Let me start by saying, these tips are what works for us. They may not work for everyone. They’re also tips for babies that are over 6 months.
Ellie was an AMAZING napper. That kid would sleep up to 4 hours in the afternoon even until she was 5. Even now at 6 she loves a good nap. Our 9 month old Zach isn’t that different. He loves a good nap too, but you have to get him to stop moving first. I think this is why the swaddler worked so well for him when he was an infant. It forced him to stop moving. It wasn’t until we had to take him out of the swaddler around 3 months did he stop sleeping through the night. So for the last 6 months we’ve been working on this sleep thing.
These are the things that have worked for us…
1. Do not wake a napping baby! In our family, sleep begets sleep. If either of our kids are over tired they have a hard time sleeping through the night or even falling asleep. So we do our best to not wake either of our kids up from a nap unless it’s necessary. For Zach this means he naps in his carseat most of the time.
2. Do not sound proof sleep time. Don’t walk around hushing everyone. It may help keep baby asleep at that moment, but it is not going to help you in the future. Conditioning babies to sleep through noise is healthy for you and the baby.
3. Make sure the nursery is warm enough. Because babies should not be sleeping with heavy blankets, make sure the room is slightly warmer. Even with jammies on, it can get chilly when you’re not moving. Everyone sleeps longer when they’re warm.
4. Give baby a special stuffy. With both our kids we always made sure they had a special stuffed animal in the crib with them. Even if they didn’t latch onto it at first, it was a constant comfort. We even made sure to take it when we traveled. It’s comforting to always having a special little stuffy with them.
5. Get a noise machine. We use Homedics mybaby machine with Zach. Not only does it have 6 different sounds and songs, but it has a sweet little light that shines on the ceiling with a rotating picture. It’s also small enough to pack and take with us traveling.
6. Have a bed time routine. After just a few days, baby will start to understand what’s happening. Here we have a nice warm bath or shower, a bottle, change a diaper, cuddle and read a story for about 5 minutes and then in the crib. Understand that there are times you’re going to need to be flexible, but this is our routine most nights.
7. Do not be afraid to let them cry! I know it’s hard to listen to a baby cry, but Moms (and Dads) you need sleep too! The first night the crying may last an hour, but the second night it may only last 45 minutes and then the 3rd night 30 minutes. I promise it will eventually get easier and there will be less crying.
8. If they wake in the middle of the night, make your interaction quick and quiet. At 9 months Zach is done with having a bottle in the middle of the night. (Note this may be different for breastfeeding babies) I will change his diaper if it’s wet, but I immediately put him back down in his crib. Yep, I let him cry after that. Some nights he’ll cry for just a few moments and some nights it’s for 15 minutes. There have even been nights when he’s cried for what felt like hours, but he’s safe and dry so we let him cry it out.
I’m not saying it’s easy. It’s going to take some work and will power on your end. Deep breath, pour yourself a glass of wine and don’t be afraid to close the door. Good luck sleepy Moms!