Recently a girlfriend of mine asked if my younger son, Reagan, 17 weeks old, was sleeping through the night yet. I replied that he had been since 12 weeks old. Impressed, she said, your kids ROCK! My 3 year old son Porter was the same way when he was a baby. Porter slept 12 hours on breastmilk only at 17 weeks old.
While I loved the compliment, I contribute this sleep success to getting them on a schedule. When we had Porter, I fed on demand for the first 5 weeks. After that, I couldn’t take it anymore! I always thought the kid was hungry! My sister in law lent me On Becoming Babywise, a book that stresses the importance of routine. While I didn’t follow this book to the letter, and always fed the boys when they are hungry, I found that it takes the guesswork out of an infant’s feeding/sleep schedule. The book suggests choosing a time in the morning and waking them to eat breakfast everyday. After that, feed every 3 hours, regardless if they appear hungry. (My boys actually did/does a 4 hour schedule!) If they are sleeping, wake them and feed. After they eat, they should have some awake time, and then take a nap. After their bedtime feeding, there should be no awake time and straight to bed. When they wake in the night hungry, don’t talk to them, feed and straight back to bed. This allows them to see the difference between night and day and know when to sleep.
The reason I love the schedule most is the security it gives to baby, mommy, and even daddy. It let all of us relax! Plus, the baby knows he will get fed, so there is less crying!! My boys rarely cry/cried to eat.
A routine makes perfect sense. Think about it, you probably get ready for work/school the same way every morning don’t you? If your routine is messed up, you are thrown off!