I realise that I have said a few times in my posts that Alice has been sleeping "through the night" since she was nearly 3 months old! This is something which I get quite a few emails about with people asking me how I managed it! So I thought I would let you know what I did.
First of all, when Alice was 3 months old she was sleeping from 10pm till about 5am. That to me was sleeping through the night. Now, at 6 months, she is sleeping from half 6pm until about 6am. This time works perfectly for me as I would much prefer to have a little extra time to myself in the evening and get up early than the other way round... if you know what I mean?!
Anyway, these are the things I did to help Alice to sleep 12 hours ish a night.
1. I made sure she was drinking enough milk in the day. Sounds simple enough, but not as easy as you think! The amount of milk a baby needs is dependant on her weight, not age. Find out what your baby should be drinking and then try to get all the feeds in between 6am and 10pm (or whatever times you chose).
2. Routine. If your not a big believer in strict routines for babies, then make it flexible. But in all honestly, I really think every baby needs some kind of routine! I am pretty strict with mine (see her 6 month routine here), though do stray form it sometimes. With a routine, you know how much your baby is drinking and sleeping and you can change the times of these to make it work for you!
3. Bedtime routine. If you don't have a bedtime routine, forget it! This is the best thing I ever did with Alice. In fact, her bedtime routine is so strict that if I changed the time of it by an hour, she would still fall straight to sleep. My routine is... Lie and kick without her nappy in a dark room, followed by bathtime, followed by milk, followed by story and then leave to fall asleep alone.
4. Let your baby fall asleep by herself. The hardest part of this whole thing! If, like me, you had been rocking your baby to sleep before putting her down, then prepare for a couple of restless nights. I started by rocking Alice so she was almost asleep and then putting her down, and then gradually rocking her for less time each night.
5. Establish a "dream feed" if you haven't already. This is why a routine is so good to have. You can time all the feeds perfectly! I still go in to Alice's room at 10pm, whether she's awake or not, to change her nappy and feed her. She rarely wakes up and rarely takes milk now! I will drop it... soon!
6. If your baby wakes in the night and you have to go in for any reason (feeding, nappy, dummy) DO NOT PLAY! Stay as silent as possible, don't make eye contact and do not play with her. Sounds mean, but if you think about it a baby needs to learn the difference between day and night and if your going in at 3am playing peek-a-boo, she's going to be confused. One of my friends used to take her baby out the cot at 3 am and let him play for an hour. She was so tired and it was a habit she spent MONTHS trying to break!
And that's pretty much it! I can't promise this will work for you, but at least you know what I did now!