Do I have your attention now?
The truth is that there isn’t a magical equation that helps you sleep train your child. I cannot prescribe 5 easy steps on how to do it. Hell, I had to send Facebook messenger pleas out to 5 of the dearest mothers I know to even begin sleep training Sweet Baby J. Sleep training is not for the weak, yet I am weak all the time. We all want to give in to the sounds of the little tyrant in the next room even though we know he needs to learn to sleep on his own. You can trust that I’m no expert, but you can also trust that I’ve tried everything to find what works best for my child. I’m sure you’re doing the same thing, which is what led you here in the first place.
Our journey into sleep training started when Sweet Baby J turned 4 months old. It was on that very day that he learned to flip from his back to his tummy. This meant we had to get rid of the swaddle we were using as a crutch. We had tried so many times to let him sleep without it, but he was miserable and so were we. Once he could roll over, we didn’t have a choice anymore though, and it was rough. The first few nights of flailing and screaming were atrocious. You wanted to help him control his limbs as he tried to sleep, but he was going to have to figure this out on his own. Of course we patted him and cajoled him into a slumber, but we couldn’t control him waking himself up. We also knew that it was time to really focus on the sleep issue. I know I had been avoiding it. There are so many voices out there in the world of sleep training, and you’ve no doubt heard about CIO, cry-it-out, from everyone in your family. I hated the idea of even trying it. We decided that since Sweet Baby J loves a schedule so much that we’d try with sticking to that first.
I found the We Bee Dreaming blog, and I started to read. I started to fact check information from there with other sites and studies. I wanted to be fully prepared to defend my sleep training technique when it came down to it, but the truth is that I’m still not really able to articulate clearly why we do what we do other than it works. Sweet Baby J craves schedule, and he has the best day when we stick to it exactly. Now, I’ll admit that I modified the schedule above to fit his days. I let Sweet Baby J wake up when he’s ready every morning and from every nap. He’s cranky if I wake him up before he is through with his nap, and I prefer him happy. I just do the math in my head as to when he should go down for his next nap. We are currently on the 1.5 hour schedule, but I know soon it will be going to every 2 hours.
We bought super cute pajamas for starters. What makes anything new more fun than a new outfit used only for doing that very thing. We were able to pick up some great deals at the Baby Gap and Carter’s outlets. He loves them. We put the socks on him, because his feet get a little chilly, but he’d be a hot mess in the footed pajamas. He’s a warm baby. This was just the next step for us in his bedtime routine. We had started putting him to sleep with the same routine every night at 1 month, and he took well to that. It was important to set up those positive sleep cues after all.
Here is our sleep routine:
- Baby Massage
- Read (He loves Paddington)
This has been our routine from the beginning, and it has been wonderful watching him get more and more involved in storytime. This has definitely made the wind down part of sleep training significantly easier, but it doesn’t make the actual sleep training any easier at all. The first few nights I thought I was going to crack.
I hated the idea of the CIO method, but I’ll admit that we adopted a somewhat modified version of it. The first night we did go in at 3, 5, and 10 minutes. The second night we did 5, 10, and 15minutes. I think 15minutes it just too long for us and Sweet Baby J. The truth is that if he’s ready for sleep, he will go to sleep within the first 3 times that you step into the room. If he’s not ready, he needs some sort of cajoling for a few minutes and then it’s back to the start again. He’s really good at putting himself to sleep. The 15 minutes felt to me like an eternity, and he was only making himself more and more upset and hungry to boot. Hungry Sweet Baby J was not turning into sleepy Sweet Baby J obviously so we’d start the cycle over again.
Sleep training is hard, but it does get better. There may not be 5 easy steps to sleep training your child in this blog post, but I hope that you realize it gets easier. Each baby is different and sleep training has to take on whatever attributes will work for you and each baby.
It’s definitely not always perfect. He sometimes falls asleep on our bed in-between my legs and his world comes crashing down when I take all the things he had away and transfer him to his bed. We’re a work in progress. He sleeps 9 hours a night before waking up to eat, and he’s definitely getting at least 1 hour each nap during the day. I’ll call it a win for now.
What issues are your facing in sleep training? If your baby is already trained, how did you do it?