Babies and Sleep Routines – Tips + Resources

July 7, 2020

Chiara is now sleeping through the night thanks to my friend and sleep whisperer Katelyn Thompson of Sweet Pea Sleep. I usually keep my babies by my bed for the first 4-6 months in a bassinet, and nurse throughout the nigh. Chiara came out wanting to eat constantly, and I knew by 4 months she could stretch her feedings more in the middle of the night, so I tried the Magic Merlin suit. It worked great….until she grew out of it. This got us back to square one of her waking every two hours. Yikes. I didn’t want to try the cry it out method (can’t stand hearing her cry so hard), but I was so sleep deprived I was becoming a mombie which wasn’t good for anyone in the house. I knew something had to give so I sent Katelyn an SOS…

I decided to do the Support sleep plan with text support with Katelyn and she created a custom sleep plan for us after a consultation. I was so impressed with how thorough and well researched the sleep plan was. The text support was the best part as I sent her several back and forth q’s when I was doubting myself. Chaira started sleeping through the night just a few days after I implemented her tips. SO grateful for her wisdom and guidance, and she offered to answer a bunch of questions you all had for her today. There are also some great resources you can use at the bottom of the post! I think as mothers we can learn to function on little to know sleep, and often don’t even realize how it contributes to so many facets of our health…especially anxiety and stress. We hope this post is helpful for you!


What are some good sleep habits to start in the newborn phase?

With my second little guy who is currently 9 months, I had three main goals for sleep. The first one was to make sure he didn’t get overtired. With my first son, I’d keep him awake for hours and not realize how exhausted he was! I know now that a well-rested baby is a baby that sleeps much better overall! The second goal was to nurse on demand. I knew that by making sure he was getting plenty of calories during the day, I was more likely to get better stretches of sleep at night. The third was to practice some independent habits, but NOT stress! He took nursing naps, baby wearing naps, stroller naps, naps on mom, naps on dad, you name it! But once a day I’d get him all content and swaddled and lay him down in the crib and see if he could put himself to sleep! We practiced for 7 weeks before he got the hang of it, and I just kept the mindset of no-stress, flexible practice.

If 6 month old still wakes up super hungry at night, can I start to sleep train still?

Yes! Sleep training does not have to be synonymous with night weaning. Sleep training just means you help your child learn to fall asleep without needing intervention, and work towards eliminating wakings that are purely out of habit. You can still keep a feeding in if your child needs it!

babies and sleep routines

Can you sleep train without crying it out?

Yes! First let’s define cry-it-out. Cry-it-out is a common term for a particular type of sleep training, called extinction. Extinction means you basically put baby in the crib, shut the door, and don’t come back till morning. I have to point out that the studies up to this point done on sleep training, extinction or otherwise, have concluded that there are no long-term ill effects on attachment or otherwise. However, I prefer to use methods that are more responsive with my clients! So I prefer to use methods where you sit with them and offer physical and verbal reassurance, or check in often, comfort, reassure. So while there may be tears involved (and I’m always honest about that, because I can’t guarantee that your baby won’t cry when you’re changing a habit, even if being held in your arms!) there are many methods of sleep training and many of them include a lot of parental presence and soothing while baby is getting used to new habits. 

Chiara doesn’t use a pacifier anymore, but the only one she seemed to like early on was the Bibs brand!

My 1 month old doesn’t like to nap during the day unless laying on my chest.

This is totally normal, and totally okay! Your baby is in that sweet fourth trimester where they are still getting used to life outside the belly! Once a day, I’d feed, change diaper, swaddle snugly and attempt to put down for a nap. If baby’s not going for it, it’s okay! Just let her nap on you. But if you practice each day, one of these days she will accept it and it will help you take that first step towards being a little more independent for naps.

Do you swaddle during day naps too?

Yes! If they use a swaddle at night, I recommend using it for naps too!

Dream feed or not to dream feed?

When babies are newborns, they have a tiny little cherry sized tummy! They need to be fed frequently to get the calories they need (and so they don’t get hangry!) For this reason, it is totally normal and developmentally appropriate for babies to wake up every few hours when they are little for a feeding.

Dream feeding is like a “hack” to try to maximize your sleep while also meeting your baby’s needs for feeding.

Pros:
-It may work! It may give you a solid chunk of sleep before baby wakes up hungry next.
-It helps make sure baby is getting adequate calories, especially if they tend to get distracted during the day.
-It helps boost milk production in breastfeeding mamas simply by adding an “extra” guaranteed feeding

Cons:
-It may not work. Your baby’s body may have a rhythm that causes them to wake out of habit around a certain time, whether they’ve just been fed or not. In that case, it could be tiring for mom to add in extra feedings without the benefits.
-Utilizing the dream feed itself may unintentionally *cause* a habit waking. If your baby’s body is on a rhythm where there is always a feeding at 10pm, your baby may start to wake at that time when they could otherwise be lengthening their stretches of sleep.
My take? It is SO individual! If it works for you, do it! I’d personally try to cut it by around 3 months to allow baby to try to lengthen sleep without interruptions.

Just switched 18 mo to one nap. How do I stretch that one nap so she lasts until bedtime? 

First, I’d make sure that your wake times are good! You can always use my free schedule calculator to check schedule! Secondly, I’d make sure the room is REALLY dark! If you’re not running into the wall, it’s not dark enough! lol. Third, I’d give baby some time to fall back asleep if she does wake up early. Sometimes it can take up to 10 minutes to settle and start a new sleep cycle!

How do you teach a one year old to self soothe? Is it too late?

Oh no, it’s never too late to help your child learn to settle themselves and fall asleep independently! Many parents I work with have 3, 4 or 5 year olds even who have never or rarely slept through the night who are successful sleeping through within two weeks!

Is it important to always have naps at home? What happens if your schedule takes you out?

I like the 80/20 rule for being strict about sleep environment! Most of the time it’s ideal to have your naps at home. Every once in a while a car, carrier or stroller nap is just bound to happen and is totally fine! If you know you’re going to be out and a certain nap may be shorter or not quite as good quality because of it, accommodate at another part of the day by giving a longer afternoon nap or bringing bedtime forward a bit so baby doesn’t get overtired.

How do you prevent your baby from rolling during sleep?

I don’t! Once a baby is strong enough to roll to their belly on their own, it is safe for them to do so and sleep on their belly! A lot of times around 3-5 months, a baby will go through a period of rolling over and crying because they’re not used to sleeping in that position. In that case, I recommend helping them roll back three times in a row, then switching to checking in and helping roll every other time! Also giving them lots and lots of floor time practice during the day so that they learn to roll easily either way more quickly!

Typical wake times for 7-9 month olds

Usually somewhere between 2.75-3.25 hours. Babies also make the 3-2 nap transition during these months.

At what age can you begin sleep training?

You can start very gently and flexibly working on some independent sleep habits from birth! However, more structured sleep training can begin between 4-6 months.

How to get an older 2.5 year old to sleep past 4:30am?

Whenever older kids are struggling with an early waking, I like to ask- how would you treat that waking if they woke at 2am? Treat them like night wakings and make sure not to accommodate them as a start to the day. I love using an okay to wake clock and positive reinforcement at this age as well!

I loved the Dreamland Baby weighted sleep sac, but ultimately decided not to sleep train with it so I wouldn’t have to go through another sleep transition phase.

My 3 y/o only wants to sleep in my bed in my room. How to transition?? Help!

At 3, it really is about setting expectations and being consistent. It’s just something she is used to and enjoys, so she’ll continue to ask for it! If your family is losing out on sleep because of it and you’re ready for a change, frame it in a really positive light. Let her pick out something new and fun for her room and create a fun sticker chart for her. The first few nights, sit with her while she falls asleep to make it an easier transition. Be consistent so it’s not confusing. You can do it! šŸ™‚

My baby eats SO much at night. Is it ok to still feed him every night?

Almost anything is okay- if it’s working well for you! If you are still getting a decent amount of sleep despite a lot of feedings and you and baby are thriving, you keep going it!! If you suspect some (or many) of the feedings are habit and it’s causing you a lot of sleep deprivation for you or for baby, you could choose to work on it!

Some free resources for you:
Raising Happy Sleepers Facebook Group:
https://facebook.com/groups/raisinghappysleepers
Free Sleep Schedule Calculator: 
https://sweetpeasleep.outgrow.us/sleepschedulecalculator
Free Bedtime Guide for ages 2-5 with printable routine cards:
https://mailchi.mp/sweetpeasleep.com/twcr12q8n3
Free Q&A on stories every Saturday!
www.Instagram.com/sweetpeasleep

Leave a Comment

  • Tiffanny

    Swaddling is the best tip ever! It was the first thing to help my Ruthie to fall asleep easily. And the last one we quited. I was following HWL method from this book: http://parental-love.com/shop/baby-sleep-training and it was the best thing to do! Although you need to wait until 4 mo. But tips like swaddling that author is also giving you can use right away!

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