How I Got My Baby to Sleep Through the Night and Nap During the Day. MUST READ!

How I Got My Baby to Sleep Through the Night and Nap During the Day. MUST READ!

sleeping baby

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Hi guys,

I have alluded to the fact that the first 6 weeks with Carter were the hardest of my life but I’ve never shared why. Well, besides recovering from a traumatic birth (3rd degree tearing, could barely walk or use the bathroom), having major breastfeeding issues and battling severe bronchitis (the entire family was sick including Carter at 4 days old) MY BABY WOULD NOT SLEEP!

I had always heard that newborns slept most of the day and would just wake up to eat. Well, this was most definitely not the case with Carter. He was awake crying – actually, crying is not accurate – he was wailing / screaming bloody murder all day and night. At one point I was so desperate that in the middle of the night I ordered the $1,200 “magic” SNOO crib that is supposed to put ANY baby to sleep. Yes, you read that right, a ONE THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED DOLLAR CRIB! (It didn’t work. In fact, it just made him angrier! Thankfully they have a good return policy)

I wanted to start with this so that anyone reading this who is pregnant or currently going through a hard time knows that THINGS. GET. BETTER. (I’m also giving you a virtual hug).

In fact, in some ways I’m glad that things were so hard in the beginning because I really appreciate how good things are now and I never take it for granted.

So back to the sleep.

My #1 mistake as a new mom was assuming that babies sleep when they’re tired or that you can just put baby down and they will fall asleep.

Many babies fight sleep so you have to make sure it happens. I eventually found a magic formula that worked (every time, with zero crying) and it’s below in detail. Every step had to be exact or it didn’t work.

Disclaimer: This is just what worked for my baby so I can’t guarantee it will work for any other baby. Carter was an extreme case so I feel like if it worked for him it would likely work for others. The method I’m sharing below is for newborns 0-3 months. At the end I will share what I’m doing now that he’s 6 months old.

Okay, enough background. Here it is

HOW TO GET ANY NEWBORN TO NAP – MY MAGIC FORMULA

METHOD

The strategy that I followed was Babywise. I had at least 5 friends/family members recommend it and at that point I was willing to try anything.

You can read or listen to the Babywise book for full context (I recommend doing this if you decide to follow it) BUT you can get the basics by reading this article, it’s very well written and will save you a lot of time. I didn’t follow it as a schedule, but as a routine (eat-play-nap). The day I started doing this things took a dramatic turn for the better. I personally wouldn’t start Babywise until baby is 6 weeks old – but you can follow all of the other steps below. (As an update, this system worked until Carter was around 4 months old when his 1.5-2 hour naps turned into catnaps. I will talk more about this later)

I’m not going to explain the method in detail but the big key takeaways were: follow the eat-play-sleep routine and make sure that baby has a FULL FEED at each nursing/feeding session. If baby doesn’t take a full feed then the entire system falls apart. I can’t emphasize this point enough because babies need to get in enough calories during the day so that they can sleep well at night.

TIMING

  • Carter would be awake for about 60-75 minutes, as SOON AS he would show any sleep signs (dozy, yawn, rub eyes, avoid eye contact) I would start our nap routine. You never want to start this routine if baby is overtired or crying or it will not work – so timing is key.
  • Note, this timing is for a newborn, older babies can have longer wake times. Now at 6 months old his wake time between naps is 2 hours.

SWADDLE

  • Start by putting baby in this arm swaddle – I used an arm swaddle vs a regular swaddle so that he could still be strapped into the swing

WHITE NOISE

  • Turn on white noise to a high volume. I used the baby sleep sounds app and/or the cradle app turned on to the waterfall or white noise sound. It had to be on a LOUD volume, slightly lower than the volume of a vacuum cleaner and obviously not too close to baby’s ear. I used my old cell phone for this on wifi mode so I could still have and use my cell.

SWING

  • Put baby in THIS SWING on the highest swing setting. And it has to be this swing – I tried every other swing, but this one has the largest range of rocking motion which is why it works best. I found out about this swing’s magic powers while reading a fussy baby forum.
  • I would also turn on the nursery music on the swing on a low volume (the moon button) but this is not necessary.

PACI

  • The finishing touch was his Paci – the wubanub or the DIY wubanub if your baby doesn’t like that style paci. I show how I made mine with the MAM pacis in my mom hacks video. http://amzn.to/2s2OLNX
  • You may say “my baby doesn’t take a paci” – that’s what I thought. I recommend to keep trying different types and shapes until you find one he/she will take

Then I would sit in the room nearby until he fell asleep (I still do this) otherwise he won’t fall asleep. I had the timing down so he rarely cried when I put him down, but if he did for more than 5 minutes then I would pick him up, walk around with him, and then try again 10-15 minutes later.

That’s it.

To recap: 1) Make sure baby is well fed 2) Get the timing right – this is half the battle. Drowsy but awake and not overtired 3) swaddle 4) loud white noise 5) the magic swing on highest setting and 6) a paci. Once I figured out this formula he went down to sleep every single time. Again, this will not work if baby is crying so it’s critical to get the timing down.

For nighttime sleep during this phase, I would follow the above routine, put him to sleep in his swing but then wake him up for a dream feed at around 10pm and then transfer him to his dock a tot. This would work because he was already in his nighttime sleep mode otherwise the dock a tot was a no go. (yes, the dokatot is super expensive for what it is, but it’s worth it in my opinion).

4 months+ Baby Sleep

At around 4 months I transitioned Carter to napping in his crib. This is how

  • First I weaned him from the swing by lowering the swing setting by one notch a day for a week until he could fall asleep in it without the motion for a few days.
  • I weaned him from the swaddle by first taking one arm out (around 3 months) for a week or so then both out
  • For white noise I now use this air filter that also functions as a noise machine because it makes somewhat loud white noise when on the highest setting. I love this because not only is it our white noise it’s cleaning the air!
  • For Carter the room doesn’t have to be dark but I’ve heard many moms say blackout curtains help
  • Put dock a tot in the crib (or wherever you want baby to sleep) For Carter the dok a tot is necessary otherwise it’s not cozy enough for him
  • Turn on crib soother. This is my secret weapon. You attach it to the side of the crib and it lights up and plays soft music that gradually fades. I’m telling you, it’s incredible & my current #1 baby product. When I turn it on he knows it’s time to sleep and goes down right away without a fight. And starting at 5 months old he learned how to press the button to turn it on himself so he can turn it when he wakes up in between sleep cycles! I highly recommend getting this with rechargeable C batteries, otherwise you will be buying new batteries every 2-3 weeks (Here is the link to the batteries and the battery charger).

NIGHTTIME SLEEP

Carter’s nighttime sleep has been good pretty much since I started babywise, with a few growth spurt and teething hiccups along the way.

His typical sleep at 6 months old is: 7PM – 4:30 AM (9.5 hours) wakes for one feed (some nights) then back to sleep and wakes for the day at 7AM.

NAPS

His naps, on the other hand, went completely haywire around 4 months old, when he went from napping 1.5-2 hours at a time to 20-30 minute catnaps 5-6 times a day. I can’t tell you how hard it is to get anything done when your baby only naps for such a short time. This is apparently very common because the babywise book has 45 DIFFERENT STRATEGIES for dealing with it. Nothing I tried worked until about a week ago when I started following this schedule

(note: this is for 6 month old babies, the timing will be different for other ages)

  • Awake: 7am
  • Nap 1: 9am
  • Nap 2: 12pm
  • Nap 3: 3pm
  • Bedtime routine (nurse, book, bath, massage, bed): 6:30pm
  • Sleep: 7pm

I could write for hours about everything in between I tried and why this schedule works but it has to do with optimal timing and wake time based on baby’s age. I had not been keeping him awake long enough and he got into a cycle of short sleep and short wake times. Now I keep him up at least 2 hours between naps and everything has fallen into place and his first two naps are 1.5 hours and his 3rd nap is 45mins to 1 hour.

timing

Okay that’s all the time I have for now. I really hope that his helps someone out there. I feel your pain and remember – it gets better and everything works out. GOOD LUCK!

Read next: My baby product essentials and must haves 0-6 months! 

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29 thoughts on “How I Got My Baby to Sleep Through the Night and Nap During the Day. MUST READ!

  1. Gosh it’s like a mirror reading your story and my experience as well. I’m terrified to have a second baby after how my experience seems all too similar. My baby is almost 4 months old. I have a question I follow babywise too did you keep changing your schedule when he kept getting older from inside the book or did you just try to follow what worked for you until his age now?

  2. Hi Brittany! I love your YouTube channel and am a subscriber. I recently saw your 6 month baby Carter update (cutie ❤) and realised that my 4 month old has the exact 40 minute napping problem that you mentioned you faced with Carter. I just bought and read Babywise based on your suggestion. But here’s the problem – I’m unable to pinpoint what is causing the 40 minute naps. Without that I’m stuck in a 2 hour nap-eat-waffle routine. How did you identify the possible?? And how did you manage to get your first long nap??? Appreciate any help you can provide, I’m at my wits end!!

    1. I tried EVERYTHING to figure out the 40 min nap issue from 4-6 months and what I did was started keeping him awake longer in between naps (but not too long)- look at the chart in the post for how long to keep baby awake based on age! For the past week now his naps are back on track thankfully! I also think part of it had to do with teething. GOOD LUCK!!

  3. Brittany,
    Thank you for this post! ! My son is 4 months and 2 weeks right now and I totally understand what you are talking about. I too had it very rough in the beginning (and at times still do now) I tried following a book a read in the beginning and the book mentioned doing a 3 hour schedule and let’s just say I did that for 2 weeks and those were the most miserable 2 weeks of my life! My son Ezra would cry all the time. He was also a very spitty baby!
    Anyways after that I stopped following any schedules and just fed him whenever and he naturally went to a 2 hour schedule. Every since he turned 4 months our sleeping schedule is soo out of wack right now. He also has been taking 30/40 min naps for as long as I can remember. So I can’t get anything done! (By the way thank you for inspiring me to start organizing and getting rid of clutter that’s how I came across your channel) Based on your post I still need to get him to fall asleep on his own cuz right now he is rocked to sleep. And we actually have that same swing so I am definitely going to try this method cuz I can’t do the cry it out method for sure. Here are my questions. What do you guys do when your out and about and he starts showing signs of sleepiness? Does he just fall asleep on his own in the carseat? How long did Carter have the startle reflex? I want to transition my son from the swaddle however his arms are just out to get him if he’s not swaddled. He always rubs and scratches his eyes and his hands wake him up. Did you experience anything like that with Carter? Lastly I see that you don’t do the dream feed with Cater anymore at 6 months. Up until what age did you do the dream feed? And how many hours after he went to sleep? Thank you so much for sharing! I am definitely going to get the crib soother! Im looking forward to some good sleep after we got this whole sleep thing down!

    1. Hi love! I time our outings to avoid him falling asleep while we’re out. Right after he wakes up I feed him and then we go. Otherwise he would take micro naps while we were out and it would ruin the entire day’s naps. To transition him out of the swaddle I started by taking one arm out first for a couple weeks and then the other. In both the dok a tot and the swing he’s nice and snug so it wasn’t a big issue. I stopped the dream feed around 5 months because I didn’t do it one night and he was fine so I figured he just doesn’t need it anymore. I often pump right before bed just to get through the night otherwise I am engorged. Hope this helps!!

      1. What did you do when he woke up middle of the night and how did you know he didn’t need to get fed? Also when did you start sleep training him? Mine is 3 months and half, not sure if it’s too early to do that.

    2. The crib soother is amazing. I bought the same one and this is slowly helping her put herself back to sleep if she wakes in the night.

  4. Thanks so much for this post. My little one she never sleeps! And has never slept well my biggest struggle for the last 6 months. I am finally getting her to sleep a little better. But will definitely be tweaking some things after this post. RIght now she takes a nap at 730-8 and then is up from like 930 or 10 to 11pm. Then goes down till 530-6 am. Then back to sleep from 730-930-10ish. Trying to get her to go down for the night at 7 or 8. Tired of sleeping my day away. But whew its a struggle. Thanks again.

  5. Hi Brittany!

    My son went through the same thing. If your finding things aren’t working as smooth anymore, consider upping his wake time to 2.5 hours and/or cutting down on nap length., esp third nap. This is just from experience with two kids. At 6 months my Bub was doing 2.5 hours, but every kid is different. Really hope nothing changes for you and it continue to go smooth goodluck!

  6. Do you have any tips for pregnant women trying to sleep? I was pregnant last year and it ended in a miscarriage. I could not sleep at all during my pregnancy and was so uncomfortable. Baby would move as soon as I layed down. I recently found out I’m pregnant again and am already having a hard time sleeping and am so achey all over. PLEASE HELP!!!!

  7. Hi, Brittany
    I love your YouTube videos. They are diverse and straight to the point. I have a son as well, he just turned 3 months old, I used to use fisherprice glide and rock to put him into naps. But it was broken the other day and plus he almost grows out the size of it. So I didn’t purchase another swing or rocker. But it’s hard to put him into naps in the afternoon and extremely hard to put him into sleep at night. So I’m wondering how did your son get used to falling asleep without the swing you mentioned when he grew out of the size?

  8. Hi Brittany, thank you for this article. I love your very inspiring channel, that I’m watching from France :-). I have a 4 months old daugther, and while she is a very good night sleeper, naps during the day are a fight… catnaps, waking up crying… so I understand perfectly when you say you can’t get anything done during the day. Could you please tell me at what times exactly you feed Carter? How long between feeds do you wait (has it vary from when he was 4 months old)? And finally, how long do the feedings take (per side if you change sides)? Does he ever cry while feeding? Because this is something I am also struggling with, so it ends up in a “cercle vicieux” as you say in french… Thank you in advance for your attention and reply. Aurelia xx

  9. With our first we experienced the same issues and after discovering white noise (and 1h vacuum cleaner sounds on YouTube) it all changed forthe better. 🙂 This time around, I invested in a white noise bunny! 😀

  10. Hey! Ok, so, how do you manage sleep when you’re out and about? On your vlogs, I saw that you’ve taken baby Carter out on outings and I’m sure they took a few hours worth of time. I visit family frequently and sometimes go on outings (mall, outdoor places, etc) and I’m worried how I will time my outings if my baby needs to take a nap within two hours! Do I let my baby fall asleep in the car, or will that ruin things? Did it ruin things for you? Does every nap need to be in the crib? How does it all work, is it sleep training with the same environment or sleep training based on time? Thanks! Every bit of info from you will help!!

    1. It is so tough! What I do is take him out right after a feed and since now his wake time is 2-2.5 hours so that’s how long we’re out. Sometimes he does fall asleep in the car ride home which is tough- when that happens I remove him from the car seat, give him a quick feed and then put him down to finish his nap.

      1. Hey! Another question! Did you train with the use of a pacifier at night? I’m worried my baby will be dependent on that. Thus, when he wakes up in the middle of the night, he’ll need it to fall asleep. What do you think? Any advice? Also how exactly do I teach falling asleep without sleep associations? Because mine cries – but he’ll sleep just fine by himself if he has a pacifier. I put him down awake but he ends up crying. Do I let him cry, pick him up, then repeat until he sleeps?

  11. ‘Thank you for this post! My son is 12 weeks now and I rock him to sleep. if the timing is right and his stomach is full, he does not fuss or very little, but it took this many weeks to get it sorta figured out!!
    I would love to see another post or a video on how EXACTLY you weaned him off swaddling because that is my next project. We currently swaddle him for every nap and night time, just using a swaddle blanket. Once he’s in deep sleep, he doesn’t easily wake up even if his arms are out (especially at nighttime). Do you think I should still rock him to sleep with one arm out, then both arms out until he falls asleep on me? It’s so tricky! Dunno where to start!

  12. My baby Gemma is the same age as Carter and her sleep schedule is nearly identical! It really works 🙂 I love your videos, I’m obsessed. I even shared your garage cleaning video with my dad but he couldn’t watch it all the way through because he said you were too pretty…lol might make my mom jealous. haha =P

  13. Hi Brittany,

    I watch all your organization and baby Carter videos, esp since I got pregnant around the time you had your baby. It is one thing to know that things get hard but it is another to experience them. I am currently in the 0-3 month phase with my baby and I feel you. What I really want to know is how are you so put together. I have seen the videos you uploaded after having baby Carter and you look so put together. I am going total nuts. I would really appreciated if you could do a small video on how you managed getting things done (I mean daily chores and food and your YouTube channel) along with taking care of baby Carter and urslef. Love your organization and baby videos! Hugs! 🙂

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