Somehow, as luck would have it, Mason has been sleeping through the night since he was around 3 months old. We have our occasional middle of the night wake up here and there, but 90% off the time, he goes straight through.
Please note that I am fully aware from the massive amount of material out there on getting babies to sleep through the night that this is not a normal phenomenon, and we should count our lucky stars each and every day (and we do). Mason loves to surprise us though sometimes...we will go 7 nights of not hearing a peep from him all night than on night 8 he will wake up wailing at 3am. There is no magic trick out there, no rhyme or reason. We just try our best, spend every last dime on crazy sleep training suits, and pray for a few extra hours of sleep each night.
I am sharing some of our tips and tricks for bedtime in hopes that it helps even one other parent out there get some much needed sleep tonight:
- We started the routine as young as possible (within the first few weeks of Mason being born). Before bedtime (somewhere between 6pm-8pm): Breastfeed or Bottle, then warm bath, lotion with a little massage, pajamas, 1-2 books then straight to bed. (note that "bed" for us was a Rock-N-Play until he was about 5 months old - then we transitioned to the crib - if you don't have a Rock-N-Play and your baby is under the age of 4 months - you should go buy one, like NOW). Even if he wakes up again at 10pm to eat (as well as 2am and 5am for some babies in the beginning), we would still treat the feeding between 6pm-8pm as "bedtime." Note that reading to a 3 week old is a tough task, but the plan is that they will learn that bedtime stories, means bedtime. We made a point to stick with the short and sweet books in the beginning :) Also Mason rarely received baths outside of bedtime (unless there is a serious blow out). Bath time also means bedtime in our house.
- Saline before bed for stuffy noses...I love the Saline Mist from Boogie Wipes.
- White noise machine (we love the ocean sound) ALL night long - louder than you would think.
- For months 0-4 Mason was swaddled using the velcro swaddlers. Then we went straight to sleep sacks. When he transitioned to the crib we used the Magic Merlin Sleepsuit for a few weeks to get him used to the extra space, then he was right back into the sleep sacks and still is today.
- Slowly Mason started to sleep longer and longer and the night feedings faded away. We had a hard time cutting out the 10pm feeding so at around 5 months old we made a point to just give him a pacifier and walk away if he woke up at 10pm - a few nights later he slept straight through. We always try new things on a Friday night, and if by Sunday it doesn't stick, we would go back to the old routine. That way, we were never losing sleep during the work week.
- Now if he wakes up for any reason, he still only gets a pacifier (we swear by MAM pacifiers) and lamby (see below), we do not take him out of the crib or feed him under ANY circumstances. (We have only broken this rule a few times when he was not feeling well or after getting his shots at the doctors).
- A Lovey (or a lamby in our case) - as Mason got older and more alert, it was harder and harder for him to fall asleep. Once he was 6 months old (with pediatrician approval) we let him sleep with his lovey (lamby) from Angeldear. He would rub it all over his face to sooth himself and fall back to sleep. If he woke up in the middle of the night - all he needed was lamby and he was back to sleep. In the beginning, sometimes he would wake up and cry out just so we would come in and give lamby back to him which had shifted out of his reach. Now he can roll all over the crib and it always ends up right back near his face, soothing him to sleep. (We now have 4 lambys and we never leave home without one or two).
- As Mason got older we added a few more things to the crib - teething toys, a penguin night light, and the Sea Dreams Soother (he LOVES this) which does an amazing job at soothing him to sleep. I have realized that we will constantly adding new toys and gadgets to the bedtime mix...we have quickly realized that bedtime is an ever evolving machine that constantly needs oil).
- I also highly recommend the book Bringing up Bebe - it is a book about an American mother living in France who discovers the wisdom of French Parenting. In France, kids wait patiently for their food in restaurants and babies start "doing their nights" (sleeping through the night) very early on. I LOVED this book and truly feel that it helped me to adopt some of the French philosophies of parenting at an early age with Mason which could have in turn helped him to start sleeping through the night so early. It is a book I feel I need to read yearly to keep myself in line though. I tend to cater to Mason's every whim some days and this book has helped me to realize that it is ok for kids and even babies to wait a little bit sometimes and learn some patience.
Due to teething over the past few weeks we have had some middle of the night wake ups and more frequently the fabulous 5am wake ups. Again, we never feed him, just a pacifier, lamby, and we walk away. He has ended up in bed with us a few times when he was inconsolable - I can't deny that some nights I secretly hope he wakes up so I can snuggle with him in our bed.
We also have learned that is perfectly ok to break routine for one or two nights, probably even more (something I was frightened to do for months) we found he gets right back into the routine the next night and doesn't miss a beat. We have flown on a plane during bedtime, had him with a babysitter somewhere other than home during bedtime, etc. and he was fine, he handled it like a champ, he is pretty good at knowing that anytime after 7pm is time for sleeping.
I will never forget, those first few months, every night after my husband and I put Mason to bed - we would look over at each other and say "what if this is it, what if this is the night he wakes up?" It was like we were waiting for our luck to run out...heres hoping it never will.