Get Your Baby to Sleep All Night
The first thing you're going to want to do to help get your baby to sleep for longer periods of time at night is to set some sort of nighttime routine. You will want to find a routine that works for you and what your family has going on. Repetitively doing the same routine every night will make a huge difference in your baby's sleep schedule.
When we first got Ethan home our bedtime routine started around 10pm (after all his momma is a night owl), but after about a month he started to sleep from 9pm to 7am! This was a huge success for us since we were so sleep deprived. Now at five months old our guy goes to sleep by 7:30pm and is up at 6:30am—leaving plenty of time for myself and still being able to catch some zzz's.
I would say about an hour before you will want to start putting your baby to bed, quiet everything thing down around you. Now, this doesn't mean you can't have the TV on, but you'll want to refrain from having it on at a higher volume. You can try playing some soft lullaby music to help make your baby a little drowsy but nothing too upbeat or loud.
If your baby likes taking a bath, try moving it to later at night. Grab a sleepy time bath wash and sleepy time lotion and lather that baby up! The lavender smell from the sleepy time wash and lotion will help calm your baby down, as well a nice warm bath. I mean who doesn't feel oh so relaxed after a nice bubble bath?
Darken the Room
Try to turn off all unnecessary lighting when getting ready to do your last feeding of the night. This will let your baby know it's time to go to sleep. No noise, no lights, and a little lavender can work magic for a good night time routine.
No Visitors at Night
Try to avoid having visitors at night after a certain time. For us anytime after six throws us off for sure. They sometimes see grandma and grandpa and get so excited that they think it's time to play, instead of time to sleep.
Invest in a Good Swing
We used a Graco Swing that almost always put our baby to sleep. You can also find this swing online at Target. The forward and back, and side to side motions allows for soothing swing time for your little one.
Last Feeding at Night
During their last feeding pay attention to just how much your baby is taking in. Is it a smaller feeding? When is the last time he ate? How long does he usually go without eating? We found that if we waited a good 3 hours before feeding our baby at night and did a larger feeding, he slept longer. We put as much in the bottle as he wanted and fed till he didn't want anymore. Usually, within 20 minutes he was asleep—if not falling asleep while eating.
Limiting Your Feedings
If you find that your baby isn't eating as much during his last feeding try pulling back at the earlier feeding. Don't feed him till he finishes the whole bottle but rather till he's just content enough. Then at the last feeding fill him up! If your baby is like mine, he will want to eat the entire bottle always and get a little cranky if pulled away too early. By pulling back at earlier feedings it'll set him up to take in a larger bottle at night and hopefully make him pretty sleepy.
If your baby is a little bit bigger and eating all the right amounts and still waking up in the middle of the night, try a little rice cereal in their bottle. Please Note: This is only recommended once your baby is big enough and ready for that. Once your baby is about 3-4 months old you can start to try rice cereal in your height chair. You might want to add a little prune in to keep your baby from getting constipated, but that should also keep some weight in the belly to help get them to sleep. We changed our feedings to the afternoons to adjust how long the weight of the rice cereal will last. For example, our guy will wake up at 6:30am and have a bottle and continue with just bottles till around 3pm. Once 3pm hits we start our first rice cereal/baby food combo and continue with bottles till 7pm.
Into the Crib They Go
I know this might sound crazy, but put your baby in their crib. After all, that is what you designed the nursery for right? The sooner you start your baby in the crib the better their sleep and your sleep will be. Eventually, your baby will learn to put themselves back to sleep on their own. I'm sure there are some mothers reading this with their mouths hung open- "how can she not sleep with her baby?!" Well, I invested in a good monitor, my baby has all the essential crib needs to be safe, and I'm about 20 steps away. It's okay to sleep with your baby and want to be close to them 24/7, but that just isn't realistic for getting a full nights sleep. Let's go over how you can get your baby sleeping in their crib for the both of you.
If you don't feel like you want to be in a completely different room than your baby you can try a bassinet co-sleeper. You can it place right next to your bed but this way you both will have your own space. You will literally be able to hear your baby breathe having them this close, so there should be no discomforting feelings or staring at the monitor all night. You can even get a bassinet that is also a swing to help rock your baby to sleep and keep them asleep if they like the motion.
Invest in Your Monitor
If you are ready to be in a separate room and still feel uneasy- invest in a video monitor. Our monitor comes with a 5-inch screen so we can see our baby as well as a microphone so we can talk to him if we have too. Now, this does not mean I am telling you to stare at the monitor all night while your baby is sleeping. Even though you will probably do that the first couple nights. It does, however, bring an easy form of relief as you can just look over and click it to see if your baby is sound asleep or moving a lot (our monitor goes black but stays on when not touched for 30 minutes). You can also catch some pretty good deals on monitors at Babies "R" Us stores right now since they are closing!
Let Them Cry
I know it's hard to let your baby cry but sometimes they need too. Babies have no way of burning off energy like we do because they can't walk or even really talk yet. The first couple times you put your baby in the crib they will probably cry. Let them cry for a few minutes and see what happens. Sometimes the little bit of crying is the release they need to put them to sleep. Now, I am not telling you to let your baby cry for 10 to 20 minutes. But allowing your baby to cry for about 5 minutes and then checking up on them is okay. And as their mother, you will know a whining cry and a real cry.
They Will Wake Up at Night
Understand that your baby will wake up at night. It might be because they're getting used to sleeping in their crib, hungry, or even growing! You will have to learn why your baby is waking up and just how to fix the issue to get them back on a routine.
If your baby is waking up because they can not go the full time without eating then feed them a little, burp them a put them back in their crib. This might be a little difficult at first but try to avoid changing them unless their diaper is really full. Keep the room dark and do not talk to them. If you start putting lights on and start talking they will think its time to get up and start the day. I would suggest turning on one of the wind up stuffed animals and throwing the pacifier in their mouth. See what they do and go from there.
You can also try a little bit of water if your baby is older (about 2oz). This might deflecting them from waking up at night and put enough weight in their belly to put them back to sleep. Consult your pediatrician before trying.
Grow Baby Grow
If your baby usually sleeps through the night and is all of a sudden waking up they might be growing! You will probably have to adjust your feeding schedule and amounts to fit their growing needs. We had to add in an extra feeding in the afternoon to adjust for our guy waking up in the middle of the night.
Sometimes your baby is crying and not even awake. Keep the room dark and don't rush for the bottle before taking a good look at what is going on. He might just need the pacifier thrown in to help soothe him back to sleep. Often times the pacifier can be the saving grace you need to comfort and soothe your baby back to a deep sleep.