Desperate for baby to sleep through the night? 20 real-life moms share their best baby sleep tips

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I’m guessing you’re here because you’re a little tired and hoping, desperately hoping, to stumble across the magic formula of baby sleep tips that will turn your darling little sleep thief into a sleep pro.

I have my own experience with my two kiddos.  During that sleep-deprived newborn phase I read the books, I asked friends and I trawled the internet looking for baby sleep tips and advice.

I came up with 10 steps that I’m convinced will work and guarantee you at least 8 hours of uninterrupted shuteye by 3 months.  You can check these out here:  How to get your baby to sleep through the night: 10 steps for an awesome nights sleep, no cry-it-out

But all babies are different!  And I seem to have become just a little sleep obsessed…

So I wanted to open up the floor up to some real moms and explore their baby sleep experience.  

I asked 20 moms when their baby first slept through and what tactics, if any, they used. I asked them to share their best baby sleep tips.

For the purpose of this article, ‘sleeping through the night’ is considered as an 8-hour stretch of sleep at roughly the same time that you sleep, during which baby does not require feeding, comforting or any interaction of any sort.

So you can get a decent 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep.  That’s the goal!

The million dollar question of ‘when‘ is answered in this post: When do babies sleep through the night? 20 normal moms share their baby sleep stories

This second article explores the tactics used.  The ‘how to’.

This post is structured with specific ‘tips’ as a result of common ‘observations’

When talking to these 20 moms there were several reoccurring ‘observations’ in their baby sleep stories.  In addition, moms named the specific tips and strategies they thought helped their baby to sleep through the night.

I hinted at some of these strategies in the first part of this sleep story which you can find here: When do babies sleep through the night? 20 real-life stories & top tips shared

In this post, I’ve detailed the specific tips that should aid you in your quest to get baby to sleep through the night, as a result of these discussions.

(My background is market research so I’ve followed the same process of analysis as I did in the many qualitative research projects I ran.)

 

 

The full set of questions I asked these moms

  1. When did your baby start sleeping through the night (an 8-hour stretch without feeding or any other interaction)?
  2. Were you breastfeeding or bottle feeding at this time?
  3. Did you have a particular strategy? Top 3 tips you believe helped your baby sleep through (if you have them)
  4. Was the sleeping through the night something that happened gradually (ie fewer night wakenings until none at all) or did it happen as a result of something you did specifically?
  5. Once sleeping through did you have many setbacks after that?  eg Noticeable sleep regressions due to teeth, developmental milestones, illness etc
  6. Views on ‘cry-it-out’ – did you do it/would you do it/what do you think of others doing it?

There was a bit of back and forth between myself and several moms during which other useful snippets of information came about.  The full answers to these questions from all 20 moms are at the end of the post.

2 elements to consider in order for baby to sleep through the night

We touched on this in part 1 of this baby sleep story, but here’s a little more detail on the 2 elements of the sleeping through the night conundrum:

#1 Is baby able to sleep an 8-hour stretch without feeding?

Newborns are tiny, their tummies are tiny, feeding often is absolutely necessary for healthy weight gain.  So frequent feeds, day and night, either breastfeeds or formula feeds, are absolutely essential in the early days.

You can read more about the necessity for frequent nursing for newborn babies here: Your Essential Guide To Newborn Breastfeeding: A Must Read To Start It Right

But as babies grow and develop they should be able to go longer between feeds.

When starting on solids, normally at around 6 months, these longer periods between feeds will be maintained and increase.  At some point, milk alone will not be enough to sustain them through a long period at night.

#2 Is baby able to settle back to sleep after waking briefly?

The thing is, no one ‘truly’ sleeps through the night.  That’s the nature of both adult and newborn sleep patterns.

Brief moments of wakefulness, are a protective mechanism allowing the brain to ‘check-in’ and assess potential threats.

Compared to adults, babies wake MORE frequently & are MORE easily disturbed.

Whether outside assistance is then needed for baby to return to sleep then becomes part of the ‘sleeping through the night’ equation.

It’s the age at which baby is able to settle back to sleep independently (or ‘self-soothe’) that created a large variation in answers across the moms I spoke to.

This makes sense in light of the research I’ve done, both during the newborn sleep-deprived phase of both my babies and in the research of this and my other baby sleep articles.

(The opposite of self-soothing is when baby relies on something else fall asleep, for example, nursing or rocking.  A ‘sleep association‘ has developed.  This starts to happen around the 3-month mark when sleep starts to consolidate and become more ‘adult-like’.)

PART 1: The ability of babies to self-soothe ultimately dictated when babies slept through

TIP 1: Give baby the chance to self-soothe by ‘pausing’

OBSERVATION 1: Mothers with babies who slept through by 3 months actively encouraged self-soothing by ‘pausing’

This was not a complicated ‘technique’, but a case of not responding too quickly at the first murmour as Mallory from Mama on Parade put it:

“I did find that not immediately running to him when he made noise really helped. Sometimes he would talk or just make some general noise when he slept and I think I was waking him up by going in there to check on him. Not going in there and letting him settle on his own made a huge difference.”

It often meant letting baby fuss, whine or cry (of a non-hysterical nature) for a few minutes before rushing in.  Sasha from Life’s Carousel pointing out the often vocal nature of baby sleep:

“If they woke in the night, I would let them fuss for 3 minutes (I’d watch the clock to see exactly!), if they were still just moaning or whiny, I wait another 3 minutes and so on. I’d only go to them if they were really crying! Babies often fuss and whine in the night, if you leave them, they often stop and settle on their own.”

This is NOT leaving your newborn to cry uncontrollably or hysterically.  (We will touch on cry-it-out a bit later.)

pausing is key to getting baby to sleep through night
When your baby wakes at night, ‘pause’

THE SCIENCE IN SUPPORT OF THIS

Due to the nature of newborn sleep, it’s easy to misread your babys’ cues.

During ‘active’ sleep, the equivalent of REM in adults, newborns are both mentally and physically active

While adults are physically INACTIVE in REM sleep (due to the neurological barrier that temporarily paralyzes the limbs, thought to prevent dreams being acted out),  in newborns this barrier has not developed so they move a lot!

Newborns twitch, thrash about, smile, suck, cry-out, open their eyes all while they are in fact ASLEEP.

So the potential to misread your baby is enormous.

Research also suggests that pausing encourages a baby to self-soothe

There’s scientific evidence in support of ‘pausing’ before responding to a babies awakenings.  In this study, parents who did not rush to their baby initially when they woke (waiting at least 3 minutes) were most likely to be able to self-soothe at 12 months.

Resist the urge to rush to your baby.  Check she’s actually awake and, if she is, give her chance to settle back to sleep.  This is key to getting your baby to sleep through the night.

By picking your newborn up without pausing first you may well disturb her, when she may have otherwise settled herself. Then the temptation is to feed, rock or cuddle your baby back to sleep… If this happens frequently, your baby will become accustomed to this way of falling back to sleep and a sleep association can develop.

Further research suggests that older babies sleeping in a separate room are more likely to self-soothe

When baby is thrashing about in ‘active’ sleep, but not awake, parents are more likely to pause if baby is in a separate room.  This encourages self-soothing.

Similarly, many awakenings simply go unnoticed and baby falls back to sleep independently.

Baby does need to be in the same room as you for the first 6 months, according to safe sleep regulations, but you may then choose to move baby into their own room.  Even if you use a baby monitor, adjust it so you don’t hear every single rustle and squeak!

To understand more about newborn sleep and the importance of pausing, check out this post: Want baby to sleep through the night? Essential learnings from newborn sleep and the ONLY tip you really need

TIP 2: Encourage baby to fall asleep independently by 3 months & avoid sleep associations if possible!

OBSERVATION 1: Mothers with babies who slept through by 3 months encouraged baby to fall asleep alone

As mentioned earlier, 3 months is the time at which sleep associations can start to develop.

So in the first few months, it doesn’t matter how your baby falls asleep.  You can nurse them, rock them, drive them around the block etc.  But at the time that sleep starts to consolidate (around 3 months), these can develop into sleep associations.  Baby will need assistance every time they need to sleep.

If you are consistently nursing an older baby to sleep, it’s likely that he or she will become reliant on this technique to fall asleep.

There is nothing ‘wrong’ with this per se.  Nursing to sleep, in particular, is very natural and many moms enjoy these moments with their baby and wouldn’t want it any other way.

Feeding to sleep can become a problem, if baby wakes frequently in the night needing assistance every time to fall back to sleep, leaving the mother exhausted.

Hollie, from Learning Momma, explains how she often rocked her baby to sleep in the early days but when her daugher was two weeks she started gently encouraging healthy sleep habits (such as settling to sleep alone):

For the first two weeks, we rocked our daughter to sleep and coddled her to help ease her into this world. We also felt it was important to do whatever it took to simply get us sleep. Therefore, if we got more sleep by rocking her and having her sleep in an infant seat, it was worth it for my initial recovery and the adjustment period of bringing her home!  We started ‘sleep training’ her when she turned two weeks old. “

Encouraging baby to fall asleep alone meant following a pre-nap or bedtime routine, often including nursing, rocking, singing etc, until baby is calm and drowsy but still AWAKE, as Renee from Rhythms & Grace explains:

One of my recommendations is to develop a pre-naptime routine that doesn’t involve nursing or rocking to sleep. Ours was: darken room, and turn on white noise machine, swaddle, lay baby down (tired but awake) and say “goodnight”.

If your baby is well-fed, tired and you’ve ‘set the stage for sleep’ (we will talk about this in part 2 of this article) baby should settle to sleep.

sleep associations can develop with lots of car journeys
Most babies fall asleep instantly in the car. This can be useful but a sleep association can easily develop

Movement is another common sleep association worth avoiding

For example rocking baby to sleep, baby carrying, letting baby fall asleep in a rocker or in the car.

Beth from The DGAF Mom said she was careful to avoid naps in the car or rocker from early on:

My number 1 tip is no naps on the go – getting them used to sleep in a non-moving thing, be it a rocker or a car. During the day I’d let one or two naps be in the rock and play or in the car (rarely)  when they were very young, but once they got to be a few weeks old I’d turn off the rock and play so they weren’t moving anymore to sleep.”

THE SCIENCE IN SUPPORT OF THIS TIP

Not surprisingly, sleep associations are common and there’s been a fair amount of research into sleep associations and the ability of babies to self-soothe.

This study of 88 babies found that nearly half of babies were routinely put into their crib already asleep at the age of 12 months, rather than awake.

It was then observed that babies aided to sleep in some way (and put in their cots asleep) were then less likely to self-soothe on waking in the night.  They needed assistance in some way to fall back to sleep again.

Falling asleep independently at the beginning of the night encourages self-soothing when waking in the night.

TIP 3: Understand that you may need to ‘intervene’ to break a sleep association to get baby to sleep through

OBSERVATION: Babies that had developed sleep associations normally had to be weaned off the sleep aid, with or without ‘soft’ cry-it-out

Most moms whose babies were sleeping through later than 3 months, said a breast or bottle feed settled them back to sleep after waking.  In other words, a feeding-to-sleep association had developed so sleeping through followed a process of night-weaning.

Night-weaning involved gradually reducing the feed over several days, allowing baby to learn to settle back to sleep independently.  This was sometimes combined with ‘soft’ cry-it-out or ‘controlled crying’ (leaving baby to cry and returning to comfort and reassure after allotted times).

Anna from Abrazo and Coze explains how night weaning did the trick:

“I definitely attribute night weaning (using the gentle Jay Gordon method) to my baby sleeping through an 8 hour stretch. Once she realized the milk bar was closed for business, she started either sleeping through or putting herself back to sleep without help from milkies if she woke.”

A dummy or pacifier is another common sleep aid you may want to wean off

Ashley from Mom Like You Mean It saw a quick result from taking the paci away:

“Probably the best thing I did was take away the PACI. My daughter would wake in the night wanting me to come and put it back in and as soon as I took it away, after two difficult nights (which involved a few tears) she never woke again wanting her PACI.”

Babies that were not actively night weaned did eventually sleep through, fear not!

Christa from The House That Never Slumbers (and an insomniac herself) had a very relaxed approach:

“None of my four were sleeping through the night at 2 years, I’m not sure when it happened exactly.  I did not try to get my babies to sleep through the night. It just happened gradually as they got older“.

Even if you avoid sleep associations early on, they can still develop further down the line!

Remember Beth, who had a no-naps on the go policy?  Both Beth’s boys became reliant on the bottle at around 6 months and were weaned off at 9 months using cry-it-out.

Similarly, my second born was settling independently between 3 and 6 months, but after a rough start with solids which caused a lot of digestive discomfort, we developed many sleep associations in desperation to get her to sleep.  When solids were properly established and I was sure the nursing and/or rocking to sleep had become a habit, rather than a necessity, we also went the ‘soft’ cry-it-out route.

 

Bedsharing and sleeping through the night
Many parents chose to bedshare or co-sleep to get more sleep but beware the risks

TIP 4: Bedsharing/co-sleeping can ease the disturbance of night feeds (but know the risks)

The official advice is not to let your baby sleep in the bed as this is thought to increase the risk of SIDS.

However, many moms choose to do it in order to get more sleep (AKA barely wake up to feed).  So much so, that there are now guidelines on safe bedsharing or co-sleeping, such as these from the Lullaby Trust.

OBSERVATION: Many moms whose babies slept through later than 1 year had their baby in the bed with them

This included Christina from Raising Biracial Babies:

“What helped me was to have my kid sleep next to me so I could nurse them when needed. They would start to root around and I felt and heard them so I would roll over and start nursing them. They never woke up, which allowed me to get more sleep too.”

However, there is another reason why you may chose not to go this route…

Bedsharing may encourage sleep associations to develop

By bedsharing, you are more likely to respond to your baby unnecessarily, limiting the opportunity for him or her to settle back to sleep alone.  It’s more likely that a sleep association will develop.

PART 2: Routines (feeding, sleeping and pre-nap routines) can influence when baby sleeps through

TIP 5: Make sure baby gets enough milk IN THE DAY & doesn’t sleep too much in the day

OBSERVATION: A schedule for feeds and naps in the day was popular among moms whose babies slept through by 3 months

So we’ve established that newborns wake because they’re hungry.  And that they wake a lot, because they just do.

What about if baby wakes and is not sleepy anymore?  Perhaps baby slept too much in the day?

This is when a sleep and feeding schedule can help.

I’m not sure it matters all that much which you follow (there are many to choose from these days), the key is that it guides you in the number of feeds your baby has and the number and/or length of naps.

In this way, a sleep and feeding schedule should minimize the likelihood of baby sleeping too much in the day, and maximizes milk intake in the day.

These two aspects in themselves can go a long way in minimizing your baby waking at night (baby less likely to be hungry and more likely to be tired enough to quickly settle back to sleep on waking).

sleep schedule can help baby sleep through the night
A newborn sleep and feeding schedule can help ensure baby gets enough milk in the day and doesn’t sleep too much

You can follow a schedule with specific timings

Here are the newborn feeding and sleep schedules I used.

(This does not mean that you ignore the cries of your hungry baby if it’s not feed time according to the schedule, you feed that baby.)

Or follow a schedule led by your baby

Beth from The DGAF Mom, took this approach and under no circumstance was anyone allowed to mess with her schedule!

“After the first few weeks I could see a natural pattern of eat/play/sleep or play/eat/sleep and tried to stick to that as much as possible every single day. I really would get annoyed with friends who said they were coming to visit at a certain time to see the baby and then they’d arrive just after baby went to sleep, because they were an hour late.  I’d have to tell them, ‘Sorry you’re in the nap window now!’ ”

If you’re not the schedule type but need a guideline on how much sleep your baby needs in the day with an idea on the number and length of naps, check out this post: Baffled by how much sleep baby needs? Baby sleep chart to the rescue!

TIP 6: Encourage ‘full’ feeds from early on

OBSERVATION: A baby that likes to ‘snack’ will not be able to go long stretches in the night without feeding

Your baby may naturally tend to take big feeds early on or may be more inclined to ‘snack’.

You don’t want a snacker on your hands! My firstborn loved to snack and at 3 weeks was only feeding a few minutes at a time.  Every hour or so. Day and night.

Since I was taking the recommended advice of ‘feeding on demand’ I thought this was the only way, until I started to dig deep on all things baby sleep and feeding.

Feeding on demand is absolutely not the only way.

I quickly found out that it was possible to move to a 2-3 hourly feeds, satisfy my babys hunger needs and feel just a little bit more human again.  Before long, the interval between feeds increased, day and night: waking up 7 or 8 times a night quickly dropped to 2 or 3 times a night.

I recently wrote a post about switching from feeding on demand: Is Feeding On Demand Crushing You? How To Establish A Newborn Feeding Schedule WITHOUT Leaving Baby Hungry

It’s not complicated and is simply explained by Renee from Rhythms & Grace:

“To get baby ‘full’ at every single feeding you need to wake your baby if he or she dozes off. Do whatever you can to wake baby back up and continue feeding until baby is full.

This usually means AT LEAST 10 minutes of actual nursing for a newborn… maybe even as long as 30-45 minutes! You and baby are still learning how to nurse. Plus, there’s time spent latching, re-latching, waking baby up, changing diapers, burping, etc… It’s all very slow!

But if you can get baby ALL THE WAY FULL at each feeding, he will be able to go another 2.5-3 hours until eating during the day and will stretch his night time feedings very quickly!”

For a guideline on how often to feed baby in the day, I put together this chart for my baby sleep post (this tip is also 1 of my 10 strategies for getting baby to sleep through the night.)

 

Baby sleep through the night # 3 strategy - getting baby to drink plenty of milk in day

 

TIP 7: Carry out a pre-nap/bedtime routine for every sleep time if possible (settling baby drowsy but AWAKE if possible)

OBSERVATION: ‘Setting the stage for sleep’ popular among everyone

This helps get the body and brain ready for sleep and helps develop positive sleep associations.

Keyona from Professional Momma also pointed out how routine helps baby understand what is coming next:

I started a sleep training program when my daughter was 8 months. The program was really good (I just sucked at sticking with it in its entirety). It harped on consistency, which is very important. Babies and toddler thrive on a routine. They need to know what to expect next.

Beck from Mom Beach included a foot massage with Lavender in the bedtime routine with her baby:

We had a bedtime ritual which started with a bath (I used a lavender baby wash) then I’d rub Bryan’s feet with lavender essential oils. I also sang his “Bryan song”.

After the bath you want a calm, quiet environment, with dim lights which is not too stimulating.  So no bright lights and sudden noises, that you can also relax in while you settle baby.

Post-bath elements of the routine could include massage, applying cream, putting on pyjamas, reading a story, lullaby, cuddle, kiss and a last breast or bottle-feed.

For day naps you can carry out the same routine, with or without the bath and preferably carry out your post-bath routine in the room your baby will sleep.

When out and about try and replicate as much of your pre-nap routine as possible.

TIP 8: Settle baby swaddled, in the dark with dull background noise

OBSERVATION: Several moms were careful to create a sleep environment conducive to sleep 

Carol-Ann from The NICU Nurse describes the ideal ‘sleep environment’ as follows:

Create a sleeping environment similar to your womb from day 1 if possible. Very dark (babies don’t need night lights), swaddled or in a sleep sack and white noise.

A bit more about these 3 elements:

#1 DARK

The sleep-inducing hormone melatonin is suppressed by light so a dark room eliminates disturbances due to light.  Since babies are so easily disturbed (all that light sleep and short sleep cycles, as discussed earlier) dark/pitch black room will encourage baby to settle back to sleep easily when switching between sleep cycles.

#2 WHITE NOISE OR OTHER BACKGROUND NOISE

The idea is to replicate the noisy gurgling’s of the mother’s womb.  This also drowns out sudden background noises (crucial if you have another noisy child). My choice was classical music and lullabies rather than white noise.

#3 SWADDLING

This should eliminate the startle or Moro Reflex from waking your baby.

There are a lot swaddles on the market!  Check out this guide on the best newborn swaddles.

 

Swaddling can drastically reduce the chance of a Moro reflex waking baby
Swaddling should prevent the Moro Reflex from waking baby – leave off the cute but rediculous hat though!

PART 3: The best of the rest – a few more baby sleep tips

TIP 9: Try a ‘dream feed‘ to get baby to sleep a longer stretch of sleep

A dream feed is when you feed baby, last thing at night right before YOU go to bed. This can work wonders by eeking out that first stretch of sleep between the time you go to bed and the first night feed…

As Holly from Learning Momma explains, a dream feed ensures that the longest stretch of sleep is at the best time (ie when you’re sleeping):

I also kept a routine 10:30pm feeding until about 3 months old (I think it was) so that the longer stretch fell over MY sleep time, but as her stretch got longer I eliminated that routine feeding so that she could sleep 12 hours.

I did the same with my two.  They were sleeping 8 hours by about 3 months.  By dream feeding at around 10 pm I got a good 8 hours.  They only managed 12 hour stretches 2-3 months later, so in this way I dramatically sped up the process to ‘sleeping through’ at a time that suited me.

How to dream feed

The idea is to only wake baby a little, feed with low lights and minimal stimulation etc so baby settles quickly back to sleep.  However, most small babies need a lot more encouragement to take a good feed to make it worthwhile.

For a step-by-step on how to successfully dream feed tiny babies and bigger ones, check out this post: The Dream Feed: An insanely simple solution to dramatically more sleep

TIP 10: Try a star projector to help baby settle to sleep independently

As Audrey from Mommy Enlightened explains:

My youngest just didn’t want to be alone. We bought a little Fisher Price projector (seriously these are awesome!) that she could watch and it helped lull her to sleep.

My son also loved his star projector so this is definitely worth a try.

TIP 11: If baby cries and/or spits up a lot seek medical advice

Marybeth from Lifestye For Real Life describes how she had a lot of difficulty with her daughter, which perhaps could have been helped by medication or some professional advice:

My daughter was rough…When I look back at her, I realize she probably had some type of sleep and/or reflux problem because I don’t think it was normal, the amount of crying, spitting up and not sleeping she did.  I should probably have got that checked out

TIP 12: Take the pressure off yourself!

Samantha from Evidence-Based Mommy sums this up nicely:

With my first child, I went crazy, upset because everyone told me my child “should” be sleeping all night already, but it just wasn’t happening. But with my second and third kids, I took the pressure off myself.

PART 4: Thoughts on ‘cry-it-out’ as a means of getting baby to sleep through

This article is not going to go deep into the very controversial subject of cry-it-out methods.  But since this is a route many sleep-deprived parents choose to go down and the term ‘soft’ cry-it-out has been mentioned, to ignore it would feel incomplete.

If you are considering cry-it-out do you research carefully and understand that very tiny baby, babies who are hungry, sick or suffering serious discomfort should NEVER be left to cry uncontrollably for an extended period of time.

Firstly, there seems to be a lot of different interpretations of what ‘cry-it-out’ means

Madelyn Hope from The Perceptive Babe hits the nail on the head:

“Babies cry. Do I believe in putting them in a room, walking away for 2 hours (or however long you wish for their nap to be), and not responding to their cries whatsoever? No, I do not.

Unfortunately, that is what a lot of people believe the cry-it-out method entails.

I do believe not giving them a few moments to fuss before responding to soothe can be detrimental to encouraging a sleep routine.”

Secondly, there’s still no evidence to suggest that cry-it-out causes long-term psychological damage

Although there is evidence that babies are highly stressed when crying uncontrollably, as Samantha Radford from Evidence-Based Mommy points out:

A paper from 2012 shows that infants have a ton of cortisol circulating around when they’re left to CIO, even though they’re silent. A lot of it is a matter of disrupting the mother-child dyad as a unit because their physiology is no longer synced up.

But there are also papers that show that older kids who were left to CIO as infants were fine later. You know how it is, it’s hard to put all the pieces together in science.

Thirdly, the views of cry-it-out from our 20 moms

Here are some of the answers to this one question: Views on cry-it-out – did you do it/would you do it/what do you think of others doing it?

 

cry-it-out to get baby to sleep through night
Often parents resort to cry-it-out sleep training in desperation for sleep

Big dislike for leaving baby to cry uncontrollably with no reassurance

Many moms saying they physically wouldn’t be able to bare it, such as Janneke from Financially Independent Mom:

“No, never! I hate it when people do that to their baby. The tiny little thing has been in a warm and save environment for 9 months and suddenly he’s cold and alone and no one is coming when he’s sad, upset, lonely or whatever. No, I could never do that to a baby.”

Some recognizing that it’s inappropriate developmentally to ignore a baby who is clearly calling for help.  Christa from The House That Never Slumbers sums this up nicely:

“If you research Erik Erikson’s theory on the stages of psychosocial development, Trust versus Mistrust is the first stage of development. If a child’s needs are consistently met, they develop trust. If they are left to cry when their needs are not being met, they develop mistrust and potentially have issues later.”

‘Soft’ version of cry-it-out quite common, used to encourage self-soothing

So leaving baby if he or she was ‘upset’ (whinging and crying) and returning after a few minutes to reassure and comfort before leaving again.  Or returning if baby became ‘hysterical’ (crying uncontrollably) and not leaving until calmed down considerably.

This ‘soft’ cry-it-out to encourage baby to learn to self-settle.

Amber from Low Carb Quick described her version of ‘soft’ cry-it-out as follows:

“Didn’t use cry it out, but instead five minute rule. If he’s still upset after five minutes, go cuddle him.”

Different babies may need different tactics when it comes to cry-it-out

Lacey from Simple Quiet Mama explains how she ended up using two different techniques for her daughters:

With our oldest we spent about 10 days training. The first 3 days we sat right next to her crib until she fell asleep. The next 3 we sat a few feet away. The next 3 we sat in the doorway. Night 10 we left the room and would come back to reassure her every 5-10 minutes if she needed it. She’d usually be asleep within a few minutes.

With our youngest, sitting next to the crib did *not* work. We did a modified version of the Ferber method. I’d lay her down and let her cry for 3 minutes, assure her, let her cry for 5, assure her, and then would assure her every 7 minutes after that. The next night we’d move it back 2 minutes (5, 7, 9 minutes). Each night we’d move it back 2 more minutes. By night 3 she had it down.

Those tips summarised

To recap:

TIP 1: Give baby the chance to self-soothe by ‘pausing’

The key to getting baby to sleep through the night – if you need more persuading on how important this is, read: Want baby to sleep through the night? Essential learnings from newborn sleep and the ONLY tip you really need

TIP 2: Encourage baby to fall asleep independently by 3 months & avoid sleep associations if possible!

This further encourages self-settling.

TIP 3: Understand that you may need to ‘intervene’ to break a sleep association to get baby to sleep through

Probably by night weaning, with or without some form of ‘cry-it-out’.

TIP 4: Bedsharing/co-sleeping can ease the disturbance of night feeds (but know the risks)

Check safe bedsharing recommendations and know that you may delay sleeping through

TIP 5: Make sure baby gets enough milk IN THE DAY & doesn’t sleep too much in the day

Follow a newborn sleep and feeding schedule to guide you on this or check this baby sleep chart.

TIP 6: Encourage ‘full’ feeds from early on

In order to stretch feeds apart, both day and night.  More information on this here: Is Feeding On Demand Crushing You? How To Establish A Newborn Feeding Schedule WITHOUT Leaving Baby Hungry

TIP 7: Carry out a pre-nap/bedtime routine for every sleep time if possible (settling baby drowsy but AWAKE if possible)

Set the stage for sleep!

TIP 8: Settle baby swaddled, in the dark with dull background noise

This minimizes disturbances due to the Moro Reflex

TIP 9: Try a ‘dream feed‘ to get baby to sleep a longer stretch of sleep

Step-by-step on this here: The Dream Feed: An insanely simple solution to dramatically more sleep

TIP 10: Try a star projector to help baby settle to sleep independently

Babies seem to love watching these light shows.

TIP 11: If baby cries and/or spits up a lot seek medical advice

There may be something that needs medication intervention/advice.

TIP 12: Take the pressure off yourself!

It isn’t a race and it will happen eventually!

The answers from all 20 moms

Firstly, here’s a pin in case you want to come back and read these later – there are A LOT of comments!

A recap of the questions:

  1. When did your baby start sleeping through the night (an 8-hour stretch without feeding or any other interaction)?
  2. Were you breastfeeding or bottle feeding at this time?
  3. Did you have a particular strategy? Top 3 tips you believe helped your baby sleep through (if you have them)
  4. Was the sleeping through the night something that happened gradually (ie fewer night wakenings until none at all) or did it happen as a result of something you did specifically?
  5. Once sleeping through did you have many setbacks after that?  eg Noticeable sleep regressions due to teeth, developmental milestones, illness etc
  6. Views on ‘cry-it-out’ – did you do it/would you do it/what do you think of others doing it?

Babies slept through the night 3 months or earlier

Ashley provides helpful hacks for busy moms on her blog Mom Like You Mean It

Q1 When did your baby start sleeping through the night?

3 months.  I’d feed at night about 20 minutes before I’d put her down at 7 and then she’d wake up around 3:30 for a feeding and then go back to sleep until 8am.

They started sleeping 12 hours straight at 7 months or so.

Q2 Were you breastfeeding or bottle feeding at this time?

Breastfeeding

Q3 Do you attribute your baby sleeping through to something you did or didn’t do? What are your top 3 tips?

Yes, I worked really hard to follow a nap and feeding schedule with my daughter during the day. I also established a bedtime routine that we carried out each and every night and put her to sleep consistently at 7:30.

Probably the best thing I did was take away the PACI. My daughter would wake in the night wanting me to come put it back in and as soon as I took it away, after two difficult nights she never woke again wanting her PACI.

Q4 Was the sleeping through the night something that happened gradually or did it happen as a result of something you did specifically?

Sleeping through the night was definitely a gradual thing for us! It was small incremental changes…more of a gentle sleep training approach.

Q5 Once sleeping through did you have many setbacks after that?

I haven’t had any setbacks other than a few random nights here and there and those could largely be attributed to illness.

Q6 Views on ‘cry-it-out’ – did you do it/would you do it/what do you think of others doing it?

I think parents Have to be comfortable with the method they use. We felt comfortable with a combination of gentle sleep training and cry it out. In my book, there is no right way, as long as you feel comfortable and you and your baby are getting some sleep as a result of the method you’re using. If what you’re doing isn’t allowing you or your baby to get some sleep, it’s probably time to try another method.

Beth from The DGAF Mom

Q1 When did your baby start sleeping through the night?

3 months old

Q2 Were you breastfeeding or bottle feeding at this time?

Formula feeding

Q3 Do you attribute your baby sleeping through to something you did or didn’t do? What are your top 3 tips?

Hardcore belief in the book “Good Night Sleep Tight” for dealing with sleep at every stage of the game. I started reading it on my phone late one night and used it for both boys. There were three big things that were deal breakers for me when it came to sleep with my boys.

I basically gave giant f*cks early on when they were very very new and applied everything I could to get them to sleep and then it maintained.

NUMBER 1: No naps on the go – getting them used to sleep in a non-moving thing, be it a rocker or a car. During the day I’d let one or two naps be in the rock and play or in the car (rarely)  when they were very young, but once they got to be a few weeks old I’d turn off the rock and play so they weren’t moving anymore to sleep.

NUMBER 2: A set schedule for naps – After the first few weeks where it’s groundhogs day I could see a natural pattern of eat/play/sleep or play/eat/sleep and tried to stick to that as much as possible every single day if I could.

I really would get annoyed with friends who said they were coming to visit at a certain time to see the baby and then they’d arrive just after the baby went to sleep, because they were an hour late.  I had to say ” sorry you’re in the nap window now!”

NUMBER 3: I also did set bedtimes with a very predictable routine every single night including bath, story, and rocking before they fell asleep – so putting them down tired but awake.

My youngest was so easy to get to sleep I’d pop a binky in his mouth and put him in his bed and he’d be out within a few minutes. My oldest requires much more rocking and engagement (and I can’t help but wonder if it’s because of their birth order – ie. I just didn’t have the extra time to rock #2 as I did with #1 and perhaps I conditioned them in this way).

NUMBER 4: Setting the environment for sleep: white noise, dark windows, lullabies, whatever baby liked. My youngest prefers white noise and “heartbeat” sounds and my oldest preferred actual music to fall asleep to – it’s a little trial and error

Q4 Was the sleeping through the night something that happened gradually or did it happen as a result of something you did specifically?

I’m pretty sure with both of them it happened gradually and also all at once lol. So the first time my youngest slept a 6/7 hour stretch was when I moved him into his own bed in his crib (at 6 weeks old) because we had workers coming in the early morning and I was afraid of moving him/waking him then…so i started the night in his own bed.

I’m pretty sure that not smelling me, or hearing us (my husband snores) possibly contributed to his longer snooze – since we formula feed, I could control how much food I was giving them for night wakings (yay for formula!) because they don’t just magically sleep through the night forever you know?

So after the 4 month regression and then the 8 month regression I think that’s when I started night weaning – so if they woke up twice a night I’d start with one of the feedings and if he got 4 ounces of milk, I’d take it down to 3 for a few nights, and then 2, and 1, and then let him cry a bit if he woke up again/rock him back to sleep with no bottle. Same for the second feeding a few days/weeks later. That seemed to do the trick with both of them.

Q5 Once sleeping through did you have many setbacks after that?

I do remember the 4 month sleep regression with both of them. They both knocked it out of the park with two wakings every night 1 and 4 am (like they both were exactly the same with this!)  and after they had been sleeping through for a few weeks. this went on for about 6 weeks exactly. then boom. slept through. miserable.

Q6 Views on ‘cry-it-out’ – did you do it/would you do it/what do you think of others doing it?

I did cry it out once the boys both hit about 9 months old and honestly I made my husband do it when I was at work because he is used to working with behaviors in his work.

At around 8 months they both started delaying bedtime, wanting to play, and extending everything. I think my oldest was 9 months old when we did CIO and we did extinction – if i sat in their room they cried harder. If I did check-ins they did worse and it extended. I was super clear about the fact that I wasn’t coming back in, that I was just in another room.

For both my boys it took one night of crying for about 45 minutes to finally fall asleep. The second night was maybe 5 minutes. And by the third night they both were fine and falling asleep without any additional crying:)

It felt like magic but it was great.

Mallory from Mama On Parade

Q1 When did your baby start sleeping through the night?

My baby was a pretty great sleeper (though not a great napper) from the beginning. I got really lucky. He started sleeping through at 6 weeks.

My son was sleeping 6 hours by week 3 and sleeping 10 hours by, I believe, 2 months. He would go to bed around 7 and was up around 5 for food, and then he would go back down for a couple of hours.

We never did a dream feed. I was always too scared of waking him up. All he needs is a catnap and he can be totally awake for hours. He was sleeping a solid 12-14 hours at night around 4 or 5 months.

Q2 Were you breastfeeding or bottle feeding at this time?

Exclusively pumped so bottle fed but on breastmilk

Q3 Do you attribute your baby sleeping through to something you did or didn’t do? What are your top 3 tips?

I do believe that making sure that he was full before bed and having a good diaper and clothing that would keep him comfortable for a longer period really helped.

Before I switched to pumping exclusively, my son would cluster feed for HOURS each night. It didn’t matter what I did. So once I switched to bottle feeding, I would just fill up a bottle and let him take as much as he wanted. That evening bottle remained his largest bottle until he was weaned. I really do believe that that helped us.

Q4 Was the sleeping through the night something that happened gradually or did it happen as a result of something you did specifically?

It happened gradually, but I did find that not immediately running to him when he made noise really helped. Sometimes he would talk or just make some general noise when he slept and I think I was waking him up by going in there to check on him. Not going in there and letting him settle down on his own made a huge difference.

Q5 Once sleeping through did you have many setbacks after that?

We rarely have setbacks at all. The only times he wakes up at night is when he’s sick or if he’s teething. His first teeth were troublesome, and he just had 4 pop through all at the same time recently and that was rough for a couple of days, but he still sleeps better than most. He’s 16.5 months old now.

His issue is mostly getting to sleep rather than staying asleep. He likes to play so sometimes he has trouble if he’s too wound up. If he wakes up at night, it’s typically from something else like a noise or possibly a nightmare. We’ve not really had an issue with sleep regressions though. *knock on wood*!

Q6 Views on ‘cry-it-out’ – did you do it/would you do it/what do you think of others doing it?

I have done the CIO method, though not extensively.

My son had a tendency to just want someone there even though he didn’t need to be held. He just wanted someone in the room. To get rid of that habit, we’ve done a bit of CIO. We don’t let him cry for long, and if he’s really crying rather than just whining then we go to him.  Sometimes he just needs to settle down on his own so that he’ll go to sleep.

I think that everyone is entitled to try what methods they feel is best for them and their family. I know people that are big fans of the CIO method and I know other people that despise it. I understand both sides and don’t feel the need to judge at all. Every baby is different and not every method will work on every child.

Sasha from Life’s Carousel

Q1 When did your baby start sleeping through the night?

My first baby was 10 weeks old (and he was premature too!). My second baby was very easy and slept through at 8 weeks old. Baby #3 was more of a challenge and didn’t sleep through the night until he was 12 weeks.

Q2 Were you breastfeeding or bottle feeding at this time?

My first was bottle fed. The other two were breastfed.

Q3 Do you attribute your baby sleeping through to something you did or didn’t do? What are your top 3 tips?

NUMBER 1: I always had a very strict routine.  The most important aspect of this was making sure that their first nap of the day wasn’t too long. I would wake them up, and that way they would be tired at lunchtime and take a good, long lunchtime nap. If they started to not sleep well at night, then I knew it was time to cut the morning nap back further.

NUMBER 2: I also believe in having a very dark nursery. That way if the baby wakes in the night (the way we all do), it’s completely dark, so they can’t see anything and it’s easier to fall back to sleep.

NUMBER 3:  My other tip would be once they are weaned, give them a high protein dinner (mashed avocado is great!). It helps fill them up, so they sleep longer.

I also did a dream feed: I’d put them to bed at 6pm. Wake them to feed about 10pm and then they would sleep until at least 6am (but normally 7am). When did I drop the 10pm feed? Ekk. Pretty early on for all of them. #1 and #2 about 3 months. #3 at the same time he started doing 8 hours I think.

Q4 Was the sleeping through the night something that happened gradually or did it happen as a result of something you did specifically?

I’m pretty sure it was gradual. If they started waking in the night again, then I would cut back on their naps and there would be an immediate response to that.

Q5 Once sleeping through did you have many setbacks after that?

Not due to teething, but when they were sick they would sometimes wake earlier. I always heard that teething was bad for sleep, but never experienced it!

The main problem was as the grew and needed less nap time, so it was a constant balancing act.

Q6 Views on ‘cry-it-out’ – did you do it/would you do it/what do you think of others doing it?

I guess I did a bit of “crying it out”. If they woke in the night, I would let them fuss for 3 minutes (I’d watch the clock to see exactly!), if they were still just moaning or whiny, I would wait another 3 minutes and so on. I’d only go to them if they were _really_ crying!

Babies often fuss and whine in the night, if you ignore it, they often stop and go back to sleep on their own.

Holly from Learning Momma

Q1 When did your baby start sleeping through the night?

8 weeks old for both our 2 girls

Q2 Were you breastfeeding or bottle feeding at this time?

Breastfeeding both

Q3 Do you attribute your baby sleeping through to something you did or didn’t do? What are your top 3 tips?

NUMBER 1: Letting them learn to settle themselves (being in the crib and given time to try to settle each sleep).  So not rushing in at the first murmur. We monitored it closely and helped them after an allotted amount of time, but we sought to teach them how to self-settle. I believe this is a big reason why our girls became good sleepers very early on.

NUMBER 2: Following a daytime schedule for sleep and feedings

NUMBER 3: Swaddling

Q4 Was the sleeping through the night something that happened gradually or did it happen as a result of something you did specifically?

The sleeping through the night was a slow progression of longer stretches until it became a full 12 hours. I think it was a result of the consistent training we were doing to help her learn to self soothe and to only wake out of hunger, but it was gradual.

For example – she started by extending from three hour overnight stretches to one that was five hours (around 3-4 weeks old I would guess) and then that five hour stretch became a 6-7 hour stretch, then 8-9, and finally settled at about one 12 hour stretch around 4 months old.

I also kept a routine 10:30pm feeding until about 3 months old (I think it was) so that the longer stretch fell over MY sleep time, but as her stretch got longer I eliminated that routine feeding so that she could sleep up to 12 hours.

Q5 Once sleeping through did you have many setbacks after that?

Our first daughter hit some hard regressions where she went through phases of waking at night again or having trouble going down, but once she would get past the phase she would sleep well again. I credit it to maintaining consistency with her routine and still allowing her time to try to settle even during those phases.

I think the longest phase I can remember that she had trouble in that first year after 4 months old was maybe a month or so (and it was usually waking once overnight or being too wired to fall asleep at bedtime).

Our second daughter was naturally a much easier sleeper. I don’t remember her hitting any phase of not going down or sleeping 12 hours through the night after 4 months. She hit phases of more difficult naps, but her overnight sleep stayed very consistent from that point on

Q6 Views on ‘cry-it-out’ – did you do it/would you do it/what do you think of others doing it?

We did allow our babies to cry a little to learn to settle. We monitored it closely and helped them after an allotted amount of time, but we sought to teach them how to self-settle. I believe this is a big reason why our girls became good sleepers very early on.

Audrey from Mommy Enlightened

Audrey talks about pregnancy, babies, and toddlers. Her real passion is helping mothers build confidence in motherhood, especially at the toddler-age.

Q1 When did your baby start sleeping through the night?

3 weeks and 8 weeks.  That doesn’t mean we didn’t occasionally have nights where they didn’t sleep, but at that point, they were MOSTLY sleeping through every night.

My kids were sleeping twelve hours straight by 2 and a half months (although this could have happened earlier, we woke them because it seemed too long to go without eating) – and my oldest was sleeping for 9 hours by 3 weeks. She was gaining weight so we didn’t wake her before that.

Q2 Were you breastfeeding or bottle feeding at this time?

Breastfeeding both

Q3 Do you attribute your baby sleeping through to something you did or didn’t do? What are your top 3 tips?

The thing is, I don’t think there is a “special” technique to get babies to sleep because all kids are going to be a little different.

With that said – I DO believe there are things you can do to make the transition to overnight sleeping easier on yourself.  Although it seems basic, it’s actually really hard work in practice (impossible for some families) and that’s why many parents have troubles. There are always exceptions, but I think a few basic lifestyle changes can make a difference.

NUMBER 1: I think the BEST thing that helped my babies sleep was consistency in routine. Before bedtime every night, we spent an hour winding down. Low lights, peaceful sounds, a story, a bath, and pajamas. We didn’t miss a night in the first two months for my first.

With my second, we were a little less consistent because we had an older child running around, but I would say we were consistent 99 percent of the time. I think it makes a BIG difference.

NUMBER 2: We also stayed very quiet when our babies were sleeping. I know people say that babies are used to noise and that it’s ok to be noisy around them, but this isn’t how we did it. Once the baby was asleep we tip-toed around the house.

With my second child, staying quiet obviously did not work with her sister running around (which is part of the reason I think it took longer for her to sleep through the night).

To solve this, we got a white noise machine for my youngest. Both of my kids and I still use one every night, which I think really helped her avoid waking from the startle reflex, which can be easily initiated by sudden loud noises (as well as other environmental changes).

NUMBER 4: With my youngest, she just didn’t want to be alone. We bought a little Fisher Price projector (seriously these are awesome!) that she could watch and it helped lull her to sleep.

NUMBER 5: We used a swaddle every night and I think that attributed to it as well.

Q4 Was the sleeping through the night something that happened gradually or did it happen as a result of something you did specifically?

Sleeping through the night happened smoothly and gradually, although that wasn’t without setbacks. On the nights where things were different (such as a different environment, not using the swaddle, or not having a winding down period) we had a harder getting and keeping our babies asleep.

Q5 Once sleeping through did you have many setbacks after that?

The only sleep regression we noticed was with my second daughter at 8 months, when she started crawling. Other than that though – teeth and illness did not seem to affect how much they slept, they were just crankier during the day.

Q6 Views on ‘cry-it-out’ – did you do it/would you do it/what do you think of others doing it?

I did not do cry-it-out on my kids, and I personally cannot imagine a situation where this would be necessary.

With that said, there are plenty of things that I have said I would never do as a parent that I HAVE done (like letting my toddler eat those McDonald’s chicken nuggets) so I will not judge another parent for doing what they think is the right thing for their family.

Renee from Rhythms + Grace

I’m Renee Cook, and we had 4 kids in 5 years while paying off 6 figures of student loan debt. I write about babies, budgeting, grace and everything in between over at Rhythms + Grace.

Q1 When did your baby start sleeping through the night?

All 4 sleeping through by 6-10 weeks old and 11-12 hours through the night by 12-16 weeks old. All 4 varied a lot in personality and disposition, and our most “difficult” child to sleep train took until 16 weeks to go the full 12 hours consistently.

Q2 Were you breastfeeding or bottle feeding at this time?

I was exclusively breastfeeding while we sleep trained.

Q3 Do you attribute your baby sleeping through to something you did or didn’t do? What are your top 3 tips?

Though you might luck out with a really easy baby now and then, we have observed that many babies have to be taught to sleep well. We were lost and confused when our first child was born. She wouldn’t sleep unless held and it seemed like she wanted to be nursing all the time.
Between that and postpartum hormones, I was an exhausted mess!

Our pediatrician and a dear friend both gave us invaluable sleep training advice and I read a couple books… who knew you could do specific things to make a teeny tiny newborn sleep better and be happier when awake!? (I didn’t!!) After doing these things with all 4 of our kids, I ended up writing my own sleep training ebook guide for other parents who want to use the same principles with their kids You can read reviews of the guide at Thegoodnightbabybook.com

Ever since that first baby we were clueless with, we recommend using these principles as soon as you get home from the hospital and are ready. With our other children, we did these 3 things within the first week they were born.

1. Wake your baby to eat every 3 hours during the day. (i.e. 7 am, 10 am, 1 pm).

If you let the baby sleep longer than 3 hours any given stretch during the day, the baby won’t get the amount of milk he needs during the day time, and will wake more frequently at night to eat. At night, let the baby sleep as long as he or she will go.

2. Get the baby full at every single feeding. If the baby dozes off while nursing, do whatever you can to wake the baby back up and continue feeding until the baby is full. (Usually AT LEAST 10 minutes of actual nursing for a newborn… they are often slow eaters as they are still developing the skills and muscles it takes to eat!) Take a break during the feeding session to burp to try to avoid tummy pains.

If you’re breastfeeding, the feeding session may take up to 30-45 minutes even! You and baby are still learning how to nurse. Plus, there’s time spent latching, re-latching, waking baby up from dozing off, changing diapers, burping, etc… It’s all very slow! But if you can get baby ALL THE WAY FULL at each feeding, he will be able to go another 2.5-3 hours until eating during the day and will stretch his night time feedings very quickly!

3. Put baby down for a nap swaddled and awake! The first few weeks, babies basically sleep all the time. But once the baby is more alert, you want them to be on a schedule of 1 hour awake, 2 hours asleep. (Here’s the secret to long naps.)

4.Develop a simple pre-naptime routine that doesn’t involve nursing or rocking to sleep. Ours was: Darken room and turn on white noise machine, swaddle (we used velcro to keep it snug + safe until they learn to roll, then you drop the swaddle), lay baby down (tired but awake) and say “goodnight

They’ll grow into being able to stay awake for 1.5 hours, which shifts their naps to be 1.5 hours as well. Maintain the 3 hours feeding schedule during the days until the baby starts adding baby food around 4-6 months. Here is my post about baby schedules for the entire first year!

Q4 Was the sleeping through the night something that happened gradually or did it happen as a result of something you did specifically?

Gradually between approx ages 3-16 weeks they started stretching out the night feedings… Bc of the method we were using

Q5 Once sleeping through did you have many setbacks after that?

We’ve had normal set back such as teething, sick, growth spurts they would wake to eat more, 4-month sleep regression, etc.  Those types of things usually last about a week give or take depending on what it is and then they go back to their normal sleeping pattern.

Q6 – We do use cry it out if necessary, but it’s not as commonly needed when you start our basic scheduling principles with your newborn. Every so often, even a baby who sleeps really well will wake themselves up, or be overtired and crabby when it’s bedtime!

In those situations, where we are confident our baby is fed, clean, not sick and just needs sleep… we do let our baby cry. Often it’s less than 10 minutes if he’s just tired. Occasionally, we go in and give them a “reset,” but snuggling and rocking and calming down and then putting them down again.

Those types of things usually last about a week give or take depending on what it is and then they go back to their normal sleeping pattern.

Q6 Views on ‘cry-it-out’ – did you do it/would you do it/what do you think of others doing it?

We do use cry it out if necessary, but it’s not as commonly needed when you start our basic scheduling principles with your newborn. Every so often, even a baby who sleeps really well will wake themselves up, or be overtired and crabby when it’s bedtime!

In those situations, where we are confident our baby is fed, clean, not sick and just needs sleep… we do let our baby cry. Often it’s less than 10 minutes if he’s just tired.

Occasionally, we go in and give them a “reset,” but snuggling and rocking and calming down and then putting them down again.

Moms with babies that slept through the night between 3 months and 1 year

Christina from Raising Biracial Babies

Christina writes about pregnancy, childbirth, parenting, and mixed kids.

Q1 When did your baby start sleeping through the night?

Without nursing they were around 1 years old

Q2 Were you breastfeeding or bottle feeding at this time?

Breastfeeding both

Q3 Do you attribute your baby sleeping through to something you did or didn’t do? What are your top 3 tips?

What definitely helped me was having them sleep next to me so I could nurse them when needed. They would start to root around and I felt and heard them so I would roll over and start nursing them. They never woke up, which allowed me to get more sleep too.

If I hadn’t had them next to me they would definitely have woken up multiple times at night to nurse.

Q4 Was the sleeping through the night something that happened gradually or did it happen as a result of something you did specifically?

It was a gradual process. I would decrease nursing sessions little by little.

With my first I gave her a pacifier instead of nursing and it took a few weeks of doing that to stop nursing at night. Which also meant sleeping without needing anything from me.

With my second I gave him a bottle to replace nursing sessions and gradually reduced those over a couple of weeks. At that time he could sleep without needing anything from me.

Q5 Once sleeping through did you have many setbacks after that?

They didn’t have many sleep regressions. Every once in a while they would have trouble sleeping and I could only attribute it to developmental growth spurts.

Q6 Views on ‘cry-it-out’ – did you do it/would you do it/what do you think of others doing it?

I didn’t do cry it out with my kids. I couldn’t handle hearing them cry especially when they were so little because I knew they weren’t doing it for fun, they needed something.

My kids never cried at night because they had everything they needed right next to them, (comfort and food). For my family it worked out better because we all got more sleep!

Beck from Mom Beach

Q1 When did your baby start sleeping through the night?

7 months old.

Q2 Were you breastfeeding or bottle feeding at this time?

Bottle feeding

Q3 Do you attribute your baby sleeping through to something you did or didn’t do? What are your top tips?

I would rub Bryan’s feet with lavender doTerra essential oils. I would give him a bath with Johnson’s lavender baby wash. There would be a lavender diffuser in his room too. Lavender helped him calm down and get to sleep.

I also sang his “Bryan song”.

Q4 Was the sleeping through the night something that happened gradually or did it happen as a result of something you did specifically?

I put a worn shirt in his crib to help him sleep. It had my scent on it. That helped him sleep better

Q5 Once sleeping through did you have many setbacks after that?

He started to have teeth pain later on so would wake up. He also had gas so would wake because of that at 4-8 months. It was hard finding the right formula.  We ended up with Similac gentle formula.

Q6 Views on ‘cry-it-out’ – did you do it/would you do it/what do you think of others doing it?

Cry it Out isn’t a good technique. It teaches babies they won’t get attention if they cry. Babies need all the attention so you should never ignore their cries. I would always attend to Bryan whenever he cried. He needed something so that’s why he cried out. He might be wet, hungry, need comforting, etc

Lacey from Simple Quiet Mama

Q1 When did your baby start sleeping through the night?

10 – 12 months old for both our girls.  At this point, they were sleeping 6 pm-8 am ish. Give or take a bit.

Q2 Were you breastfeeding or bottle feeding at this time?

Breastfeeding both

Q3 Do you attribute your baby sleeping through to something you did or didn’t do? What are your top tips?

With both girls, we used a “soft” form of cry-it-out. I absolutely do *not* believe in putting a baby in a crib and letting them cry alone without any reassurance.

With our oldest, we spent about 10 days training. The first 3 days we sat right next to her crib until she fell asleep. The next 3 we sat a few feet away. The next 3 we sat in the doorway. Night 10 we left the room and would come back to reassure her every 5-10 minutes if she needed it. She’d usually be asleep within a few minutes.

With our youngest, sitting next to the crib did *not* work. We did a modified version of the Ferber method. I’d lay her down and let her cry for 3 minutes, assure her, let her cry for 5, assure her, and then would assure her every 7 minutes after that. The next night we’d move it back 2 minutes (5, 7, 9 minutes). Each night we’d move it back 2 more minutes. By night 3 she had it down.

My top tips for sleep training: If someone other than the breastfeeding mother can go in to reassure the baby, let them. Be consistent. Choose a method and stick to it.

Understand that you’ll most likely have to train them over and over again due to travel, sickness, etc. it’s not a one-and-done thing.

Q4 Was the sleeping through the night something that happened gradually or did it happen as a result of something you did specifically?

It happened over the course of a few nights due to the soft cry-it-out. When they’d cry, my husband would step in there to check on them. They figured out pretty quickly that daddy means no nursing, so night wakings just kind of stopped after a few nights.

Q5 Once sleeping through did you have many setbacks after that?

There are still nights occasionally when my youngest will wake, but that’s usually during a period of growth or teething. We adjust as necessary, and if I feel like she’s hurting or feeling bad I’ll nurse. But as soon as she’s on the upswing, we start sending my husband in there again and within a night or two she’s sleeping through again without waking. Hope I explained that in a way that makes sense!

Q6 Views on ‘cry-it-out’ – did you do it/would you do it/what do you think of others doing it?

See answers at Q3.

Madelyn from The Perceptive Babe

Q1 When did your baby start sleeping through the night?

Around 12 months old for both. Up until then, when they woke, it was for a feed and change, and they would fall back asleep

Q2 Were you breastfeeding or bottle feeding at this time?

I breastfed my first, breastfed and bottle fed my second.

Q3 Do you attribute your baby sleeping through to something you did or didn’t do? What are your top tips?

I feel like everybody’s first child is bit of a ‘guinea pig,’ in the respect that you are learning as you go, because everything is just so new and confusing at times. There were plenty of things that I told myself while getting through the rough patches of sleep with my first that I would do differently with my future children.

The top 3 tips I can offer are:

Be consistent with timing. Babies, and children in general, thrive on routine. Specific nap times and bed times go a long way in training their internal clocks.

Be consistent with routines. Whether it is a soothing music playlist, special blanket, a bath right before bed, or something else, a routine of specific activities help set the sleepy tone.

Always make sleep a positive experience by reassuring them that you are there for them. If they need you, respond. Following a pattern of responding to their needs in a timely manner will build that trust.

Q5 Once sleeping through did you have many setbacks after that?

Babies cry. Do I believe in putting them in a room, walking away for 2 hours (or however long you wish for their nap to be), and not responding to their cries whatsoever? No, I do not. Unfortunately, that is what a lot of people believe the cry-it-out method entails. I do believe not giving them a few moments to fuss before responding to soothe can be detrimental to encouraging a sleep routine. There has to be a balance found between Being there too much and too little.

When first beginning this journey, I like to follow a progressive delay type of technique. I go more into this in my blog post about a No-Fail Baby Sleep Routine, but basically it involves waiting to go in to soothe them for an extra minute between each time you go in the room to soothe them.

Q6 Views on ‘cry-it-out’ – did you do it/would you do it/what do you think of others doing it?

Babies cry. Do I believe in putting them in a room, walking away for 2 hours (or however long you wish for their nap to be), and not responding to their cries whatsoever? No, I do not.

Unfortunately, that is what a lot of people believe the cry-it-out method entails. I do believe not giving them a few moments to fuss before responding to soothe can be detrimental to encouraging a sleep routine.

There has to be a balance found between being there too much and too little.  When first beginning this journey, I like to follow a progressive delay type of technique. I go more into this on my blog, but basically, it involves waiting to go in to soothe them for an extra minute between each time you go in the room to soothe them.

Janneke from Financially Independent Mom

Q1 When did your baby start sleeping through the night?

#1: Around 4-6 months, but definitively not every night.#2: Around 10 months, but not all nights either. He’s 3 now and still wakes up most nights. HE usually wants a cuddle and/or sleep with mom or dad.

Q2 Were you breastfeeding or bottle feeding at this time?

They both were bottle fed at that time.

Q3 Do you attribute your baby sleeping through to something you did or didn’t do? What are your top tips?

The first months we didn’t do much to make them sleep through. Both of them slept next to us in a baby bed that was attached to our bed. So when they woke up, it was easy to reassure them. Around 6 months we transferred them to their own room during the night.

#1 was a hungry baby, so we added rice flour to his late night bottle when he was 4 months old to help him sleep through the night.

#2 still came at night for a bottle at 9 months. We decided to give him less every night and after a week or 2, he didn’t need his bottle anymore at night.

My tips:

Put your child in bed while he is awake, to learn to fall asleep on his own.

Don’t get the baby out of bed at every sound. Give them a chance to fall asleep on their own again.

When they are crying, go to them, don’t leave your tiny baby alone when he’s upset. If they know you are close if they need you, they will feel safe.

Q4 Was the sleeping through the night something that happened gradually or did it happen as a result of something you did specifically?

It happened gradually. Some nights went well and then a few nights didn’t. Now that the boys are 5 and 3.5, they still wake up sometimes. The little one a lot.

Q5 Once sleeping through did you have many setbacks after that?

Yes, definitely. They both had a major setback around 20-22 months. Didn’t want to go to sleep at all. But it was a phase. After that it went better. They both have never slept through the night for a whole week in a row.

Q6 Views on ‘cry-it-out’ – did you do it/would you do it/what do you think of others doing it?

No, never! I hate it when people do that to their baby. The tiny little thing has been in a warm and safe environment for 9 months and suddenly he’s cold and alone and no one is coming when he’s sad, upset, lonely or whatever. No, I could never do that to a baby.

Amber from Low Carb Quick

Amber focusses on how she lost her baby weight with a low carb diet.

Q1 When did your baby start sleeping through the night?

He started sleeping through the night at 9 months.

There were mostly 9-10 hour nights until about a year and then he slept for about 10-11 hours.

Q2 Were you breastfeeding or bottle feeding at this time?

Bottle feeding at the time.

Q3 Do you attribute your baby sleeping through to something you did or didn’t do? What are your top 3 tips?

Strategies were rocking mostly, teddy bear/comfort object and feeding before bedtime.

Q4 Was the sleeping through the night something that happened gradually or did it happen as a result of something you did specifically?

It happened gradually, with some nights being better than others

Q5 Once sleeping through did you have many setbacks after that?

Only when teething did he regress.

Q6 Views on ‘cry-it-out’ – did you do it/would you do it/what do you think of others doing it?

Didn’t use cry it out, but instead a five-minute rule. If he’s still upset after five minutes, go cuddle him.

Marybeth from LifeStyle For Real Life

Q1 When did your baby start sleeping through the night?

My daughter didn’t sleep through the night for at least a year. My son was more like around 6 months.

But my daughter was rough… We coslept, although I didn’t even know that was a thing at the time, I was just too exhausted to keep getting up with her at night. When I look back at her, I realize she probably had some type of sleep and/or reflux problem because I don’t think it was normal, the amount of crying, spitting up and not sleeping she did.

She’s got anxiety and I’ve often wondered if it was that even at that young age.

My son was much easier, he was sleeping through the night I’d say around 6 months, but then he learned to climb out of his crib at about 18 months, I think?  Shortly after he could walk (he walked late) and so we got him a bed and then he would wake up sometimes and come into our room.

Q2 Were you breastfeeding or bottle feeding at this time?

My daughter was breastfed (or bottle fed breast milk while she was being babysat while I worked) and my son was bottle fed breast milk with some formula supplementing until 8 months.

He never learned to latch well and I found pumping and bottle-feeding much easier.

Q3 Do you attribute your baby sleeping through to something you did or didn’t do? What are your top 3 tips?

I think my not sleeper was a combination of me not really understanding what she wanted all the time. I think I definitely overfed her and I think cosleeping was a mistake for us.

But then again, I tried every method for getting your baby to sleep through the night and none of them worked (at least any I could get my hands on at the time). So, I think probably, she just is who she is and has been since she was born

With my son, getting him used to being in his own sleeping place (bassinet, then crib), probably helped.

Moms with babies that slept through the night later than 1-year-old

Samantha from Evidence-Based Mommy

Samantha is committed to empowering parents to thrive while raising resilient, compassionate kids.

Q1 When did your baby start sleeping through the night?

2.5 for my oldest, around 1.5-2 with my middle and 2 for my youngest. They pretty much went to about 11-12 hours per night as their “sleep through the night” since they were older.

Q2 Were you breastfeeding or bottle feeding at this time?

I breastfed all my children into toddlerhood (my youngest is 26 months and still breastfeeds)

Q3 Do you attribute your baby sleeping through to something you did or didn’t do? What are your top 3 tips?

I night-weaned both my girls around 14 months because each time I was pregnant with the next baby and didn’t feel well enough to be waking up to nurse.  But they’d still wake up fussing and we would cuddle them.

I attempted to night-wean my little boy around 15 months, but it involved a week of crying and screaming and ultimately didn’t “stick.”

When I tried night-weaning again when he was a little over two, it was much easier and he was regularly sleeping through the night within a few weeks.

To some degree, I believe that sleeping through the night is a developmental milestone like walking or talking. You can encourage it, but you can’t make it happen. The best things I’ve learned from my three children on sleep is to practice acceptance and just go to bed early. Soon enough it’ll be better and you can stay up for your Netflix binges no worries!

With my first child, I went crazy, upset because everyone told me my child “should” be sleeping all night already, but it just wasn’t happening. But with my second and third kids, I took the pressure off myself.

Q4 Was the sleeping through the night something that happened gradually or did it happen as a result of something you did specifically?

The oldest just eventually stopped waking at night (thank God), nothing that we did. There for a while before that my husband slept with her while I co-slept with the new baby. With the youngest, he started sleeping through the night a few months after he was night weaned. I think it was no longer worth it to wake me up.

Q5 Once sleeping through did you have many setbacks after that?

Teeth and developmental leaps certainly affected sleep patterns. My son getting sick soon after the first time we attempted night weaning was the reason we fell off the wagon

Q6 Views on ‘cry-it-out’ – did you do it/would you do it/what do you think of others doing it?

I personally do not believe crying-it-out is best for babies. Babies are designed to wake frequently and eat frequently. There is evidence that suggests that babies that have been “sleep trained” are actually very stressed at being left alone, but they have learned not to cry because no one will come to help them.

I know that there’s a lot of controversy surrounding sleep. A paper from 2012 shows that infants have a ton of cortisol circulating around when they’re left to CIO, even though they’re silent. A lot of it is a matter of disrupting the mother-child dyad as a unit because their physiology is no longer synced up. But then there’s other papers that show that older kids who were left to CIO as infants were fine later. You know how it is, it’s hard to put all the pieces together in science. But co sleeping definitely worked for us!

Christa from The House That Never Slumbers

Christa is the mother of four living in rural Indiana.  Her blog chronicles the sometimes hectic life of a large family – covering ideas for frugal living, DIY, family travel, homesteading, redneck outdoor adventures, food, genealogy, and product reviews.

Q1 When did your baby start sleeping through the night?

None of my four were sleeping through the night at 1 year, probably not even at 2 years. Actually, my 14-year-old still doesn’t sleep through the night, but it’s okay because neither do I.

Q2 Were you breastfeeding or bottle feeding at this time?

Breastfeeding for all.

Q3 Do you attribute your baby sleeping through to something you did or didn’t do? What are your top 3 tips?

I did not try to get my babies to sleep through the night. During my first pregnancy, I was in college and taking educational psychology where I learned a lot about how the brain develops and matures.

Babies were designed to wake frequently. It’s a built-in protection mechanism for them to keep all their immature body systems alert. They were made with tiny tummies that need food often to protect them because it means someone is checking on them all through the night. Trying to get a baby to sleep soundly through the night is overriding their natural survival instincts.

Q4 Was the sleeping through the night something that happened gradually or did it happen as a result of something you did specifically?

Sleeping through the night just happened gradually as they got older, but my 15-year-old (3rd child) is like me and still doesn’t sleep through the night The other three do.

Q5 Once sleeping through did you have many setbacks after that?

As far as illness, they generally woke up every couple of hours to nurse if they were sick even as toddlers, but I considered that a positive because I knew they were staying hydrated and getting all the immunity benefits of the breastmilk. Teething definitely caused some sleep disruptions for brief periods.

Q6 Views on ‘cry-it-out’ – did you do it/would you do it/what do you think of others doing it?

I think people can raise their children however they want. It’s not my business what another mother is doing. We all do what we have to do to survive at the moment, and I don’t know what other stresses or factors may be going on that would make someone unable/unwilling to pick up a baby.

However, letting a child cry it out is not something I could do. It’s just such a bad idea from a brain development standpoint. If you research Erik Erikson’s theory on the stages of psychosocial development, Trust versus Mistrust is the first stage of development. If a child’s needs are consistently met, they develop trust.

If they are left to cry with their needs not being met, they develop mistrust and potentially have issues later. When a baby cries, it’s because s/he has a need, and that need might just be the need to be held and to feel safe and secure because the mother/father/caregiver is there.

Being held and comforted is a very legitimate need for a baby.

Andie from The Mummy Front

Q1 When did your baby start sleeping through the night?

1st child at 7 weeks… second child at 4 years

Q2 Were you breastfeeding or bottle feeding at this time?

Breastfeeding baby number 1, my second was on to solids when he started sleeping through

Q3 Do you attribute your baby sleeping through to something you did or didn’t do? What are your top 3 tips?

No tips, I think it all depends on the child as I followed the same routine for both, which was bedtime at 7 pm

Q4 Was the sleeping through the night something that happened gradually or did it happen as a result of something you did specifically?

I found that my first was sleeping better gradually, I found that once she moved onto solids I was making the mistake of giving her dinner too early which meant she started waking more and earlier, shifting her dinner from 3pm to 5pm really helped her to settle better at bedtime. I don’t know why I ever thought 3pm was dinner time, I guess as a new mum I just didn’t know.

Q5 Once sleeping through did you have many setbacks after that?

The normal things like teething and illness was disruptive.

Q6 Views on ‘cry-it-out’ – did you do it/would you do it/what do you think of others doing it?

Personally, I don’t like the thought of leaving a baby to cry it out.

I felt like my baby needed me when he was crying and I wanted to give him that comfort and security that he wasn’t alone.

The thought of my child accepting ‘no one was coming so what’s the point’ upsets me but at the same time I wouldn’t be giving my child increased attention, like engaging them in conversation when they were meant to be sleeping

Eventually, I co-slept with my second because it was the easiest way to get the most sleep and everyone was happier and more chilled out. He’s 5 now and we still co-sleep. I can’t get enough of his cuddles 🙂

Anna from Abrazo and Coze

Q1 When did your baby start sleeping through the night?

2 years

Q2 Were you breastfeeding or bottle feeding at this time?

Breastfeeding, right up till she started sleeping through an 8-hour stretch.

Q3 Do you attribute your baby sleeping through to something you did or didn’t do? What are your top 3 tips?

I definitely attribute night weaning to her sleeping through an 8-hour stretch. Once she realized the milk bar was closed for business, she started either sleeping through or putting herself back to sleep without help from milkies if she woke.

My strategy was to follow Jay Gordon’s gentle night weaning method. I modified it, however, to suit the needs of my baby.

I don’t know that my tips help to get kids to sleep through the night… when possible, I think it’s nice to cuddle with your kids when they need help falling to sleep. Eventually, they will sleep on their own. But of course, parents need sleep, too, so balance is nice.

Q5 Once sleeping through did you have many setbacks after that?

The only setbacks have been temporary. When she is sick, she tends to wake up more often and need me.

Q6 Views on ‘cry-it-out’ – did you do it/would you do it/what do you think of others doing it?

Not a fan of cry it out. I tried it with my eldest for about 10 minutes. It is not for me.

Plus, science suggests it isn’t great for kids, either. I think parents do what they believe is best, and I do my best not to judge what other parents choose to do or not do. I’m not walking in their shoes.

Keyona from Professional Momma

Q1 When did your baby start sleeping through the night?

21 months (at which point she slept through 12 hours)

Q2 Were you breastfeeding or bottle feeding at this time?

Breastfeeding

Q3 Do you attribute your baby sleeping through to something you did or didn’t do? What are your top 3 tips?

Although my daughter was sleeping well at night at about 3 months old, she would only stay asleep if the breast was readily available.  Night weaning her at 21 months was the only thing that has got her to sleep in her crib independently.

I started a sleep training program when she was 8 months. The program was really good, I just sucked at sticking with it in its entirety.

The point of it was to create a gentle transition where your baby would learn how to fall asleep on their own during a course of 21 days.

This course helped with a few specific aspects:

NUMBER 1: It helped us create a bedtime routine: dinner, bath, reading books, milk, and then it was time for night night. My daughter caught on to the new routine quickly and had no trouble going to sleep by 7 pm.

The course also harped on consistency, which is very important. Babies and toddler thrive on a routine. They need to know what to expect next.

NUMBER 3: The final tip is to give your child the opportunity to learn how to self soothe. So many times we comfort them as soon as we here a whimper. The thing is, they don’t always need that but we are teaching them that they can’t get back to sleep without us.

Q6 Views on ‘cry-it-out’ – did you do it/would you do it/what do you think of others doing it?

So I was very against crying it out and was only interested in gentle sleep training methods.

The truth is? There’s no sleep training that doesn’t involve some amount of tears. The importance is making sure your baby knows you are there and that they are loved.

Carol-Ann is an NICU nurse who blogs at Ask The NICU Nurse

Speaking from the perspective of a NICU nurse, I have some comments on when you can expect your baby to start sleeping through the night, things that can affect that age, and things you can do to help encourage the process!

(However, none of this should be taken as medical advice and you should always talk to your pediatrician if you have questions or concerns)

Q1 When can you expect babies to start sleeping through the night?

Newborns need to be woken up every 3-4 hours to feed until they have good weight gain, which will usually happen within the first few weeks.

After that, they may sleep up to 5 hours at a time (their tiny bellies empty after ~5 hours then they get hungry and need to be fed again). They may need to be fed more often during the day for this long stretch to happen at night.

The earliest you can expect your baby to sleep ~8 hour stretches at night is 3 months – usually with a couple interruptions (that don’t require feeding), and a couple daytime naps.

Q2 Does it make a difference whether or not you breastfeed or bottle feed?

Breastfed babies almost always take longer to sleep through the night.

Breast milk has A LOT of benefits, one of which is moving things through the digestive system (this is why breastfed babies tend to poop more frequently than formula fed babies!). This is great for gut health, but since things move more quickly, baby will likely be hungry more often.

However, babies can be sensitive to formula and can also suck in more air while bottle feeding. So if not fed/burped properly they can end up with a lot of gas pain and not be able to sleep because of it.

Q3 What are your top tips for getting baby to sleep through the night?

We have a strategy in the NICU for getting babies to fall asleep quickly and stay asleep. I have a lot of tips I could get into here, but if I had to pick my top 3…a.

1 – Make sure baby eats enough before nighttime sleep to keep them full and burps well after to get rid of some of that gas.b.

2 – Create a sleeping environment similar to your womb from day 1 if possible. Very dark (babies don’t need nightlights), swaddled or in a sleep sack, and white noise.c.

3 – Try not to pick your baby back up after placing them in the crib for sleep. If they’re upset, try giving them a pacifier, shushing them (especially if you don’t use white noise), and patting them gently. If they’re losing their mind screaming, picking them up may be the only solution, but put them back as soon as they calm down enough.

Q6 Views on ‘cry-it-out’?

My feelings on letting baby “cry it out”, as someone who has spent some time studying babies and developmental psychology, are pretty straightforward.

Allowing baby to be fussy (not screaming crying) for several minutes before you go in to intervene is fine. Babies can sometimes soothe themselves back to sleep after being fussy.

But not responding to a screaming baby is not appropriate for developmental reasons. They won’t learn to “self-soothe”, they will learn that they can’t depend on or trust anyone to help them when they really need it (based on Erikson’s Stages of Development).

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Hi, I'm Sarah

Mum of two outrageously gorgeous and ridiculously energetic toddlers – A.K.A. not so little, Littllees.  I’m determined to give them the best without losing my mind.  I reckon it’s possible.  Most days.  

I love a challenge and have to find out they ‘why’, ‘what’ or ‘how to’  –  there are rather a lot of these when it comes to kids… 

I also love, love, love things to be neat and tidy and just so.   The Littlees normally have other ideas!  

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