How I Got My Strong-Willed Baby to Sleep Through the Night
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First post here.
Since I had a baby fairly recently (November 7, 2016), I will probably be posting all things baby for quite a while. In this post I will talk about how my husband and I trained our (strong-willed) daughter to sleep through the night.
First of all, for as long as people have been having babies, I am completely baffled by the fact that most new parents have no clue how much sleep (or food, for that matter) their newborn needs, let alone how to transition their baby into less sleep (and more food) as they get older. That bewildering realization aside, I hope this helps many of you. Pass it along to an expecting couple or any new parents you know!
After over 30 hours of hard labor (another post for another time) and at least 3 days without real sleep, the hospital let my husband and I take our brand new baby girl, Evelyn, home. They sent us off with the old “feed her every 2-3 hours!” Which is great advice…if babies stayed newborns forever! She was amazing, but she would not let us sleep. At all. I vividly remember becoming so sleep deprived that I couldn’t focus long enough to read an analog clock and determine if it was time to feed my baby again. She was eating every 30 minutes to an hour and it was simply horrible. I’m pretty sure I forgot her name at some point and that’s why we started calling her Milky Moo when she was just a couple days old. Sleep deprivation is no joke!
Fast forward 5 weeks and I was honestly not even enjoying motherhood. I was constantly exhausted. Now, I know every parent to a newborn is exhausted and you’re thinking, “duh, babies keep you up,” but NO! Please listen when I say there’s a better way! Of course the first few weeks are going to be challenging as the baby does need to eat very frequently, but the sooner you get them on the proper schedule, the better off you will all be! I’d also like to clarify, it wasn’t such a struggle for me because I wasn’t getting as much sleep as I’d like. I was literally not getting enough sleep to function properly. There were days I felt like I was losing it. I’m sure many, if not all, new moms and dads can relate to this. I also didn’t like not knowing when she would wake up and scream until we fed her. I. Am. A. Planner. I like to know what I’m doing, when I’ll do it, how, where and with whom. I even need to know what I’ll be wearing and if I need to bring a change of shoes. The unpredictability of having a ticking time bomb…I mean baby…control the day was completely overwhelming for me. I would race to shower and feel like a failure if she woke up while I was in there. I would stop eating my meal and let it get cold while I fed her. Then I would forget I was eating and it would be time to feed her again before I could finish eating my first meal of the day. (Read: how I lost all the baby weight…I forgot to eat!)
Evelyn was as frustrated as we were, I’m sure. She wasn’t getting the sleep she needed either.
Cue the answer to our prayers:
Out of desperation, I read this book in two evenings and we immediately began implementing its techniques. We saw improvement right away, but Evelyn did not sleep through the night until she was 11 weeks old. This is a success considering most babies who begin the On Becoming Baby Wise techniques from birth sleep through the night by 7 weeks! So it took Evelyn 6 weeks to actually adapt to the schedule.
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I cannot recommend this book enough. I have already personally bought it for other new parents as a gift and my husband has passed it on to coworkers. Trust me, they need it more than that 50th blanket you want to get them! I realize some babies naturally sleep well from the start without any parental intervention, but you still need to read this book. It gives insight on things that are just not maternal/paternal instinct. The book goes into great detail on how to establish healthy sleeping habits (both night time and naps) by first establishing a healthy feeding and wake time schedule. It is so easy to understand and implement. Best of all, it’s not a blanket technique with a biased opinion. Remember the title of this, “my strong-willed baby…” Evelyn fought us tooth and nail but we stuck to what the book said and what do you know, it worked. If there was ever a baby that knew how to hold her own, it was my sweet, sweet daughter. She could cry with the best of them and she never wanted to miss out on anything. The slightest bit of stimulation kept her wide awake so she could experience it all. Now, I love that about her, but back then, I needed help getting this girl to sleep!
On Becoming Baby Wise does not demand that you parent a certain way in order to be successful with their tips. They don’t recommend foolish techniques like allowing a baby to scream for hours on end because “its not time to feed them yet.” Nor does the book go into a ditch on the other side and ask that you never put your baby down. Sorry, but that’s just not for me! I’m thankful On Becoming Baby Wise offered a very balanced approach to helping my daughter get what she needed in those crucial first months, and even now! It works for bottle fed or nursed babies because, like I said, it’s not an approach that only works for one type of child or family. We were able to take the information in On Becoming Baby Wise and adjust it to our lives. We created the schedule, we set the atmosphere, and most importantly, we were confident we were giving Evelyn what she needed.
Before implementing the Baby Wise techniques, Evelyn was very fussy and her sleep was disturbed. When she was awake it was like she just wanted to be asleep and when she was finally asleep she would wake up hangry! You know the kind. The ear piercing, glass shattering screaming kind of hangry that would make anyone reconsider having children. Once we put her on the schedule that worked for us, she became much more alert during her wake times and began making leaps and bounds cognitively. We could tell she was actually enjoying being awake and with us. We could get a reaction from her when we showed her toys or book and when she slept it was deep and restorative. When babies don’t get the restorative sleep they need, their bodies and minds can’t thrive like they should. In that deep sleep is when the growth hormones are released that cause all the amazing changes that take place right before your eyes!
I’ll give you a brief overview of what you will learn from the book and then you need to go buy it for you and at least one other person to pay it forward.
On Becoming Baby Wise
- The book gives a detailed outline of how much food a baby should eat and how frequently from newborn on
- It discusses how much sleep and food a baby needs progressively as they mature
- The book outlines how to create a schedule that will teach your baby when to eat and when to sleep
- It then gives suggestions on how to help your baby stick to that schedule
- It teaches how to allow flexibility for all different lifestyles and even growth spurts
- The book covers other common topics and how to handle them such as colic, disrupted naps, age appropriate wake time activities and so much more
Like I mentioned earlier, I read On Becoming Baby Wise when my daughter was already 5 weeks old. Now, at 9 months old, she sleeps 11 hours at night (has been for many months), takes 2 naps during the day at the same time each day, and eats a predictable amount at each meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner, bedtime bottle). That does not just happen. She has come a long way. I remember thinking “she’ll never eat more than two hours apart.” It was a lot of work, but it was so worth it! I still have people ask me, “is she sleeping through the night?” Are you serious?! She’s 9 months old! Every 9 month old should be sleeping through the night (aside from health or mental complications). Really, every healthy 3 month old should be sleeping through the night.
The only thing I would change about my experience with this book is I wish I had read it before I had my daughter. Whether you read this book, bless someone else with it, or have already read it yourself, I would love to hear how it went! Thanks for reading and sweet dreams to your baby and you!
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Love the first Baby Wise book? There’s more!