Wednesday, May 16, 2012

5 Reasons My Baby is Sleeping Through the Night

When I tell people I'm the first-time parent of a five-month-old baby, they often inquire with a knowing smirk, "How are you sleeping?" Much to their disbelief, I happily answer, "Great! We're very blessed. She sleeps through the night."

This wasn't always the case. Many a night I sleepily whined, "I don't want to," when my baby was crying for what seemed like the five millionth time. Thankfully, my husband and I were able to implement a few precious practices that I believe have decreased our baby's night wakings. Now most nights, she goes to sleep easily and wakes up around twelve hours later, happy and rested - just like her parents!

1. We use a bedtime routine. When our baby was just over two months old, we started a bedtime routine. It's evolved over time in small ways, but it's always included a bath, pajamas, a bottle, some cuddling, and occasionally a book. Our baby knows that when these activities are done in the same order, bed will soon follow. Even when we are sleeping elsewhere for the night, we've been able to do some semblance of the routine and had great luck with the baby's sleep.

2. We set a consistent, early bedtime. Dr. Marc Weissbluth's book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child taught me that children actually sleep better and longer when they have early bedtimes, as "sleep begets sleep." It may seem counterintuitive, but I believe our early bedtime of around 7:30pm helps our baby sleep more soundly and longer. When she was under two months old, she would fight sleep until an unreasonably late bedtime after a "late evening nap." Once I figured out that the late evening nap was actually her preferred bedtime, she was on the track to sleeping through the night.

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