March 15, 2012 by Carin
Sleep. The one thing everyone tells you that you will never have when kids enter the picture. I beg to differ. People who know us know we have really good sleepers where our kids are concerned. Both Myles and Grace were early sleep-through-the-night kids and good nap takers. Grace is a few months away from three and still taking at least a two hour nap a day and the same goes with Myles. We lucked out big time. But I will admit that when they don’t sleep well, my husband and I feel like we got run over by a truck. There have been nights while is teething that Myles will wake 2-3 times or when Grace is experiencing growing pains or having a bad dream that our sleep is interrupted. Those mornings can be tough and the days exhausting. Luckily for us those nights tend to once or twice a week and even better, never. I have to feel sorry for parents who rarely get to sleep uninterrupted through the night. I am not sure how they function.
How did we get such good sleepers? Lucky! But there are a few things that I think have helped us get to more full nights of sleep then not. The following are what works/ed for and it by no means based on any research or scientific data. Who knows, we might have even broke some rules, but they worked for us.
- This isn’t really something you can do, but I do think it plays a part in how well your kids sleep. I was a great sleeper while pregnant with both kids. I often slept more then 8 hours a night and took naps when I could to feel rested. Friends I know who are not good sleepers tend to have kids that don’t sleep well. So there might be a correlation or maybe just coincidence.
- Babies Space. From day 1 of bringing baby home, the baby has slept in their crib in their own room. We chose not to do a bassinet, co-sleeper or side sleeper in our room. My husband and I felt we needed our space away from either baby. Our room is right across the hall from the nursery so we could always hear the baby during the night and was an easy walk for feedings.
- White noise machine. When Grace was about 4 weeks old, we started using a white noise machine to block out the sounds of the house. She learned that when that machine noise came on, it was time to sleep. Myles is the same way. Walk into his room now, turn on his machine and he may whine, but he knows it is time for nap/bed. When we travel, the noise machine travels with us.
- Extra Window coverings. At the same time I bought the noise machine for Grace, I also put extra blankets over the nursery windows. You can buy blackout blinds or curtains to accomplish the same effect. We keep the room dark at all times to ensure that when the lights go out, the room is dark which is another signal it is time to sleep.
- Swaddle, swaddle, swaddle. Both of our kids were swaddled for at least 4 months. When Myles was born, we thought we had won the lottery and had birthed a baby who would sleep without swaddling. That lasted about 6 days. Once he got past the sleepy phase, he wouldn’t sleep longer then 30 minutes without a swaddle. Any little noise would elicit the moro reflex and he would be awake. The swaddle was busted out and he slept so much better. Don’t fight it, swaddle it!
- Dream feeding. Once the kids were transitioned to formula around 4-6 months, we started to do a “dream feed” when we went to bed and that really helped to fill them up and keep them asleep longer because they didn’t wake up in the middle of the night because they were hungry.
- Watch for the signs. Babies will give you a sign they are tired. This moment is usually called the “golden moment”. It can be a yawn, eye rub, or sudden crabbiness and that is the moment you need to start getting baby ready for sleep. Watch carefully! Once baby gets too tired or the moment is missed, some will get overly tired or wired and sleep can elude them.
- Consistency. Lastly we stayed consistent in our approach to sleep. When they were babies, we would rock them to sleep early on and worked towards the drowsy sleep approach, which taught them to put themselves to sleep. If they woke during the night, they were comforted in their crib because we soon learned that if we picked them up after a few months of age, they only became more awake and wanted to play. Just being consistent in how you approach sleep, I feel plays a huge role in getting a baby that is a good sleeper.
All in all, each baby is different and they will do what they want to do. Hopefully one of these items will help you out if you are having a rough go of getting your little one to sleep well. Like I stated above, we are not experts and none of our methods are proven, they are just the things that have worked for us.
If nothing else, just laugh and know that things will get better!
Do you have any tips or tricks to get your baby/kids to sleep well?