I’m not sure if there is any one thing that we did to get Wilf sleeping through but I want to share our journey with you. If there is even just one thing that you can take away from this post then I have helped someone.
Wilf started sleeping through from eight months old, but our journey to get there started much earlier than that.
At eight weeks old I started to breastfeed Wilf upon waking during the day, instead if feeding him to nap. He took to this change really well and it helped to know when he would be feeding. Wilf was still sleeping on us for naps, he was not one to be put down at this age, aside from a few successful transfers into his bouncer.
At 16 weeks we introduced a bedtime routine. It started at 6.30pm and we alternated between a bath or a top and tail each night, got him dried and dressed, zipped into his sleeping bag and then I would breastfeed him for around 45 minutes (at five months I started to feed on each side and should have done this to start with).
He would feed until he fell asleep at around 7.30pm at which point I transferred him to his bed in our room (we were using our pram bassinet as he didn’t like the moses. I which we would of had a co-sleeper).
Dunc would then wake Wilf (or sometimes he would wake anyway) at around 10-11pm, change his nappy and bottle feed him (the dream feed). This was the first formula we introduced (you can read more about our feeding journey over here). The idea being that this would see him through for start of the night allowing me to get some much needed sleep.
At first he still woke after a couple of hours but this gradually got later till he could make it through till 2am. Ensuring the formula feed was done sooner helped with this as it stopped him going into a deep sleep. I would always breastfeed him when he woke.
At five and a half months we moved him into his own room. This was the start of sleeping sucess. I was worried about running between rooms in the middle of a cold winter night, but actually it was fine. Even if he stirred as much I didn’t hear it so there was less waking/feeding going on. In fact, almost immediately he went through till 4am.
Once he had slept through till 4am, I knew he no longer needed feeding earlier. So if he woke before 3.00-3.30 I would cuddle him then settle him back down in his cot. Sometimes I had to do this a few times before he realised he wasn’t getting the comfort of a breastfeed. I should probably also point out that we introduced a dummy for sleeping at around two-three months old for a comforter, so we would give him his dummy and leave him.
By the time he was six months old it was very rare that he woke before 4am at which point he would breastfeed for an hour before going back to sleep for an hour or two.
So to recap. Fell asleep during feed at 7.30pm. Dream feed at 10pm. Then slept till 4am for another feed. Finally the last sleep stint last till 6-7am.
At this stage we also started to get somewhere with daytime naps taking place in the cot which had been a huge battle but he was finally starting to get it. Using a sleeping bag instead of a blanket helped massively with this as I guess the sleeping bag was a sleep cue for him.
This bedtime routine continued until around eight months when I stopped breastfeeding. This meant that he had formula after his bath. The formula milk rarely sent him to sleep so it would be followed by a story or two. We started by holding him till he fell asleep, before the danger transfer into the cot (much harder when it is at the lower level!).
We didn’t have much sucess and both decided that we needed him to fall asleep independently. I was worried about changing too much at once. Whenever we changed something with bedtime I tried to do one small change at a time to avoid confusion for him. However as it turned out, making a change was generally the natural start of more changes, to which he adjusted with relative ease.
We knew that we needed to both be doing the exact same thing upon putting him to bed. You can create your own version of this but it is important to say/do the same things.
We would hold him for a few minutes before kissing him and putting him down in his cot. Then as we left the room we would turn off the light and say “night night”. Obviously when we started this it was completley new to him so there was some crying and we would just go back in, pick him up, hold him for two to three minutes before repating the pattern of kissing him, putting him in his cot and saying “night night” as we left the room.
It took about two weeks before he got this, but he soon realised that this was how things were and that he could fall asleep independently. We never really did the ‘cry it out’ system. But we also didn’t run in to him when we were confident that he was okay.
The last issue we encountered were waking up times. Wilf assumed that waking at 5am was okay. This made sense as he no longer had a dream feed which meant his long sleep stint started earlier and so he woke earlier. We just made it very clear that before 7am was still night time. No lights went on, no blinds were opened, we didn’t go downstairs, we stayed in our bed (brought him in) and stayed quiet. Often he would fall back asleep. This meant one thing. He was still tired.
Armed with this information, after a few weeks we reinstated our routine of holding, kissing, putting back in cot, saying “night night” and leaving the room and he really quickly started to sleep later and later. Until he reguarly slept a good 12 straight hours each night. We couldn’t believe it and were sure it wouldn’t last, but it did!
We are 10 months down the road and he still sleeps through every single night.
I can count on one hand the number of times he has woken in the evening, but he always settled back quickly anyway.
Rounding back to daytime naps as soon as he was settled at night, he immediately started napping perfectly and would always go down awake (but tired). I never thought we would get there with napping so to have around 9 months of perfect long naps was divine.
Thankfully naps and nightime sleeping were all sorted before my return to work when he was nine and a half months old.
So to round up:
- Early on make sure daytime naps are based on being fed to sleep
- Introduce a bedtime routine at the same time each night
- Think about sleep cues such as a comforter, a sleeping bag, a cuddly toy, etc
- If possible, let your partner do the dream feed to give you several hours rest before the early morning feeds commence
- Take cues from your baby to help stretch out sleep stints
- Move them into their own room sooner rather than later (ensure their room and cot are a familiar place first)
- Don’t stress about naps until night time is sorted
- Introduce a simple routine for placing them in their cot
Most importantly, stick to your guns. Yes I know that feeling when you’re bleary eyed at 2am and you will do anything for a few more minutes peace but trust me when I say that a few days or weeks of pain are totally worth months of reliable, dependable sleeping.
Also, trying to do different things but not following them through will only confuse your baby more.
Please comment below if you have any tips to add or any questions to ask.
I know all babies are different and everyones situations are different so please don’t take this post as the holy grail of sleep advice, more some tips of things to try. I would love to hear from you if you try any of them.