Let me guess, you most likely haven’t had a full night’s sleep in a long time. You can’t remember the last time you closed your eyes in bed and opened them to the sunlight peeking through your window. Reality of having a baby, let a lone sleep training a baby. Phew!
Yup, I know that feeling.
Don’t despair- you are not alone.
Sadly, being tired and lethargic is part of parenting and the reality of every parent out there.
Someday it will change, and that is a beautiful thing.
My baby was notorious for sleeping for 45 minutes during the day. No shorter, no longer. At nighttime, this was also the case and to this day I still don’t know how I survived rocking her to sleep every hour.
This was our normal, that is until we moved from our tiny house into a 2-bedroom apartment. We had her bassinet beside our bed just like before, yet everything was different. She only slept for 20 minutes at a time and after a week of pure torture, we decided to sleep train.
Sleep training is one of the first skills a baby learns that does not come naturally to them. Babies need to learn to self-soothe and fall asleep by themselves, it is not something that happens naturally (in most cases that is).
I searched the internet high and low for all the methods and tricks to get your baby to sleep longer. Yet nothing seemed “ideal”.
That is when we became innovative and went with our own gut feelings.
Below is the only method that worked for us… and trust me, we have tried many.
Little disclaimer. Pediatricians recommend having your baby sleep in your room for at least 6 months, preferably to 1 year. This helps reduce the risk of SIDS and promotes bonding between parent(s) and child.
I am not in any means a professional and should not be taken as one. Ask your pediatrician before attempting any method of sleep training.
Our baby girl was over 6 months old when we started sleep training.
We noticed that when she was not sleeping with us, she slept more soundly and for longer. That is why we decided to move her into another room and start sleep training.
Make sure you and your baby are ready to sleep train. When to sleep train really varies from child to child, although the average is between 5-12 months.
Our First Steps
We started putting our baby girl down for naps and bedtime when she was getting drowsy, yet not completely tired. We decided to start leaving her alone for nap times first and then moved onto bedtime.
We did this as I wanted to be awake and fully present when we sleep trained her, so I could listen and be attentive until she fell asleep.
This helped her learn to wind down in bed and stopped the pre-bedtime temper tantrums. She would still fuss and whine, however, doing this taught her that she is on her own for soothing and settling herself down.
Our Sleep Training Method
Giving your baby time to calm down before intervening was the main suggestion from our pediatrician.
So, we started with small time intervals. We put her down, snuggled her, gave her kisses, turned on her white noise, and left the room. If she was crying for a minute, we would go in, soothe her, and walk out. We then repeated these steps every 2 minutes.
After the third nap of following this 2-minute schedule, she fell asleep by herself within 8 minutes. She was not crying the entire time during this process which helped soothe my “guilt” feelings.
When we noticed she was getting better at self-soothing, we bumped up the time intervals to 3 minutes, 4 minutes, and then every 5 minutes until she fell asleep.
Within a week she would completely fall asleep for nap times by herself without us having to go in and calm her down. However, night times were still a big problem.
Once we had nap times down, we proceeded to do the same thing for nighttime.
We would give her a chance to self soothe first before intervening. Within the third night, she was able to self soothe once.
We were ecstatic. With lots of time and patience, we were able to teach our baby to self-soothe herself and fall back asleep by herself.
Through this method, we were able to teach our baby to self-soothe quickly and successfully.
Tips for Sleep Training
Here are some major tips that helped us take our no-sleep baby and turn her into a pro-napper:
*Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Routines are so important to a baby’s growth and development. It helps them learn what to expect, what the outcomes will be, and gives them a sense of security.
Find the bedtime routine that best suits you and your baby’s needs. AND STICK TO IT!
Our bedtime routine is as follows, yet feel free to experiment with your own.
6:45 pm – final solid food feed
7:00 pm – get dressed into PJ’s, body lotion, put on our white noise machine, and dim all the lights.
7:15 pm – low-energy activities, such as reading a book, cuddling
7:30 pm – final bottle/breastfeeding session, put down for bed. Prayer, kisses, and good night!
2. Learn your baby’s sleep triggers
Through experimenting, figure out what works best with your baby. Whether it is music or white noise, taking a bath, or simply changing clothes. Do what works for you!
For example, my baby loves bath time, yet does not find them calming. She goes into full splash mode in the bath, which is anything other than soothing.
When giving baths, I do it at least an hour before her bedtime, that way she gets all her energy out yet has enough time to calm down after.
Experiment in the first few weeks and find out what causes your baby to “get into sleep mode”.
3. Get your baby sleepy before bedtime
Using your routine, make sure your baby realizes it is time for bed. This means no loud games or tickles before bed, as this energizes your baby.
Choose more quiet activities before bed and keep the outer stimuli down.
Around half an hour before her bedtime, I dim all the lights in our apartment and turn on her white noise. That way she realizes its bedtime soon and mentally prepares herself for it as well.
4. Dream feed or wean at night
I breastfed my baby completely before having to stop at 10 months. This meant for over 3 months of her learning to self-soothe, I breastfed.
I made sure she was full and happy before bed. Right before I went to bed myself, I would dream feed her one more time.
Dream feeding essentially means feeding your baby while they are still half asleep. They do it more sub-consciously in their sleep and continue sleeping right after.
Side note, the first few times I tried dream feeding it didn’t work, but after a week or two my baby got the hang of it and we have been doing it ever since! So don’t give up!
She self-soothed herself during the night and skipped feedings by herself that way through dream feeding.
If you are formula feeding, you can give less and less to your baby until they get nothing at nighttime (which we are currently working on).
If you are unsure about dream feeding or want to learn how to properly and successfully dream feed, check out my post all about dream feeding.
5. Be patient and be you!
Sleep training takes a long time and a whole lot of patience! Make sure you give yourself and your baby enough time to adapt and learn these new skills.
It will be hard both on you and on the baby.
Remember, self-soothing is a skill your baby must learn, just like you might pick up a new hobby like painting. It takes a lot of practice, patience, and time to become good at it!
Using these tips and the sleep training method, I can assure you with TIME, PATIENCE, and PERSEVERANCE, your baby will learn to self-soothe and you will have successfully sleep trained your baby!
Even though it may sound impossible now, give it a try. I assure you; it will be worth it in the long run!
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