I'm going to start this post by saying that Stella is my only baby (so far).  I don't know if these tips and tricks will get all my future kids to sleep through the night at such a young age.  Sleep patterns may fall victim to the old "nature vs. nurture" debate...you know, some kids might just be born to sleep through the night while others are destined to wake until they're toddlers.  I may follow the same routine for my next baby and still have a night-waker.  I don't know.  I'd like to admit that from the start.  However, with that being said, I did pay careful attention to Stella's routine by incorporating some "rules" and ignoring others in favor of what my "gut" (always hated that word) was telling me.  And I must say I've had tremendous success.  Stella started sleeping through the night (that is subjective, some consider this to be 6 hours...not enough for me...we're talking 12 HOURS at a time here!) at just 8 weeks old.  She is now almost 19 weeks old and has only woke in the night ONE TIME since that first glorious night.  Read on to find out what I did and didn't do...it just might work for your next baby if "nurture" has anything to do with it...

The Routine:

Stella still sleeps in her bassinet in our bedroom.  It's about time to move her to the nursery, but I just can't do it yet.  She wakes up every morning between 7:00 and 8:00 am.  She never cries in the morning, just starts talking and kicking.  This is nice because it allows me a few minutes to gather myself before getting her out of bed.

After changing Stella's diaper, it's onto Tummy Time.  I either do this on her mat, a blanket, or across my legs.  Variety is the spice of life ;-)

After about 3-5 minutes of Tummy Time I feed Stella.  Then I place her in the rocking bed to let her tummy settle while I clean up.  During this time I also do any necessary grooming...file/trim her nails, put cream on her face, etc...  Next we have "school".  I know, that sounds ridiculous now, but I wanted to include a time when she's happy that we can work on her milestones.  This sets the stage for when she's older and we use this time for learning, crafts, reading, and so on.  Remember, I'm an elementary teacher.  But for now I just jot down the developmental milestones she should be reaching each month and we work on those, play, or I do a baby massage with lotion.  And some days I just place her on her play mat or a blanket surrounded by toys and let her play.  Gotta foster some independence!  (Remember, if your baby doesn't hit all the milestones in the suggested month it's not the end of the world.  I just use them as a guide.)

"School" lasts for about 20 minutes, and Stella usually plays by herself for another hour or so.  Then she's ready for a morning nap.  Here's the first rule I chose to break:  "Put your baby down to nap in her crib/bassinet each time".  I tried that once.  She screamed, and I freaked out thinking she'd hate her bed at nighttime if I forced naps in there.  So I trusted my gut.  Napping around the house in different seats worked fine for her.  She still slept at night.  Listen to your baby!  Find what works for you, even if it's against what literature tells you.  All babies are different.  My baby loves a morning nap in her rocking bed (that we are borrowing from a friend). 
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