sleep and calories throughout the day. He was also able to get into a routine and started to understand what was coming next. This method also helped me make sure he wasn’t sleeping too much during the day to prevent the day/night confusion. I made it a point during those awake moments to get him outside and into the sunshine. Again, helping him realize it is day time and during the day we are awake! When it came to his naps, a majority of them were done on the couch with me. However, I did make sure to have him get a “practice nap” in his crib. That is where he slept at night so during the day, we practiced being in the crib, alone and with the sound machine. Very much mimicking night time. I believe this was extremely helpful in getting my son to be comfortable in his room and with his crib and not just comfortable sleeping on me and relying on me to help him sleep.
At night is where I became a huge stickler on our routine. To this day (16 almost 17 months in) my son has had the exact same bedtime routine with only a minimal amount of changes based on his age. Each night I would make sure that his “tired tank” was full! What I mean is I would make sure we went outside, we played with books, we talked to each other and looked in the mirror. I wanted to make sure that he was really tired before the bedtime routine started. Then it was bath time. He has had a bath every night of his life since he came home! I truly believe this is what separated nap time and bedtime for him. A bath meant it was time to sleep longer stretches. So I would give him a bath, included in that was a warm towel right out of the dryer (extra, I know!), a baby massage, brushing his hair, jammies, swaddle, then food in the rocking chair in his room. I did this religiously and never strayed. Of course the time he went to bed has changed based on his age and how much he ate before bed changed but all those components are still apart of his routine. After a few weeks I started giving him a bottle of pumped milk before bed. I was then able to know he had a super full belly and he stayed awake long enough to finish the bottle. Which is key. I made sure that he was always awake when I put him down for bed. He was very sleeping, almost asleep, but still awake. This helped teach him to put himself to sleep so if he were to wake up in the middle of the night, he was learning the tools to self-soothe and put himself back to sleep. I also included in his room, a pretty loud sound machine and black out curtains so his room was extremely dark.
Now I definitely have tweaked this routine a little bit. For example, I started giving him half his bottle before his bath and then the other half while we were rocking so I was sure it would get finished before he fell asleep. I also stopped swaddling him at about 2.5 months when he started sucking his thumb and rolling over. He was never a huge fan of the swaddle anyways. But everything pretty much remained and has remained the same. I was even able to move his bedtime from 9/10pm to about 6:30pm and still had the same results of sleeping until I woke him up at 6:30/7:00am each morning. So from the time my son was about 3/3.5 months old he has been sleeping from 6:30pm to 6:30/7:30am. We have never experienced a sleep regression with him, teething has never woken him up, traveling for holidays and sleeping in his pack and play, and being sick or under the weather has never bothered his sleep.
I know every baby is different and I know that our new baby boy might be the complete opposite of his older brother. And just because one baby sleeps through the night after a couple of months and another baby takes multiple years, it doesn’t mean you are doing anything wrong! But I wanted to share what worked for us and what we will definitely try and implement with baby #2.