At the beginning of February, from the advice of a friend, I began my journey with sleep training. And really, truthfully, it’s a journey. It’s a continual struggle as well as one of the best things that I have done so far as a mother. And I am here to tell you the truth about it, as well as some of the tricks I’ve come up with along the way.
*This post contains affiliate links.
Getting Started with Sleep Training
Sleep training as an idea is extremely simple. In practice, it is very hard. As I was reading others’ blogs and asking other mothers’ about how they tackled this idea, I got a lot of responses. Some had such success with this, others that; some just ended up co-sleeping. Others are still struggling to this day getting their baby to sleep in their own crib!
Matty and I were (and still are) working different schedules, and some of his shifts even mean that I am alone putting Mason down for bed and he won’t get home until after midnight. So when I began my research, I thought to myself “I can do this on my own! I don’t really need Matty to know how to put him down, I’ll do it all myself.” Seriously, that was so silly of me.
I had a miserable time trying to do this myself. I cannot stress this enough:
if you take nothing else from this post, make sure you and your partner are on the same page before tackling sleep training.
Really, truly. You will not have success, you will be miserable, and so will your baby. If you don’t have anyone else to rely on, make sure that you do have someone (a friend, mom, neighbor, anyone) to help you push through the tough parts. Because you will cave, and you’ll have to start all over.
Set a Routine!
You need to have a plan with how you want to put your baby down. This can include anything you’d like, but we aware of time. If your child is time-sensitive like my Mason, you’ll want to pick activities that are quicker. For instance, Mason doesn’t like to do bath time before bed because he isn’t a fan of water just yet. But you need to find activities you and your baby will enjoy, and can help him get to sleep!
Our routine with Mason
- We turn off the lights in his room, change his diaper (I use Pampers Swaddlers), then use lotion to give him a massage. I also sing to him while I do this, because he cries when he’s really very tired and does not want me to put him down. So I make up silly songs (like what I’m doing, or I recap the day, or tell him softly that he will go to sleep soon) and that usually calms him down.
- Put him in his Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit! (I could gush about this product – he sleeps so well in it and I will be so sad the day he grows out of the last one and needs to sleep in a sack, or just learns to be without it). Mason is a tall and strong baby, and swaddles just didn’t hold. He has been using this sleep suit since December, and I LOVE IT.
- We read books! Some nights he does not like them, but he usually loves to hold the pages for me and coos at the pictures. He loves Night-Night, Forest Friends the most!
- Drink the last bottle of the night. Mason has to take Alimentum formula because of his milk and soy allergy, and he likes to take 6oz. before bed.
- I sing to him “Dear Theodosia” from the Musical Hamilton to put him to sleep. (Mason likes my voice, but I can’t lend it to everyone. Here’s the soundtrack to learn the song, or just to listen to because it’s amazing).
- Then he gets his pacifier, and I place him in his crib and leave the room.
Getting Through the First Few Days
This is where having your partner or just another person comes really in handy. You will need support because your baby will cry, and it will absolutely tear your heart apart. I cried a lot during the first week, even some nights when Mason wasn’t crying (because I just hated not sleeping with him).
Matty and I tried so many methods of sleep to get Mason to sleep through the night. We co-slept, had a bassinet (until he out-grew it), slept on the couch with him. We even let him sleep on the big plushy dog bed on the floor and we slept next to him (hey, it worked). But he still just wasn’t sleeping through the night! After all the research I had done, I knew persevering would ultimately get us where we all slept soundly at night.
It is so important to have a support system. Make it a part of your routine to check in every five or ten minutes. What worked for us was just picking him up, singing softly to him enough to calm him down, and place him back in his crib.
After just three days, Mason slept through the night.
Don’t expect it to be the same for every baby. But the truth is, pushing through the first three nights got Mason to sleep through every night. And the whole month of February, he has been asleep by 7:00pm in his own room! He sleeps in his own crib, and my husband and I get alone time before we go to sleep in our bed.
I have had the best experience with sleep training, and I recommend starting it around four months old. If you have any questions about the products I mentioned, or about sleep training in general, or have specific-to-you questions, I would love to help.