Friday, March 11, 2016

Sleeping through the night.

My apologies in advance, as this will be of interest to only some of you, however many people have asked me how we got all four babies sleeping through the night, so I thought I'd address it here. Hopefully someone else can be helped by our experience.

As always, I started with the Baby Wise program as my baseline. I don't believe that I would have been able to make the transition to sleeping through the night so smoothly had we not already had the babies on a schedule. Since I no experience with and therefore cannot speak to feeding on demand, this post assumes I am speaking to parents who use scheduled feeds with their little ones.

Building on the Baby Wise schedule, I researched online what had worked for others and cobbled together our program based on suggestions that made sense to me. In our case, within two weeks of starting our new program all four babies were sleeping through the night. They were four and a half months actual.

So here's how it worked for us. At the time we started working on this, the babies were eating as follows: 7a, 11a, 3p, 7p, 10p, 3a, and getting 5 ounces per bottle. The babies were gaining weight appropriately and we checked first with the doctor to confirm that dropping the 3a feed would be safe and appropriate in our case.

1. We started waking them up for the night feeding rather than allowing them to wake us. Knowing one of the babies usually woke by 3a for their scheduled feed, I got up at 2a and woke them to feed. I had read that this trains them to sleep until someone else wakes them.
2. During the night feed we kept them very sleepy, no removing swaddles, no diaper changes if they were only wet and very low lights. It was not quite a true "dream feed" but as close as we could get to it while still burping refluxy babies.
3. We gradually decreased the amount of the overnight feed by half. In our case they had been getting 5oz. at that point so I took it all the way down to 2.5, decreasing by a half ounce every few nights. This is supposed to teach their bodies that the small amount of food is not worth waking up.
4. At close to two weeks of this everything was going very smoothly. The tiny night feeds were going very quickly and we felt like it was time to do a trial run of omitting the feed entirely. The following night I did not set my alarm to wake them to feed. That morning one of the babies began to cry around 5a. I soothed him back to sleep without picking him up and without feeding. The following morning all the babies slept through until the 7a feed. With very few exceptions that is how it has gone since, though their final night feed is now at 7p. In general, they are all quiet now within 5-10 minutes of going to their cribs and sleep until I wake them for their 7a feed.

I fully understand that every baby and every situation is different. I don't believe that there is a one size fits all solution to sleeping through the night, but this is how we were successful with our four.

Happy sleeping!