How Our 2 Month Old Sleeps Through the Night! - Infant Sleep Training Tips

How Our 2 Month Old Sleeps Through the Night! - Infant Sleep Training Tips

By: Zach & Gözde Schwartzbeck

It’s 1 am. Our 2 month old just woke up after a two hour stretch of sleep. After feeding and soothing him back to sleep, our 18 month old wakes up crying. By the time I calm her down our 2 month old wakes up again. I repeat the process and now it's 5 am. Just as I doze off our oldest wakes up for the day at 6 am. This was our life for the past week. My spouse and I were both going crazy. Something had to change. Chronic sleep deprivation was making us both exhausted, quick-tempered and straining our marriage. We needed to figure out a way to help our babies sleep better.

A couple weeks before, a friend recommended a book to us on baby sleep training. She swore by it saying that after implementing the technique, all her kids slept through the night from as early as 2-3 months old. I didn't think much of it at the time, but desperate for anything at this point, we bought the book and read it through. It seriously changed our lives! Within a couple weeks of implementing the principles, our 2 month old was consistently sleeping through the night! The book is called, “On Becoming Baby Wise: Giving Your Infant the Gift of Nighttime Sleep” and in this article I’m going to break down the secrets of this book for you as well as share some of our own lessons learned along the way.


The Rhythm: Eat -> Wake -> Sleep

Step 1: Stop nursing your baby to sleep. I know, it's so much easier this way, but the reality is the key to good nighttime sleep is for your baby to learn healthy independent sleep habits. Most mothers will typically follow the routine, Wake -> Eat -> Sleep, by breast feeding their babies to sleep, burping them and then laying them down. The problem with this though is that 1) it trains your baby to be dependent on sleep aids for falling asleep (i.e. nursing), 2) dozing off while feeding prevents babies from getting a full feeding, leading them to wake prematurely from naps and not get good sleep. This ultimately leads to an over-tired, hungry baby that's feeding every hour.

The Eat -> Wake -> Sleep concept, however, is simple: Good feeding leads to good sleeping, good sleeping leads to good wake times, and good wake times lead to good feedings without falling asleep. Each part of the cycle fuels the other.

Babywise Feed Cycle

The Philosophy: Parent-Directed-Feeding

Making sure your baby gets a full feeding is critical to the success of the cycle. But when and how should you feed? Every time your baby cries or based on a set schedule? Different theories have been proposed, but Babywise teaches something called "Parent-Directed-Feeding". Here are the different approaches:

Child Directed Feeding: Feed whenever the baby cries

This approach puts the largest emphasis on the baby's hunger cues. However, this kind of feeding on demand will ultimately wear out the mother and lead to poor baby sleep as they wake up every 2 hours to feed.

Schedule Directed Feeding: Feed every 3 hours on a tight schedule

This theory is good in that it leads the baby's feeding pattern in a more structured direction. However, strictly feeding by the clock doesn't account for increased feeding demand caused by growth spurts and other factors, potentially leading to under-feeding your baby.

Parent Directed Feeding (PDF): Clock + Parental Intuition -> Feeding

The theory proposed by Babywise is essentially a hybrid of these two. It directs the baby's feeding times with a regular schedule, but also uses parental intuition to account for irregular situations. While the schedule is a guide, it is not rigid, and hunger cues ultimately trump the clock.
Babywise Parent Directed Feeding model

Feeding Tips

Early on babies will typically feed every 3 hours. When counting the cycle time, you should measure from the beginning of one feeding to the beginning of the next. Watch for your baby's hunger cues, which usually involve making sucking sounds, bobbing their head on you or putting their hand to their mouth.

To ensure a full feeding, your baby should typically nurse about 15 minutes or so on each breast. Spacing out feedings to every 3 hours, as opposed to cluster feeding, will also help increase your milk production. Since milk supply increases with demand, fuller feedings lead to larger milk demand, leading your body to produce larger supplies of milk. If you're struggling to produce enough milk to provide full feedings for your baby, you can also try pumping milk which will increase your body's milk demand and consequently its supply levels as well. Personally for me, pumping milk was the key game changer. Especially in the first weeks when the initial breast milk is low in calorie, pumping helped me produce enough milk to catch up to my baby's appetite. Remember, however, that more mature milk will come after about 14 days, at which point filling your baby up becomes much easier!
If your baby starts to fall asleep while feeding, try tickling or wiping their feet with a wet wipe. You can also simply lay them down for a few seconds to wake them up, then continue feeding. For newborns, the feed and wake time is about 30 minutes including burping, then 2 - 2.5 hr of sleeping. When they're very little it's not uncommon for their wake time to be their feeding time. Around week 3, however, babies can extend their wake time to about 30 minutes after feeding and then sleep for 1.5 - 2 hr.

Feed Cycle Example Plan

The first weeks of your baby's life will be the hardest since at this stage infants need to feed at least every 3-4 hours. For the first 4 weeks, you shouldn't let your baby sleep longer than 4 hours at night without a feeding. From 5 weeks on, however, babies can begin sleeping longer stretches through the night- roughly one hour extra for each week of the baby's life. For example at 5 weeks old your baby can potentially sleep 5 hours, 6 weeks = 6 hours, 8 weeks = 8 hours and at 12 weeks old your baby is capable of sleeping 12 hours through the night!

These nighttime sleep targets will certainly not be perfect all the time. However, the more you implement a regular Eat-Wake-Sleep rhythm into your baby's life, the more your baby's body will adjust to this rhythm and be able to sleep longer stretches through the night. Consistency is key and keeping your baby's feed-wake-sleep cycle on schedule is crucial to success. However, don't beat yourself up if every day isn't perfect! Especially at the beginning, implementing this rhythm will be difficult, but if you don't give up and strive for a consistent routine, you and your baby will both be happier for it! Below are some example feed cycle plans according to your baby's age. Remember that these plans are simply guidelines, and not a hard set schedule. There is room for flexibility in the schedule based on your baby's needs as you implement the Parent Directed Feeding approach.

1-2 Weeks Old: 9 Feed Cycles

1-2 Weeks: For the first 2 weeks your baby should have about 9 sleep cycles with 2 night feedings around 1:30 and 4 am.

Note that in the schedule, setting the wake time sets the precedent for the rest of the day. Whether it's 6:30, 7 am or another time doesn't matter. But as much as possible, you want to try to keep this wake time consistent. Typically your baby's final sleep time will be about 12 hours after their initial wake time.

Merge 1: 8 Feed Cycles

Merge 1: Between 3 - 6 weeks old, the 2 am and 5 am feeding merge into one 3 am feeding and your baby should be able to sleep for 3.5 - 4 hour stretches.

Merge 2: 7 Feed Cycles

Merge 2: Between 7-10 weeks old, babies can drop their middle of the night feeding and potentially start sleeping through the night. Babies will consume more during the day to compensate for the dropped feeding, especially in the morning feeding.

Tip: During this stage, if your baby is consistently waking up in the middle of the night to feed, say 1:30 am, then try waking up 15-30 minutes before them (1 - 1:15 am) to give them a dream feed before they wake up (dream feed = half feeding / half sleeping). Then every night, slowly back down the hour of the late night feeding: 1 am -> 12:30 am -> 12:00 am -> 11:30 pm -> 11:00 pm until you reach your target end of day feeding.

Merge 3: 6 Feed Cycles (4 Naps)

Merge 3: Between 10-15 weeks old babies can drop the late evening feeding and begin sleeping 10-12 hours through the night. The last feeding should be 10-12 hours before the morning feeding.

Merge 4: 5 Feed Cycles (3 Naps)

Merge 4: Between 16-24 weeks old (4-6 months), introducing solid foods will begin to affect the the feed wake cycle. As they approach the age of eating solid foods, you may find that milk isn't filling them up like it used to. Solid foods will begin to fill their tummies and help them sleep through the night even better.

Merge 5: Nap Drop (2 Naps)

Merge 5: Between 5-7 months old (24-39 weeks) babies drop their 3rd nap and sometimes just do a catnap in the evening. Once they drop their full 3rd nap, however, the feed-wake-sleep cycle ranges between 3.5-4.5 hr.

Merge 6: 4 Feed Cycles

Merge 6: Between 28-40 weeks old, babies switch to 4 feed cycles. Between 46-52 weeks, babies no longer need a liquid feeding before bed time, though could receive a cup of formula, breast milk or liquid snack before bed if they want.

Sleeping Tips

The ultimate goal is to help your baby develop healthy independent sleep habits for the rest of their life. In general you should try to avoid using sleep aids like rocking or nursing your baby to sleep. The best practice is to simply lay your baby down on their back while drowsy but still awake. Allow them to fall asleep on their own, and if they fuss a little bit don't be stressed. If you know they've had a full feeding, have a clean diaper, and no other problems are present, allowing them to cry for a little bit is actually helping them learn to soothe themselves to sleep. Most newborns aren't able to cry for more than several minutes and will quickly learn to self-soothe within days. The earlier your baby learns this skill of self-soothing the easier sleeping will be when they get older since they've developed this crucial habit early on. Though it's certainly possible to do, older babies will have a much harder time learning to self-soothe since they have to overcome their other previously developed sleep-aid habits.

If after laying your baby down, they're crying for longer than 5 minutes, you can try aiding them by patting their bottom, humming or singing. Do this for a few minutes and then leave again, repeating the process until they fall asleep. Without touching them, you can even try humming or "shh-ing" to them from just outside the bedroom door. Eventually, however, you want to get to the point where your baby can lay down and soothe themselves to sleep without aids. This takes diligence, but with time your baby will definitely be able to learn!

When sleeping during the day, if you need to wake your baby from their nap to prevent them from sleeping beyond the 3-3.5 hr cycle window, then do it. This is important for helping your baby get into a regular Eat-Wake-Sleep rhythm. As much as possible try to keep the feed times on schedule until their bodies adjust.

We Hope This Helps!

Regardless of the stage you're at, helping your baby learn to sleep through the night is definitely possible! Personally, we found Babywise to be a super helpful resource, and while we couldn't go into all the details here, I'd definitely recommend checking it out for yourself! We've been in the thick of it raising our own babies and love helping other parents with the tools we've discovered. If you found this article helpful and have any questions or feedback we'd love to hear from you in the comments! Also, feel free to share this article with anyone else you think it could help!
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