I want to preface this by stating that I, in no way, consider myself an expert. I did read (ok…skimmed) a book or two when I went through it the first time and I also acknowledge that no baby is “textbook”. I understand that some people are just blessed with great sleepers. (Yeah…that’s me. But I’m gonna knock on wood because I just wrote that and, therefore, said it publicly) To the same degree, I understand that some people have little ones that just don’t do that whole sleep at night thing. (Yeah…also me, but me as a baby. Sorry, Mom and Dad!)
But, in most cases, this works. Night time cues are so helpful when it comes to, for a lack of a better word, training your little one. When Ro was a newborn, he had his days and nights flipped for the LOOOONGEST time. Well, it felt like it anyway! It probably didn’t help that I would eat ice cream at night and then he’d be all hyper in utero for about an hour. But when I started implementing night time cues, he slowly started to add a hour or so to his sleeping time. Then one morning I woke up and it was 8 AM! No middle of the night feedings and barely a stir. I can’t say the same for him now since I’m pretty sure he’s going through a growth spurt and/or he’s teething. But still, he only gets up once, anywhere from 4:30-5:30, and then goes right back to sleep until it’s time to get up and going.
So what are these night time cues?
1. Keep it dark at night and light during the day.
That probably seems ridiculously simple and obvious but hear me out. When we brought Ro home, we had him in a bassinet in our room. My husband likes to sleep with the TV on and I knew that wasn’t going to be good for when we needed to transition to the crib in the nursery. So there were no little lights, no TV, and no sound other than his sound soother owl. I basically recreated what it would be like in his own room. If you have a vibrating feature on your bassinet, like we did, go ahead and use it for awhile but don’t turn it back on when it goes off. I didn’t mind it at first to sooth Ro to sleep, but I also wanted him to be able to transition without it. If he’s in the crib, there won’t be anything like that turning on in the middle of the night.
As for keeping it light durning the day, I didn’t try to darken the room when he napped. I left the blinds/curtains open and, basically, let him nap in broad daylight.
2. Keep it quite at night.
Another pretty simple sounding cue, but it’s very helpful. Like I said, hubby likes to sleep with the TV on, so we had to nix that while Ro was still in our room. (I won’t lie to you, hubby slept on the couch a lot but he understood.) But the hardest part is not talking to them when you get up in the middle of the night. That squishy beautiful little bundle of love is just so precious but you must fight the urge to coo and talk to them. You can do little “Shhhh”s and what not, but keep it to “womb-like” or sound soother type sounds.
3. Don’t try to be quite during the day.
If this is not your first child, this isn’t as big of a problem. Gav was just over 3.5 when Ro was born this past September and, if you’ve ever tried to keep a 3.5 year old quiet, you know that’s not really possible. But if this IS your first child, go ahead and go about your regular routine. Of course, during the early days, nap when they do! But, you may leave the TV or radio on just for some background noise. After awhile, Gav would sleep so deeply that I vacuumed under him while he was napping in a swing.
4. Dress them for sleeping.
I cannot recommend a Sleep Sack enough! (And no, this is not a sponsored post!) When they’re smaller, you can use these or Sleep Sack even makes a swaddling version. but once they’ve grow out of it, and for both my boys that was very early, the Sleep Sack is the way to go. However, if your little one doesn’t like it, go for a zippered sleeper. (Ones with snaps will just frustrate you at 2 in the morning and make you want to cry.) Whatever you choose to go with, be consistent and put them in their “jammies” around the same time.
However, I don’t recommend putting them in these for nap time. Establish them as nighttime clothes first and then, once you’ve done that, you can start to use something like the Sleep Sack for nap time as well. My best friend’s daughter used hers forever and it was a great tool in getting her to nap well into toddlerhood.
This is what worked very well for Ro. He was sleeping through the night at 11 weeks. I actually had one of the parents of a student tell me I looked well rested when I returned to work! #WINNING! I wish I could tell you it was the same for Gav, but I honestly don’t remember. I do remember that he was sleeping through the night by 3 months though. So, Ro was even sooner. What do you have to lose? Give these a try and I’m almost positive you’ll get at least one extra hour of shut eye! (Almost…I’m no expert!)