I was asked by a friend, the other day, how did I sleep train my girls. I thought I would share this with the interwebs in case others out there looking for resources. I’m not saying my way is right (I have many friends who do sleep train differently) but I thought I would share my experience with it.
There’s a lot of info out there about crying it out but what I did was, I timed it. Like the Ferber method. You put her in her crib, sleepy but awake. Before that even, get the sleep routine down. Bath, book, (boob or bottle), bed. So she begins to know that bed time is coming. We say our good nights to everyone (sister, papa – if I’m putting her to bed). We even do a little sign language – the sign for sleep is taking your open palm and dragging it from the top of her head to her chin. It’s so cute because just a week ago she started doing it to herself!!
Anyway, after that, put her in her bed, rub her head, rub her tummy or back for a couple of minutes telling her that it’s time for bed. Night night, I love you, etc…
Then she cries. It’s so much easier if if your partner is with you. For a couple of reasons. Definitely support for you. But also, for him to go in and comfort her 2 minutes later. He DOESN’T pick her up but tries to lay her back down (if she’s standing or sitting), rub her head/tummy/back and again with the soothing words “it’s night time, sleepy time, I love you, good night”. When he gets back, make him tell you everything he witnessed (at least that’s what I did for peace of mind). Then 4 mins later, he goes in again. And I think it’s best if it’s him since she probably associates you with breast feeding and nurturing. Whereas, with your partner (if he’s like my hubby), there’s a bit of a different relationship there. She’s comforted and feels safe with him but it’s just not the same connection. And then 6 mins later. But you have to keep doing it until she falls asleep. Don’t give in and no picking up as then she knows that she just has to cry long enough and eventually someone will pick her up.
And again throughout the night. Same thing. You will notice though that she should get better and better and by the time 4 days has gone by, you aren’t so tender to the crying, you know and you should be able to see that the crying is lessening and lessening. It’s important though that someone goes in to reassure her and check on her. Once we had let her cry for 5 mins and when my hubby went in, he saw that she was under the blankets. So it was good he went in.
And each night you make the waiting longer and longer. Second night, you go in after 5 mins, then 7 mins, then 10 mins. Do what works but make the time longer and longer between check-ins.
9 months is definitely not too late. I had to do it a few times actually. When you get into a scenario like going away for a week or a few days and the sleep routine isn’t the same, you have to sleep train a bit when you get back to normal. But it goes more quickly then the first time. We started at 4 months but we did it again at 6 months (after our trip across Canada) and again at 9 months (after our trip to Egypt). And then loosely a bit in between those times if she was sick, teething, etc… It’s easy to break out of the sleep habit if mommy’s been sooothing for achy teeth or baby doesn’t feel well.
I’m not going to lie. It’s hard. Especially on you. So we did it on a Friday and made sure that we didn’t have much going on during the weekend (you need to do it for naps too – it’s training after all). Mark it on the calendar and think about it to be prepared for it: this is the weekend you’re going to sleep train! Then by the time Sunday night comes along, it’s hopefully not to much disturbance for your partner who has to work the next day (right?) But you need that support from him for when and if you’re crying, your hubby’s there to tell you it’s going to be ok and that you’ll all get through it.
And, it’s not for everybody. Sometimes it’s too hard on the parents, sometimes it just doesn’t work for the child. But I did it for both my kids and they are champion sleepers now. Sometimes the wee babe even giggles when I’m giving her kisses right before bed. It’s hard to imagine that the screeching will turn into giggles EVER.
Two more things as this has been very lengthy – if your baby is sick, teething, routine is messed up or sleeping somewhere else, in my opinion, it’s best to just abandon sleep training. And this is where you end up doing it over and over again (becoming easier and faster each time) because it’s easy for them to fall out of the sleep training.
The other thing is: once it’s done, it’s not done. For example: the wee babe’s been battling a cold for over a month now (ugh..), she usually sleep through the night (7:30-6:30) but for several nights she’s been waking up coughing and then she’s awake crying. We leave her for 5-10 mins and she will fall back asleep sometimes. Then because she’s sick, she ends up sleeping more throughout the day but that means that she’s not tired at 7:30. So I give her the bottle and she’s ready to party now. Wait – what? So I tried to put her to bed at 8 and she just cried and cried and cried. Now I could leave her there but I know she’s not ready (not rubbing her eyes, not yawning, not whining). So I got her up. Then a few minutes later I gave her a second bottle (less of an amount) and voila! She’s good to go. Head on my shoulder, limp in my arms, and when I put her into bed, she’s more than willing. So I’ve learnt from that and realize that I have to put her straight to bed after the bottle and say our good nights.
So it’s not always peaches and cream after you’ve done the sleep training BUT you’ve set her up for great sleep habits to come (hopefully).
I hope this has helped and sorry for the novel but from the info I’ve found online it just isn’t very thorough and I can’t express how much you need support there with you (when I was sleep training the tweenager I had my mom with me since there wasn’t a man around )
Do you have sleep training experiences? Did other methods work for you? I’d love to hear all about them.