When our daughter was 4 months old, we did sleep training with her. Full on cry it out. Exactly what you think of when most people think of the term “sleep training”.
It was horrible. It’s the hardest thing we’ve had to do with her. It’s also the best thing we’ve done! Following sleep training, she was able to put herself to sleep, all on her own- even during times like teething and growth spurts!
Here’s the reality, however. Sleep training is so much more than just cry it out techniques. Sleep training is anything that you do to aid your child in learning how to put themselves to sleep and stay asleep. Here’s a look back at what we did with our daughter to help her go to sleep on her own. It’s so much more than just that one moment in time that we decided we needed to do cry it out.
This is a guest post by Katrina from Mama’s Organized Chaos.
Table of Contents
Sleep Training Techniques We Used:
- The Babywise Method consists of two main concepts:
- Schedules help your baby to get the right amount of sleep throughout the day. Too much and your baby won’t sleep well at night. Too little, and your baby won’t sleep well at night. Just enough, and your baby will be set up for sleep success.
- Using these schedules also help your child to distinguish day from night. You are waking them up throughout the day, and letting them sleep as much as possible at night.
- The Eat, Wake Sleep Routine
- This basic cycle throughout the day prevents your baby from learning to rely on food in order to sleep. This one simple act can be the HUGE difference between a baby that needs to be nursed to sleep, versus a baby that can put themselves to sleep.
- The Babywise Method consists of two main concepts:
- We avoided sleep props. We didn’t use loveys or pacifiers. The problem that you can run into with these items, is that, until your baby is moving around and grabbing at things, they can’t get the pacifier if it falls out at night. So, when they wake, they need help to get the item they need to help them self soothe. Avoiding the use of these helped us to avoid this struggle altogether.
Cry It Out
- Right around 4 months is when pediatricians agree that babies no longer need the middle of the night feed, and can handle doing a more extensive form of sleep training. We used the cry it out method, after making sure we didn’t just feed her if she woke in the middle of the night (we’d done that for quite some time). After several very long nights, our daughter was sleeping through the night and putting herself to sleep. This, however, was just the final step in the long list of things we’d done for quite some time already.
Sleep training doesn’t have to include cry it out! Read this post for more info: 5 Popular Sleep Training Methods Explained
Mistakes We Made in Our Sleep Training Journey:
We Rocked To Sleep
- From day one, our daughter loved to be rocked to sleep. We rocked her to sleep every single time. We tried really hard to put her down drowsy, but awake. The minute we’d set her down, she’d start wailing. And so the rocking to sleep cycle continued. It was a habit we had to break, come sleep training time. Looking back, I wish we wouldn’t have done quite so much of this. It is our goal with our next baby to not do this too much.
2. We Second-Guessed Our Decision To Cry It Out
- Cry it out is hard. Extinction (letting them cry however long it takes, is SUPER hard). I always describe it, as every single cell in my body was screaming at me to stop the madness. It’s beyond hard. But it is also beyond worth it! As a result of the stress it put on my husband and me, we second-guessed ourselves. We went in to try and make things better and to help our baby. The reality was that going in only prolonged the tears. They still came. She had to cry. Us going in to help, or take a break, only made things worse. I am hoping that with our next child we don’t have to do cry it out, but if we do, we’ve learned our lesson and will not be going in once we’ve started the process.
- Sleep training is crazy hard. Everything from the schedules and routines, to the actual cry it out (if your child needs that). We had a thriving baby and toddler as a result, however. So, as hard as it is, it is well worth the stress along the way. Our daughter is now turning 4 in a couple of months.
Since she was 4 months old, we’ve done a simple bedtime routine, say goodnight, give hugs, and say I love you. We then leave and close her door. She goes to sleep all on her own. If she wakes in the middle of the night, she puts herself back to sleep. Only if she needs something does she come to get us? As a result, our entire family gets great sleep.
She’s smart, she’s thoughtful, she’s kind, and she’s well loved. I am forever thankful that we did prioritized sleep with our daughter.
Katrina is a babywise mom of 3 (A 4-year old, one angel baby, and one newborn). She is a mom that uses schedules and routines, but also cloth diapers, makes her own baby food and baby wears! She is very passionate about the benefits of breastfeeding on a schedule, and a huge advocate of doing what’s right for YOUR family. Keep it real with her over at MamasOrganizedChaos.com
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