First of all, I want all of you to know that I'M NOT A SLEEPING CONSULTANT NOR A LACTATION CONSULTANT, I am just a mom of four kids that by trial and error have learned many tips that I want to share with you.
I didn't sleep train any of my kids, I just gave them the tools to develop good sleeping and eating habits, which led them to sleep for 12 hours after just 2 months from birth.
Though, one of my twins had a relapse at six months, and I ended up training him, as he got too comfortable having me go various times a night to put the pacifier back in his mouth.
I recommend you do all of these tips from day ONE, in my opinion the faster you implement them the easier it will be. And remember, have patience and do your best to stick to these methods.
1. Be Consistent With the Routine
Plan a routine for your baby that's good for you, and keep it exactly the same every day. I don't mean that everyday has to be exactly at the same time, but try to keep the routine consistent. For example, since day one Mila's bath time is at night between 7:30pm-8pm; this bath time was planned thinking ahead, as I intended 8pm to be her last feeding of the day.
2. Have a Feeding Schedule and Plan it Ahead
Every morning I would plan out my feeding schedule for the day. For example, if I was feeding her at 8am then I would plan for the feedings to be 8am, 11am, 2pm, 5pm, 7:45pm bath time and 8pm feeding.
If the feeding didn't coordinate well for the last one to be around 8pm, then I would fix every prior feeding a little for it to work out. For example, if the morning feeding was at 7am the I would do 10am, 1:15pm, 4:30pm, 7:45pm. If you need to extend the feeding times, I would recommend extending the morning ones, since the babies aren't as tired, as the day goes by they get fussier.
Daytime Feeding - From Week 1 to Week 6 I fed every 3 hours or more. After that I slowly started extending the feeding from every 3 hours to every 4 hours. Each week I incremented the time between each feeding by 10 to 15 minutes until Week 9, when she started feeding every 4 hours. The goal is to feed every 4 hours!
Nighttime Feeding - This is a completely different monster than the daytime feeding; Mila has always been in command and I've learned from her habits.
I never woke her up every 3 hours, she woke up whenever she was hungry, but I never allowed it to be less than 3 hours from her last feeding. Very slowly she started extending her sleeping hours on her own.
If she slept longer for 3 days straight, then that became the new norm and I wouldn't feed her again until that span of time arrived. For example, if she slept from 8pm to 1am for 3 days straight, and all the sudden one day she woke up at 12:30am, I would just give her the pacifier, as many times as it took, and wait for her new feeding time to arrive. Little by little she gave me the guideline to how much she could last without feeding.
This isn't easy by any means, a lot of times I've stayed awake next to her constantly putting on the pacifier, but the great effort pays off an even greater reward.
3. Have a Day and Night Soothing Plan
During daytime if the baby wants to be fed before the appropriate time, hold them, play, sing, talk, do anything that could entertain them and take their minds off from being fed.
At night, just use the pacifier. DO NOT talk to them, don't turn on the light nor take them out of the crib, unless they need a diaper change or have an illness.
There is something that you should always remember, not every time a baby cries is because they are hungry, so try soothing them before anything, in my case, when Mila was sleeping fine and started crying, I would first wait to see if she fell back to sleep on her own, if not, I would put on the pacifier two or three times before feeding her, most of the times she would go back to sleep.
4. Differentiate Between Day and Night
Babies don't know the time of the day, but they will start to differentiate day from night by giving them queues. Here are some examples:
- During daytime she naps outside her room with ambient noice and sunlight. At night she sleeps in her crib with all the lights off.
- When I feed her during the day I talk to her afterwards and play with her. At night I try to make as little contact as possible.
- Nighttime starts as soon as I bathe her. If I clean her during the day is with wipes, never in a bath.
5. Be Careful With How You Put Your Baby to Sleep
Avoid at all cost creating bad sleeping habits, like rocking your baby to sleep. The idea is for you to put the baby in their crib drowsy but not as sleep.
And NEVER take your baby out of the crib if it's not feeding time, unless they need a diaper change or have an illness. This is one of the most important aspects of creating a healthy sleeping habit.
There will be a few exceptions when I brake the routine a bit, for example, every Friday night we have dinner out of the house, so I bathe her, put on her pijamas and take her to dinner with us. I still feed her at the same time but I don't put her in her crib until we come back from dinner, she usually falls a sleep somewhere, either on a couch or her stroller. So, always try to be flexible with every situation, while trying to maintain the routine.
The ultimate goal is for your baby to learn how to sleep, this is good for them and also for you. At 2 months and 1 week, my baby begun sleeping for 12 hours and her feeding schedule started being 8am, 12pm, 4pm and 8pm. I still only bathe her before her last feeding (7:45pm), and at 3 months I started putting her to sleep one nap (after the 12pm feeding) in her crib with sunlight.
Please be patient and remember that babies tend to get used to things very fast. If you try something new consistently for around three days the baby will probably get used to it.
I hope these tips will help you, It 's not easy being a mom but it's the most rewarding job there is.
If you have questions please contact me and I will try to help you as much as possible!