The Busy Mom's Diet

Tutorial Tuesday- Sleep Training: Our Journey to Dreamland

by Emily on August 7, 2012

Sleep Training

Wait, I can go to sleep on my own?!?!….zzzzz

Today I want to share our sleep training experience. Although some of the books I read disagree, I think that there is no universal “right way” to teach your child to sleep.  I do however think that sleeping is a skill that must be taught in whatever way works for baby and parents.  Before I go into our sleep training journey, here is a quick video tutorial for the Infant Optics Video Monitor, which was an absolute LIFESAVER in this process:

I highly encourage you to leave a comment, resource, tip, or story at the end of this blog post because when I was sleep-deprived and googling “willI ever sleep again??”, I took the most comfort from sites where moms shared their common stories and struggles as well as some possible solutions.  Anyway, on with it!

 At the beginning: From the first day, we used the strategies in The Happiest Baby on the Block (Click here for my full Review and Tutorial) and Miles slept for long stretches all swaddled up, pacifiered and happy.

After he was a few weeks old, I started using The Baby Whisperer’s Easy Plan, which in a nut shell means: Eat (Feed Baby), Activity (Make Eye Contact with Mom, Go for a Walk, Lay on the mat gym, etc),  Sleep (Self-Explanitory, but they all had parentheses hehe), Your Time (Mom gets to go pee and rinse off the spit up).  We repeated this EASY plan every 3-4 hours and he put himself on to a fairly regular day time schedule.  Please note, he did not cry for food between bottles otherwise I would have fed him!  Schedules must take into account baby’s needs!

Besides EASY, the two most important lessons I learned from The Baby Whisperer were:

  •  Lay the baby down drowsy but awake!  This lays the foundation for learning to be comfortable in a bed and put themselves to sleep, a very valuable skill a few months down the line!
  • Start as you mean to go on.  When times got tough, I abandoned this advice and later realized it was the worst thing I could have done at the time.  She says over and over in her book, if you don’t want to be walking/bouncing/co-sleeping/etc with your 2 year old, don’t start it with your 6 month old.
Things were going dandy!  Miles had a consistent day time routine and continually slept longer and longer stretches at night, until at 2-3 months, he was consistent at 9pm-5am. I’m a morning person, so this arrangement was ideal for me. For 3 months, I figured I hit the baby jackpot!  He moved from the basinet in our room to his own crib at 4 months without a hitch.
Sleep Training 2

Sleeping Like an Angel…Sometimes

Then 5-6 months came along…
At 5 months, we developed 2 nasty habits that meant mom got little sleep and lots of back ache:
  • He became increasingly attached to his pacifier.  Where before he just needed it to get to sleep initially, now he needed me to get up, go down the hall, and pop it back in every hour or two.  I tried everything to get him to figure it out without me.
  • He needed me to bounce him to sleep on the yoga ball and it started taking longer and longer to get him to the drowsy, but awake and willing to let me put him down without screaming his head off.  (I heard the Baby Whisperer in the back of my head, but I didn’t listen).
After a month of sleep deprivation and painful amounts of yoga ball bouncing, I started to ask google if I would ever sleep again.
I was determined not to do the cry it out thing.  So first, I tried The Sleep Lady’s Solution which involves letting them cry in their bed, but while you are there comforting them and slowly leaving the room.  This worked with very modest success…somedays.  Mostly, it made Miles even more mad that I was there and not picking him up.
Next, I went back to The Baby Whisperer, who has a whole book about sleep training. Her approach involves picking up and putting down about a million times.  This also worked…sometimes.
At this point, our heads were spinning.  Miles could not be bounced to sleep because even if I bounced an hour or two, he would scream his head off when I put him down. He wasn’t good at either system and we really needed some sleep.
It was time for bold moves, so I:
Sleep Training 3

Consistency is Key

The first 2 days and nights were BRUTAL.  I hate to hear my son cry, but after a couple of days, he learned to self sooth and we were back in business. There were bumps in the road at first mostly due to inconsistencies getting us all on board with the plan, but we got those smoothed out.
This summer, he turned one and has been home with me everyday (I’m a teacher).  He goes down for his naps at 9-10:30 and 2-3:30 and then down for bed at 6:30pm-6:30am without a complaint in the world. He abandoned the whine and cry routine when I became super consistent about his schedule. Sure, every once in a while the garbage man wakes him up or he poops at the beginning of his nap, which throws us all off, but for the most part, there are no complaints here.
The trick for us was figuring out what worked for our particular baby.  He was over stimulated by the gentler methods and really just needed us to leave him alone and let him work it out.  We’ll see what the next year holds for us because I’m sure it will change again before we know it!

What are your slept training secrets, tips, struggles or stories?

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