How We Sleep Trained Our Son.
Updated: Apr 2
Let me start off with saying, I believe any method of parenting, approaches or beliefs are the right one as long as its safe and works specifically for you and your family. There are so many opinions, judgments in today's society about how we should be raising our little's and for me personally I just wing it, I try new things and hope for the best and once I find something that works well, we incorporate it into Lincolns schedule. Yes a schedule. That is another thing we have definitely had some judgement on as to why or how we keep Lincoln on a schedule. But this is what works for us and especially for our son and it keeps him happy, which makes our life a lot less stressful than it needs to be.
Did I think we would be these types of parents? No. But am I glad we are? Absolutely.
If you are here for some help, words of encouragement or to know you are not alone and we have been through the same feelings and emotions you may be going through as a new parent-this post is for you. Read below:
Lincoln was never a bad sleeper, when we brought him home he slept in 4 hour increments at night and for us it was manageable. The problem was consistency-I thrive on a schedule and knowing how to plan out my day, but for me personally being a new Mom I had severe anxiety that caused post partum insomnia, I couldn't sleep at night and if I did doze off I would wake in a panic making sure Linc was breathing or didn't choke on his own spit up (Yes I was that kind of Mom). So Because of that, I wasn't getting enough sleep and when a new mom or dad isn't sleeping well...lets just say some nights our relationship was very trying and our own worst enemy was in full affect. I think what people don't realize is that babies NEED sleep, so sleep training isn't just to find balance and get a good nights rest but it sets babies up for a better nights rest which means a happy baby during the day. So around 9-12 weeks- I started easing into sleep training.
This was just a consistent bedtime routine at the same time every night, we would still go in to feed if he woke up but no interaction, no lights, it was a business feed and then back to bed so we could teach him it that night time is for sleeping. By no means would I ever deprive or ignore him if he was crying we would go in and soothe because he was still so young and needed those feedings. This went for nap-time as well during the day, I believe we did three naps a day and I would never let him sleep longer than 2--3 hours- Awake time would be feed, change and play keeping him alert and happy until his next nap would come around. It was important to us to have his last nap end no later than 4:30 PM so that he would be ready for bedtime at 7:00 PM and have that long stretch of sleep each night until his middle of the night feeding time.
We got lucky because he usually wouldn't wake up more than once a night (sometimes twice but it was rare) around 1 am- same time every night and it was something that worked well for us because Matt and I would take turns getting up with him so that one of us could get a full nights rest. But just when things were starting to flow into a scheduled routine-the 4 month sleep regression that everyone warns you about hit us. Linc was waking up at crazy hours of the night, taking longer than usual to fall back asleep and during the day, he would fight his naps. It lasted a good two weeks and we were exhausted which meant I needed to find a solution.
I heard from a friend about this book called "The Sleep Easy Solution" https://www.amazon.ca/Sleepeasy-Solution-Exhausted-Parents-Getting/dp/0757305601 this book covers everything from helping your baby get the sleep they need and helping you work as a couple to really connect and feel like you have this parenting thing under control.
This book supports the "Ferbor Method" Which is basically an approach where you do a consistent nighttime routine ie: bath, massage, feed, song and lay into crib, say goodnight and let your baby teach themselves how to fall asleep on their own. I will honestly tell you guys that the interval period of checking on (but not picking up) was tough, one of the hardest things you will go through as a new parent is standing outside your babies room whether its for 2 minutes or 10 minutes, and listening to them cry. I cant remember exactly what intervals I went with but I think its personal preference on what you can handle as a parent. I would start with 5 minutes- go in and put my hand on his chest and say "sshh mama Is here its time for bed" and leave the room. Sometimes this would make him more frustrated but I knew it was my job to stay consistent because if I didn't than how can I expect him to right? Unfortunately with sleep training it is also important for one parent to take on the roll- if both of you are going in or taking turns I found it would confuse him and it would just wake him up more. I would continue this and add 5 minutes to each "crying window" and go in and repeat the same cycle until he was sleeping. For us it was never longer than 25 minutes.
This book was honestly our savior- it took about 5 days for him to really get used to this and each day we noticed it was less time from the night before that it took him to fall asleep on his own. He was going to sleep at the same time every night, and waking at the same time every morning.
Some tips for you if you are new to this or looking for options on how to approach sleep training:
1. Once your doctor gives you the go ahead to incorporate solids (purees), eliminate night feedings and sleep props, NO more dream feeds. NO more swings or bouncers to help your baby take their naps... And NO more Car seat nap times at least for a week. You have to commit to really helping your baby learn how to fall asleep on their own without any help or props. We made this mistake because we were so tired in the middle of the night that letting him self soothe was taking longer than just giving him a bottle and knowing it will soothe him back to sleep. This became a routine for him and he thought that if he woke up he would get a bottle and it wasn't a good cycle because he no longer needed it to stay full throughout the night. It was simply a comfort thing and he "needed it" to help him fall back asleep.
2. We found a little Bear blankie that we incorporated into his bedtime routine, we would keep this strictly in his crib and as soon as it was time for nap times or bedtimes we would say "here is your bear" and he would immediately grab it and cuddle it ( I think it truly helped his mind to see it and know that it is time for sleep) Its also the cutest thing you will ever see going into your child's room at night and seeing them cuddling this little blanket.
3. No more co sleeping or same room sleeping, I know this is hard. But for me personally, once we transitioned Linc into his own room for nap times to start with, and then overnight once he was used to this..I started sleeping better. We had a monitor beside me to set my mind at ease and eventually it became easier on all of us. His bedroom is his safe zone and we use it only for sleeping or calm activities. We have a playroom for playtime and mentally he knows his nursery is where he sleeps only.
These are all tips that we personally loved, I am no expert and you should always consult with your doctor but if this helps any parents out who are sleep deprived, have tried numerous methods and nothing has worked for them. Try this approach.
At the end of the day, were all just doing the best we can and want our babies to be happy, safe, and healthy. Every baby is different, some are amazing sleepers and some it will take a long period of time before things settle into a good routine. But remember we are all in this together and to take it one day at a time.
I know the feeling of being exhausted and not feeling qualified to take care of myself let alone a tiny human and show him my best self. But this community is here for you and anyone who may need those words of encouragement or someone to talk to.
I am here for all of you!