How to Train Your Baby to Sleep Through the Night

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Sleep training. A topic that is just about as divisive as the 2016 election! Is it smart? Is it mean? Is it loving? Is it selfish? Is it called “sleep training?” Is it called “cry it out?” There are tons of statistics and studies that show the pros of sleep training and the cons. I am no expert, but I do know that I believe sleep training is the best thing since sliced bread. Here is my experience.

I became a mom in 2015. I had read many books and done a lot of research on every baby topic known to man prior to the arrival of our baby. My husband and I had decided that we would give sleep training a try. We had friends who, months and months after the birth of their own children, were still waking up multiple times a night with their babies. We saw their frustration and exhaustion, and new we didn’t want that for us.

Our little girl was born in October, and I soon realized how vital sleep was to my own sanity. The first 2 weeks were HARD, so much crying, so little sleep-and that was just me! I’m an 8-hours-a-night-or-I-can’t-function kind of girl, so 3 hours max was not cutting it. I definitely had a small case of the Baby Blues, but the lack of sleep in particular was so, so hard.

Thankfully, I was prepared and ready to start sleep training at 3 weeks! The first 2 weeks had just been about survival, but the time had come for all of us to start getting a good night’s sleep! I had read Baby Wise and researched Sleep Training online, so I felt pretty prepared. I was happy to learn that all that prep paid off! Here is how we sleep trained our baby.

Our schedule was based on the book Baby Wise, which you can get here. Baby Wise is all about parent-led feedings and sleep times (parents run the show, not the babies). Here is what a typical day looked like with our 3 week+ old:

  • 7:00 Wake, Feed, Play
  • 8:30 Naptime
  • 10:00 Wake, Feed, Play
  • 11:30 Naptime
  • 1:00 Wake, Feed, Play
  • 2:30 Naptime
  • 4:00 Wake, Feed, Play
  • 5:30 Naptime
  • 7:00 Wake, Feed, Play
  • Now keep the baby awake for as long as possible, feed one more time as much as you can, then put to bed when you go to bed.  

Around week 12 or 13, your baby might be ready to lengthen each cycle.

  • 6:00 Wake, Feed, Play
  • 8:00 Nap
  • 10:00 Wake, Feed, Play
  • 12:00 Nap
  • 2:00 Wake, Feed, Play
  • 4:00 Nap
  • 6:00 Wake, Feed, Play
  • Again, now you keep the baby awake for as long as possible, feed one more time as much as you can, then put to bed.

 

A few tips to sticking to the schedule:

*Adjust as needed. Obviously your baby isn’t going to magically wake up at 7:00 everyday. You will have to adjust, but make sure you try to stick to the 3 hour cycle. The main point is that you are not letting them sleep for more than 1.5 hours at a time. You want the long sleeps to be at night so you can sleep too!

*Keep baby awake! In the beginning, it may be hard to get your little one to stay awake until naptime. Keep them awake by singing songs with them and tickling their feet. Interact with them and poop them out for naptime!

*Chill out. There are some days where this schedule just ain’t gonna happen. Try not to feel frustrated or like a failure. This is not the Bible, nor is it the only way to have a happy child. Relax, give yourself grace, do what you gotta do, try again tomorrow. You’re doing great!

newborn-baby-feet-basket-161709.jpeg

Now, the controversial part-getting them to actually fall asleep. The controversy over this method is letting your child “cry it out.” I think people who are super against sleep training imagine a baby alone and sobbing for hours and hours. Umm…NO WAY! We were cautious when it came to letting our baby “cry it out.” We never let her light cry for more than 10 minutes. Also, there is a difference between “crying” and “CRYING!” If she was just kind of crying (more like whining), we let her get through it and teach herself to fall asleep. If her cry communicated emotional stress (like if she was teething or sick), we were there in a second to comfort her.

The funny thing is, once she was consistently only getting 1.5 hour naps during the day, she was usually soooo ready for her next nap. We would snuggle/rock for a few minutes, then I would put her down AWAKE, sing her a song, say goodnight, and walk away. 95% of the time, she could fall asleep herself right away-no tears at all! (From mommy or baby!)

The toughest part for me was waking her from her naps. I was exhausted and probably napping myself, or I was pumping or catching up on housework. She probably would have slept for another half hour if I let her, but it was not worth it for me. I wanted my night sleep!

At 6 weeks old, our baby was sleeping through the night. To this day, she, now 2 years old, has zero problem going to sleep. I don’t need to rock her for an hour; she doesn’t need me to climb in her bed with her to fall asleep. Bedtime is a routine for us, one that doesn’t include any drama! It’s just brush her teeth, read her a story, chat about her day, say a prayer, and go to sleep! She lays down right away and waits for me to lay her blankie over her bottom. 🙂

My husband and I have truly given ourselves and our baby the gift of sleep. It was a savior to our sanity. This method of sleep training may not be for everyone. Every baby is different and has different needs. All I know is that this worked so well for our family and I am so glad we did it!

Sleep Training

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