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Let’s get real for a second. When I first had my son he was admitted to the NICU for 4 nights. Throughout those first 4 nights, I still got to sleep somewhat decent. And then we brought baby home….I was not prepared AT ALL. I had always heard those comments “sleep when the baby sleeps” and “the first couple of months are going to be rough, you know?”. Reality is, no, I did not know!
Our first night home from the hospital was…..interesting. I had done a lot of reading online about how to quickly teach baby night from day, bedtime, etc. I guess I was just thinking my son would automatically know he needed to sleep all night so that mom got to rest. I was such a fool. I wanted to learn fast how to train baby to sleep through night.
The first 2.5 months of Joshuas life were rough, especially for him. He was waking at least every hour to have a bottle. He would only take small amounts but very frequently. At first, I figured he was just cluster feeding, but then my mom gut kicked in.
I noticed he was experiencing a lot of choking, coughing, turning VERY red while eating, and was not comfortable flat on his back. I took him to his pediatrician’s office 17 times from the time he was a newborn to 2.5 months of age. The first 16 times my concerns were shut down and was told he was just experiencing reflux. The 17th time I demanded to be sent to a specialist, and we were sent to GI. The GI ordered an OPMS (swallow study) which showed Joshua was aspirating his milk.
Before that day I had no idea what that meant. Basically his milk was traveling to his lungs vs. his stomach. This explains the small and frequent feedings.
Needless to say, that same day of the OPMS study Joshua was hospitalized and placed on a nasogastric tube (NG tube). He was exclusively tube fed from 3 months of age to 8 months. Check out this post to read more about Joshuas NG Tube story.
For those 5 months, Derek and I followed a strict feeding schedule that was created by Joshuas doctors. One of us had to wake up at 11 pm, 2 am, and 5 am to start the machine for his feedings. The feedings lasted 30 minutes each. So, we had to stay awake to disconnect the tube afterward, flush it, and turn the loud beeping machine off. Sometimes Joshua would wake up through that whole process which started a whole other ordeal. Other times he would wake up during my 2.5 sleep time.
I tell y’all this to be aware of some hard months we had at night time. Now we have a 20-month-old who sleeps 11+ hours a night!
I’d like to share how I got my son from being a poor sleeper to an awesome sleeper!
How to train baby to sleep through the night:
- Routine, Routine, Routine. I know this isn’t the first time you’ve heard that babies strive off of a routine. It is never to early to start a bedtime routine, but I feel like the older a child gets the harder it is to implement one. A bedtime routine can be as easy as a bath, lotion, get dressed, bottle, read a book, swaddle & paci, lights out. I put the bottle before the book to give baby some time to digest their food before being laid down flat. That’s a big no-no!
If you think your baby needs to be elevated a little while sleeping, or if they struggle with reflux check out this wedge from amazon.
- Soothe your baby less, while teaching them to self-soothe. As a mom, it’s our first instinct to jump up and grab our baby at first cry. Try to not do this. It’s always okay to go and check on them. However, try and limit your time in the room with them. Make baby aware of your presence by placing your hand on their chest for a few moments. This should help soothe them and then try leaving the room.
Check out this sleep sack known as the Zen Sac. It is lightweight and gives the feeling of your hand on their chest.
- Start working on weaning out a night feeding. When babies are fed every time they wake up throughout the night, those feedings become a sleep association and are expected. Once the doctor gives you the okay to drop a night feeding, don’t hesitate to give it a try. It won’t happen in one night, or maybe even a week. When it does happen it’s definitely worth it. Start out by reducing the amount of milk you give baby during the feeding you’re trying to wean out. Gradually decrease that amount until you’re at none. Your baby may still wake up, but this is where the self-soothe techniques come into play.
- Follow a schedule. Like I mentioned before, babies strive off a nighttime routine. As well as a day time schedule. Make sure your baby is getting the right amount of sleep during the day to prepare them for their nighttime sleep. Any baby that gets to much sleep during the day will not sleep as long throughout the night.
- Keeping a calm environment. Keep the lighting low, the air at a comfortable temperature, and maybe throw in a white noise machine. My son was always disrupted by the quietest sounds during the night. We got him this noise machine that we absolutely love! There are 4 different white noise sounds and 4 different lullaby songs. It provides a consistent soothing sound and drowns out any background noise that is going on.
- Be patient. Some babies may be sleeping completely fine throughout the night and all of a sudden start waking at different times. Patience is key. Sleep regression is a real thing that every baby experiences.
I hope these are some helpful tips that you decide to try out! Let me know if you try them and how they worked for you!