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My daughter has always been a great sleeper. Because of her, never in a million years did I think I’d ever have to learn how to sleep train a baby.
Warning: If learning how to sleep train a baby is something that you’re totally against, please move on from this post.
Of course I love my baby and wouldn’t trade him for the world but sis, the child did not sleep. Let me clarify, my sweet boy could not fall asleep without being on or near me.
It was only cute for a couple of days before it wore me down. Samaiya was 15 months old when Xavier was born.
I just got done being pregnant for nearly an entire year, I had to manage my home, be a wife, and I had to keep my toddler entertained.
Oh and did I mention that I was also exclusively breastfeeding him? So yeah, those of you who understand, know what I’m talking about.
Whenever he made a sound I ran over to him, whenever he cried I picked him up. I held him all day, I let him fall asleep on my lap every night and I co-slept with him as well.
It’s no wonder he didn’t want to do any of that without me! This created some big issues during bed time because of course, he couldn’t fall asleep on his own.
After 3 months of being sleep deprived and worn out and borderline depressed, Jason and I decided that enough was enough. We decided that we were going to sleep train our son.
It was the best decision ever. Today Xavier is 15 months old and sleeps 12 hours every single night along with his sister.
If you’re totally exhausted and ready for your baby to sleep so you too can catch some zzz’s, this post on how to sleep train a baby is for you.
How to sleep train a baby in 6 easy steps
1) Pick your sleep training method:
*Note 1: Baby should always be changed, fed, and healthy during sleep training. If baby is sick, pause and resume training when he’s feeling better
*Note 2: Most experts recommend starting when your baby is between 4 and 6 months old.
- Fading: This method of sleep training is the gentlest. It requires you to help your baby fall asleep, but gradually reduce your efforts until baby is able to sleep on his or her own.
- Pick-Up/Put-Down: This method requires you to pick up your baby when he’s crying, and only putting him down once he’s calm and sleepy.
- The Chair Method: With this method, you start off sitting as close to where baby is sleeping as possible and only leaving the room when baby is asleep.
When baby cries, you go back and sit. Over time, the goal is to gradually sit further away from your baby until he or she is able to sleep on their own
- Controlled Crying/Ferber/Graduated Extinction: This is the method we chose. We started when he was 3 months old. When he cried, we waited a couple of minutes before going in to comfort him (usually 2-3 minutes).
We usually comforted him by patting him on the back and speaking to him softly so that he could calm down and feel safe. Once baby was on his way to being calm, we left the room.
This method of sleep training allows you to comfort your baby in short periods of time, and also teach your little one how to sleep independently.
The goal is to comfort baby for short periods of time and allowing them to fall asleep on their own. And even though you might already know this, let me remind you: letting your baby cry for a couple of minutes at a time for the purpose of sleep training isn’t abuse and it doesn’t make you evil. And no, little Emma won’t hate you forever. 😑
- Extinction/Cry-It-Out: The most controversial sleep training method of all time. Cry it out basically speaks for itself. If your baby cries during bedtime hours, you let you let them cry without checking on them.
This supposedly teaches babies that they’re basically on their own and that they should lull themselves back to sleep on their own no matter how long it takes.
This is not something I’d ever suggest or do myself because I can’t imagine leaving nor can I stand to hear my baby to cry all night long but to each their own.
2) Create a bedtime routine
Establishing a routine is key. I truly believe that children thrive and learn better when they have a set routine. Ours consisted of a warm bath, breastfeeding, prayers, and lights out. Pick a routine that you can easily stick to.
PS: If you’re struggling with breastfeeding and/or pumping, you need to check out these 2 courses created by a mama of 3 who also happens to be a Certified Lactation Educator: The Ultimate Breastfeeding Class or the The Ultimate Back to Work Pumping Class.
Who would want to make an appointment and pack up a baby to go see a lactation consultant when you can access these courses 24/7 right from the comfort of your own home?! 😎
3) Create an environment that is conducive to sleep
I like to keep things simple. Lights off, comfortable room temperature, and a swaddle blanket (<–love these muslin blankets…I literally own a ton of them). That’s all my son needed. The less things your baby needs to fall asleep, the easier it will be for you.
4) Be consistent
This part is the hardest part. As you know, change can be tough, even for little babies.
There were many days where I felt like giving up but my husband was right there to remind me of our end goal. Try your best to be consistent as you can. I promise, it does get better! Having a hard time tracking your baby’s progress? Grab your (FREE) sleep logging journal here!
5) Don’t be so hard on yourself
Sleep training your baby isn’t just about your baby. It’s also about you. Both of you are learning.
Your baby is learning to sleep independently and you’re learning to let go and allow your baby and yourself to sleep.
Not everyday will go as planned and that’s ok. There are times where you’ll run in and just grab unto your baby and so-sleep for the night. That’s ok too! I did those exact same things many many times.
But remember: the end goal here is to have your baby sleep trained so try to be aware of how many times you run in to “rescue” baby.
Learning how to sleep train a baby is a marathon, not a sprint. You don’t have to beat any records. Just go at your own pace.
6) Treat yourself…to some sleep
After 1 month of consistent-ish sleep training my son was 80% there. By the the time he was 6 months old, he was sleeping on his own only waking up to be breastfed and then he’d fall right back asleep. At 9 months, I weaned him off the boob and he was sleeping 12 hours straight through the night.
I thought I’d enjoy staying up late with my husband catching up and watching movies like back in the day but I was just exhausted so I slept. That’s how I treated myself.
Not only is sleep important for your mental well-being, it’s very important for your postpartum recovery.
You’re a mom not a martyr. It’s ok to sleep.
I hope you enjoyed this post on how to sleep train a baby. Now go and sleep. 😉
Until next time,
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