If you are constantly waking up in the middle of the night to a baby that is completely fine but is crying to only have you hold them back to sleep, it may be time to consider sleep training. Teaching Jet how to sleep on his own made both our lives easier. We both got more sleep during the night which means we were happier people during the day 😊 There are many sleep training methods but I used a blend of methods.
Babies are just like us. We may toss and turn throughout the night, we may wake up for a few seconds then fall back asleep. Babies do the same with the difference being that they do not know how to fall back asleep on their own. I believe it has to be taught.
Baby may be used to being in mommy’s belly, hearing her heartbeat, being close and protected always or perhaps has become accustomed to co-sleeping, feeding to sleep, and smelling mommy which gives baby comfort to go back to sleep. When baby wakes up without one of their comforts that is when baby will cry, assuming nothing else is wrong with them.
The purpose of sleep training is to put baby down while they are awake so they can soothe themselves to sleep. No bottle, no pacifier, just soothing themselves to sleep. It is a step of independence and getting baby use to your daily routine. I will break this up between “light” sleep training and “strict” sleep training.
“Light” sleep training really began once we came home from the hospital. I would make sure during the day Jet would not sleep more than 2 hours at a time. Even if he only stayed up for 10 minutes from changing his diaper, feeding him (newborns sleep so much!), and he went back to sleep it was important for me to interrupt that sleep.
I know many say, “never wake a sleeping baby!!” Just hear me out. I noticed that he could sleep one long chunk of 4 hours in a day so I made sure to schedule his day where those 4 hours started at a time I was going to bed. If I would let him sleep that 4-hour chunk in the day then at night he would wake up every 1 ½ to 2 hours.
Jet was around 5 or 6 months when I started to “strict” sleep train him. That by no way means you are starting too late if your baby older. This will still apply. I have listed the steps I took below:
1. Choose a day to start you are comfortable hearing more cries than usual.
The first couple of days will be a tough but I promise if you stick to this plan, everyday gets easier and soon you will have a baby who can sleep on their own!
2. Create a daily schedule and stick to it!
This is crucial. Follow the same schedule for the week you are sleep training, try not to alter it by going to the grocery store or going for a walk unless you are doing that every single day of that week at the same time. Ideally you want to work your baby to sleep a full 12 hours alone. With that in mind, you want to make a schedule in a 12-hour block. You can make it so your baby’s daytime is 7am-7pm, 8am-8pm, 9am-9pm, etc.
You want to be sure to create a bed time routine in your schedule to single to baby when it is time to wind down. Below is the first schedule I made.
8am: Wake up Jet + Breakfast
11am: Wake up Jet + Lunch
3pm: Wake up Jet + Dinner
6pm: Wake up + Playtime
7pm: Bath and read a book to Jet
8pm: Put down to sleep
3. Help your baby calm down before sleep.
You will have a bedtime routine where baby will know it is time to go to sleep for the night however, it is important to calm baby down before naps too. That could be a bottle of milk and quiet time, it does not need to be something significant. It is not so much what to do, more so what not to do. Do not have music on, the television on, or speak on the phone loudly before baby is supposed to go to sleep and expect baby to be calm and ready for bed when you lay them down awake. Make sure their environment is quiet and peaceful a few minutes before you take them to their crib.
4. Pick a number.
You picked a day to begin, you have your schedule, now you need to pick a number. You need to pick the number of minutes you will let your baby to cry before you enter the room. I chose 10 minutes but you can pick 5 minutes, 15 minutes, whatever you are comfortable with. I would suggest at least 5 minutes.
You will lay baby down while calm but awake. Baby may cry right when you let go of them immediately but be strong and walk out of the room. Time how long they cry. Your baby might surprise you and go to sleep before reaching your number. But say Jet kept crying at 10 minutes all I would do is walk in, rub his head, say it is okay, lay him back down (if he was sitting or standing), and leave once again. Do not pick up baby, just comfort baby to know you are there and leave quickly.
Baby may cry again for the next 10 minutes which is okay but you repeat the same thing over and over again. If baby is not giving up and you had to continue the cycle throughout the whole entire nap it is fine. Take baby out of the crib at the time when they were supposed to be waking up and continue with the schedule you had planned. I promise each day will get easier and baby will cry less and less as long as you stick to the schedule, be strong!
5. Accept that things won’t always go exactly as planned.
Yes, I know you made your schedule and you will try your best to stick to it but accept things may have to change. As you see above, I made a 8am to 8pm schedule. As hard as I tried to keep him to that schedule because it is a schedule I preferred, he preferred a 7am to 7pm schedule. I gave in and I was just glad he could sleep on his own.
Things will vary with baby’s age as well. When Jet dropped to two naps a day, I eliminated that last nap and kept everything else the same. When Jet drops down to one nap I would eliminate the morning nap and only keep the 2-hour afternoon nap with everything else staying the same.
If you have to be out late it is alright things happen. For example, if you put baby down at 9:30pm one night let baby sleep in a bit instead of waking them up at 8am if your schedule is 8am to 8pm. But during the sleep training week do not let this happen, the example is only after sleep training occurred. It is important for baby to learn how to sleep first on that schedule then you can later alter it.
Bear in mind your schedule will change plus or minus 15 minutes. You can try to follow it perfectly but after Jet was trained and he woke up at 6:45am instead of 7am I was not worried about it. Growth spurts will also mess the schedule up a bit but alter it for the time being, and adjust back into it. You will work your way around it I am sure of it.
6. The dreaded night schedule.
Ideally you want your baby to sleep throughout the whole 12-hour night schedule. Depending on what you are comfortable with and your baby’s age this will vary. Initially I wanted Jet to sleep a full 12 hours without a feeding when I started sleep training but I changed my mind and fed him once in the middle of the night until about 9 months. Even though he did not sleep the straight 12 hours I felt good knowing he at least knew how to fall back asleep on his own after his feeding and there was no crying involved.
Once I got the okay from Jet’s doctor that he could sleep all night without a feeding I sleep trained him again at 9 months to kick out the night feeding. I would do the same thing, wait 10 minutes of crying, if he was still crying I would walk in, rub his head, lay him back down and leave the room. At that point since he already knew how to soothe himself, it was not hard to take out that feeding and in a couple of days he was sleeping 12 hours straight at 9 months.
7. Dealing with guilt.
I understand it is tough to hear your baby cry. Sleep training is not for every family, do what you feel is best for you and your family always. I also want to mention to trust your instincts. If you know your baby is not okay, meaning seriously not okay go in there and get your baby. Do not worry about your number. As mothers, we get to a point where we know what types of cry our babies are expressing and if you feel your baby is not okay please follow your instincts.
However, if you know your baby is fine and only crying for comfort be strong and think of the results. Keep in mind that every day will get easier if you stick to the plan. Remember, once your baby knows how to fall asleep on their own baby and mommy will get more sleep because time will not be spent trying to put baby back to sleep which can be a struggle. This will also allow you to schedule your day better because there is more predictability.
I hope you enjoyed this overview of how I sleep trained Jet and my suggestions. Take it one day at a time. It will be repetitive but worth it. Please ask me any questions on the subject or … not on subject 😊
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