Viewpoints: My Super Scientific Method To Getting Babies To Sleep
After three kids, I'm going to to go ahead and declare myself an expert on getting babies to sleep. I have an exact, scientific method.
And you want to know what it's called?
It's the “whatever works” method.
After six years of extensive research and months spent fine-tuning the mechanism of my theory, I am now prepared to share with you, this super scientific method to getting babies to sleep.
The first three months
For the first three months, and especially because I breastfeed, I don't expect any kind of rhyme or reason to my baby's sleep patterns. The baby stays in our room in a playpen or bassinet, and I expect broken sleep while he/she gets adjusted and we settle into a rhythm. That being said, however, I make sure the baby gets “cues” at night, and we follow a routine, and he or she is always put back to sleep after a feeding, even if that effort is futile. I try to establish the routine framework, even if it doesn't work.
So summary for the first three months? Don't expect too much and work on establishing those sleep patterns—for us that's bath, swaddle, and a feeding. Not too bad, right?
Three to six months
Around 3 months, we transition baby into his or her own room, where I expect a more lengthy amount of sleep 1) because I can't hear every little thing and 2) because I actively try to let the baby settle down on his or her own more at that age.
Providing that the baby finds it comforting (not all babies do), I continue to swaddle, use a fan for sleep aide (side note: this could also reduce the risk of SIDS), and feed on demand, do a bath/bed routine, but I don't adhere to a strict sleep schedule by any means. Somewhere in this point, my babies usually do start sleeping longer, usually a six-hour stretch and then back down for a feeding.
Six to twelve months
The problem with the first year of sleep is that the baby grows. A lot. And during those growth spurts, it's most likely that the baby's sleep patterns will be disrupted. Common growth spurts occur around 4, 6, and 8 months, and let's not, of course, forget the monster that is teething.
Now, all that being said, there are just some babies and some nights that don't go over too well. And trust me, I'm not exactly a saint at night, but there comes a point in parenting when you learn that sometimes it's harder to fight and wonder “why my kid?!” than just to go with the flow. We've had a baby with colic, a baby that refused to sleep anywhere but in a car seat, and even right now are battling an almost 2-year-old who screams “No night-night!” all night every night. It happens, and my best advice is to just go with it, try to adapt, and if you find a method that works, you too, have stumbled upon the secret of “whatever works.”
Understand that sleep is a good part of parenting
This took a long time for me to understand, but when the lightbulb finally went on, I felt like my parenting changed forever. For so long, I had felt guilty for just wanting my kids to sleep and even marching them back to their beds night after night when they cried to sleep with me. Because the truth is, part of good parenting is ensuring that my kids get a good night's sleep. I'm not a bad mom if I make them go to sleep, and I'm not a bad mom for making sure I get as much as sleep as possible, either.
What's your best trick for getting babies to sleep through the night?
This blog is part of a new series where various viewpoints on parenting topics will be shared. These views belong to the bloggers themselves and do not necessarily represent the views of EverydayFamily or other contributors. We share these stories because we recognize that part of building a community of parents is allowing for open and honest conversation on parenting topics. We welcome discussion and feedback in keeping with our community guidelines. Be sure to check back this month to hear from other bloggers on their experience with sleep during the first year, and on additional topics in upcoming months.