86 July 22, 2009

How I Got My Baby to Sleep Through the Night (Without Crying)

I get a shower each morning too. Now, let me preface this entire post by saying that I think temperament has a lot to do with it. And before you hate me too much for having such an ‘easy’ baby, just know that she barely sleeps during the day and she doesn’t appreciate me trying to do crazy things like oh, sitting down.

Our Bedtime Routine

I don’t keep Eleanor on a strict schedule during the day. I pretty much parent on demand (though a natural schedule is starting to emerge), but I’ve followed the same bedtime routine each night since she was two weeks old.

Eleanor, Not Sleeping

At first Eleanor didn’t show signs of being sleepy at the same time every night, but she did show hunger cues every two hours or so. In those early weeks, I’d bring her upstairs for the night as soon as she was hungry anytime after 9:00. Our routine is simple: I pull the window shade down, Brandon says goodnight to her, I change Eleanor’s diaper, put her in pajamas, nurse her, and rock her to sleep. She didn’t always fall asleep though, and there were many nights spent rocking her or walking around the room with her for hours. When I say I got her to sleep through the night without crying, I mean without ‘crying it out’ (the Ferber method). She did cry sometimes, but I (or sometimes Brandon) was holding her and trying to soothe her the whole time. I did NOT bring Eleanor back downstairs though, even on the particularly difficult nights. I wanted to make sure that I was setting up a clear difference between night and day. Sometimes I’d have to nurse her again if a lot of time had passed, but eventually she would fall asleep. Brandon and I did the same thing every night and soon we noticed that Eleanor would act sleepy around 9:00. It became MUCH easier to get her to sleep, and she no longer cried! Now, instead of hours our routine takes only 30 minutes, and her bedtime has been pushed up (by her cues) to 7:30.

Sleeping Through the Night

Eleanor sleeps at night in a cradle in our bedroom, and for a long time I rushed to scoop her up and feed her the second she made any noise. The biggest turning point came when I realized that she wasn’t necessarily waking up each time because she was hungry. Sometimes she was of course, but sometimes she was just stretching or making a little noise. I started waiting just a minute and to my surprise she often went back to sleep on her own. YES! Letting her learn to settle herself back down led to longer and longer stretches of sleep, up to five hours by the time she was four weeks old.

I already mentioned my insistence on establishing a clear difference between night and day for getting Eleanor to sleep, and I think that was a big part of getting her to sleep through the night as well. I interact and play with Eleanor all day, and I narrate my actions and sing to her. In the middle of the night though it’s all business. When she wakes up, I quietly pick her up and bring her over to the changing table. I turn on the lamp at it’s dimmest setting, change her diaper, and then nurse her in the rocker. She usually falls asleep after nursing, but if she not then I rock her until she does and we’re both back in our beds within about fifteen minutes.

At two months old, Eleanor goes to sleep at 7:30 and sleeps for eight hours. She wakes briefly around 3:30 and then sleeps again until 7:30 am for a grand total of 12 glorious hours.

Now about that daily shower…

I’ve gotten that since she was about three weeks old. I noticed that Eleanor was always in a good mood when she woke up, so one day I decided to try and shower while she sat in her bouncy chair. I think that was the fastest shower I’d ever taken because I was convinced she’d start crying at any moment. She lasted about 15 minutes. I tried it again the next day, and the day after that, and she lasted longer and longer each day. Now I have a nice morning routine with her.

Eleanor

I tell her “good morning” when I go to pick her up, and she usually gives me a nice big smile. We have a little one-sided conversation (although she coos back now) before I change her diaper and nurse her. Then I bring her bouncy chair into the bathroom and set her there while I shower, dry off, get dressed, dry my hair, and put on makeup. Once I’ve finished getting ready, I get Eleanor dressed and we go downstairs. I quickly eat breakfast before feeding Eleanor again, and then she takes her first nap of the day about two hours after she woke up. It doesn’t matter what time she wakes, she’s always ready for a little (20-minute) nap after two hours.

Every Baby is Different

I know that, and I know that I’m very lucky with Eleanor. My mom says I was the same way, but that all three of my younger siblings were very different. Many of you had written to me though, asking if I had any tips to share. I hope that this helps some of you. Good luck!

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86 Comments

  • Reply
    Rachel
    July 23, 2009 at 6:14 pm

    She is SO BEAUTIFUL! :)

  • Reply
    Urbanfarmwife
    July 23, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    Its so wonderful having a good sleeper. My little girl has slept through the night since she was about 1 month old…from 8-8 (she’s 6 months old now! Its glorious! I swear by the Baby Whisperer! She was a life saver. We learned how to read her queues, understand her cries, and make bed-time all about business.

  • Reply
    Beth
    July 23, 2009 at 7:43 pm

    Baths! I love the bedtime bath! I fully acknowledge that my sweet, mellow baby is easier than most – she has been sleeping from 8pm -7am with only one, very short, feeding at 4am since she was about 1.5 months old (she’s now 3 months)

    But, that said, I love the bath as a way to really conk her out for bed. Around 7:30 she starts her bath and I let her splash and play until I see signs she’s tired or hungry (rubbing her eyes, sucking her fingers, etc) Out of the tub, into jammies, lights off, big bottle and out like a light before I even finish burping her!

    We also practice the dim lights, quiet and no real interaction during nighttime. We also try not to be too quiet during her daytime naps to further emphasize the difference between night and day. (i.e. if she falls asleep int he afternoon I don’t turn off the music or creep around)

    I expect things will change over time with teething, etc but for now I am thoroughly enjoying the 11 or 12 hours of almost uninterrupted sleep she gets!!!

    Also wanted to ask about that bouncy chair! I didn’t get one because most offended my good taste ;)

  • Reply
    Renae
    July 23, 2009 at 8:06 pm

    I’m on baby number two (8 months old) with the same method. Her brother slept through at 3 weeks of age and she did it from about 4 weeks. Sleep all night, but not much during the day. You hit the nail on the head, daytime is exciting in our house and night time is well….night…can be a bit boring! Best of luck.

  • Reply
    Nikki
    July 23, 2009 at 8:15 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing this. My son is now 3 months old, and we’ve been able to establish routines like you and Eleanor have (which was totally our name of choice if we’d had a she instead of a he). But things were much tougher with our older daughter, Rosemary. She had reflux and was/is a much more spirited/sensitive little person. But you’re totally right about allowing yourself to listen for a few minutes before rushing in to nurse again. I wish I had learned that as quickly as you did – it took a 2nd child to figure it out. Enjoy that lovely girl and congrats on finding such wonderful ways to take care of yourself!

  • Reply
    becoming-mom
    July 23, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    Yes, it sounds like you do have an easy baby! But I think ALL babies are easy compared to Jasper.. case in point he always HATED his bouncy chair. In fact he hated all chairs and even sitting in general, car seats even MORE. But I’m really really happy for you that you’ve found a groove so early on.. it gives me hope that god willing if we ever have another that it won’t be as rocky as the first months with Jasper! Glad to see you thriving on motherhood :)

  • Reply
    Tina
    July 23, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    ohh brings back many memories, my children are 10 & 12 now but I do remember using the rocker in the bathroom so I could shower :)

  • Reply
    bekah
    July 23, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    thank you so much for sharing! although my husband & i do not have children (yet!) alot of my friends back home are & i can’t help but to wonder what it is like. so its great to read things like this, get tips & tid bits before i’m pregnant & then everyone is telling me what to do! haha but thanks you again :)
    eleanor is beautiful! what a great name too!

  • Reply
    Becky
    July 23, 2009 at 10:23 pm

    I agree that routine is crucial, especially at night – our 9 month old still doesn’t sleep as wonderfully as Eleanor, but it’s not bad (he gets up 1-2x a night for a nurse).

    Also, we have the same bouncy chair – – we never buckled our kid in either! ;-) Of course, I’m sure you just placed her there unbuckled for the picture. :)

  • Reply
    Hilary
    July 23, 2009 at 10:33 pm

    My only thought is that once you think you have them figured out, they change.
    And NEVER say that they’re doing something
    “he’s pretty well potty trained”
    “she sleeps through the night”
    I never make statements like that. I always regret them, usually the very next day, courtesy of my children. :)
    Good luck!

  • Reply
    desiree fawn
    July 23, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    I love putting Gretchen in her bouncy while I shower — she is guaranteed to stay there for 20 minutes while I soak up some heat & get clean!
    She just plays with her toys & listens to the water :)

  • Reply
    Kenziepoo
    July 24, 2009 at 1:03 am

    The bouncy chair is amazing and it was so helpful with Kenzie my little girl. :)

  • Reply
    Melissa
    July 24, 2009 at 9:19 am

    Eleanor sounds like a great baby!

    My husband and I don’t have kids yet but it’s great to read little tips that have worked for others before we do have kids, thanks for the advice!

  • Reply
    Sherry @ Young House Love
    July 24, 2009 at 11:50 am

    Wow, you’re like the baby whisperer! I already sent the link to my BFF who has a three week old baby girl name Elsa who’s quite the night owl. Here’s hoping it helps…

    xo,
    s

  • Reply
    Mama in the City
    July 24, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    Interesting post and very thoughtful. I 100% agree with the part on the baby’s own temperment. That plays a HUGE part in infant sleep and is a big reason why 1 book or 1 way of doing things will never work for all babies. So true.

    We had a baby who was a terrible sleeper but also had P.U.R.P.L.E Cry (the new thing instead of calling it colic). So, it was more about survival at the time.

    Good job to your baby on sleeping through the night. Wonderful for everyone in the family I am sure!

  • Reply
    Dewi
    July 24, 2009 at 5:38 pm

    Children love routines.
    When parents live a routine life it all gels nicely as you see.

    There really is no trick, you are consistent and created a gentle routine, it’s pretty standard way to take care of children. It will serve you well as she gets older.

    Adults that do not live a routine daily life frequently have a much harder time parenting babies.

  • Reply
    MaNailah
    July 24, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    Whats the make of the bouncer chair and where did you get it?

  • Reply
    A Merry Mishap
    July 24, 2009 at 6:50 pm

    My first baby is due in about 7 weeks and this was VERY helpful! I’ve been reading about different nursing and sleeping methods but it’s really great to hear it in real terms from someone who is experiencing these routines now!!

  • Reply
    wanderluster
    July 25, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    That’s wonderful that Eleanor is sleeping very well, and at such an early age too. I too have discovered the magic of the bouncy chair while showering :) And thank goodness for baby-wearing… without my baby hawk or moby wrap I would get nothing done during the day!

    Its nice to read posts like yours, some ‘tried and true’ advice from the trenches. I know a lot of women who read your blog admire the way you are able to balance work, home, and baby seemlessly… these baby-related posts are a nice addition to the blog. I hope to read more in future.

  • Reply
    Jasileet
    July 25, 2009 at 10:34 pm

    Awesome job, Momma. Congratulations in succeeding where I could not- incorperating intuitive parenting with real life. We’re still working against real life in the strict AP vein. No advice for toddlers yet, eh?

  • Reply
    erin
    July 25, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    Good job!! Isn’t a full night’s sleep blissful? We do basically the same thing with our Hannah (2 weeks younger than Eleanor) except our bedtime routine includes a bath. Also, I’ve kept her swaddled at night since she was about 2 weeks old; she has been sleeping through the ight (8+ hours) since she was 6 weeks. She does not nap well during the day and I am convinced it is because I leave her unswaddled during the day so she can “exercise.”

    I also use the swing so I can get a shower, and she has a vibrating rocker that she LOVES that I can rock with my foot when I need to eat lunch. How did my mom do it without these things?

  • Reply
    Amanda
    July 26, 2009 at 6:06 am

    Thanks for this post…I am a new mama to Eliza who is 9 weeks and although she sleeps through the night we still struggle with the getting her to fall asleep part. Sometimes it takes 15 minutes, sometimes it takes an hour…just depends. It was comforting for me to read that your daughter cried while being put down, but that you or your husband were there comforting her the whole time. This happens to us and I was worrying about it….too much! I don’t know what it is about parenthood, but I find I am constantly wondering, ‘does any other baby do this?’ Of course they do! I guess it is just so hard to know as a first time parent.

  • Reply
    Agnes
    July 26, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    She is so cute in her chair, what a lovely thing to have such a warm and simple routine for her, and especially lovely that you breastfeed her. I love love your blog even more now that the baby has been born. Also, where did you get those cute sock? :)

    xoxo

    Agnes

  • Reply
    Monday best of last week: link style « The Misadventures of Kelly and Kelly
    July 27, 2009 at 8:03 am

    […] great tips at making it lovely on getting baby to sleep through the night. maybe something like that will work for us in the future? […]

  • Reply
    Janaan
    July 27, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    Thank you for sharing! And I love E’s striped pajamas. Where did you find them?

  • Reply
    Erin
    July 27, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    Baby posts are so fun! With my son, he was and still is the happiest of babies- and slept like a little doll through the night, only waking a few times to nurse for the first couple months. Then he slept like a real champ. Around 9 months when he started walking, that all went downhill and ever since our little happy baby has woken up at least every 2 hours. Everyone was jealous of me for the first 9 months but at 16 months old now he has not slept through the night since! He’s getting better, but because we don’t do any cry-it-out method at all, our progress has been slow. Our baby girl is due in a month and I’m just crossing my fingers that eventually I have a full night’s sleep again!
    Your routine is great- I hope your sweet girl keeps it up and remains a wonderful sleeper!!

  • Reply
    Fiona
    July 28, 2009 at 6:47 am

    Congrats! That is great! My daughter had acid reflux, so we really struggled, but this gives me hope that a second child (if we go that route) might be easier.

  • Reply
    Christa
    July 29, 2009 at 8:00 am

    Hi Nicole,
    Do you have any baby/parenting books that you’ve read that you’d recommend?

  • Reply
    Auburn
    July 29, 2009 at 6:37 pm

    She’s adorable!

    I feel like such a bitch writing this but I’m still kicking myself for telling all my relatives my son was sleeping through the night at 3 months. I was a little (unintentionally) smug about it at the time I think. Cause yeah…that didn’t last. Once they start working on gross motor skills like rolling and crawling, look out. It all changes at the drop of a hat! Some people just get lucky and have great sleepers from day one (like my, still smug SIL thanks very much) and I really, really hope for your sake you are one of them. Just be prepared for periodic sleep regressions. The one at 4 months was absolutely brutal for us becuase I was totally convinced I had somehow broken our previously wonderfully sleeping through the night at six weeks baby.

    Okay, I’ll stop being a bitch now. I’m sorry. I couldn’t help myself. But she’s lovely. Congratulations. Enjoy every second of that precious, precious sleep!!!! (says the bleary eyed mother of the 18 month old who woke up 3 times last night…)

  • Reply
    nina
    July 31, 2009 at 10:42 am

    After reading through the comments…I agree with Hilary & Auburn…things change daily…take one day at a time!

    The best advice is from experience with my 1st born “easy” baby:

    Expect the Unexpected…it’s less stressful :-)

  • Reply
    down pillow
    August 4, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    That onsie is adorable, where did it come from?? I must have it for my new neice!!

  • Reply
    lauren
    August 5, 2009 at 1:02 am

    As a full time nanny for a reflux/colic baby who when I started with him at 4 months was on no schedule whatsoever and didn’t sleep longer than 20 minutes during the day, and a few hours at night, I highly, highly, highly recommend the book “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child.”

    The things that stuck out to me about the book are the fact that it addresses how to respond to babies with different temperaments, it walks you through the changes they go through at different ages/stages, it helps you really understand why your baby needs so much sleep and how the lack of sleep in infancy contributes in drastic ways to adult sleeping problems (even ones we would call “normal”), and it gives an overabundance of testimonials from all kinds of parents with all different kinds of babies and specifically what methods they used to correct their baby’s sleeping habits.

  • Reply
    Jena Murray
    August 21, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    I love the bouncy Eleanor is photographed in… would you mind sharing where you purchased it or what brand it is? I tried looking online but did not see that model. Thanks!! (we’ve got a little one joining the family in 4 months)

    -Jena

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    Crystal
    April 22, 2011 at 8:20 am

    Very interesting info. I’m expecting my first child and hoping that I’ll be able to easily get my baby on a good sleeping schedule. I’m a full-time working mom, so hopefully all goes well :)

  • Reply
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