Why did we decide to sleep train?
Before the 4 month sleep regression, Aubrey began sleeping through the night around 8-9 weeks. She would go to bed around 7pm and sleep until 7am with one feeding between 3-5am. Sometime around 3.5 months, the sleep regression hit us hard. She spent the next month and a half (about 6.5 weeks total) waking 5-7 times per night. She wanted to nurse, she wanted to scream, and she did not want to sleep. She did this for every nap during the day, for hours before bedtime, and then 5-7 times throughout the night. I was an exhausted wreck who wondered what I had gotten myself in to. We waited the full 6 weeks that this said sleep regression is supposed to take. We saw slight improvement but barely enough to say it was any better. We took this as a cue that it was time for us to begin some sleep training.
What is Sleep Training?
There are many different approaches to sleep training and I think it’s best to research on your own and decide what method or what combination of methods will work for your baby. Every baby is different so certain techniques might not work for them. Sleep training is using a variety of techniques in order to teach your baby to self-soothe and put themselves to sleep. This is especially important at night when babies wake up and don’t know how to get themselves back to sleep. Hence the screaming, bouncing, singing, and moms and dads pulling their hair out.
What method did we choose?
We decided on a slightly gentler approach of sleep training. I didn’t think that just leaving her in the crib to cry for hours upon hours would work for us. Daniel and I decided to place her in her crib when she began showing signs of being tired. These signs include a relaxed/glaze look in her eyes, yawning, not interested in toys, etc. We always make sure to check her diaper, make sure she’s well fed, and happy before placing her in her crib. That way, we know all of her needs are met and she’s ready for sleep. Once all of her needs are met and shes placed in the crib, we leave her room and shut the door. If she begins to cry, we go in to her room at intervals, pat her for reassurance for about 30 seconds or less, and leave the room again. This goes on for as long as it takes for her to get to sleep. An important thing to note is you should pick a method and be consistent with it.
What Intervals did we choose?
The first three days we came in to her room every 5 minutes because the whole thing was completely new to her. That being said, she cried for longer and it took her much longer to settle at night and for naps. After she began to get the hang of it and not cry as long, we stretched it to 10, then 15, then eventually we didn’t need to return to her room at all!
How did it go?
The first three days (and nights) were the absolute worst. We went in her room every 5 minutes and she was crying for an hour or more before getting to sleep. It was hard to hear her sad, and at times I wanted to give in, but I’m glad I stayed consistent! After those rough three days/nights she began to show positive changes. Soon she would only cry for 15-20 minutes, then 10-15 minutes, then 5-10 minutes. Now, about a month later, she doesn’t really cry at all for naps and bed except for maybe 1-3 minutes. When she wakes up, she’s able to put herself back to sleep with no tears. It’s so freeing to not have to bounce and rock and sing to a screaming overtired baby! Her mood during the day has drastically improved too. She’s getting better quality and longer sleep, so she’s not overtired and fussy all day and night.
Would I recommend sleep training?
Y-E-S! It has made me happier, her happier, my husband happier…everyone! I’d definitely do it the same way again and was really happy with how well she did in only 2 weeks.
How’s she sleeping now?
She’s now 5.5 months and takes 3 naps during the day. She usually goes to sleep within 5 minutes of being put in her crib and sleeps 45 minutes-an hour. Sometimes less and sometimes more depending on the day. She goes to bed around 7 with bedtime routine starting around 6:30. She’s up to nurse 1-2 times during the night, but she nurses, burps, and goes right back in the crib. She then puts herself back to sleep with no tears. Some parents also use this time to wean their baby off of nighttime feeds. Aubrey is still small and needs the feedings, so I’m continuing to nurse her as needed at night. I follow the same procedure as putting her to bed after nursing, and she now puts herself right back to sleep.
Did you do sleep training with your little one?
Tell me in the comments below!