Oh this is such a huge deal for all parents when their little one finally sleeps through the night! And it seems to be a process that parents have to keeping coming back to as their children go through different stages. There so much conflicting ideas out there on what to do and when to do it. But, here has been our experience:
As far as worrying about if you should wake a newborn up in the middle of the night to nurse, most pediatricians say: once they have regained all their birth weight back, you can wait to nurse until they wake up on their own during the night. (unless they are premature)
I ended up waiting until both of our kids were 8 months old to do a version of "cry it out." We probably could have done it sooner, but I felt that our kids were too young previously, I didn't mind nursing once or twice during the night even though they probably didn't need it, and I just kept putting sleep training off with all the stuff we had going on like moving. Once we were ready, here's what we did:
- We established a bedtime routine each night to help baby wind down and get drowsy
- We had to break the association between sleep-crutches and sleeping, so I didn't feed or rock baby to sleep
- Put baby down with lovey drowsy but awake
- The first night - after crying for 5 minutes I went in to quickly comfort and then walked out again. Then I waited 10 and then another 20 minutes and so on until she had soothed herself to sleep. I wonder if it's less confusing for them if you don't do in at all, but I wanted to be there.
- The next night or two, just keeping lengthening how long you wait before quickly reassuring.
- It took 2-3 nights and we had a baby sleeping through the night!
- It's hard but remind yourself that you can do hard things, your baby can do hard things, and you are teaching her sleep skills which will improve her overall health and happiness. Put on a good movie if it helps you. I'll admit with Brayden I was crying through "Finding Nemo" :)
- When they would wake up once in the middle of the night, we did the same "cry it out" method - actually I don't think we even went in the room. I had a video monitor which I am so grateful for!
Many authors of sleep books recommend starting certain techniques from a very early age which naturally help babies into a good routine. I know parents who have used these ideas below and it really helped their children to continuously lengthen their night time stretches.