I mentioned a few weeks ago that Baby Franklin is sleeping through the night and have since received several questions about how we did it. I found myself copying and pasting a lot of what I said to various people and thus decided to just write it all out.
I do want to first say that of course every baby is different and what worked for us may not for you. These are simply suggestions for you to try if you so desire, and we respect each parents’ decision to do as they deem best for their family.
We sleep trained all three of our babies using a combination of Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child and Baby Wise. We liked certain aspects from each of these books and adapted them to fit our needs.
One of the biggest things we took away was to get our babies on an Eat, Wake, Sleep schedule so that they could learn to fall asleep on their own and didn’t rely on a prop or aid to get them to sleep, like eating or movement. Don’t get me wrong, we definitely cherished those sweet baby sleeping snuggles, but once a little older we tried limiting sleep to the baby’s bed so that the baby associated that space with sleeping.
With Gwyn and Cal, we tried eliminating one waking period at a time. So, if they woke up at 11:00, 1:00, 3:00 and 5:00, we would start be eliminating the 1:00, then the 3:00, the 5:00 and then the 11:00. And we did this by letting them fuss.
And it was painful to listen to. My mama heart was aching, but I truly believe as the above books claim, “You are giving your child the gift of sleep” which will benefit the children for the rest of their lives. And so far it is holding true for our kids. Gwyn and Cal are great sleepers.
With Gwyn, I would go into the room and try to calm her down, soothe her, or try comforting her with my voice… But that only escalated the situation even more and I ended up nursing her, in which she fell right back asleep doing, signaling to me she really wasn’t hungry. Trickster! So, I stopped doing all of that, stat.
With Gwyn, once we buckled down, it only took about three days and she was sleeping through the night. I couldn’t believe it! She was about 6 months old when we did this, and slept through ever since.
Cal was four months old when we got the okay from our pediatrician saying he was fully capable of sleeping through the night, and it took a little longer, I want to say about 7-10 days.
Franklin was also four months when we started sleep training him, but his situation was a little different in that at about 6-8 weeks, he would randomly sleep from 10-5 on a few occasions, which let me know that he was capable. So, with him I didn’t stick with the elimination of times, I tested him to see how far he could go. I kept track of what he did on the “notes” portion of my phone, so below are those notes:
*All of our babies started solids and were doing well on them before we began sleep training.
*Every night at 10:30, we wake him up for a bottle of breastmilk. We choose a bottle over nursing due to the fact that by the end of the night my supply is low, and with a bottle we know exactly how much he is getting, whereas nursing we wouldn’t be sure.
Up at 3- light cries on and off for a few mins
Up at 4:14- louder cries for about 5-10 mins, off and on
Up at 5:45- fed. Up at 7- fed
Up at 4:45- very faint cries off and on for a couple mins
Up at 6:30- fed
Up at 4:45 for less than a minute
Up at 5:45 for maybe 10 mins, off and on crying
Up at 6:50 and fed.
Up at 5:15- up for about 10 mins
Up at 6:30 and fed
Up for a few seconds at 2:45
Up at 4 something for a minute or two
Up at 5 something a minute or two
Up at 6, fed at 6:10
Up for a few at 2:30
Up for a few at 4 something
Up for a few at 5:30
Up at 7:15 and fed
Night 7-Fed solids at 6:15 pm
Up for a few seconds at 5
Up at 7 and fed
Night 8– time change- fed solids at 5:30pm
Up for a second at 3:45
Up at 6:50 and fed at 7.
Night 9– Solids in evening and to bed at 7:30, woken up at 10:30 for bottle.
Up at 6:00 and fed.
Night 10- Solids in evening and to bed at 7:15, woken up for bottle at 10:30
Up at 6 and fed at 6:15 (trying to slowly push until 7am)
Night 11– Solids in evening. Home late and very tired, decided to not wake him for the 10:30 feeding and see what happens.
Up at 5:30- on and off fussing
Fed at 6 and again at 7:30
Night 12- Again, no waking at 10:30 pm
Up at 5- on and off fussing
Fed at 6:00 and again at 7:30
Night 13– Fed at 10:30 pm
Up at 7 and fed
Night 14- Fed at 10:30 pm
Up at 7:15 and fed.
Same pattern as the last two night for the past two months. (WAHOO!)
*Note- On the days that he was nursed in the morning closer to 6, I would put him back down until around 7-7:30, and then wake him up and nurse again. He wouldn’t nurse a whole lot at this time, but I wanted him to get used to this being his wake-up time.
Update** This past weekend we decided to try dropping the 10:30 pm feeding to see what would happen.
Night 1- A few faint cries at 4:50 and 6:00 and fed upon waking at 7:15.
Night 2– A few faint cries at 6:00 and fed upon waking at 7:15
Night 3-Fed at 7:15- Decided to wake him up to keep him on schedule.
Night 4- A Whimper at 6:15 and woken up and fed at 7:15
Night 5– Whimper at 6:30 and woken up at 7:15 and fed.
Night 6– Few noises at 6:15 and up at 7 and fed
We have successfully dropped the night feeding and are officially sleeping through the entire night. HOORAY!!
A few more tidbits…
- All of our kids sleep with a sound machine. Once it is turned on, it is an indicator that it is time to sleep.
- I keep their rooms pretty dark. We put them to bed between 7-7:30, so during those long summer hours when it is still light out at bedtime, having dark rooms helps on many levels.
I hope this helps any of you who are just looking for some tips that have worked for someone else. I remember scouring books and the internet for any suggestions to try, as sleep deprivation was starting to make me feel pretty kooky!
I have since had some questions asked and thought I would share those and the answers here.
Before 4/6 months old, did you wake up and feed them when they woke up?
Yes, before the 4 month mark, every time the baby woke up, I fed him/her.
Did they always lay on their own to sleep?
Yes, when intentionally trying to get them to sleep, we laid the baby down to sleep on their own, for the most part. Of course there are times when the baby falls asleep in the car, or on your chest, feeling too good to move and disrupt, and by all means, do what works for you in that moment. But, for the most part, baby was swaddled up and put to bed awake so that he/she could learn to fall asleep without the aid of rocking.
If they cried when you put them down, pre-sleep training, did you go in and pick up?
For the most part, yes. Sometimes I would wait to see if they’d settle down in a minute or two, and often they would. But, what I found to be really effective during this time with Franklin was to place my hand on his chest when he was laying down and apply some pressure. I believed this made him feel secure. I also crouched down so that he couldn’t see me, and then slowly applied less and less pressure until I could sneak my hand away and get out of the room.
Did you have to get the “okay” from your pediatrician to begin feeding solids before 4 months? And what sorts of solids did you start with?
With our daughter and second son, we waited until at least four months to start solids. With my middle child, we waited three months and three weeks, and got the okay from our pediatrician as he was a pretty big baby. We started with rice cereal and breast milk with the first two. With our third we did the same, but moved to veggies sooner than we did with the other two.