My Advice on Getting Your Baby to Sleep


I am honestly writing this post for myself. It is directed to you, the reader, but only because that is the way I write my blog. If we have a baby in 2 - 3 more years, Lord willing, then it is likely that I will forget all that I have done with Micaiah. I haven't spent too much time writing things down, but I do have MASSIVE amounts of correspondence on facebook and in my email from seasoned mamas that I look up to. (My first point is to be wise enough to seek counsel from others). I know that every baby is different, and things that I may think work might not work for your baby or even our next baby, but there may be things that would work. I was talking with a close friend of mine yesterday and in her own words, "I don't care what you do with your baby, as long as you are getting results, and it works for you." I think by results it means that your baby is a good sleeper, baby is happy, and the mama is happy. If the above three are not happening, then I pray that you can be wise enough to seek out how to fix what's going on. I know I had WEEKS where it felt like I was a failure, because Micaiah just wouldn't sleep. However, when I look back, I think that a lot of it was due to the fact that I just hadn't figured out what worked best for HIM. That said, you can give your baby the absolute BEST environment to sleep in, and then it is up to the Sovereign God to allow your baby to sleep. Micaiah was an extremely fussy baby for the first 3 months. I'm not completely sure if he was colicky, as it was never diagnosed, but he cried a LOT!

As I was talking with a seasoned mama of 4 just yesterday, she was amazed that Micaiah was able to sleep 12.5 hours on a regular basis. I think I forget what a blessing that really is. God is good to us to allow this, but I know that in part it is because I did not STOP pursuing sleep, until Micaiah slept. I didn't just give up and say "Oh, he's a poor sleeper." Was it hard when I looked at other babies that just seemed to do so much better? Yes, I struggled, and struggled, but I asked the Lord to help me persevere, and I think he blessed those efforts tremendously.

Here is my advice. Please remember that this is MY parenting practice. If you don't agree, you may click on another blog to read in your Google Reader! Thanks!

Find the good in your books and use it.

Baby Wise - I really struggled with implementing Baby Wise (BW). It seemed like every friend of mine used BW and no matter what I did, I was not getting the same results. Aka...your baby sleeping through the night (STTN). However, I pressed on with certain things that I found important and used those, and I really think that it made the biggest difference, and they did help with helping my son STTN faster.

  • Some of the things that I think work from Baby Wise is the Eat/Play/Sleep pattern. This is also found in The Baby Whisperer. It makes sense to do your day like this. When they are teeny tiny, you just get them into the routine of eating, being awake (NOT long if they are newborns), and then sleeping. Were there times when I would nurse Cai to sleep? Sure, but for the most part, I tried to avoid it. This also means that I don't believe in "recreational nursing." For me, nursing is to feed my baby, NOT act as a pacifier or comforter. That's why we used a paci. Now, Cai sucks his thumb.
  • Consistent Start Time - BW gets "beef" for being rigid as far as scheduling goes. I think there are moms that go to the extreme with this. I use a schedule as a GUIDE, not an end all. If I did not have a schedule to look at, then my day would have absolutely NO structure, and I can't operate like that. You have to have a balance. You have to understand that babies NEED consistency. That they THRIVE off it. My alarm clock goes off at 7 am every morning. I go get Micaiah upon rolling out of bed. I have found that if I start my day with Micaiah between 7 am - 7:30 am everday, then the rest of my day is usually pretty much the same. I found that if I didn't start the day about the same time, then every day looked COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. So your "schedule" might look like this (this is ours right now as Cai is 4.5 - 5 months):

7:15 am - nurse, then play
8:30 am - nap
10:15 am - nurse, then play
11:30 am - nap
12:30/1 pm - nurse, then play
2 pm - nap
3:30/4 pm - nurse, then play
5 pm - possible catnap (not really at this point)
6 pm - nurse
6:30 pm - bedtime

However, I can tell you that we don't always follow this. There are lots of days where he only naps for 1 hr instead of 1.5. There are other days when he sleeps 2 hrs for naps. You adjust based on how things went and work from there, but at least with a written out schedule, you have a place to go to if you aren't sure what you "should" be doing. Micaiah gets HAPPY when we go to his room to do bedtime. He knows what to expect and when it is going to happen, and if it doesn't happen like it should, he will let us KNOW!

  • Cry It Out (CIO) - I don't really believe in this aspect of BW in the early months, BUT there is a time and place for crying. For us it wasn't too hard to let Micaiah cry. He just did it anyways. Looking back, I feel like just leaving your baby to fend for himself in the attempts to CIO in order to go to sleep doesn't work. I thought that if I let Cai cry himself to sleep, then he would be on his way to sleeping sooner. Nope, that was a mistake. He just got more and more agitated and worked up. HOWEVER, if you NEVER let your baby cry, you will ROB your baby of good naps. I would always go through our naptime routine and I would always put Micaiah down in his crib, whether he was crying or not. I would always leave the room, whether or not Micaiah was crying. This established that it was naptime, and there was an order that occurred. Mommy leaves so baby can sleep. I would give him about 10 - 15 minutes and if he was still crying, then I would return, and comfort and go through the routine again, and leave the room, hopefully, with a calm sleepy baby in his crib. Some days, I did this over and over, but there were times when he would go to sleep, and those turned to be more frequent. I thought he would get used to me going in and out, but really it was fine. He ended up realizing it was nap time and he ended up sleeping.
  • Consistency is Key - In the above paragraph I mentioned how I did our nap routine. I always did this. I followed the Eat/play/Sleep pattern. I put him to sleep in the same way every time. I sang the same songs, rocked him, said the same words, and left the room. I trusted that my baby had the skills to fall asleep. We had a bed time routine. For awhile, I didn't think he would ever JUST GO TO BED! But, I didn't let the fact that he wouldn't go to bed stop me. I kept putting him to bed at about the same time. Oh, we let him cry some at times, but somewhere in weeks 10 - 15, he just went to bed when we put him to bed and slept all night long. At 20 weeks, I think it is safe to say that he has had near perfect bedtimes for at least 5 weeks now. When he wakes up now, I know it is a growth spurt. That's nice.

Heathy Sleep Habits, Happy Child

I love this book! I think that it has a ton of knowledge about infant sleep patterns, and I have found almost everything he has said to be true. You can find a post I wrote about how I let go of the "perfect" schedule and started implementing some of these concepts to our advantage. I have gone from thinking that scheduling is the end all, to letting it all go (that didn't work), to finding a good balance. This book helped me to see the advantages of letting a baby sleep, following natural sleep rhythms, and above all, listening to your baby and following his sleepy cues above all else. Read it if you are pregnant.

  • Never Wake a Sleeping Baby - For me, there is a time and place to wake a baby. In the beginning, you NEED to wake a baby to get him back to his birth weight and to train metabolism. During the day, you wake to start your day, you wake because you want your baby to have naps, NOT their longest stretch of sleep, so you might wake a baby to prevent this from happening. However, that's where I stop. I personally don't believe in waking a baby from naps to stick to a schedule. That said, I know sweet mamas, that do believe this, and it works for their children. They meet the three criterion: good sleeper, happy baby, happy mama. It didn't work for us. Not all three were met. I felt like I worked WAY too hard to get my baby to sleep, and there was NO WAY I was going to go in there and WAKE them up! Yeah, riiiiight! If Micaiah starts sleeping the day away as he gets older and it messes with bedtime, I may change this philosophy, however at this point in time, not waking him up is where I stand. If every nap was always perfect, then I might feel okay about this, but the truth is...sometimes, he will take good naps and others bad. If I wake him up from a good nap, then I may get bad naps the rest of the day. I just let sleeping babies lie.
  • Follow your babies sleepy cues (above all else) - Your baby tells you when he is tired better than you can. If my "schedule" says nap is not until 20 more minutes, but my baby is rubbing his eyes... Guess what?! It's NAPtime! Into his room we go!
  • Stay home the first 3 - 4 months - Okay, so he doesn't really say that. This is kind of my interpretation. My name, Vanessa, actually means butterfly. I am a SOCIAL butterfly, and perhaps, this was the hardest aspect of having a baby. In his book Dr. Weissbluth talks about the advantages of staying home to allow your baby to sleep. Some moms won't give up their social lives for a little season, and I do believe their babies suffer for it. He talks about how many moms drag their babies with them wherever they go, and it causes short, basically crappy naps. Do you nap well on the go? Well, don't expect your baby to either. I have a lot of ideas for how you can still do social events with a baby and this doesn't mean you NEVER leave your house with your baby, but it does mean you make EVERY effort, especially in the beggining, to let your baby nap where they will sleep the best... in their CRIB! Some moms really find this aspect difficult, but I can tell you that now that Micaiah is a good sleeper, when we do miss naps or they have to be "on the go" he does so much better. He can handle the exceptional days, when the routine days are the norm. I get so many comments about how alert and observant Micaiah is. In HSHC, the author talks about how you will get those comments when your baby is getting adequate rest. I clarify this point by saying that it is true that the first several weeks are easy to get out of the house, because newborns do sleep so much, but there is a point in time when babies stop napping well on the go, and I think a mama needs to be wise enough to recognize this. You need to stay home when your baby should be napping and leave the house when they are in wake time.


  • Find the best sleep environment for your child - I guess from reading the above, you can gather, that I think it is best to sleep your baby in their crib in their room. Micaiah sleeps best in his room in the dark. Darkness serves as a sleep cue for Micaiah. My observant child won't sleep in day light, unless he is absolutely exhausted.
  • Don't sleep with your baby - I found that I didn't sleep well if my baby slept in the same room as me, and I cannot function and take care of my baby without my own sleep. The root of this actually stems from the fact that Hart and I believe that we must protect our sacred marriage bed in Christ. Husband and Wife sleep together. We came first. Baby came second. Baby doesn't mess up where and how we sleep, no matter how CUTE he is. One day it won't be cute, and I don't want to deal with making him understand that where he is actually SUPPOSED to sleep is somewhere else.
  • Don't sleep with a baby monitor on - HSHC talks about this in one section...why would you sleep with a baby monitor on when hormones let you hear the slightest PEEP your baby makes? You need to hear your baby crying loud enough to indicate hunger...all other noises just disrupt mama's sleep more than anything. You WILL hear your baby crying out of hunger... it's not like they just go, "Waa, waa, I'm hungry!" No, they scream their little heads off when hungry! Believe me, you hear it!
  • If you are going crazy, talk to other seasoned mamas! - I think the best thing that I did was constantly ask questions and be humble enough to accept that I had problems and they needed fixing. I have three mamas in particular that really helped me to get through those rough weeks. Chelsey, Kira, and Kristie... Thank you!!! When I didn't know what else to do, or what else to try, I sought out wisdom from them. I also joined the Baby Wise Group on 's website. Yes, most advice is from a BW point of view, but most of all, they are just moms you can share your problems with and find answers. I've been able to post all kinds of things and get some really good advice from other moms.

I'm going to end this by saying that we are NOT perfect. I promise you. I actually never thought we would be where we are today. In fact, right now, we are kind of in a rocky phase, as far as naps go. I believe Micaiah is phasing from 3 naps to 2 in the next couple months, so things are actually a bit off at times. But as I was talking with my friend, Chelsey, we were saying how it seems that even if the whole day is off with naps, it is so nice to be able to put your baby in bed, and get that break at the end of the day. Praise Jesus for that!

I feel like there is so much more I can add, but this is good for now. I think I will remember most of this stuff (now that I wrote it down). However, there is one more thing that I am still learning....

Vanessa, Just relax about naps. Your baby isn't perfect. He isn't a robot. He's going to sleep as long as God wants him to. Please stop agonizing when things don't go your way. Give it up to Jesus and be thankful that each day God's mercies are new EVERY morning!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.