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  • Writer's pictureMama Witzig

We sleep trained in one weekend and it was the best decision

Updated: Jul 31, 2023

A Guide to Sleep Training Your Baby


sleeping baby

Introduction:

When it comes to parenting, few things are as precious as a good night's sleep. As parents, we understand the struggles that come with sleepless nights and the impact it can have on both our own well-being and that of our little ones. Sleep training is a strategy that many parents turn to in order to foster healthy sleep habits for babies and establish a peaceful nighttime routine. In this blog post, we will explore the benefits of sleep training and provide practical tips to help you navigate this important milestone in your baby's development.


Before sleep training, my infant and I were both waking 1-2 times every night for feedings. At best I got 4-hour stretches of sleep and my exhaustion was evident to everyone around me. I jokingly referred to it as "new mommy brain," but I was seriously struggling to perform at work and at home.


1. Understanding the Importance of Sleep:

Sleep is essential for your baby's growth, development, and overall well-being. It plays a vital role in emotional and physical development. Just like adults, babies require quality sleep to recharge and thrive. Sleep training focuses on teaching babies how to fall asleep independently and helps them develop self-soothing skills, leading to longer and more restful periods of sleep.


2. Know the Right Time to Start:

Every baby is unique, and there is no universal "right" time to start sleep training. However, it is recommended to wait until your baby is at least 4 months old and their sleep patterns begin to mature. Talk with your pediatrician.


At our 6 month appointment, I asked our pediatrician if at this age Kailey could make it through the night without a feeding. Breastfed babies to want to nurse more often than formula-fed and every baby is different, but she assured me that Kailey should be capable of going all night without a feeding, as long as she got enough breastmilk during the day. It seemed that waking for night feedings was likely more habit than necessity.


3. Establish a Consistent Bedtime Routine:

A consistent bedtime routine can work wonders in preparing your baby for a restful night's sleep. Create a calm and soothing routine by incorporating activities such as a warm bath, gentle massage, quiet playtime, and bedtime storytelling. The repetitive nature of a consistent routine will signal to your baby that it's time to wind down and prepare for sleep.


Bedtime routines don't need to be a long process. Ours consists of:

  • changing into pajamas and an all-night disposable diaper (we do cloth diapers during the day but these all-night diapers are great for making it through the night without requiring a diaper change),

  • reading a couple books (Kailey's favorites below),

  • brushing our teeth, and

  • laying down in bed and nursing to sleep.

Kailey's favorite books (4 mo - 9 mo)

  • Woodland Dance by Sandra Boyton

  • Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle

  • Belly Button Book by Sandra Boyton

  • Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boyton


4. Create a Sleep-Friendly Environment:

Setting the stage for a peaceful slumber is crucial. Create a sleep-friendly environment by ensuring the room is dark, quiet, and at a comfortable temperature. Consider using blackout curtains, white noise machines, or soft music to block out distractions and promote a soothing atmosphere that supports uninterrupted sleep.



My baby loves to nurse to sleep, and I know there are various opinions on "sleep crutches" like this, but it gets her to fall asleep and we both enjoy the closeness nursing brings us so it works for us. I opted for a montessori floor bed, both for the benefits noted below, but also because it allows me to nurse Kailey to sleep and quietly slip away without having to move her which would jostle her awake prior to this setup.

Benefits of a Montessori floor bed

A Montessori floor bed offers several benefits for young children, including:

  • It promotes independence and freedom of movement. By giving children the ability to get in and out of their bed on their own, it encourages them to develop important motor skills and a sense of autonomy. This also helps to foster a sense of self-confidence and self-reliance.

  • It creates a safe and age-appropriate sleeping environment. As it is close to the ground, there is a reduced risk of accidents or injuries from falling out of bed. Additionally, a floor bed allows children to freely explore their surroundings, which can be beneficial for cognitive and sensory development.

  • It encourages better sleep patterns. By providing a comfortable and familiar sleeping space, it can help children establish a consistent routine and promote better sleep quality.

  • It promotes a sense of order and calmness in the bedroom. Without the confinement of a traditional crib, children can freely move about and organize


5. Choose a Sleep Training Method:

There are various sleep training methods to choose from, and it's important to find one that aligns with your parenting style and your baby's temperament. Some popular methods include the Ferber method, the Cry It Out (CIO) method, and the Pick-Up-Put-Down (PUPD) method. Each method has its own principles and techniques, so take the time to research and select an approach that feels right for you and your baby. Remember, consistency and patience are key when implementing any sleep training method.


I recommend Tinyhood online parenting courses. There is a great course on sleep training that we watched prior to doing this with our baby.

What is Tinyhood?

Tinyhood is an online platform that provides parents with access to expert advice and support on various parenting topics. It offers guidance on topics such as breastfeeding, sleep training, toddler behavior, and more. Parents can ask questions and receive personalized advice from qualified professionals, as well as connect with other parents in a supportive community. Tinyhood aims to empower parents with the knowledge and resources they need to navigate the challenges and joys of parenthood.


6. Stay Consistent and Patient:

Sleep training is a process that may require time, effort, and consistency. Be prepared for some initial resistance or protests from your baby as they adjust to the new routine. Stay committed and follow through with the chosen sleep training method. Consistency, along with a loving and supportive approach, will help your baby adapt to the changes and develop healthy sleep habits.


Our 3-Day Weekend Sleep Training

We chose Memorial Weekend to sleep train because it offered 3 uninterrupted days to set the routine and stay consistent without work getting in the way. Prior to starting, Kailey woke up sometime between 1-3 am and sometimes again around 4 am. She also needed to be rocked and/or nursed to sleep. We decided to try the CIO method for up to 20 minutes, and if she continued to cry after 20 minutes, we would go in and check on her, check/change her diaper if needed, or feed her. We also use a baby monitor/camera to watch her from our bedroom.


Night 1

Kailey asleep at 9 pm

Awoke at 2 am, cried for 20 minutes before falling back to sleep

Awoke at 5 am, nursed back to sleep


Night 2

Asleep at 9 pm

Awake 3 am, cried for 10 minutes before falling back to sleep

Awake at 5:30 am, nursed back to sleep


Night 3

Asleep at 9 pm

Awake at 4am, cried for 5 minutes before falling back to sleep

Awake at 6 am


Daytime Naps

Nursed to sleep in her bed for consistency


I was surprised how quickly she acclimated. Since then, she has gradually increased her sleep time to 8-9 hours each night! She might wake during the night but quickly falls back asleep. We occasionally have a rough night here and there, but the vast majority of the time we sleep great now.


Conclusion:

Sleep training can be a transformative journey for both you and your baby. By focusing on establishing healthy sleep habits, you are setting the foundation for a lifetime of restful nights and well-rested days. Remember, every baby is unique, so be patient, flexible, and attuned to your baby's needs throughout the sleep training process. With perseverance and love, you will create an environment that promotes peaceful slumber and nourishes your baby's growth and development. Sweet dreams await!



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