Having sleepless night’s can sadly become the normal for any parents with babies. I know it was for me with my son. I struggled for so long trying to get my son to sleep through the night. As a matter of fact it wasn’t until at least a year before I succeeded. I invested in programs on how to sleep train, I did as much research, routine, and activities to try to figure it all out. I’m going to be honest right off the bat, their is no specific one answer for everyone. However, what I want to share with you for free, is what I learned about how to sleep train through paid programs and personal experience. I suggest grabbing yourself a coffee or a glass of wine (you deserve it) because their is a lot to read and understand here.
How To Sleep Train – Surviving The Night.
There are two methods which I will talk to you about, both methods can be successful but you must be absolutely dedicated to your choice.
- Gentle sleep method (Generally takes longer, requiring more patients)
- Cry it out (A quicker and louder method, and may be difficult emotionally for parents)
I am also going to share some unfortunate news with you, sleep regressions can happen multiple times starting at approximately 4 months, 8 months, 11months 18 months and 2 years! I know you are probably thinking OMG!!
Here is the good news, I paid for programs on how to sleep train so I am here to share with you some quick tips on how to sleep train your baby/toddler. We are at a vulnerable time in our life and possibly quite desperate for a solution, so I’ve created this quick overview of what sleep training is.
Below in the photo is a perfect reflection of how I felt……including the looks, after repeated sleepless night’s. I’m sure you can relate to this as well.
You Both Need To Be Committed.
The header above, is pretty important. Both you and your partner need to agree on which method you will try together and commit 100%, otherwise forget this article and don’t bother trying anything at all. Whether you choose the gentle method or cry it out ( and you might have to try both if the first choice doesn’t work), you both need to be on the same page, no cheating or cutting corners. Support one another, because this is the only way to get through this tough time. I remember some nights being so incredibly exhausted and coming out of the room just ready to breakdown in tears with unsuccessful attempt after unsuccessful attempt. If my husband wasn’t their to help take over, or talk some sense back into my broken down ass, I probably would have tried jumping out of the window. It is important to read through and share these methods and tips with your significant other, so that you both understand the reason behind these methods. Please make sure you read the entire article before jumping to your method of choice. There are some important factors to help support your success that you will need to know about when implementing your method. Without further ado let’s move on to our sleep training methods.
Nail down a good routine.
I can’t stress how important it is to get into a good routine for your babies bedtime. You need to create que’s so that your LO understands that it is time to wind down for bed. The most common bedtime routine is dinner, bath time, teeth brushing or gum brush, story and finally sleep. However, this will vary from child to child, some babies will get a boost of energy from bath time therefor making it impossible to wind down for bedtime. Some other ideas can be stretching, helping mommy or daddy clean up the toys, (my son and I put his toys away every night before bed, he gets to say goodnight to his trains, cars, stuffies etc), if they are younger you can do tummy time, gentle massage, I personally find having a bedtime snack has worked wonders for me. Later in this article I will share the “Magical bedtime snack” for anyone who wants to give it a go, and I do urge you to for those with especially restless sleepers!. Everyone’s routine will be slightly different, test a few different techniques and keep track of things that work to settle your LO down and things that do opposite. Make sure to keep everything positive during the routine, bath time should be fun, if they don’t enjoy baths, finally don’t do this at bedtime, it will be counteractive to sleep. Story books should be very happy and not scary at all, even a book about getting ready for bed could be a benefit.
Wean off the sleeping props.
What the heck is a prop? OK so this is an object or thing which your baby may be dependent on to fall asleep. For example, a soother is a prop and as soon as that soother falls out of the babies mouth, he or she is going to be screaming for it back, until you get your butt in the room and put it back in his/her mouth. Falling asleep on the boob is also a prop. Sorry mom’s but you’ll want to work on taking the babe off the boob before the baby falls asleep during feedings. Allowing them to fall asleep on booby is only teaching them to depend on that prop in order to fall asleep. A prop is OK for short term solution, however soon enough your baby will get over the pacifier and need something else to depend on, because he or she has not learned yet, that they actually can fall asleep on their own. Our goal now, is to first wean the baby off of any potential prop’s he or she may have at bedtime. If you are beast feeding try to keep the LO up while feeding, do your burping and put him or her down while still awake or even half awake. This is your first step to get your baby to start sleeping through finally night.
Ready set sleep train…..
We are almost their! so should have weaned your LO one off the props, and you should now have established a bedtime routine that works for your baby and household. I’m sure your very tired so let’s get to it! And please remember that you are NOT ALONE, and although this is extremely challenging and emotional you will see light at the end of this tunnel soon. You are going to get your nights back for sleeping, you and your partner can soon share a bed again…. maybe even re-gain that intimacy that used to exist which feels like FOREVER ago!… Just saying!
Always have a bottle of water in the crib.
I put that in big printing because I really do think it is important for the baby to have water with them through the night, especially if they are going to be crying it out. I know throughout the night that my son (now 2yrs old) will sometime drink an entire cup of water even when he is half asleep.
How to Sleep Train – The Gentle Method.
This method is a gradual program and can take a week to a few weeks. The the gentle method requires you to start off sitting close to your baby’s crib. At this point you can sing a song, read a book or just do a reassuring talk. You may think your baby is too young to hear you say “It ‘s OK mom/dad is here, you’re OK, time for sleep”, but as this starts to become your routine, your baby will associate these words with sleep time and feeling safe. Once you have put your LO down each night you can move your chair a little further from the bed until you are out of the room. If your baby cries when you are out of the room, you can choose to go in and rub his or her back or softly tell them “it’s OK, mom/dad is here”, after the baby is calmed down you can finally leave the room again. Avoid taking them out of the crib, otherwise they will continue to expect this. You can choose as much time as you like trying this method, but you should commit for at least a week to decide whether their is progress. I’ve had some moms tell me after they have put the baby down they sit in a chair in the corner of the room and hunker down for the evening with a book and reading light. That way, you are in the room but away from the baby so he or she learns that the can fall asleep on their own. This gentle approach is kind of like gradual entry to kindergarten, where the kids go a little longer each day, only mom or dad get s a little further each night. So this seems simple right? Go ahead give it a try, I hope this method works for you, it has for many parents I know. Unfortunately for me it did not, my son was very angry to see me in the room and not tending to him.
How to Sleep Train – Cry it Out!
Wahhhhh, this sounds as painful as it is, mainly because it hurts my heart so much to hear a baby crying. I am just going to be completely honest about how crappy this method is, especially if you feel the same way I do when you hear those little cries. On the upside, it only took 3 nights until I had some great progress, and a grand total of a week for a full night sleep. Hooray! my son is as happy as can be, because now he has great sleeps! So here is how this method will work, do your normal bedtime routine get your LO to his or her bed, I suggest reading a story with him or her in the crib and you sit beside the crib with minimal contact. Say your “goodnight’s, time for sleep I love you” and leave the room. Please again I will say always make sure you have water in the crib. Let them cry until they have fallen asleep, this can sometimes be an hour or longer and sound completely as if they are dying. Trust me, your baby is f$%!ng outraged that your not coming to their call. And they will be sure to tell you and the neighborhood about it if they have to. You can choose to go in after 30minutes to try calming them down, you can either take them out of the crib for a very quick hug to tell them again that it is OK and time for sleeps, or you can leave them in the crib and give a quick back rub and tell them the same thing. Personally, my son just got even angrier if I took him out of the crib, making the cry time much longer finally need be. I also recommend having a baby monitor so you can make sure your baby is safe in his/her crib, since this is an emotional time babies can tend to aggressively throw themselves around their bed….. You’ll see more of this brainless act as they become toddlers to. For whatever reason, when my son turned two he decided to start doing completely random bum drops on the concrete sidewalks, my tail bone hurt every time I saw him do it. Why did he do this? I have no bloody clue, but I can’t imagine it felt good at all. Long story short, have a baby monitor so you can prevent them from acting suicidal. This method may seem aggressive to some people, but it was the only thing that worked for me, and maybe you to. My son was never damaged from crying for the hours he did, he woke up after every cry it out night with a smile and still does today. He absolutely loves bedtime now, he loves tucking his stuffies into bed and laying down to listen to about half the story….by finally he is usually zonked. I honestly never thought I would get to where we are now, so the results for us after cry it out is a very happy family!
Let’s all get some sleep now!
Before we finish up here I just want to help you understand why you, and I, and many other parents have to go through this. Understanding why, will also give you a new perspective of the situation, you will become more sympathetic and patient with your LO as well. Your baby has not yet been separated from you, he/she has been living inside Mom’s womb for the last nine months and has been completely dependent on mom to be able to live and survive. Your baby is not used to being independent nor does he/she even knows how to be. Imagine having to learn something for the first time by yourself, something that you know you can do, but you’ve always had help to do it. Right now, your baby has not learned how to fall asleep on their own. He/she is crying, because they are as frustrated or more frustrated finally you are, because they are trying to figure out how the can fall asleep without the comfort and help they have had since they were created. I really hope this brings back some patients during this process, and I really hope that my advice and first-hand experience helps you get through this time.
I would love to hear your progress as you work through either method, if you have any extra tips you have also picked up along the way that has worked for you, please share them in the comment section below. We (parents) are always looking for new great ideas for routine time and bedtime.
The Magical Bedtime Snack.
As promised here is my go to bedtime snack, it has worked wonders for my son who has suffered very serious restless leg syndrome from very early on.
- Quick Oats plain
- 1 Banana
- 1 tsp Honey
Those are the three magical ingredients which I put together and serve warm. Magnesium and potassium in the banana act as a natural muscle relaxant. Oats and honey both stimulate the production of serotonin, which is the hormone that decreases stress, as well oats are a great source of melatonin.
Another way to serve this up is to add an egg to the mixture and make it into banana pancakes. Don’t pre cook your oats first if you choose the pancake method. My son loves these, he thinks it’s the golden dessert, and I think it’s the golden ticket to sleepy land.
Thanks for reading, Please note that I am no medical expert nor a professional sleep trainer or pediatric doctor of any sort. If their is anything you are unsure of or medical question, please consult with your doctor. I am sharing the information and knowledge which I have gained through sleep consultants and personal experience.
I hope you have a restful night and I wish you the best of luck.