Tired moms and dads out there have their work cut out for them trying to find anything on sleep training their babies. There are so many methods out there now and some of them contradict each other that you just never know which one to follow! I am by no means an expert on sleep training, but I now have 2 kids (ages 4 and 19 months) that sleep 10-12 hours at night so I thought maybe I can share with you my experiences in hopes that it would maybe help you.
Please remember that every kid is different and that you’re the expert when it comes to your own child. Here are some sites that may help you if you would like to do further research (I am not affiliated with any of these sites, I just found them helpful when I was perusing before I decided to write this):
Every Kid is Different!
Here are my two lovely little boogers. They are the joys of my life… most of the time. Just keepin’ it real. Sometimes they can be a real pain especially when they decide to throw tantrums at the same time! But I digress… this is about sleep training after all.
Although controversial, I did the Cry It Out Method with both of them. Very different experiences from two very different kiddos. We started the CIO method with Ella at 8 months and the first night was a nightmare. She cried and whined on and off (not straight through I promise) for 40 minutes before she fell asleep. We started with Isaac at 6 months because he was sleeping long stretches already. He whined for 15 minutes and then fell asleep.
Ella doesn’t like to sleep. She doesn’t nap at home but will nap in daycare for some reason. She would always “fight” it when it’s time for bed. After the 1st week of the CIO method, she would no longer cry but she would play and roll around in her crib until she finally went to sleep. She still does that now. She’ll look at books, roll around, and play with her stuffed animals before finally sleeping.
Isaac seems to like sleep. He’s a great napper in the afternoon. We’ll put him down in his crib, and most of the time he won’t cry and just go straight to napping. Sometimes, he will cry 10-15 minutes, and then nap. At night, he will stand up and walk around in his crib, yell for Ella (if she’s not in the room), and then sleep. Unless he poops, then he’ll bang on the edge of the crib and that’s when we know the little man needs his diaper changed. I don’t know how that happened. Technically, he trained us to come when he bangs on the crib ;-).
Anyway, both of them seem to be doing well. At least it doesn’t seem like they hate us for leaving them in their beds while still awake. They do share a room now. Once Isaac slept through the night, we put them in the same room. It seems to work well for them because they seem to still like each other. We open the door to two smiling little ones in the morning unless Ella runs into our room first yelling “IT’S WAKE UP TIME!!!”
6 Tips for Sleep Training
Desperate for sleep when I was a first time mom, I did some research online for tips on sleep training. There are a lot out there! Here are what I found most useful for our family.
- Schedule: I read early on that having a good sleep schedule helps kids go to bed. So even before we tried the CIO method, I was already so anal about scheduling naps and sleep time for both kids. Since I worked full time, their day care actually helped put them on a good nap schedule. From 0-3 months, I read that they should really not be awake longer than 2-3 hours. So once they woke up at 7 am, I put them down for a nap at 9am. Earlier on, they would have longer naps in the morning (9-11am). Then awake from 11am -2pm. Then nap from 2pm to 3 pm or 4 pm. Then awake for 2-3 hours, and then we start their bed time routine. Later on, the morning naps decreased and the afternoon naps increased. Either way, there was a 2-3 hour period of wakefulness in between the naps and sleep times. It seemed to work for both kids.
- Bed time routine: I read that this helps cue the babies that it’s time to sleep. So we would bathe them, put on jammies, pray with them, read 1-2 short books, turn the lights off, sing a couple of songs, then put them in their beds and stay with them for 5 minutes (longer when sleep training them, we pretty much stayed with them until they were drowsy), then leave the room. We only came back in if anyone cries hysterically. Ella seems to have nightmares once in a while. That’s when we would come in and soothe her.
- Setting up the environment: Dimming the lights, and turning on the white noise. We never did the white noise for Ella because we just didn’t know. But it worked like a charm for Isaac. White noise machines are like magic, man. Since they share the same room now, Ella also seems to like it. It also helps drown outside noises and since they sleep pretty early (7:30ish), there’s still a lot of noise outside sometimes.
- Wubanubs Pacifiers: This is genius really. I mean only if your baby likes pacifiers. But these pacifiers are attached to very small stuffed animals which makes it easier for them to grab as a baby. Or easy for you to find if you decide to go in and give them the paci. Of course, this would only work if your baby likes pacifiers.
- OK to Wake Alarm Clock: When Ella was old enough to get a big girl bed (around 3 years old), she would sometimes wake up at 4 am to pee and think it’s morning time. She would then come into our room and yell “IT’S WAKE UP TIME!” So I read about this clock where you can set it to change the color of the light to let your child know when it’s time to wake up. Ella seemed to like it and would go back to bed until the yellow night light turned green. Then she would run to our room and yell “IT’S WAKE UP TIME!!”
- Stop Comparing: If you’re not gonna read anything else in this page, this is the one thing I would like to tell you. Stop comparing yourself to other parents. Everyone has different stories. You’re going to drive yourself crazy if you compare yourself to other parents. Who knows? They’re probably lying anyway and is also as sleep deprived as you are. Just kidding. Maybe. Ha! But for real, you do what you need to do to get sleep for you and your baby (babies).
That’s all I got. You can read about the different methods in one of the links above. There are tons you can choose from. Choose what works best for you and your family. Try them all if you must. In the meantime, take a deep breath, you’re doing just fine and if things are really hard right now, know that it will get better. You can do this!
Thanks for reading and have a great rest of the day!
(all gifs are from giphy.com)