Lately I’ve had many conversations with family, friends, and even strangers who can’t believe that I had The Twincesses sleeping through the night by the time they were 2 1/2 months old. Honestly, it wasn’t hard-don’t hate me! It only took hubby and I two nights to do! So, I thought I’d share my methods with all the other momma’s out there.
I have read MANY baby books, and that combined with info from The Twincesses pediatrician, and other blogs I’ve read, I came up with a routine that works incredibly well for us. I know this is not going to work for everyone, because every baby is different, and everyone leads a different lifestyle, so it may not be feasible for every family to do what we did, but like I said, this is just what worked for us and our Twincesses.
First thing that really affects sleep (at night and naptime) is the feeding times and amount. Babies under 3 months generally eat every 3 hours, and over 3 months old about every 4 hours. The amount of milk babies need is between 32-38 oz of either breast milk or formula a day (if breast milk I would aim for 38 as it’s digested faster than formula) until they are able to get most calories from eating baby food (around 7-8 months).
When I began sleep training I gave The Twincesses a 7 oz bottle(half formula, half breast milk) at 7am, 11am, 3pm and 7pm and also woke them up between 10 and 11pm to give them a “snack” (usually 4 oz, but this depends on the baby) . I did this to give them a few more calories so that they wouldn’t wake up in the night hungry, and because at that time they couldn’t eat more than 7oz at a time.
When I woke The Twincesses up I did not change their diapers (unless it was a number 2…) and I only really half woke them, just enough so that they could eat but not enough that they were upset at the fact that I woke them. This “snack” bottle only lasted about 2 or 3 weeks as they didn’t seem to be hungry enough for a bottle (they wouldn’t finish it), but you can continue giving your baby a “snack” until you feel like they no longer need it.
According to my pediatrician, metabolically babies don’t need to eat at night once they are about 12 pounds. So my guess is that if your baby is waking up throughout the night chances are it’s out of habit rather than out of hunger.
I don’t believe in letting babies “cry it out” aka the Ferber method, so what I did with The Twincesses when I began sleep training is that if they woke up in the night I would give them a few minutes to try and fall back asleep before I would go into their room to soothe them. If they couldn’t get back to sleep on their own I would try to soothe them with their pacifier, rubbing their back or tummy, or turning on their aquarium (it attached to their crib, made by fisher price, they love it, I recommend it!). That worked for The Twincesses, however if your baby is really upset and you can’t soothe him/her after 10 min I would try to feed them another snack. Also, since The Twincesses were born my husband and I have played music for them on the ipod when they’re sleeping (baby classical music, haha), and if they are having trouble sleeping we found that “white noise” helps them (they love the vaccuum noise )you can play it off of Youtube, or just download it.
The second thing is really getting your baby on a good routine. Routines aren’t for everyone, but for me it was necessary with two babies. The Twincesses were on a 7am-7pm routine but you could do 6-6 or 8-8 if that works better (babies are supposed to go to bed between 6-8pm). What I did was wake up The Twincesses at 7am, my husband and I fed them, and then we played with them until they were tired (and Hubby had to go to work) and then we put them down for their first nap. The super tricky part for me was figuring out when The Twincesses were tired before they were overtired and crying. I learned that Aubrey was tired when she yawned or started sucking her thumb. Peyton never sucked her thumb, but I noticed she would start staring into space and I couldn’t break her stare, or she would get restless and I realized that these were her “sleep signals”. I had a three yawn rule, once The Twincesses yawned 3 times it was nap time.
The Twincesses usually lasted about an hour and a half to two hours (counting feed time) before they were tired and ready for a nap. When I noticed their “sleep signals” it was nap time no matter what time the clock said it was. When The Twincesses were truly tired they fall asleep within minutes, if they were overtired it took longer and they used to fuss, but then I just did the usual soothing stuff.
The Twincesses typically napped minimum 45 min and the most I let them nap is 2 ½ hours because I didn’t want them to sleep so much in the day that they wouldn’t sleep at night. The average I would say was an hour and a half, but teething and tummy aches can affect both naps and night sleep. Usually after their 7am feed my girls only lasted until 7:45-8 before they were ready to nap, but in the afternoon they lasted much longer. Babies shouldn’t have a long nap before bed, so since my girls go to bed at 7pm I didn’t let them sleep past 5:30pm.
Here is an example of our day (times vary here and there because babies don’t know how to tell time, obviously.)
7:00am- wake up babies, bottle and play
7:45 – cat nap
8:30-9:00- babies wake up (on their own), play
11:00- bottle and nap
1:00pm- babies wake up (on their own), play
3:00- bottle and nap
5:00- babies wake up (on their own), play
6:30- bedtime routine (bath if bath night, relaxing activities, books)
7:00pm- bottle and bedtime
10:45pm- wake up babies for “snack” bottle. (when we did this)
*Sidenote: Once I started making homemade baby food for The Twincesses (at 6 months old) I began feeding it to them after each nap (about 2 oz for each)
Your routine doesn’t have to be the same as mine, the sequence of events and nap length will be different for every baby. The Twincesses typically did wake, play, eat, sleep, but another baby could do wake, eat, play, sleep. So just pay close attention to your baby’s signals for a few days and then make a routine based on your baby’s natural routine.
I was super strict about my routine, so if people were over visiting i still put the girls to nap and to bed on time. I also planned outings based on when the babies would nap that way they would sleep in their car seats, and if we had to be somewhere and knew The Twincesses wouldn’t be home for bedtime, then we would either put them to sleep in their car seats, or brought a play pen and then planned to be home for their “snack” bottle. I was so strict about following a routine because when The Twincesses didn’t get enough sleep they were absolutely miserable the next day, which in turn made this Momma’s life with twins much harder!
Another tip (this is something I learned the hard way), ALWAYS put babies to sleep in their cribs (unless you’re not at home) rather than letting them sleep on the couch, in car seats, your bed or the baby swing, because then they will not associate their cribs with sleep and will become scared of it!
Do you have any other sleep training tricks and tips? I’m by no means an expert so I’d love to hear any and all suggestions!
I hope my sleep training method helps you! Try it out for a few days and remember that the older the baby is when you start the training the longer it will take to sleep train them.
Good Luck Mama’s!