Yes… It’s all about a schedule.
Gosh there are so many things that change after having kids, way too many to even think about, but the main one on every one’s mind is S L E E P ! (Hint: if it’s not on your mind then you are probably so sleep deprived that you don’t even know how tired you really are!)
My kids have the best pediatrician. When my first daughter was born, he asked me a few simple questions.
1. Do you want to continue to have a good relationship with your spouse?
2. Is having a good night sleep important to you?
“Uhhh… yeah, of course” was my answer. He promptly handed me a piece of paper with a schedule to follow. He also reminded me that not only will I have time to get things done around the house, but that the baby will sleep through the night in about a month and a half. Seriously… a month and a half? Yes, Seriously!
Of course there are some BIG factors to consider for this to work.
1. Your baby needs to be healthy and at your doctor-approved weight to start a feeding and night time sleeping schedule. (For example, my first daughter was born at 7 lbs. 3oz and was sleeping through the night within a month and a half. The triplets were born premature, so I wasn’t able to try the schedule for a couple months, but all of them were sleeping through the night at three months.)
2. You need to be okay with letting your baby cry for 15-20 minutes. Which can be pure torture, but if you are the type of person that needs to pick your baby up every time you hear a peep, this will never work for you. If you are to the point that you are willing to try anything, trust me 15-20 minutes of crying isn’t that bad, and it only lasts for a week or two at the most.
So here it goes… and keep in mind that I’m only the messenger here, but feel free to curse my name in the middle of the night, because I know that I gave all kinds of nick-names to my pediatrician at first, but now I just think he’s amazing!
Let’s start with the basic feeding/nap schedule…
6:30 am feeding
nap after feeding (in bed)
10:00 am feeding
1:30 pm feeding
nap after feeding (in bed)
5:00 pm feeding
8:30 pm feeding
Straight from the hospital, your goal is to get the baby on this schedule, and of course you can shift it to fit your schedule, but you need to get them eating every 3 1/2 hours. And yes, I woke my babies up to feed them and this works for both breastfed and formula fed babies.
NOTE: If you are having a hard time getting them to the next feeding, make sure you are burping your baby during feedings. Sometimes they will have an air bubble and think they are full and stop eating, then you lay them down and an hour later that air bubble comes out.. 'burp'… and now they are not full anymore. I would have to burp my daughter so long that my arms would ache.
Once you are on that schedule, your baby will be waking up two to three times a night to eat, and soon thereafter only two times to eat. Usually somewhere around 12:30-1:30 and again 3:30-4:30, but what time they wake up in the middle of the night or even how often doesn’t really matter, it’s more of a way that I can explain the schedule, so if your baby is waking up at completely different times than I’ve listed, no worries, you can still follow the schedule.
OK, so now you’ve got the okay from the pediatrician and it’s time to get him/her/them to sleep through the night. Starting with the first time they wake up… let them cry for 15-20 minutes. Yes, the first few nights are pure torture, but you can do it. I would put a pillow over my head and stare at the clock counting down the minutes because it was so difficult. If they are still crying after 20 minutes, go into their room, only turn on the lights if you must, or in my case, I had my husband put a dimmer on the light switch, so I’d have the light as low as possible, do not talk to your baby, and do not make eye contact. No, you’re not being mean, your just letting them know that it’s bed time, not play time. Now offer them some distilled/nursery water for 5-10 minutes. My daughter never drank out of a bottle, so she outright refused the bottle and 2 out of 3 of the triplets drank the water, but either way, it just another way to stall their feeding time. So now you are approximately 30 minutes past the time that they woke up, and you can go ahead and feed/change them and put them back in bed.
Continue to do this for the first feeding and soon you will notice that they are making it to 2 a.m. or 3 a.m., and naturally the second feeding will push itself to later and later.
So how long will this take? Maybe one week, maybe two weeks, but in my case, my daughter took 5 days and the triplets took 1 1/2 weeks, and only because they all got ear infections in the middle of the process.
So now you may think that there is no way this can work, but it does. I have four children, and it worked for them, my sister-in-law has four children and it worked for all of them, and most recently I gave this schedule to another triplet mom, and when I saw her a few weeks later, she gave me the biggest hug, because it worked for her, too.
So as long as you can follow the schedule, deal with some crying for a few days, you can do it, too.
I know that everyone does things differently, so if you are trying the schedule and it’s just not working, or perhaps you encountering something I haven’t mentioned let me know, I may have had the same issue, but forgot to mention it.
Whew! That’s all for now – Happy Sleeping!