If you want to know how to get your baby to sleep through the night and in their own bed then you’ve come to the right place! Today I’m sharing what we did to get our baby to sleep through the night and some tips to help you transition your baby into their own bed if they’ve been sleeping in yours.
If you’re reading this before having a baby or with a very young baby then I also have some tips to avoid falling into the trap of your baby getting used to sleeping in your bed!
How we got our baby to sleep through the night and in her own bed in just 7 nights!
A little background…
Our baby girl, Alba, turned one in early October and had never slept through the night. In fact, she hadn’t even spent a whole night in her own cot. She slept in our bed almost every night for the first year of her life and often wouldn’t go to bed until we did.
We have two older boys and we were worried Alba would wake her older brothers when she cried, so we were quick to pick her up when she woke up in the night.
She’s also a very happy, calm baby so we didn’t really mind when she wouldn’t go to bed because she’d happily sit with us on the sofa. She’d sit nicely with us while we ate dinner and wouldn’t cry or moan when she got tired. This was both a blessing and a curse because it was nice to have her stay up once the older boys had gone to bed. We enjoyed having some one-on-one time with her and, admittedly, we did spoil her because she’s our last baby.
It had been very different with our two older boys who had both been in a bedtime routine by 6 weeks old and would both go to bed at 6.30pm without a fuss. They didn’t sleep through the night for quite a while but getting them into bed was never a problem!
But as soon as we tried to put Alba in her to bed she would scream! And scream. And scream. So after 3-4 months we just gave up on putting her to bed and she came in with us.
It’s an easy trap to fall into.
If I kept putting her back into her own cot then she’d wake every few hours and then no one would get a good night’s sleep. But if I let her come into our bed then she’d sleep through the night and we’d all sleep well.
It was a no-brainer for me at the time. I was tired and all I wanted to do was sleep!
But as Alba got older and bigger, she became wriggly and fidgety and our tiny baby was suddenly taking up a lot of space in our bed! We knew we needed to nip this in the bud while she was still relatively young as we definitely didn’t want a toddler sleeping in our bed for years to come!
Crying it out didn’t work!
(Please no judgy parents here!)
After a lot of research we realised a lot of people adopt the ‘sleep training’ methods where you let your baby ‘cry it out’. You basically let them cry themselves to sleep and you keep going back to check they’re OK. We had lots of friends reassure us that they did this and it’s tough at first but you’ll thank yourself in a week or two when your baby sleeps through the night!
We tried this for two nights.
We’d leave her to cry for 10-15 minutes and then go into her room to quickly reassure her we were still here and she was OK.
On the first night Alba eventually fell asleep through exhaustion but woke up a few hours later and was terrified to go back into her cot. On the second night she screamed until she was hoarse and I couldn’t take any more. Alba developed a real fear of her cot and even her bedroom and for the next two months she wouldn’t even go down for a nap in her cot (something she’d happily done all her life).
She even started climbing out of her cot which was just dangerous so we had to stop!
We quickly realised that crying it out wasn’t going to work and it just made Alba fearful of going to sleep and being left.
But on the night of Alba’s first birthday we decided to crack this once and for all. We were so ready to get our baby to sleep through the night!
Here’s how we got our baby to sleep through the night…
We switched Alba to a toddler bed
Like I mentioned above, Alba developed a real fear of her cot after we attempted to sleep train her, so we switched her over to a toddler bed. She has just turned one so this was very young to take her out of a cot and into a toddler bed but we had nothing to lose at this stage because she wasn’t sleeping in her cot anyway. She could also climb out of her cot and we were worried she’d hurt herself (yea, we got a monkey baby!)
Thankfully, it worked and she sleeps in a toddler bed with no issues. She does sometimes climb out of it but she’ll also climb back in!
If your baby is in a cot and you’re wondering if you should switch to a toddler bed then my advice would be if you have nothing to lose then try it – but you might be better keeping them in a cot for as long as possible. We kept the boys in a cot for a long as possible. I think George was nearly 2 when we took the sides off and he slept in a cot bed until he was 4!
Sam (dad) puts her to bed and has the same bedtime routine each night
I’m still breastfeeding Alba so I previously put her to bed but Sam does it now and it works much better.
Alba has her bath with the boys at about 5.45pm and then they all go a bit wild and play for about half an hour.
At 6.30pm Sam takes her up to bed. She says goodnight to us all and gives everyone a hug and kiss before she goes up. He offers her some cow’s milk (some nights she’ll drink 5oz and some nights she barely touches it), reads her a story and they play with a wooden clock she has in her bedroom and then he puts her down and she goes straight to sleep! Sometimes she’ll cry but never for more than a minute and she doesn’t sit up when she cries so I think she’s accepted she’s going to sleep at this point!
One thing that definitely helps is that Alba is tired at bedtime. Really tired! A lot of advice I read suggested that your baby shouldn’t be too tired when they go to bed because they’re not settling themselves to sleep, they’re just passing out through exhaustion. I do understand this advice but Alba is often VERY tired and this is currently working for us!
Goodnight waves and kisses for the whole family
One thing Sam does with Alba before she goes to bed is he gets her to say good night to everyone. It’s just a little thing but it definitely helps her realise she’s going to bed. She gives the boys kisses and waves to the dog. She still cries when she says goodnight to me and stretches out her arms for me to take her but she stops as soon as they go upstairs!
Family dinners and lots of food from 4pm-6pm
Something that has changed over the last month is that Alba eats a lot for dinner and I’m sure this is helping her sleep for longer.
She’s not a big eater so it can be hard to encourage her to eat more but it definitely helps when we sit down and eat as a family. And I’ll be honest, when we don’t eat as a family, I put CBeebies on for the kids and they basically sit there like zombies while they eat. I know, I know, it’s not ideal but it works.
I often give Alba a small portion of mashed potato with her dinner, no matter what we’re having! She loves mashed potato so it’s just something extra to fill up her little tummy. I buy frozen mash from Iceland so I can just pop a small portion in the microwave. Sometimes I’ll mix it with carrot and swede mash if I feel like she hasn’t eaten a lot of veg.
One 1-hour nap during the day so she’s tired at bedtime
This isn’t really something I enforce and is more something Alba does naturally.
She has a 1-hour nap at some point in the day – but it could be anytime from 10am to 1pm. Sometimes she fights it so if she isn’t asleep by 1pm I’ll take her for a walk in her pushchair to get her to sleep.
If she has an early nap, she might get tired again at about 4pm but I wouldn’t let her go to sleep at this point as she’d never go to bed. Thankfully, the boys are home from school at this point so there’s a lot going on to keep her entertained.
I used to really try and encourage her to nap more during the day. I believed that ‘the more they sleep, the more they sleep’! This was definitely true for our older boys – if they napped well in the day then they’d sleep well at night. But this isn’t true for Alba and I think it just shows that every child is different and there aren’t set ‘rules’ that work for all babies.
Plenty of chill time during the day
Alba doesn’t nap much for a baby who has just turned one but she does have plenty of quiet chill time. We walk a lot and she loves to sit in her pushchair while we’re walking so this is her time to relax. We walk to do the school run in the morning and afternoon and we also walk the dog after lunch.
Dream feed at 10.30pm
Alba usually wakes briefly at 10.30pm and I’m sure she’d settle back to sleep with a quick rub on her back but I still go in and feed her. It’s just a quick feed and straight back into bed. This is when I’m going to bed anyway and I’d rather feed her now than wake up two hours later to do it!
The first 7 nights of getting our baby to sleep through the night
One thing we accepted when we started this was that the next 2-3 weeks would be tough and there was a chance we wouldn’t get much sleep. Thankfully, we only had 3-4 bad nights and then 2 more nights with her waking twice before Alba was regularly sleeping through.
The main thing when Alba woke in the night was that we wouldn’t bring her out of her bedroom for any reason at all!
One night I sat there with her for two hours because every time I tried to move she screamed and screamed!
Sam was a bit tougher with her and would quickly cuddle her and put her back to bed and leave her to cry – but even then I don’t think she ever cried for more than about 4-5 minutes.
Sleeping bags or blankets to get your baby to sleep through the night?
We’re actually still undecided about which is best to get a baby to sleep through the night! Sleeping bags or blankets? I don’t know!
Alba often loses her blankets and then cries because she’s cold. But she doesn’t seem as settled in a sleeping bag. At the minute we’re putting her in a thick, fleecy babygrow to go to bed and then a blanket on top. If she loses her blanket then at least we know she won’t be really cold because her babygrow is so warm.
I think it’s really important to do this as a couple because it’s too hard for one person to do alone. Getting up 3-4 times in the night is tough, especially if you’re doing it for weeks on end.
I used to feel like it was my responsibility to deal with Alba in the night because Sam was getting up to go to work the following day and it wasn’t fair if he was tired. But looking after a baby is hard work too so it’s also tough if I’m tired!
I hope this post about getting your baby to sleep through the night has helped! If you have any questions, please do let me know in the comments below. And pin this image to Pinterest for later!