TEACH YOUR BABY HOW TO SLEEP IN 7 DAYS
Before trying this sleep training thing, you should know that different routines work for different babies. Usually, bed time was always past 8:30 pm, 9, 10, 11 pm, and if your baby isn’t fully asleep when we put her in the crib, she would wake up screaming. For my baby, we tried to encourage earlier bedtime rocking her or reading to her but it rarely didn’t work. Our only solution was to cuddle with her on the couch until she eventually fell asleep. Also, we didn’t really have consistent nightly commonly-done actions, which did not help either. So needless to say, bedtime was far from perfect from about 2-9 months.
So for sleep training, here are the basics rules:
- Put her in her crib when she is tired but still awake. It allows her time to self-comfort before falling asleep.
- Make sure she has her own room or space with white noise, such as fan, music setting.
- Give her a security object. This helps the baby’s self-comfort without me doing it for her. We tried a stuffed animal and a lovey but they didn’t stick. Instead, she likes sleeping on a fleece blanket and playing with her hair to go to sleep.
- Adopt consistent basic actions. This is extremely important and it shows Poppy when its time for bed. Some people do bath time, PJs, bottle, stories, and crib. We go with dinner, PJs, bottle, stories, and crib.
- Wake baby up early and at an almost the same time every day. For those who do day care, this is much easier but since I am at home, this was something I needed to be aware of and remain consistent.
- Adopt a consistent nap schedule (2-3 naps of equal time) and never let her nap past 4 pm. Doing this has helped improve her mood throughout the day significantly as well as bedtime. Poppy takes a nap around 10 am for 1 hour and then a second nap around 2:30 pm for another hour.
- Change between sitting in the room with the baby and leaving the room for a few minutes, but do not pick her up when she cries. The first few nights we sat next to the crib for 10 minutes and then left the room for 10 minutes. Then 15 minutes, then 20 and so on. This way she knew we would be coming back. Eventually, she would fall asleep.
When we finally decided to commit to this sleep plan, we knew it would be hard. Lots and lots of crying that we would have to tolerate. But unlike other failed attempts, this time was for real. This is how it went with my little girl:
Day 1 – Asleep in 2 hours 15 minutes
Bedtime did not go according to plan because she fell asleep while drinking milk around 7 pm, so we put her in the crib completely asleep. As usual, she woke up in the middle of the night at 2 am. Since she was crying, I caved and picked her up to comfort her. I put her in her crib for 10 minutes on and off, picking her up in between. It was rough but eventually, she fell asleep without a bottle.
Day 2 – Asleep in 1 hour 40 minutes / Slept through the night
We started off with a 7:30 am wake-up call. Then tried 2 one-hour naps during the day. For both naps, I fed her a bottle, read her some stories and put her in her crib and left the room. She cried for about 15-20 min and fell asleep! Success! Both naps lasted about 1 hour.
Our new bedtime routine of dinner, PJs, bottle, stories, and crib started at 7 pm. The hubs and I took turns sitting next to the crib comforting her by singing and patting her back and then leaving the room (10 min, then 15 min, then 20 min). It took a while but she eventually fell asleep on her own.
Day 3 – Asleep in 1 hour 15 minutes / Slept through the night
Naps were about the same as yesterday. Bedtime was (a) little less painful with less crying and screaming. Instead, she just sat in her crib awake until she fell asleep.
Day 4 – Asleep in 45 minutes / Slept through the night
Baby Poppy had a hard time during her second nap. She cried for over 30 min and because we had an appointment, her second nap didn’t help! Bedtime, however, was still going well. On day 4 she also started playing with her blanket and playing with her hair. We didn’t understand at the time but this was the beginning of her comforting way of doing things.
Day 5 – Asleep in 20 minutes / Slept through the night
Naps during the day were great and painless. During bedtime, we no longer stayed in her room after putting her in her crib. The hubs and I were so excited! We watched her play with her hair and her blanky quietly until she fell asleep.
Day 6 – Asleep in 10 minutes / Slept through the night
By this point, she was used to the commonly-done actions. Her naps went well with only a little complaining and bedtime only took 10 min.
Days 7 and beyond – Asleep in 5-10 minutes / Slept through the night
We are now 3 weeks post-training, she has this whole thing down. Her early bedtime, allows the hubs and I to have time for us. And her 2 consistent naps help her stay happy all day.
What we learned from this whole experience:
- Hearing your baby screaming in her crib is really hard. Honestly, it really sucks! But knowing that she is well fed, healthy, dry and safe helps. Also, the first few nights were really the roughest and then it slowly gets better.
- Try to share the responsibility of the bedtime routine with your spouse. That way baby can fall asleep with both of you. I take all daytime naps and the hubs are in charge of nightly bedtime.
- There will be ups and downs. For example, today she did not want to take her first nap even after I tried to comfort her for 30 minutes. So every once in a while she will skip a nap.
- Do your best to keep the early bedtime routine but don’t worry if it doesn’t always happen. With social things that come up, the 7:30 pm bedtime doesn’t always happen. Good news is she has maintained the same sleep habits throughout.
- Don’t give up! Our Poppy got used to the routine pretty quickly but obviously, it could take your little one a little less or more time. Bottom line is that it works so don’t give up.
Sleep training is hard but completely worth it!!! Happy baby means happy well-slept parents.