Sleep is the ultimate goal for all of us: we know that with sleep we think clearer, look better, act better, live longer, eat healthier and stay fitter. It’s also the main culprit for the newborn fog that parents experience; we all want to move past this stage ASAP. In this blog I discuss the magic tricks I use to get my newborns and my toddler to sleep so well. And at the end of this is a list of all my items that you’ll need to purchase to achieve a perfect night’s sleep with your babies.
By the time my twins were 12 weeks old I hired a sleep trainer and in a week they were sleeping 7pm-7am! So incredible! And my twins are two very different individuals who act totally opposite in most every way, from how much they eat to how much sleep they need. Even so, they are now on the same schedule. (I am now pumping at 6am, 10am, 2pm, 6pm, and 10pm. I gave up my 3am pump session once they started sleeping through the night by slowly adjusting it in 30 minute increments until I got to 6am.)
Aspen has been a good sleeper since I sleep trained her at 4.5 months old and since then she hasn’t slept less than 10 hours per night. Now at 21 months she is averaging 14 hours per night with a 3 hour nap during the day.
Here’s my secrets with the twins:
Get them on a schedule. My sleep trainer says as long as they weigh 9 lbs they can be put on a 4 hour schedule meaning they eat every 4 hours, and these guidelines can be applied for strictly breastmilk babies – like mine – or strictly formula babies or anything in between. (I’ve also heard of the 12-12-12 rule: By the time they are 12 weeks and also weigh 12 lbs they can sleep for 12 hours.) My twins went from eating 3-4oz of breastmilk every 3 hours to 5-8oz every 4 hours (sometimes I think they overeat and spit up but this doesn’t seem to bother them so I’m not concerned). Once they were able to increase their ounces they were able to go for a 12 hour stretch at night. Until this point we would give them a “dream feed”: feeding them around 11pm but not waking them up all the way, just wake them up enough to eat but don’t change their diaper or undo their swaddle.
After each feeding keep the baby awake and stimulated for at least an hour (feeding time counts toward this hour) and up to two hours (except the 7pm feeding in which they will go to bed immediately after eating as this is bedtime). After their awake period look for signs of sleepiness; once they yawn, swaddle them up and put them down. Keep them in the same sleep environment whenever possible. Ours is a dark, cold room with sound machines, ceiling fan, and tight swaddles. So to summarize:
Feed at 7am, 11am, 3pm, and 7pm (you may deviate up to 30 minutes in either direction if needed). According to my lactation consultant a 3 month old may eat anywhere between 19-30 oz in a day. (Hart eats about 19oz and Hayes eats about 28oz and both are totally normal.) It doesn’t matter how much they eat in one sitting as long as they achieve those overall daily ounce goals.
If the baby is waking in the middle of the night acting hungry feed him. If this happens institute the dream feed the next night as described above. Each evening reduce the amount of food in the dream feed until it is eliminated.
*Growth spurts: don’t starve your baby, if he’s hungry, feed him
*I always give a 24 hour grace period of going off schedule if something traumatic happens (for example: vaccinations or travel between time zones). After those 24 hours we are back to the regular program, and this applies to Aspen as well.
*If your baby fusses, this is ok. If he cries set your timer for 5 minutes, if he continues to cry assess his needs: is his diaper clean? is he hungry? is he burped? is his environment appropriate temperature/darkness/safe? Once you’ve checked off these boxes then put your baby back down (assuming it is time to sleep and he is tired). Sometimes Hart will cry because he is overtired and I will give him gripe water.
PLEASE NOTE It is important that the baby is laid down drowsy but awake.
And now for Aspen!
As a 21 month old she has a tight schedule and routine. Every night she is in her crib with lights out at 7pm. Every night she wears a sleep sack, has her sound machine on, and goes down drowsy but awake in her crib. Prior to this we read a book and say prayers.
Every morning Aspen wakes up around 8:30-9:00am. Every day she eats lunch at 11 and goes down for a nap at 12:00. She wakes up around 3:00-3:30 but if she wakes up earlier she isn’t allowed out of her crib until at least 2:00pm (but if I talk to her via the monitor and ask her to lay back down she usually will if she’s still tired). Aspen knows her routine and knows we don’t deviate. I keep her in a sleep sack so she won’t figure out how to climb over her crib, I think if I had put her down for a nap even a couple times without her sleep sack she would’ve figured out how to climb out even with it on! So keep that sleep sack on your baby every time!
Remember, a well-rested child is a happy child. Don’t force your babies to stay up late or push back a nap, they need AND want sleep! Being overtired is a real thing that will become a long term problem and be difficult to diagnose as just sleepiness because behavioral issues will likely integrate into the child’s personality. Your kid doesn’t have fomo so don’t keep them up for special things, let the babies sleep and everyone will be happier!
Here’s the necessities to achieve the sleep schedules my babies are on. For less than $200 and following a schedule you and your babies will be perfectly rested!
3-pack for $29, Hart and Hayes wear these every day
$65, buy this for your baby if you love your sleep! Buy this for a friend if you have a heart.
$21, super easy to use and very warm and cozy
$49, I put one next to each baby
$29, these are easier and faster than zippers! Best invention EVER. It’s all I ever put Aspen in and now the twins, it’s so FAST!
$41, the SOFTEST and sweetest pajamas in the world!
$32, every dollar is worth it because it keeps her confined to her crib
$24, super soft blanket substitute for winter for your toddler