Sleep Training 101
This here’s a post for all the mom’s out there (and dad’s, and future parents, and anyone who is interested in sleep training their babe and/or themselves!) It also comes with a disclosure/reminder: what works for us may not work for everyone. Every kid is different and every kid goes through different phases. But, my son has been sleeping “through the night” (5-6 hours from the time he was 2-months-old, 10 hours from the time he was 6-months-old, and 11.5-12 hours now that he’s 1… please don’t hate me other parents!) so I miiiiight be doing something right.
And here’s a fun story about sleep training. It should come as no surprise that I’m a big fan of routines, so I started naturally incorporating a bedtime routine for Jack very early on. A few weeks ago, my husband was talking to a co-worker who was griping about their baby’s sleep habits and said they were going to try sleep training. My darling husband asked what sleep training was and his co-worker responded it’s doing the same routine every night. When my husband relayed this story to me, my response was: YEAH, WHAT DO YOU THINK WE’VE BEEN DOING?! So, in a nutshell that’s all sleep training is: establishing a routine and sticking to it.
For example, this is more or less the same routine we’ve been doing since Jack was 2-months-old:
-Dinner (milk when he was a newborn and solids starting at 6 months)
-Lotion and “massage”
-Quiet time in his room (reading books, playing)
-Nighttime nursing (or bottle or sippy cup with water)
-Lullabies and “Goodnight” book (the same book every night)
-Put in bassinet or crib and say “goodnight, I love you, etc”
-Let him fuss / babble until he falls asleep on his own
-Only comfort him if he’s been crying for longer than 10 mins
Some more tips:
-Keeping a fairly consistent schedule during the day helps, especially when they’re really young
-Once he became mobile, we gave him more playtime before bed. Now he plays for 20 mins after his bath and before we shut off the light. This time period used to be his “witching hour” so we’d rush through it, but now it’s our quality time together during the week and I relish those 20 minutes.
-When he was younger, we used to put him in a sleep sack before bed. We stopped putting him in a sack or swaddle once he learned to roll. Now we let him be naked / in a diaper until right before it’s time for bed.
-After we shut the door and say goodnight, we don’t come back in his room unless he’s crying. I meditate immediately after for about 10 mins and most times he’s asleep before I finish
-When he wakes up in the middle of the night, we usually give him 5 mins before we go in to comfort him. I countdown from 100.
-Now that he’s 1, we have a few things in his crib to keep him “busy”: an Einstein baby aquarium, soft-covered book (same one we read to him every night before bed), a pacifier, lovie, and small stuffed animal. If he’s teething, I also put a teether in there with him.
-Our house is small enough that I can turn down the sound on the baby monitor when I go to bed. If he’s crying I’ll be able to hear him, but lots of times he’s just “talking” and that ends up disrupting both our sleep.
-My husband and I both try our best to put him to sleep together every night. This means leaving work early (or turning down jobs, in my husband’s case) and not going out until after he’s asleep (thank you friends who are cool with meeting me for dinner after 8 near my house!)
As with everything child-related, consistency, but remaining flexible are key. Even if you’re not a parent, establishing a solid bedtime routine can help with adult-related sleeping woes. Not only is my son an excellent sleeper, but I think my husband and I have both become better sleepers, as well. Thanks, sleep training!