Now, I know it might not work for everyone, but I wanted to share the secret to getting my babies to sleep through the night.
Let’s back up for a second. I have two kids, and both started STTN (sleeping through the night) when they were around 2 months old. They were also both (almost) exclusively breastfed. And “almost” is the keyword, because that is where the secret lies.
I truly believe that the secret to getting my babies to sleep through the night was this:
With both of my babies, we started giving them a bottle once a day for their last feeding before bedtime. We started this when both of our babies were about 3 weeks old and we knew they had learned to latch well and I felt confident in our breastfeeding relationship. However, we made sure my husband (or someone other than myself) was always the one to feed the bottle, so that it didn’t interfere with our breastfeeding journey or cause any kind of confusion.
Here are the reasons we did this and why I think it helped my babies sleep through the night:
- It allowed other people the chance to feed the baby. This was important for us so that we could leave the baby with a babysitter if needed, or if there was ever an emergency and I had to be gone for more than a couple hours, the baby could still easily be fed.
- It allowed my husband a chance to “bond” with our kids early on.
- It gave me a little “break” from the ’round the clock nursing sessions. We could easily pack the kids up in the evening and go out to dinner or to an event and not have to worry about nursing midway through because we would just pack a bottle.
- I had heard someone say that if you want to get your baby to sleep longer stretches at night, then you should fill them up during the day as much as possible. So by giving my babies a bottle right before bed, we could see exactly how many ounces they were drinking, and we could really fill them up compared to how many ounces they’d likely get from me. For example, both of my babies started out drinking about 3-4 ounces per night in the bottle. From there, they gradually increased, until by 6 months they were both drinking 11-12 ounces each night before bed! Now, I’m not certain, but I am pretty sure that is WAY more than they would have gotten from me had I nursed them instead. I truly believe that this larger meal is what helped them stop waking as frequently throughout the night for feedings and was the secret to getting them to sleep from night until morning!
Logistically, it was pretty easy to do as well. While my husband fed the bottle each night, I would pump. Then, I would pump one more time right before I went to bed, and those two pumping sessions were usually enough for the bottle the next night. This also helped make sure I didn’t wake up engorged once the babies started sleeping longer stretches.
While I do think the bottle was key, I think there are a few other things that played into our babies nighttime sleep habits as well:
- I am one of those sleep nazis. I am a firm believer in early bedtimes to avoid letting your baby get overtired. Both of my kids (age 2 and 8 months) go to bed at 7pm (if not sooner when we have a busy day).
- We started a “routine” early on, to try and help baby learn the difference between night and day, and nap time versus bedtime. Here is what our routine looked like: All lights off in nursery besides one lamp. Change diaper and put on pajamas. Pray. Turn the light off and a fan on. Lay baby in crib and say “night, night.” Although minor, over time, these small things signaled to my baby that it was bedtime. As my kids get older, we add in brushing teeth, a story, etc.
- We loosely use Babywise to get baby used to a routine, meaning I follow the “eat, play, sleep” routine during the day.
- I used this chart as a guide for wake times between naps during the day to avoid letting baby get overtired, which would result in poor nighttime sleep.
Remember that STTN means different things to different people. For me, it meant my babies slept from 7pm to 5-5:30am, until about 6 months when they eventually made it from 7pm to 7am. And if this trick works for your baby, that’s fantastic. And if not, that’s ok too! It doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong! Every baby is so different and we really can’t compare our kids to anyone else’s. Some babies just need those extra feedings or snuggle time at night. And I know, you’re tired, but this won’t last forever, I promise.
And I would love to know, do you have any secrets of your own that helped your baby sleep better? Leave your tips and tricks in the comments below for any tired mamas out there who could use the extra Z’s! Or feel free to pin and save this article for later with the image below!