It was about three weeks ago when Allen and I decided we needed to start sleep training Colette.
As much as I love her… I was feeling quite miserable. I wasn’t getting any sleep (maybe 2-3 hours on a good night) and the mixture of hormones being all over the place with almost no sleep- was a recipe for disaster. Mind you, I also have a 4-year-old toddler who’s very demanding of my attention from the moment she wakes up to the second she knocks out. For my own sanity and the sake of the whole my family, I knew I needed to figure out how I was going to get some sleep. One morning, my husband Allen saw me basically falling asleep with my eyes open when he said, “honey, I think it’s time.” That’s when I knew we needed to start sleep training Colette.
I know there are a lot of opinions out there on sleep training and before I even began my sleep training journey- I asked my mommy friends a ton of questions and did a lot of digging and research. I soon realized that everyone has a different rhyme or reason as to why they do certain things. There are so many sleep training methods out there, so I hope you can read this post without judgment. I truly believe that there is no right or wrong way to go about sleep training your baby. You just have to listen to your gut instincts and go with what works best for you, your lifestyle and your family. I’m not a Sleep Training Professional by any means, but I have adopted some methods from sleep trainers and from other moms. Keep in mind that every baby is different and you have to know your baby well enough before implementing advice from anyone.
When I sleep trained Chloe, I started pretty late in the game. She’s now a wonderful sleeper, but I wish I had done it sooner. All I have to say is that sleep training isn’t easy for anyone in the beginning, but for me, it’s always worth it once your baby (and YOU) are getting some much-needed sleep!
I also have to say that I do not recommend on fully trying to sleep train your baby until he/she is at least 3 months old. I started sleep training Colette at about 3 1/2 months and again, I must stress that you need to be very patient! Some babies are immediately great sleepers and some are not. Colette is definitely not a great sleeper but she has gotten SO much better over time! She’s not totally sleeping through the night just yet, but I’m not expecting that right away. She can now sleep anywhere from 4-6 hours straight whereas before she would barely get through an hour! The minute we put her down she would freak out because she just wanted to be held all the time. Allen would joke that Colette was training us and not the other way around! I swear my arms felt like they were about to fall off! My shoulders were so tense and I was feeling beyond exhausted. After sleep training Colette the last few weeks, she can now be left on her play mat or her swing for over an hour and be absolutely content. Some of you who saw my IG stories mentioned how ‘chill’ she always looks, but to be honest, she wasn’t this chill until we started sleep training her.
The technique I decided to go forward with is called the 3 Day Sleep Solution (recommended by my friend & powerhouse Rachna) along with other tips and tricks I’ve picked up from other experts.
Here’s what we did:
1. Get Rid of Distractions
For the longest time, I didn’t understand why Colette wouldn’t go back to sleep after I fed her. She would always have her eyes wide open and would just be looking around at everything. I then realized that as cute as the mobile above her bed, her colorful blankets, and her stuffed animals were, that they were all stimulating her and keeping her awake and distracted. As soon as I realized that, we took down her mobile, swapped her sheets and blankets, and got her stuffed animals out. I learned that your baby’s crib should promote rest and sleep!
2. Get Rid of the Sleep Crutches
This was another tip I picked up from The 3 Day Sleep Solution. This tip was hard for me to implement as I was always putting Colette to sleep by rocking, breastfeeding, or using a pacifier to soothe her. After a while, even the pacifier got annoying as it kept falling out.
I found myself being a slave to the pacifier and kept putting it back in her mouth hoping it would magically always help her fall asleep but she would never get into a deep sleep with it in. The only way for her to fall into a deep sleep was once she learned to sleep without any of these “sleep aids.”
Yes, the first day was absolutely brutal. Colette was not happy that I was no longer going to rock her to sleep or let her suck on a pacifier. We let her cry it out on the first day (trust me, it’s not easy) but within 24 hours, we were able to see a change! The way we spaced it out was with timed intervals. For example, we let her cry it out for a minute before picking her up. Then 1 minute turned into 5, then 7, and eventually into 10 minutes. We never went beyond 15 minutes as she eventually found a way to soothe herself by then. By the end of the day, she was playing by herself on her mat and even going to sleep by herself in her crib! It was amazing! I understand that all babies are different, but this method worked really quickly for us. She even seemed happier during the day once she started putting herself to sleep. It was amazing, to say the least!
Like I said before, I know all babies are different but this method really worked quickly for us. Colette even seemed happier during the day once she started to put herself to sleep. It actually helped that Colette is only 3 1/2 months because at this age, they can adapt faster and easier whereas a 6-month-old can cry a lot longer because they’re used to a certain routine.
“Most babies do begin to sleep through the night between 3 and 4 months of age if you let them”says Charles Schaefer, Ph.D., author of Winning Bedtime Battles: Getting Your Child to Sleep.
3. Putting Baby Down to Sleep While They’re Awake
I know, I know… this is a hard one but it really was a game changer for me.
“It’s the single most important thing you can do,” says Dr. Schaefer. “If (s)he falls asleep at your breast during his bedtime feeding, for example, arouse him enough that his eyes are open when you place him in the crib.” (Via parents.com)
Of course with this method, there’s a lot of crying involved… but once they learn how to fall asleep on their own it’s incredible! You just have to remember that crying is part of the process. I did some research about allowing your baby to cry and almost everything I came across said it was okay for young babies to cry- and again you have to use your best judgment for this!
“NOR SHOULD YOU WORRY ABOUT LETTING A VERY YOUNG BABY CRY. IN FACT, THE YOUNGER THE INFANT, THE EASIER THE PROCESS WILL BE. BABIES OLDER THAN 5 OR 6 MONTHS ARE NATURALLY GOING TO BE MORE UPSET BECAUSE YOU’VE CHANGED THE RULES ON THEM” DR. SCHAEFER SAYS.
“A 3-MONTH-OLD, ON THE OTHER HAND, KNOWS ONLY THE ROUTINE THAT YOU CREATE. WITH YOUNGER BABIES, PARENTS ALWAYS THINK THE CRYING IS GOING TO GO ON LONGER THAN IT USUALLY DOES AND I COULDN’T AGREE MORE, I HONESTLY THOUGHT THE CRYING WAS GOING TO GO ON FOR LONGER BUT IT WAS A LOT SHORTER THAN I EXPECTED.” (VIA PARENTS.COM)
4. Limit Nighttime Feedings & Diaper Changes
Before we started sleep training Colette, she was waking up anywhere from 3-6 times a night. At first, I thought it was because she was hungry but I soon realized it was merely out of habit.
“AT ABOUT 12 POUNDS OR 3 TO 4 MONTHS, MOST INFANTS ARE READY TO GIVE [THE NIGHT TIME FEEDINGS] UP. OBVIOUSLY, YOU CAN’T JUST DECIDE TO CUT THEM OUT WITH A YOUNGER INFANT BUT YOU CAN KEEP THEM AS BRIEF AND QUIET AS POSSIBLE.” (VIA PARENTS.COM)
Colette is around 14.5 pounds now and our pediatrician mentioned that she is heavy enough to be able to sleep through the night. After training Colette to fall asleep on her own, she only wakes up 1-2 times a night now! If there is a dirty or wet diaper in the middle of the night, the best thing to do is NOT turn on all the lights and change the diaper quietly in the dark.
5. White Noise & The Shusher
I’m a big believer in white noise- especially because the walls in our house are paper thin. I have THIS white noise machine which is great because it doubles as a night light which helps me avoid turning on the light for anything in the middle of the night. I loved it so much I ended up buying one for Chloe’s room as well!
I also recently purchased the Shusher which has been a lifesaver! I used to shush Colette to sleep myself but it got tiring after doing that for 30 minutes straight. The shusher is exactly what you think it is – it shushes your baby for you! It has a volume control so you can choose the right setting for you. It’s also so tiny you can carry it anywhere you need to take it!
Like I mentioned before, every baby is different and there are so many different ways to get your baby to sleep through the night. I’ve simply listed what I’ve been doing and what’s been working for me and my family! I hope this sheds some insight into my experience. There’s no better feeling than a happy sleepy baby and a good night’s sleep!