Featured/ Life

How I Got My Baby to Sleep Through the Night

Sooo…I have one of those unicorn babies who takes long naps and sleeps 8-12 hours every night. I know, I know. Some moms are just hating me right now. I’ve shared my tips so many times with my new mom friends, I’m literally copy and pasting conversations from one text message to another. So, I’ve decided to write down all my tips in a blog post to share with everyone. Also, in collaboration with Regina’s premiere baby store, Hello Baby, we are offering a promotion and giveaway to help Regina moms out there establish a good sleeping routine for their babies. Read on until the end of the post to find out more about the promotion and giveaway!

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My husband and I love our sleep. Prior to having a baby, we would easily sleep in on the weekends until 11AM. So, I think we’ve lucked out in the fact that our baby loves her sleep as much as we do! Baby E takes three long naps per day (morning, afternoon, and evening) and she started sleeping through the night at around 11-12 weeks old. She also takes after me in being a creature of habit, so her schedule is surprisingly consistent:

9:30AM – Awake for the day / Eat / Play

11AM – 1PM – Morning Nap 

1PM – Eat/Awake/Play

2:30PM – 4:30PM – Afternoon Nap

4:30PM – Eat/Awake/Play

6PM – 7PM – Evening Nap

7PM – Eat/Awake/Play

8:30PM – Bath / Baby Massage

9PM – Eat / Swaddle / Bedtime

Night feed – 6:30AM

I am loving this schedule! First of all, after she goes to bed at 9PM, it is still early enough for me to get some housework done, spend time with the husband, read, have a bath and/or have a glass of wine before I go to bed around 11-ish. When she wakes at 6:30AM for her night feed, I keep her swaddled and feed her, so she passes right out again, and I can either go back to bed myself or start my day. Lately I’ve been starting my day after her night feed – this gives me approximately 3 hours to get myself ready in the morning (it’s amazing what a little mascara and tinted moisturizer will do for your mood!), have breakfast and coffee, do some housework and enjoy some alone time either reading, bullet journaling, or working on the blog. I don’t mind starting my day this early because I usually lay down and take the morning nap with her.

So how did I manage to get her onto such an ideal schedule? I don’t know if I can pinpoint it on just one thing. I think there are a whole bunch of things that I do that work together to get her so consistent:

Consistent nap schedule

As you can see from the schedule above, Baby E has a nap after about 1.5 hours of awake time. I did some reading and found out that babies her age (3 months) can usually handle about 1 to 1.5 hours of awake/play time before they are overstimulated and need a nap. After reading this, I observed her for a day or two and noticed that she did indeed get fussy for no reason and showed signs of overstimulation after about 1.5 hours. I also noticed that she roughly gets up for the day around the same time every morning, so I built a schedule using her approximate morning wake up time and the 1.5 hour awake time rule.

Now, the 1.5 hour rule isn’t set in stone and every baby is different. Even with the same baby, every day is different. When we were at the in-laws for Christmas and there was a ton of stimulation around, I noticed that she would get fussy after an hour of awake time, so I would put her down earlier for a nap and adjust the schedule as the day went on. Sometimes, when we are having a peaceful day at home or if we’re happily out and about, she can stay awake and happy for 2 hours, so I tweak the schedule accordingly. After a few weeks of trying out the schedule, I noticed that she liked to have longer morning and afternoon naps (2 hours) and shorter evening naps (1 hour), so I just followed her cues and adjusted the schedule.

And now that she’s past the 3 month point, I’ll continue to watch her cues and see if she can slowly increase her awake time happily and adjust the schedule as she gets older.

Whatever the schedule may be, I think that having a consistent nap schedule prevents her from getting overtired and cranky, and allows her to have a peaceful night’s sleep.

If you’re thinking about putting your baby on a schedule, I suggest doing it during a stretch of time when you don’t have any outings planned. You need to have consistent, boring days in order to read your baby’s cues and make your observations on her behaviour. If you’re constantly out and about, you’ll be disrupting the schedule and you won’t be able to make your observations in a ‘controlled environment’, so to speak. With our Saskatchewan winters, I was able to keep her at home and make my observations when we had a stretch of days when the weather was -40-something with the windchill and there was no way we were going out. It just takes a few monotonous days, but now that we have a solid schedule, I can more easily plan outings during her awake time and I enjoy our outings more as she is well rested, fed, and happy, and I don’t have to stress about feeding her in public or her fussing uncontrollably in public because she needs a nap.

I also suggest keeping notes for a few days on your baby’s schedule as it helps pinpoint patterns and preferences. I keep the notes on my phone about her daily schedule and that’s how I recognized that she usually gets up at the same time and the pattern/duration of her naps.

Example of Baby E’s daily schedule. I adjust and tweak as the day goes on.

 

I keep a few days’ of her schedule in my phone before I delete them. Keeping a log helps to identify sleep patterns and preferences.

Night time routine

I had read so many mommy articles and blogs about establishing a night time routine for your baby so that they are ‘programmed’ to know that it’s bed time and time for a long stretch of sleep. At first, I thought this was BS – how could a newborn possibly recognize that a storybook signalled bedtime or that a bath was a precursor to bedtime? However, I eventually decided to give it a try (it doesn’t take that much effort to establish some sort of routine), and I introduced a night time routine for Baby E when she was about 9 weeks old. At this point, she was super alert and even I was convinced that she just might actually recognize patterns and routines. So, here is our night time routine:

  • Bath – my  husband and I give Baby E a bath every other night, and that is part of our night time routine. On the nights where there is no bath, night time routine starts with the baby massage.
  • Baby Massage – After her bath, I give her a quick baby massage. I’m using this term loosely, because I basically just slather her body and face with Aveeno Baby Eczema Care Night Balm. I’ve mentioned before that Baby E suffers from eczema when I eat dairy, so although I have cut out dairy, I find it beneficial to use the lotion on her nightly because the dry winter air also triggers some flare ups for her.
  • Pyjamas – After the bath and massage, we put her into footed onesie pyjamas. I make a point of dressing her in non-footed, day time clothes during the day, hoping that the feel of footed pyjamas signals that it’s bedtime. As we are putting the pyjamas on her, I talk to her and say things like “Mommy’s putting your pyjamas on, gotta cover those toes for bedtime”.  She smiles and laughs at that, so maybe she understands.
  • Dimmed Lights and Feeding – After all that is done, it is time for her last feeding before bedtime. For this last nursing session, we dim the lights in our bonus room where I feed her. The TV is still on for my enjoyment but at a lowered volume. During the day, I make sure the blinds and curtains are open, and lights are on in the early evenings, so that the dimmed lighting is a noticeable change in the environment to signal bedtime.
  • Bedtime Story / Chat – After she eats, I burp her and keep her upright on my lap facing me for a few minutes (just to help with digestion and ensure that she doesn’t spit up). During these few minutes, sometimes I’ll read her a bedtime story but it’s kind of hard with the dimmed lighting. More often, we will just have little chats where I chat with her softly, making sure to say “bedtime” or “sweet dreams” or other bedtime signalling words.
  • Swaddle – After the chat, I’ll change her diaper if it needs changing and then swaddle her up for bedtime. For bedtime, we do a double swaddle on her because she’s quite the escape artist and would often escape her swaddle in the middle of the night and startle herself awake. I was worried about doing a double swaddle because of the overheating factor, but I found this video that shows how to do a ‘batwing’ swaddle and it has worked so well for us! It will require you to sacrifice one swaddling blanket and cut it up though! I just cut up a cheaper one that I had bought at HomeSense. Check out the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dbE5Hc9tPc . We only do the double swaddle at night time, so I think she realizes that it signals bedtime. For naps, I only do a single swaddle (no batwing). I think she will be rolling over soon though, so I will have to transition her out of a swaddle…I have some swaddling transition products that I will be trying at that time, so I will keep you guys posted!
  • After she’s swaddled up, I cuddle her, pat her bum, and do some ‘shushing’ until she dozes off. Then I will lay her down in her nursery and she’s out for the night!

But now let’s talk about the sleep environment in her nursery….

DockATot

Have you guys heard of the DockATot? I started seeing it pop up on several ‘must have’ blog posts of my favourite celebrity bloggers who are new mom’s (like Jillian Harris). I’m not one to fall for celebrity-endorsed baby products, and I was definitely hesitant to buy the DockATot because it is fairly expensive. However, I kept on hearing good things about how it really helps baby sleep better because it’s a warm, breathable, snug sleeping environment and I finally decided to splurge on one and bought one from Hello Baby. The first night we transitioned Baby E from the bassinet by our bed to the DockATot in her own crib and nursery, she still got up every 3 hours. I was a little disappointed but decided to forge on ahead and give it another try. On the second night, she slept for 7 hours straight and it has only improved from there! Now, I don’t know if all the credit goes to the DockATot because we literally introduced all of the things I write about in this post within a week or two of each other, but I definitely think it is a huge contributor. She seems very snug and happy every morning when I go into the nursery to get her!

Baby E in her DockATot

 

So happy after a good night’s sleep!

I’ve heard her stir in the middle of the night a few times, and she’s managed to put herself back to sleep by snuggling up against the side of the DockATot. The DockATot is breathable so there’s no worries about suffocation and I think it comforts her to have something to snuggle up to as opposed to a vast expanse of crib.

Baby E snuggles up to the side of the Dock to comfort herself back to sleep after waking up

You can buy the DockATot Deluxe at Hello Baby here in Regina, and it’s designed for babies 0-6 months. The white DockATot Deluxe like I have is $267.95, and they also have pretty patterned ones for $297.95. I know it’s expensive but it’s well worth the investment for 8-12 hour stretches of sleep, don’t you think? My only regret is that I didn’t buy one sooner! There is also the DockaTot Grand for babies older than 6 months. It is a little bit more expensive but I already know that I will be splurging on one as soon as Baby E outgrows the DockaTot Deluxe!

White noise

Babies like to have some white noise in order to sleep. Think about it – when they were in the womb, they were surrounded by the sound of mama’s heartbeat, the whooshing of the blood, and the sounds of other internal organs doing their thing. Trying to sleep in complete silence is hard for them. Plus, total silence just means that the slightest sound will startle them from their sleep. When Baby E was still sleeping in the bassinet by our bed, we were using one of those Sleep Sheep sound machines. Cute and portable…but because it was battery operated, it timed out after 45 minutes. It worked fine for us for the first 6 weeks when Baby E’s newborn sleep was pretty deep, but somewhere around the 6-8 week mark, I noticed that Baby E would often startle herself awake minutes after the Sleep Sheep had turned itself off. Sometimes, I would even startle awake when the sheep suddenly turned off!

So I headed to Hello Baby and bought this adorable sound machine that plugs in.

Skip Hop Owl sound machine

This Skip Hop Moonlight & Melodies Owl Nightlight Soother sells for $54.95. It has many functions, including music, nightlight and white noise, but I’m just using it for the white noise right now. You have the option to have the white noise time out after a certain period of time, or to have it on continuous play. I have it on continuous play and I really think that the constant white noise is helping Baby E sleep better. It also allows the husband and I to watch TV in our bonus room without worrying that any sudden sound from the TV will startle her from her sleep in the nursery next door.

Humidifier

Whenever I have dairy,  Baby E suffers from congestion, dry skin, dry lips, and severe eczema patches all over her face and body. I noticed during these flare-ups, her sleep would obviously be disturbed as well, likely due to difficulty breathing and the discomfort of her dry itchy skin. I bought a humidifier for her nursery and we now have it running all night.

Even if your baby doesn’t suffer from eczema, I think all Saskatchewan babies can benefit from a humidifier in their nursery. Our dry winter air, along with the moisture-sucking heating in our houses, can cause their sensitive skin to dry out easily. Using a humidifier in their nursery will add moisture back to the dry air and create an optimal breathing environment for comfortable sleep. Ever since we started using the humidifier, she has slept beautifully and her skin is no longer dry and flaky (unless I accidentally eat dairy!).

I bought my humidifier from Canadian Tire, but there are many different brands out there and they are widely available at any baby store, Canadian Tire, or even Walmart. Just make sure to buy a cool mist humidifier. A warm mist humidifier can contribute to mildew and mold growth.

Vicks cool mist humidifier

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So there you have it. Those are all the tools and tricks I used to get my baby to sleep through the night. Now to help you start establishing your own night time routine for your baby, Hello Baby is offering the following promotions to Culinary Cents readers:

  • With the purchase of a DockATot, receive 50% off a baby massage oil to help you incorporate a baby massage into your night time routine. 
  • For any purchase made at Hello Baby, have your name entered into a draw to win an organic Aden + Anais swaddle blanket! You guys, I can’t say enough about these swaddle blankets. They are soft, breathable and have the perfect amount of stretch in them. Plus, they get softer with every wash! I don’t even know why I wasted money buying cheap swaddle blankets because I always just grab my Aden swaddle blankets to swaddle Baby E. Plus, I always keep an Aden swaddle blanket in my diaper bag because they are lightweight and versatile – you never know if you’ll need to swaddle, burp or blanket a baby when you’re out and about.

Remember to mention this blog post when you’re making your purchase at Hello Baby! 

This promotion starts Tuesday, January 24, 2017 and will run through February 6, 2017. A draw for the winner of the organic Aden swaddle blanket will be made on February 7! 

Hello Baby is located at 2555 Quance Street East here in Regina, SK.

Hopefully what I’ve written will help someone out. I’d love to hear about other tools and techniques that have worked for other moms out there, so please leave me a comment! Also, if you have any questions, please feel free to comment and I will reply as soon as I can!

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4 Comments

  • Reply
    Angela
    January 24, 2017 at 2:58 am

    Great article!! This gives me hope for our very own schedule … and to get some of our beloved sleep back as well! Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply
      Elizabeth Nguyen
      January 24, 2017 at 10:20 pm

      Thanks Angela! I promise you’ll get more sleep in about 6-8 weeks. Just enjoy all the baby cuddles now. I already miss the newborn cuddly stage!

  • Reply
    Ann Groh
    August 28, 2017 at 4:45 pm

    Hi! Now that your little girl is older, is she still sleeping in a dock in the crib?

    • Reply
      Elizabeth Nguyen
      August 29, 2017 at 1:27 pm

      Hi Ann!
      Yes, once she outgrew the DockaTot Deluxe, we actually bought the bigger DockATot Grand. It still fits in her crib and she still loves sleeping in it!

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