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Sleep training is one of the best and hardest things I did for my son. He is now 2 years old and sleeps and naps like a beast! It is not only good for him, but it is also good for me! The downtime I get while he naps or after he goes to bed is much needed for my mental stamina. Also, sleep in kids has been correlated with IQ levels and growth rates. Not that bad sleepers will be short and dumb, but it is clearly vital and can only help our babies succeed.
What I am learning now with our second son is that every kid is different. Micah (the 2-year-old) had completely different issues with sleep compared to Noah (the 3-month-old). What I hope is that you can take pieces of this and apply it to your child to get that elusive good night’s sleep.
When Micah was an infant, he would fall asleep, no problem, and stay asleep for at least a couple hours before waking up to be fed. This was all day and all night. My hurdle with him was getting him to sleep longer stretches during the day and at night. By about 7 weeks, I hit my wall. I was done, I was crying, and driving my husband insane. Truly I was out of my mind and delirious. At 7 weeks, we started baby wise, which turned everything around.
Baby Wise Cliff Notes
An extremely brief takeaway from baby wise is the benefits of scheduling as well as the wake/eat/play/sleep philosophy. This means don’t feed your baby to sleep. Instead, feed them right when they wake up and then work on self-soothing to fall asleep. This technique really resonated with Micah! He stopped cluster feeding and started giving me longer stretches of sleep both during the day and at night. We were cruising, and then the 4-month sleep regression hit.
4-month sleep regression
Everyone who knows what that is just sneered at the thought of it. At 4 months, babies begin to go through sleep cycles. The 3 main phases of sleep are REM, light, and deep. This sleep regression causes babies to wake up when they are in light sleep because they do not have the tools to fall back asleep. This sleep regression has been the hardest to overcome thus far.
While trying to overcome it, I reached out to a baby wise sleep coach who told me to introduce the 3,6,10 method to Micah. What this means is you lay your baby down, and if they fuss, let them for 3 minutes. At 3 minutes, go back in and calm them down. She told me to go in for no longer than a minute, but I couldn’t lay him down still screaming so I would completely calm him down first. Repeat this for 6 minutes and 10 minutes. If your baby is still crying after the 10-minute mark, start over at 3 minutes. I did this for every nap for about a week, and after that he would fall asleep no problem almost every time. The first day is the worst, and then it gets progressively easier. I think that this works for a couple of reasons; it helps babies build confidence knowing that you will come back, and it helps them figure out how to soothe themselves.
For my mommas who don’t want to do the “cry it out” method, this is an excellent alternative. Very minimal crying compared to the dreaded, “my baby cried for 4 hours the first night,” I can’t do that.
For the moms who refuse to let your babies cry at all….. good luck. Think about a time you were really upset about something, and you had a “good cry.” Didn’t you feel kind of relieved after? I know I have! It’s the same for babies. Sometimes they cry as a relief for all the things they don’t have the ability to tell us yet.
In a nutshell, teaching to self-sooth is key, and if you feel like everything is suddenly worse at 4 months you’re not alone. There are so many different sleep methods out there, so don’t feel like you have to commit to one. I would give it a good 14-30 days before quitting and trying out something else. Also, listen to your intuition if something is telling you to veer a bit from the guidelines than do it. With baby wise, it said to wake baby to keep them on schedule. Although we were doing great on sleeping, I decided to let Micah wake up on his own. Doing that made him an even better sleeper!
Here are my key items to helping baby sleep:
Nested Bean Zen One This is their newset swaddle and it is AMAZING! I think every parent in America needs one of these!
–Etsy made– There are a bunch of “nests” on Etsy, this is what we used and love.
–DocATot– I have heard great things about this brand but it is a bit out of my price range so I don’t have any personal experience.
–Snuggle Me Organic– I have been using this with my 2nd son. I got it because our initial nest was still being used and I found it second hand for less. All in all it’s not bad, I just don’t like how small it is but I guess that is the idea.
Diffuser– I love this because it puts moisture in the air and is a perfect night light. Plenty of light for feedings and diaper changes without being too bright.
Music/white noise- We have a Bose and hook up our ipod to play Enya. That is what has resonated with my kids
Overhead fan- this is also known to help prevent SIDS
Sleep method book:
It involves “baby-training” children to self-soothe by allowing the child to cry for a predetermined amount of time before receiving external comfort.
Key idea is eating after waking not before sleeping and maintaining a consistent schedule.
–Get your sleep on
Mostly explains how to implement cry it out and why it is ok. There are a few different methods of CIO explained.