I have had so many questions and comments about sleep training! Probably because the worst feeling on this planet is walking around sleep deprived. I’ll preface this by saying I’m NOT an expert. I just do what works for me! If you’re against sleep training, don’t do it!
HERE is my original sleep training post from when Turner was a baby. He was pretty hard in the beginning. He nursed every 45 minutes to an hour ’round the clock! I would sleep for 20 minute increments at night and seriously wanted to die. By 4pm I would get major anxiety, dreading the night ahead. That’s when my friend let me borrow Preparation for Parenting, by Gary Ezzo when Turner was 2 weeks old. My world changed!
Sleep training sounds so harsh. I prefer to think of it as “putting my baby down for a nap” because 1. she’s tired 2. since she’s tired, she’s gonna cry whether she’s with me, upstairs or downstairs, so I might as well put her in her room where it’s calm 3. I have a toddler who’s quite boisterous and 4. I can’t possibly hold her and get anything done. That doesn’t mean I love her any less or spend less time kissing and hugging her!
Now that I got that off my chest, this post is more in depth as far as my process of “sleep training”. I started from the beginning with Gracie, who is now 6 weeks old. Let me explain. The first week of her life, I focused on giving her a FULL feeding. Something I didn’t know to do with Turner. I assumed when he fell asleep that he was done. Hence the constant feeding! A hungry baby is not going to take a nap! This time, I make sure Gracie’s good and awake and keep her awake throughout the feeding. She nurses for about 20 to 30 minutes (every baby is different).
Once she’s finished eating, I change her diaper (she usually goes while eating) and have our “wake time”. We do things like snuggle, sing, tummy time, and hang out in her play gym. The total time from the start of her feeding until her nap is only about 1 hour.
At that point, I swaddle her and put her in her Rock N Play (in her nursery), awake, but sleepy. I turn her sound machine on and walk out. Now, each baby has a different crying pattern too. I’ve learned Gracie’s. She doesn’t cry right away (and sometimes not at all). If/when she starts crying, she’ll cry for a few minutes and then stop. Then she starts again. If 15 minutes goes by and she’s whaling, I look at her in the monitor. If I see that her eyes are closed, I ask myself if I’m going to wake her more if I go in and disturb her process. If it’s to the point where she needs soothing, I’ll go in and rock her Rock N Play and put a hand on her until she calms down. I usually only have to do that once, if at all! You be the judge of that with your own baby!
Now, afternoons/nights are a bit different. Gracie is on a 3 hour wake/feed/change cycle through the day, but she has that afternoon cranky time like most babies. Our nights are exactly the opposite of what the Baby Wise style of training says to do. But, with Turner, it worked itself out by 2 to 3 months.
We give her and Turner a bath together at 7. We soothe her until she falls asleep (usually by rocking or with a paci), but that nap only lasts for a short time and she’s awake again by about 8 or 8:30. At that point, we bring her downstairs with us while we watch TV. I nurse her and she falls asleep on me. She stays with us until we go to bed around 10. We don’t wake her up. Stew gives her a bottle for her “dream feed” at 10 and puts her down in her Rock N Play in her room and turns on the sound machine. At that point she’s out for the night until I feed her at 5am.
Since she was born, she was sleeping 4-5 hour stretches at night. The past 2 weeks, she’s been giving us 6 to 7 hours at night. So, after that in depth explanation, here is what our schedule looks like at 6 weeks! Keep in mind, these times are more of a guide. Sometimes it’s 2 1/2 hours, sometimes 3 1/2. But it’s pretty accurate for our day-to-day.
Schedule at 6 weeks:
- 7:00am Wake/Feed/Change
- 7:30am Wake Time
- 8:00am Nap
- 10:00am Wake/Feed/Change
- 10:30am Wake Time
- 11:00am Nap
- 1:00pm Wake/Feed/Change
- 1:30pm Wake Time
- 2:00pm Nap
- 4:00pm Wake/Feed/Change
- 5:00pm catnap (this doesn’t last as long as the others)
- 6:00pm Feed
- 7:00pm Bath
- 8:00pm catnap (this doesn’t last as long as the others)
- 8:30pm Feed/Change (this is when she falls asleep on us downstairs)
- 10:00pm “Dream Feed” Bottle (don’t wake her up for this feeding)
- 4:30/5am Feed/Back to bed
Some Questions/Comments Answered:
- What to do if Baby wakes up before the next cycle?
- If she’s content, let her hang out until it’s time to feed. Put her in her play gym, swing, or snuggle.
- If you can’t soothe her, feed her and start over with the next cycle. Eventually it evens out.
- What if my baby doesn’t stop crying?
- This is when I go in and put a hand on her and rock her Rock N Play (definitely worth the investment). That way I don’t have to pick her up and disrupt her. She stops crying and usually her eyes start slowly blinking. This tells me she’s tired. I walk out. If your baby doesn’t stop, just repeat that process every few minutes until you feel comfortable stretching the time out between “rocks”. She will eventually self-soothe.
- What about changing diapers in the middle of the night?
- This is the only time I change her first (if she smells like Number Two). I don’t want to change her after I feed her, because I want her sleepy in the middle of the night.
- What if Baby wakes up after 45 minutes during nap time?
- When Gracie does this, I go in and rock her Rock N Play and she usually falls back to sleep. I don’t let her wake up too much and cry it out because I don’t want her to get all worked up.
- Also, ask yourself:
- Is she hot, cold, or did she poop?
- Maybe Baby is actually hungry. How was her feeding before the nap?
- When do we go out?
- I usually plan our outings during “nap time”. So I’ll feed her, change her and hit the road. She sleeps in her car seat or the Boba Wrap.
- Don’t talk to Baby or turn the lights on in the middle of the night. Nights are business ONLY!
- Let your spouse/family/friends help! When Mom does it, baby automatically wants to eat. If someone else does it, eating isn’t always the first option!
- Don’t be scared of your baby crying. Babies cry! Make sure she’s fed, warm enough, and dry.
- Finally, this is temporary! There’s no set list of steps. This is what worked for me this time! Every baby is different. Enjoy the cries, snuggles, and insanity, because it goes so fast!