I recently discovered the bane of every parent – Sleep Training a baby.
It seemed so easy for the first few month, Ella liked to sleep and from the beginning was consistently sleeping 3-4 hours. I was tired, but could at least function.
As she got older I waited for the magical moment when she would start sleeping for longer chunks of time. It never came and at six months I started to get a bit sleep deprived.
If anything her sleeping schedule just got worse.
After three nights in a row of her waking up virtually every hour, I realized something needed to change.
I realized quickly that I had opened a can of worms. Who knew that sleep training was such a sensitive subject?
Every parent has a very strong opinion on Sleep Training.
Fortunately, my friends are awesome and all of them were quick to reassure me that I would find a method that worked for my family. There isn’t a right way to train your child since each child and parent is different.
One of my friends was nice enough to lend me the book – The Sleep Solution: A Proven Program to Teach Your Baby to Sleep Twelve Hours a Night by Suzy Giordano. For me, this book was a game changer.
The premise of the book is that any child can sleep for 12 hours a night, the trick is to get them on a regular feeding and sleeping schedule during the day.
I’m not good at schedules but realized after reading her book that just because I don’t like schedules doesn’t mean that my baby doesn’t need a schedule.
Inexperience me didn’t understand that I wasn’t feeding her consistently enough during the day. Which is why she was waking up so frequently at night. She wasn’t starving, but like the rest of us needed a certain amount of food during the day to keep her full at night.
Just by changing Ella’s daytime feeding schedule to four-hour increments (for me this meant 7:00 AM, 11:00 AM, 3:00 PM and 7:00 PM) she pretty much instantly began sleeping 8-9 hours a night. She will still occasionally wake up in the night, but a quick pacifier and she returns to sleep.
It was amazing how quickly this one little change in our daytime routine affected our night-time routine.
I’ve done a lot of research and reading over the last two month. Virtually every book and website I visit talks about the effect of the daytime routine on the nighttime sleeping habits.
I’m not an expert, but personal believe the first step to take when sleep training a child is a regularly scheduled daytime feeding routine.
I can see a difference in Ella’s sleeping almost immediately if I deviate too far from her schedule. She needs to be feed regularly and consistently.
I don’t know why this was such a shock to me since I’m the same way. I get grumpy and out of sorts when I don’t eat regularly and don’t sleep as well. Why would a baby be any different?
Sometimes it really is the most common sense stuff that trips me up.
To other mothers struggling with Sleep Training. I’m so sorry! I know how miserable and hard it is.
Here are a few hints I found helpful:
- Find a book/method that works for you and lifestyle.
- Don’t expect instant solutions and be patient with yourself. You are sleep deprived and will make mistakes. It is okay – that is part of parenting.
- Listen to your child. You can tell a lot from the tone of their cries.
- Learn to watch for cues that they are tired. Ella gets super hyper when she is tired. It took me a long time to realize her hyper activity was tiredness.
- Ask for advice, but remember that you are the one in the trenches and knows your child.
- Don’t be afraid to try new things. If one method isn’t working try something new.
- Baby sleep training no tears method isn’t going to happen. There will be tears and that is okay.
Ella has made a lot of progress, but I still have a long way to go.
Her daytime napping scheduling is still pretty sporadic. Largely my fault since I’m all over the place during the days. I still feel that we have some pretty major progress to make at nights since I’d like to see her consistently sleeping 10-12 hours at night.
We also still struggle with the nighttime routine.
To get her in bed typically involved 30-60 minutes of crying. I let her cry for 5-8 minutes, go in, comfort her, calm her down and then repeat the process, over and over again.
Listening to a baby cry is very emotionally draining. I dread putting her down at night.
I should mention that for the most part, her crying is more of a consistent whimper then full on crying. She isn’t in major distress, she just isn’t particularly happy with me and being forced to go to bed. Ella is an active child and knows she is missing out.
Now that I have the basics of sleep training done it is time to start working on a consistent napping schedule, longer sleeping time at night and a bedtime routine that works.
A good friend of mine Nedra Cox reached out to me after my post. After dealing with sleep deprivation for two years she realized something needed to change. Her research led her to Dana Obleman’s Sleep Sense program. After going through the program and seeing the personal impact it had on her life, she decided to become a sleep coach to help other struggling mothers.
She recently began coaching parents and has seen huge success. She is in the process of building out her website, but you can find additional information on her Facebook page – Snugglebuzzzsleep.
She has given me a list of helpful ideas that I’ll be working on over the next couple of weeks. Watch for my next post which will go into more detail on the Sleep Sense method and how Baby Sleep Coaching works.