I should start by saying my husband is a pro when it comes to sleep training. He is much more rigid and consistent than I am. On the other hand, he also doesn't have a natural scent of breastmilk so the baby doesn't feel the need to attack him.
Like most aspects of parenting, there is no right or wrong way to get your kid to sleep. Hayes is stubborn and loves to wake up for a little snack all throughout the night. It was wearing away at my energy and ability to function normally at work and home. An intervention was needed. Plus, Hayden is a much happier baby now that he is sleeping through the night.
The Ferber method has worked best for all of our boys. You put the baby down when he’s sleepy but awake, say some soothing words and close the door. In the beginning, your baby will cry because it’s new for him. On our first night, we let him cry for three minutes, went in and soothed him, but did not pick him up. By we, I mean my husband. I was watching anxiously on the baby monitor, with a glass of wine in hand.
After the three minutes Ryan left again for five minutes, then repeated the process, making time between “check-ins” a little longer. Check-ins are supposed to go for 3, 5, 7, 10, 12, 15, and then 20 minutes. If Hayes cried longer than 20 minutes, we kept going in every 20 minutes until he fell asleep. If the crying is coming from you- Do. Not. Go. In.
Ideally, your baby will fall asleep within an hour, especially if you are "training" before 6 months. The first night could be rough, but our boys never cried longer than 45 minutes total. When Hayden woke again in the middle of the night, we started the interval check-in’s all over 3, 5, 7, etc minutes. It didn't go past the 7 minute mark. The next night he cried for 12 minutes. The third was more of a 2 minute whimper and by the fourth night he was calmly putting himself to sleep. Keep in mind, sleep regressions still happen so stay consistent.
Sleep training is not teaching the baby to cry himself to sleep. It’s teaching him to fall asleep without crutches – like breastfeeding or rocking or even using a pacifier – so that he won't freak out if he wakes up without one of those. By now his dark room, white noise and crib have become associated with sleep, so when my husband or I kiss him goodnight and turn off the lights, he goes to sleep within just minutes. And we are all happily sleeping through the night now!*
My biggest advice if you plan to sleep train
1. Get the okay from your pediatrician first. Before you sleep train, make sure your baby is at an acceptable weight and is otherwise healthy. I would not recommend doing it before 4 months. Maverick was small so we held off a bit longer, as the night feedings were necessary to his growth.
2. Both parents need to be on the same page. It is so important that you agree on the training method because everyone will be losing some sleep and if one of you cracks and gives the baby his crutch, you
need to start all over again. Also plan who will be going in for the check-in (especially in the middle of the night). It worked best for my husband to do it each time, for multiple reasons- the baby gets more upset with me because he smells the milk. Ryan will eventually be doing bedtime solo because of my work hours. And I cave WAY too easily.
4. Be consistent. Consistency is your best friend as you sleep train. Kids crave it because it helps them anticipate what comes next. Be consistent with letting the crutches go, check-ins and especially a bedtime routine. It can be simple like oursDiaper change
· Bottle feed-this way he's not falling asleep nursing and gets more food, so we know he isn't waking up because he's hungry.
· Burp and put him in the sleep sack
· Turn white noise on and Turn lights off
· A kiss goodnight with a reassuring phrase
· Put baby down drowsy, but awake
5. Start on a weekend. Better to be a zombie at home than at work.
6. Have a video monitor. This reassured me during the process because I could see exactly what Hayes was doing in his crib and if he was settling down to sleep before we were about to go in. Ours also tells us the room temp which is super helpful in our home where his room faces the east and can get very warm at naptime.
I'll end by saying that what works for one family may not work for another. However, if you find yourself at your wit’s end, sleep training is worth a shot! Hayden is a whole new baby with uninterrupted sleep. And I’m a much more patient, energized mama too.Did you sleep train? Any tips or tricks to share? Comment below!
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