How We Got Penny to Sleep Through the Night!

I wanted to create a blogpost for any new parents (and for us to look back on) looking to try and create a routine to help their babe get a good night sleep. Penny has blessed us with sleeping through the night, and I really think our routines helped us!

As soon as I got pregnant, everyone said “ohhhh be sure to get as much sleep as you can now – once baby comes, it’ll be a long time before you’ll get a full night’s rest!” (Do these people not realize that when you’re pregnant you pee like 4,000 times at night??)

So Pete and I were pretty anxious about our soon-to-be upside down sleep schedule. I LOVE sleep. I would go to bed at 9p and wake up at 6a – like, really I love sleep. Obviously the first couple weeks were tough for us. Adapting to life with a new baby, not getting a lot of sleep due to middle of the night feedings and diaper changes, taking care of my healing body – it’s hard to adjust! Pete and I decided to try and create some routines throughout the day and evening to help Penny adjust her nights and days and try and get a general rhythm going on to help all of us sleep better at night.

Penny is now almost 12 weeks old, and has been sleeping from 8p-8a for several weeks now (with a little diaper and snack in the middle of the night between 3-6a)!! Below is what worked for us.

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Sleepy Penny when she was just a couple days old!

TURN DOWN THE LIGHTS

For the first few weeks, once 8p hit (regardless of how the day went or when her last nap was), we turned down all the lights in the house, kept the loud noises to a minimum, and even lowered our voices when we would talk to her or each other. Then once she started to get tired, we’d put her to sleep. This was our initial step in creating a routine. Babies are born with their days and nights mixed up, so it was just one way for us to show her that when it’s dark, it’s sleepy time.

ESTABLISH A NIGHT TIME ROUTINE

Around 7:30/8p, we start our nighttime routine. We started with baths every night, but Penny wasn’t a huge fan of baths when she was first born so we started doing them a couple times a week, using a nighttime bath wash. I’m super excited to start increasing her bath nights because I love them, and she’s starting to really enjoy them!! After bath time, we bring Penny upstairs and put on her nighttime lotion and sleeper. Both the wash and lotion have lavender in them which promotes a sleepy vibe which we are all about! Then we take her into our room and read her a book – she seems to really enjoy it even if she has no idea what’s going on LOL. Once she gets really drowsy, we put her in the bassinet, and ensure she’s settled. We are currently in the process of putting her down for the night (drowsy but awake) and leaving right away as opposed to soothing her to sleep. We want to slowly encourage her to fall asleep on her own without any sleep associations (shushing, rocking, nursing to sleep, etc.), which benefits everyone!

FEED BABY RIGHT BEFORE BED

This was one thing I read early on and we adopted immediately – feed the babe RIGHT before bed for two reasons: it obviously fills her up so she can sleep longer, but also feeding babies typically make them tired so it’s perfect to do right before bed! We swaddle her, and she typically falls asleep within minutes of us putting her down. Because we feed her in her nursery and then bring her into our room, she is never fully asleep when we put her to bed which is a big YES from us. Other than white noise, we want to steer clear from sleep associations she might have.

KEEP NIGHT TIME FEEDS/CHANGES QUIET

Obviously babies wake up in the middle of the night because they’re hungry – they feed every 2-3 hours when they’re first born (Penny now only eats once in the middle of the night at 3 months old)! With that in mind, when we do middle of the night changes and feeds, we keep our interactions with her very minimal, very quiet and put her back to sleep as soon as possible. Again, this was just to try and encourage her to realize that when it’s dark out, the world slows down and goes to sleep – there’s no playtime or need to be wide awake. I think this has worked really well for us, and we still do it.

WAKE A SLEEPING BABY?

I heard this a LOT: “Never wake a sleeping baby!” We’re not super rigid with this rule – if we have somewhere to go, or we hear her poop, we wake her up. Otherwise, we let that girl sleep! We knew once she’s hungry, she’ll wake up! But the one time we make SURE to wake her up is if she’s napping in her swing/DockATot before bed. We make it a rule to try and get some food in her right before bed, so if that means waking her up from her little cat nap, then we do it.

LET BABY NAP WITH THE HUSTLE & BUSTLE

During the day, when she is napping, we are not quiet!! We keep our regular routine going on – blinds open, regular noises, even have a fan going to keep a bit of noise in the house. During daytime feeds and diaper changes, we talk and play with her and keep our voices at a normal level. We want to ensure that Penny can get her naps in, but by keeping the blinds open and regular noises happening, it helps her realize that napping = daytime, sleeping = nighttime. She naps in her bassinet for the most part, but sometimes will nap in her swing or her DockATot but we’re really trying to get all of her naps in the bassinet to help her learn that if she’s laying down in her bed, it’s for sleep.

FEED BABY LOTS DURING THE DAY

Once Penny got a bit older, we started trying to feed her as much as possible during the day – if you are able to give them a lot of the calories they need during the day, they won’t need to eat as much at night (in my Tips from a New Mom post, I mention an article I read that talks about this – click here to read my post). We are currently planning on night weaning once she gets a bit older and we get clearance from our paediatrician so she gradually gets less ounces overnight and drinks those ounces during the day, which means sleeping even longer!!

Something to keep in mind – as much of a routine as we like to keep (I am VERY routine-oriented), some nights don’t go according to plan. We try and keep the night time routine the same but some nights she’s SUPER fussy or so tired she barely eats. Roll with the punches – if you practice this earlier, it helps when nights go awry.

Hopefully this post helps you & your little one get as much sleep as possible!! Good luck mama!

— Rachel

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