Getting baby to sleep 10-12 hours
By the time baby is 12 weeks old, he/she should be able to sleep 10-12 hours at night without a feeding! WOW! What a gift to the tired parent!
I kept the dream feed for Hunter until he was 4 months old. He was going to bed at 8pm, dream feed at 10pm, and waking up at 6:30. I cut the dream feed out at 16 weeks because his night time sleep started to become affected. Once I cut the dream feed, he slept straight through the night without the need for that extra snack.
Here are some ways to ensure baby is set up for a LONG night sleep:
1) Set the mood.
Establish a bedtime routine and make the room comfortable for sleeping. You wouldn't be able to have a good nights rest If you went straight from a party to your bed right?? What about if your room was bright and hot or loud and freezing cold?? Your baby needs to wind down too. And they need to have a cozy place to spend their night.
What we do:
7:30 pm rolls around and we head up or take a bath. Next we put on some baby powder and rub his tummy and legs a bit to relax him. He has an overnight diaper we use (LUVS, it's a game changer) and a sleeping gown. I also still swaddle the trunk of his body. He could sleep without it but his legs go crazy when he sleeps I wanted to make sure they don't get stuck through the crib slats. I turn on his humidifier and white noise sound machine. This is the BEST one I have found, we have one in our room as well! CLICK to get yours (you won't be sorry, they travel well too!) …Ok now back to it, I then pick him up and rock him for 2-3 minutes. This time will very from baby to baby, any longer for us and Hunter will start to fall asleep. Putting him down in his crib while he's awake ensures he can put himself to sleep. I place him in his crib, say a prayer, and kiss that cute forehead. Depending on how tired he is he may play for 10 minutes before he sleeps but usually within 5 minutes he's asleep for a good 10 -11 hours.
2) Make sure belly is full!
This is not just important right before baby goes to bed, but throughout the day. If baby is not getting the amount of food necessary in a 24 hour period, his sleep will be disrupted.
What we do:
It was crucial that Hunter had a full belly each night. Hunter started waking early (around 4:30am) hungry, so I knew he needed more food throughout the day. (this was when my milk supply was going low so we supplemented). He started waking early again around 5 months so we started him on some solids, and he's back to sleeping all night.
3) Be consistent
Theres a lot I can write here about being consistent in getting baby to sleep all night. Mainly it is to ensure baby can put himself BACK to sleep once he wakes. Since babies go through so many sleep transitions throughout the night, this is a crucial skill baby must develop to be able to sleep throughout the night without mommy or daddy helping them get back to sleep. I say be consistent here because this is not only for night time sleep, but naps as well. A baby that is rocked back to sleep at naps, will most likely not be able to sleep throughout the night because they will expect their favorite person (you) to come in and rock them every time they wake.
What we do:
If Hunter wakes crying, I always wait and assess. What time is it? What type of cry is it? Is this out of habit? (waking at same time) or is this a new thing? If it's new, or a different cry I always go in and check him. If its out of habit or seems like he is just fussy, I give him the magic 10 minutes. He usually goes back to sleep 90% of the time within 10 minutes. (When he's crying its the longest 10 minutes EVER but if he goes back to sleep within that time frame I know he was just transitioning in his sleep) If after 10 minutes he is still upset, I go in and check him, settle him down for a few minutes, then put him back down while he is still awake.
4) Be on Time
It is crucial for baby to have the same FIRST and LAST feeding of the day. This helps them establish their schedules, which in turn helps them sleep until the desired morning wake time. Pick a time that you want baby to wake in the morning, then schedule the last feeding 11-12 hours before that time.
What we do:
Hunters last feeding of the day is at 6:45am, his first feed of the day is 6:30am. We make sure to stay within a 20 minute window of flexibility with the time of the first feeding and time of the last feeding.
5) Reevaluate when needed
If you are following the steps above and baby is still not sleeping through the night, or not sleeping at least 9/10 hours then its time to reevaluate what you're doing. Go through it with a fine-toothed comb! How are the feedings? Is baby getting enough sleep during the day? Is it time to start solids? Is baby getting enough stimulation throughout the day (daylight, playtime, not overstimulated by the TV)? Do you need to drop the dream feed? Is baby getting too much sleep during the day?
What we do:
When Hunter began waking again in the night we had to cry it out. It was tough but I knew he wasn't hungry, sick just wanted to be held. He eventually would fall asleep and within a few days he only fussed a minute or so when he woke up. They are smart little ones and they learn quickly its time to sleep! We also had to drop the dream feed around 17 weeks old because it was affecting his sleep.
Whatever it may be, I pray you find out and get the sleep you and your baby deserve! Hope this helps! Xoxo-B