Nov 14, 2009


I am SO thankful that we've been blessed with another great sleeper! Isabella loves sleep just like Elliott did. Emerald was always a little less excited about sleep (and still is) but still slept through the night pretty early.
Elliott started sleeping through the night at 5 weeks.
Emma was 4 weeks.
And Isabella beat them all by sleeping through the night (8-10 hours consistently) since before she was 2 weeks old!

Lately there have been a LOT of people asking how that's even possible. So this post is to share what we do to help them sleep. But first PLEASE keep in mind...that this is what has worked for us and our family. That doesn't mean it's the only way to do it. There are tons of philosophies out there on getting kids to sleep and we won't even pretend to think we know how to make it work for all babies. But with the temperments of our babies, this seems to have worked.

The basic thing we do is set up our 'world' for sleep from the day we bring them home from the hospital (actually...I did most of these in the hospital with each of them too...they get in the habit to sleep from the day they are born). I am no good when I'm worn out so I really try to set things up so the baby can sleep for a very selfish reason...I need to sleep! The set up means a couple different things:

1. I think this is the biggest thing that has helped to get them sleeping all night: they don't lay flat in a crib. It seems like the most unnatural position for a baby to be in (especially in the first few weeks) is laying flat on their back. Even when they're swaddled, it is the opposite of what they're used to for 9 months...being curled up in the womb. When Elliott was born, we had just moved and Michael hadn't gotten a chance to finish making his crib yet. So we put Elliott to sleep in his carseat and it turns out...he loved it and slept great! When Emma came along, I tried to have her lay in the pack & play for the first few weeks thinking that's what you're 'supposed' to do. But when she was 4 weeks old I went to my parents' house for a few nights and Elliott needed to sleep in the pack & play so I put Emma in the carseat...and she slept...all night!

For Isabella I splurged on a great product I found even before I was pregnant with her. It's pretty new and is just starting to get into stores. I asked a local store here to look into it and they got one for me. It's called a Nap Nanny. It's basically a piece of foam (kind of like the Tempurpedic foam) that's cut in the shape of a carseat.

I put the Nap Nanny in the basinette part of the pack & play so Isa is laying pretty high. It's working great and I don't have to put her in the hard carseat anymore.

2. Where they sleep - each baby has slept right next to my side of the bed so that early on when they need to get up in the middle of the night...I barely have to move them.
Another reason I keep them close is so I can hear them. This also means that we don't use a monitor. I wouldn't be able to get to them in time if they were in another room and that allows Michael to stay asleep too.

3. No crying. I just about always get to them before they start crying and wake themselves completely up. I can just hear their little grunts and have learned the difference in their noises so I can tell when they're likely to just go back to sleep (which is most of the time) and when they are getting close to crying.

4. How I feed them - I have nursed all three. (Elliott and Emma never even took a bottle!) But at night I nurse them lying down so I barely have to wake up either. I have a huge respect for moms who have to bottle feed or pump in the middle of the night because you actually have to get up and be awake. That would be so hard for me!

5. Once it's stays dark. I don't turn on lights. The only thing I use is an ItzBeen timer (great in the hospital) with a bright light on it so I can see a little bit. (or I use my cell phone for a bit of light)

6. No pacifiers. We haven't used pacifiers with any of the kids. There are times when it would have come in very handy, but we've tried to help each of them figure out a way to soothe themselves when they're upset. (Emma plays with her belly button - it's pretty cute!) The reason I think this helps with sleep is because they don't need a paci to fall asleep, and then I don't have to worry about it falling out and having them wake up wanting it again.

7. Feed on demand during the day and monitor their weight. I've worked really closely with our pediatrician the first few weeks with each baby to make sure they gain weight quickly enough. Because they're sleeping through one or two feedings at night, I feed them as often as they want during the day.

8. Temperature. The last thing we pay attention to in trying to get them to sleep is how much we bundle them. It's very easy to over-bundle a baby. This is especially true for Elliott and Isa who are both fall babies and it's already cold. The tendency is to wrap them in tons of layers. But my pediatrician gave us great advice when Elliott was little and said that babies do best in temps between 62-67. I have found this to be true also. I do, however, always put a hat on Isa's head at night. It keeps her head warm and is also a little 'trigger' for her that it's time for sleep.

Drawbacks - There are a couple drawbacks to letting a really young baby sleep through the night like this.
The first is that you don't get the extra cuddle time with them when they're so tiny. During the day when the other kids require so much attention, I don't get many good chances to sit and hold Isabella so I do miss out on that time with her in the night. However...if I wasn't getting a full night's sleep...I wouldn't be very fun for any of the kids so I choose to still let her sleep.
The other drawback is for nursing. Milk production goes down a lot when you go so long at one stretch without nursing. With Isa I've had to supplement with about one bottle of formula a day to make up for that.

Sorry for another long post. But hopefully it's been interesting for some of you. I'd love to hear other ideas on what you do to help your baby sleep or things you do differently than what I've described. :)


  1. Thanks for the post!! My 2 oldest didnt mind their crib and didnt really have any issues with sleep. My 3rd is not cooperating! :) He has been sleeping in his swing since week 3. The swing has since broke and he still sleeps in it. He just hates sleeping flat on his back or side. I guess my question is how did you transition them over to a crib and do you have any advice?? He just turned 6 months and is mobile but still hates sleeping in his crib. Any advice would be appreciated!! Thanks :)

  2. WOW! What a cool post! Thanks for taking the time to write and "inform." Unfortunately, I haven't had the luxury of breastfeeding, but your post was still very interesting! You are a GREAT mother!!!


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