Guess Who Won The Sleep Lottery? This Girl.
You know that feeling when you wake with a start, positive you overslept and your alarm didn’t go off? That’s what it’s like the first day you realize you actually slept straight through the night since your baby was born. It takes a minute to register what has happened, but when you do you feel like you just won the lottery. I’m a big believer in sleep training, if and only if, your baby is developmentally ready.
When They No Longer Need Nighttime Feedings
My babies were 8 months, 7 months and 9 months respectively when I began sleeping training them. It has been a little over a week since I started sleep training Sydney and I can’t express the joy of putting each and every one of my kids to bed at the same time and having them all sleep from roughly 8:30 p.m. to 7ish in the morning.
No Sleep “Expert,” Just A Mom Of 3
Sleep training your first is so scary and frustrating you wonder if either of you will survive, but I gotta say that by my third it wasn’t really as hard. I’m no sleep “expert,” just a mom who’s been there and lived through it. Here are four of my strategies to stay sane during sleep training because honestly it’s so much harder on the mama than the baby.
1. Five Days of Consistency – Ok, night one is a freaking nightmare and there is really no way to change that. Your baby has probably gotten pretty comfy with the idea of being picked up, rocked and fed on demand since birth. Even though they no longer require these things they still like them and if given the choice they’ll take them so taking these things away is hard. The key is not to give up because night one was horrible.
On night one Sydney cried for a full hour till I couldn’t take it and went in and picked her up. She wanted to nurse, but I only gave her the pacifier and she was asleep within a few minutes in my arms. Then I put her back in her crib and she slept till 7 am. Night two she fell asleep during the last feeding and I put her down asleep. She briefly woke up around midnight, cried for about 10 – 15 minutes and then slept till 7 something in the morning. The point is, it gradually gets better. You just gotta hold on till you can get to day 5 where routine kicks in and it gets much easier, though you’ll probably see a huge improvement by night 3.
2. Stay Out of Sight – Just trust me on this one, if the baby can see you they aren’t going to stop crying because they know at some point you’ll give them what they want whether it’s a bottle, cuddle, rocking, etc. If you need to see your baby to get through sleep training, get a video monitor and aim it at the crib. You’ll feel better knowing your baby really is ok even if they are screaming at the top of their lungs. I had a video monitor for my first two and now just have a regular monitor for my third. If you’re at your breaking point, tell yourself “I’ll go in in 5 minutes.” Then make sure you increase the time each night till you can work up to staying out of sight completely.
3. Distract Yourself – Put the baby down before you’re ready to go to bed. Go watch your favorite show on the DVR, take a shower, or do a core. Do anything except sit outside the baby’s door or sit clutching the baby monitor for dear life. You’re more likely to break your resolve. Get some cheap earplugs; no judgement here. Do what you need to do to make it through the first night especially, and soon you won’t need to distract yourself because the baby will cry very minimally (if they cry at all) before falling asleep. It’s been 10 days since I started putting Sydney down in her own room alone and she cries for maybe one minute and then sleeps through the night.
4. Get Some Space – If your room is right next to the baby’s room as ours used to be you can try putting a pack n play in the living room or in a bedroom further away to gain some distance. It may help to distract you and make it more bearable if simply turning the baby monitor down is not an option to decrease the sound. With my son we only had two bedrooms so sleep training him in the same room as his older sister wasn’t an option. I had to sleep train him in a pack n play in the living room and I transitioned him to their shared room once he was a toddler with an established sleep routine.
So while sleep training sucks, I’ve always found it to be worth it in the end. Your baby will NOT remember the few days of crying as much as you will so it’s important to do what you need to in order to stay sane during the process. I want to encourage you mamas. You can do it! I wish you lots of luck and sleep once you’ve finished sleep training.
Feel free to share your strategies.