Article of the month July
How to Get your Baby (ies) To Sleep Through The night!
With twins, surely one of my biggest fears, was ‘Will I ever sleep again?’. I knew I had such a hard time, with the ‘sleep’ topic, with my daughter, that I thought to myself, that x’s 2 would literally break me! I’m not 22 anymore. Seriously though, even at her age, she STILL hardly ever sleeps though the night, and is almost 5 yrs old, and needs me or my husband’s soothing (our own faults), BUT we live and learn, and if you haven’t had a child yet, and are reading this, then you can know what NOT to do, to create a child with a sleep problem, and soothing issues, and learn from our mistakes.
First and most importantly, make night time, as dull as The Bridges of Madison County, movie. I mean…a big snooze (literally). Your baby is always looking for stimulation to stay awake for, whether it be from the bright lighting in the room, or the sound of your soothing voice, talking to them, or singing lullabies, and for some, even their crib mobiles can have the opposite effect then you are hoping for, when turning that switch. Not for all babies, but for some, it is not a positive thing. I bought two, but have never put them on for anything but ‘fun’, during the day. Stimulation comes down to something as simple as your crib bedding, if you can believe that one. It’s proven completely and totally true, I sware it, so check out your bedding, and if you are pregnant, watch what you buy. Plain is better!
Crib bedding with bright colors and crazy patterns, can actually cause stimulation in your newborn, and become a place, they do not associate with rest & sleep. This time, I went with a plain pale pink, no designs, funky patters, just very simple, soft (chenille & satin), and therefore nothing to draw babies eyes to, but still has the looks, that are fit for a princess, which was a nice compromise.
In the middle of the night leave the lights off. It’s a very important thing in making your baby be able to distinguish night from day. Put in a night light or a dimmer switch for creating enough low light to change a mid-night diaper, or have an at night feeding, but do these things WITHOUT talking to your infant, singing, even rocking on a regular basis, this will get him or her into needing that behavior (more so after the age of 6 months old), and that is a hard habit to break when set in motion. They may require that routine from you, every night, as did my daughter for the almost 4 yrs. before my arms broke off, (YUP she still wanted rocking, but that is over with, only because she knows we physically CAN’T anymore, but still, I must lie next to her, until she is asleep), & she still requires lullabies, stories, and soothing at nearly 5 year of age, which is hard to spend that hour or more, and then get twins settled and ready for bed, but that was our own doing. Now I feel like giving her that time anyhow, since she is sharing us with more siblings then ever before, which I know is still hard on her, but I digress. She will grow out of it, but it’s been a long haul with her, so why create the monster, if you do not have to right? My Dr. did warned me, because I was continually soothing, and never ever let her cry, not a whimper, I was there in a flash. He was right on the money at every point, when he said, you will be rocking a 3 yr old, if you don’t cut this out now.
It’s hard to ignore your baby, even in the middle of the night, and be robotic, per say, just feeding, changing, and then laying him down, but it’s an absolute ‘must do’, if you ever wish to sleep through the night yourself.
There is plenty of time for all the cuddles, singing, stories, kisses, and bonding time, during the other 14 hours of the day! Don’t feel guilty…easier said then done, I know, it just REALLY works, and with twins, you really do need to get your sleep, as days can be hectic and more tiring for sure.
If you do have twins like me, you will have to feel out the situation. Do you have 1 twin that is consistently, waking the other? If they sleep better together, then by all means DO keep them together. Some baby twins, do NOT want to be apart, and feel soothed by touching their toes or hands together, which is soo sweet, however, there are other sets of twins, much like my own, who are not great sleepers in the same space, and need to be separated sadly. I wish they would do great together, but one definitely eggs the other on, especially when Allie, the older twin (by minutes), was fully capable of sleeping through the night, and Annie, the smaller of the two, was not yet, she would cry at night, and get Allie up and going, even though she wasn’t needing a feed. I saw this problem, we watched them, saw what was really going on, and just knew it wasn’t gonna work out, and since we have split them, both are now sleeping through the night, uninterrupted. *Tears*, but if it works..got to go with it. I hope they will want to be nearer to one another in the not so distant future. I do make sure they have a lot of together time during the days though, which is what you should also do, if you split them up at night, even more so, then with twins that sleep together all night long. They need to have their second half around some of the time, for certain. As much as possible.
Sometimes, babies are not subjected to enough noises when they leave the womb, and come home. A lot of us have been guilty of trying to shelter a newborn from noises, especially during their nap times, simply tip toeing around them, keeping everything quiet. BIG MISTAKE! You want to subject a newborn to all outside noises, that surround you, and your home, right from the get go, or else the baby will startle at any strange noise they hear, be it at nap time, or in the middle of the night, and of course you will have to wake as well. DON’T tip toe around the baby so much. I mean at night, you want it to be quiet, but a baby, who is used to common noises during the day, a dog bark, a door closing, or a TV on, should NOT wake from these things if they do happen at night. If you put the dog outside for naps and they aren’t used to barking sounds, if you never turned the vacuum on, and suddenly did…any nap may very well be interrupted. Get your babies used to noises on all fronts. They won’t be so quick to wake him or her, if it does occur in the evening hours, during sleepy time. I made this mistake and regretted it big time, now I have a very light sleeper on my hands to boot. My twins though are used to all noises now, and can sleep through most anything, thanks to learning from past mistakes.
If you must soothe because the baby is very restless or crying hard, hold your baby close to your chest, even pull your shirt aside, and place her ear by your heart, so she can hear it’s beat. This reminds a newborn of the womb experience, and should soothe him quickly. Don’t do this or any type of soothing on an every day basis, or you will find your child won’t be able to go without it, especially if it’s repetitively done at night. You want to get to the point where you can put a sleepy, yet still awake child, into her crib, and have her soothe herself to sleep. If she is very restless at night, yet still in her crib, just tossing around 1/2 asleep, some SHH SHH SHHH-ing sounds from you, without letting them see you and get over stimulated, usually works well. It mimics sounds of the womb, but again, ONLY use these tactics when necessary, do not make them routine, and relied upon. (Sometimes you do need to do SOMETHING, aside from changing a diaper or feeding a baby, but these are less extreme then rocking and singing, etc).
DON’T MOVE YOUR BABY OUT OF THEIR SLEEPING QUARTERS AT NIGHT! If you take a baby who cries at night, because you are feeling lost, frustrated, and not knowing what else to do, and put them in a swing to get them to sleep, or laying next to you co-sleeping in your bed, you will create the problem, of continuing negative behavior. You will have a 5 yr old in your bed with you (A mistake I’m glad I did not make, but close enough. Live and learn), or a child that won’t sleep without the swing, or a car ride, etc. I mean in the early, early weeks, this isn’t too much of an issue, but when they know the difference between night and day, which you will know, because they will sleep for longer stretches, then you want to really be consistent, cause any throwing off of their routine, can ruin what you have been working towards….sleeping through the night. That is the goal, and in their own beds, is how you want it to be, if you ever want to get back to your sex life again *smile*.
For my others I made these mistakes, and paid the prices for them over the years, and so now, if I can help anyone else out, and use my hindsight to brighten others foresight, then God bless us, there was a purpose, ha ha. It’s hard to not want to soothe them, it can even break your heart at times, and to ever let them cry, that is just the most awful thing, when a parent even thinks of doing that, but let’s just say I have never used CIO (Cry it out, which should never be done under 6 months of age, by he way), and I have lived with some kids that did NOT want to sleep, and one that still doesn’t. I have learned greatly, and it’s not the my girls just were born great sleepers, they were MADE great sleepers. 1 took a bit longer then the other, but both by 3 months were sleeping through, and that is miraculous, in my book. If I ever do use cry it out, it will be to a VERY small degree, not like my Dr. once said, if you got to let them scream until they vomit if you must. That sounds just horrible to me. I’ll never let that happen, but only a few short minutes, I’ll consider it, but only AFTER 6 mo. of age.
Ok, a couple more things to make your baby sleep longer. Feed them very close to their bedtime (your bedtime to if you are trying to work it out that way), and if you can, this doesn’t always work, you don’t want any throw ups, but if they are willing, offer them an extra ounce or two in their bottles. If you are breastfeeding, this is not an option, however, you could express some breast milk for the before bed feed, and then you can see how much your baby is taking in. A very sleepy baby may fall asleep at the breast without taking enough in, because they are so comfortable, and warm against mommy’s skin, and those babies will of course, wake sooner, so the only way to combat that and make sure they get more, would be to use expressed milk in a bottle, for that 1 feeding only. If they take in more food, they are full longer of course, hence allowing them to sleep for greater periods of time, since their tummies aren’t signaling to the brain ‘I NEED FOOD’, as quickly, if you know what I mean. You can’t force feed, but do offer it, they might just take it in, and give you an extra couple hours of well-deserved rest.
My Allie, started at approximately 9 weeks old, demanding more food then her typical 4 ounce bottle at night. Sometimes she would double that, for her night time feed, which is amazing, because how does she KNOW? Who knows, but she stocks up and made it to the morning by 8 or 9 weeks old, which was amazing to me. I don’t know how common it is for a baby to be the one demanding more bottle at night, but if they are still crying, do NOT hesitate to offer them more, they are trying to sleep longer, and are now learning, this is night time now, time for sleepy pie.
Also, lighting is important. When my husband was off on paternity leave, he would watch the girls a lot, and I would wake at night and see the lights on in their room, and I was like ‘What are you doing?’. He would then say, he was just feeding them, or changing them, or they liked it on, they will sleep better…no, no, no, I said. They were never going to know the difference between night and day, if it always looked the same to them (DUH *smile*). When I took over, and kept things dark and did all changes and such in low lighting, then back to pitch dark again, I was able to show him, how much his actions were not helping them, and how much better they did, via my strategy. You make it dark as night, ALL night, and in the morning, when your baby opens her eyes, then you pull up the shades, and show them, that THIS is morning, time to get up and at ‘em, and they will associate darkness, with night, boring with night, and bright light means day, and stimulation, giggles, tickles, playing with toys, and singing, is for day time, and day time =’s FUN. Catch my drift? I can tell you these things because I have been there, made all the mistakes, and now have two 3.5 month olds, who sleep through the night all the time. I LOVE singing and owww-ing & ahh-ing, during the normal course of the day, and lullabies for day time naps, are OK. At night you want to ensure your rest, and follow these rules of thumb. They work!
CONSISTENCY is key! Schedule day time naps, and schedule a sleeping time for baby at night. They may jog around it for a little while, but at least YOU are being consistent about using a specific time, to wind things down, dim the lights, and let your baby know, play time is over, it’s now time to rest. They will get the hint, and this will eventually create a bedtime routine. If your baby likes a bath and gets sleepy and rested after one, and you don’t mind, and have time to make that part of your routine each night, then you can get him used to the ‘bath before bedtime’ routine, but remember, if you make that commitment, you got to stick with it! It does work very well for some babies. I use a lavender lotion after my twin’s baths, and it really seems to knock them out. Don’t ask why, you would have to ask, Johnson & Johnson,
With my Annie for the first 3 months, she really enjoyed being swaddled. It comforted her. Allie just wanted her arms out at all times, but if your baby does take to swaddling, reserve the swaddler for night time only. That way, she will know, I’m being swaddled only at night…swaddling =’s bedtime. Babies have brains as we do, and can understand and ascertain more then we might think, so don’t under estimate your tiny infant.
If all else fails and you need to soothe in some way, but need to sleep yourself, try a white noise machine, or a cheap ‘ol white noise cassette tape or DVD, that you can pop in at night, put on, and go and lay down. White noise is soothing to babies, and might just work if you have exhausted all other possibilities here. Sometimes you do need to do something. I had thought about getting this myself but then found I didn’t need it, so try everything suggested first, and if you still got an over-tired, restless baby on your hands, come night time, white noise is a good possible solution, even try it in combination with a swaddler, etc. Some babies just require a little more maintenance, much like women, he he, then others.
I hope this has helped someone out. And please, always remember, babies, are not babies forever. You will sleep again, and they won’t be confused, and irritable in the evenings for long, it’s just a phase, they are simply trying to adjust to life outside of the womb, so in turn, try to remember this, have some patience, and know, you will miss this tiny little baby phase, and the tiny baby feet, new baby smell, the adoring eyes staring up at you, when the time is gone, and the baby has grown, so try to enjoy it, even during the hard, and tiring times. It’s not forever, and trust me, you will look back on these days and smile. I promise you!
Take care, and enjoy your baby (or babies)!!