Let’s face it having a baby is tough! Life is now full of countless of sleepless nights, learning how to adjust to your new lifestyle, being responsible for another human, figuring out breastfeeding or bottle feeding, finding which diapers work best and on and on. I will never forget my first moth as a new mom. I felt like a zombie. I was exhausted, confused, sad, and could not even recognize myself in the mirror.
I needed to sleep. Waking up ever two hours to feed my son was taking a toll on me. I had read all the baby books I could get my hands on prior to giving birth and had learned that comforting a newborn is essential. Most books noted that sleep training should not start until baby is six months or older. However, I followed my own instincts and wanted to make sure my baby felt my love but also learned to self soothe when going to sleep.
Once my baby was three months old I started a consistent sleep routine for the evenings. We would have quite time for a few minutes after he finished playing. This allows baby to calm down and relax. Then we would bathe him and during this time we do not play or talk loudly so baby is still relaxed and calm. Once his bath is over and he is in his pajamas we fed him his bottle. When he finished his bottle, we would read his book and then sing a short lullaby and put him down while he was awake.
If you put your baby down after he or she has already fallen asleep in your arms you are teaching them the only safe place to fall asleep is on you. This is a hard habit to break once it is learned so try not to make it common. Obviously if your baby is in pain, uncomfortable, crying a lot or is sick you can hold your baby as much as necessary. But for daily purposes do not teach your baby to fall asleep on you. I have friends with kids that are 7 and older who STILL need to fall asleep with their moms!
Once you have put your baby down you can say any phrase you like to end the routine. I like to say “I love you, goodnight.” I then walk out of the room and let baby fall asleep on his own. If his pacifier fell out or he cried my husband or I would wait a few minutes then go back to give it to him. We would follow the time wait method. For example, wait 3 minutes then 5 minutes then 10 and so forth before going back in the room when baby is crying.
Using sleep aids like sound machine and light machines, swaddles and/or pacifiers are great in teaching baby how to self soothe. We use all of the above. We have used the Skip Hop Moonlight & Melodies Owl Nightlight Soother since our baby came home from the hospital. Our baby likes to sleep to ocean sounds at night and during his naps he likes it set to Cradle lullaby. I turn this on before leaving the room after putting baby down in his crib.
We love to use Halo’s SleepSack Swaddles for our baby and put him in it over his pajamas. It keeps him warm throughout the night and helps him feel safe. He grew out of the first SleepSack Swaddle so now we got him into the Phase 2 SleepSack for babies 6 to 12 month old. I have created a list of baby must haves on my Amazon Storefront here.
For naps we have a shorter version of his night sleep routine. We still have a calm down period so cuddle or lay in our bed together. Then we read our baby a book, sing a lullaby, put him down in his crib with his pacifier and say our phrase. We turn on his sound/projection machine before walking out of the room.
The most important part, and I cannot stress this enough, of sleep training your baby is staying CONSISTENT. Babies thrive on consistency and routine and this makes them feel secure. If you are always changing what you do or how you do something this will not service your baby.
Our son is now 6.5 months old and is a great sleeper. He sleeps throughout the night typically from 7PM-8AM and takes 3 naps a day averaging 1.5 hours per nap. I am certain this is all because of the sleep routine we have committed to since he was 3 months old and due to the consistency we maintained. Sometimes it takes him 5 minutes to fall asleep and other times it may take him up to an hour. Regardless, he soothes himself, plays, rolls around, takes his pacifiers in and out until finally he falls asleep.
Every parent has a different philosophy when it comes to sleep training. Our philosophy revolves around a well rested baby. Babies need sleep to grow, physically and mentally. So it was a priority to ensure our baby had a healthy sleeping pattern. We believe our child should learn to self soothe and not form bad habits. This is our opinion and there are no right or wrong parenting methods. This is what works for us and what makes our baby happy. He is a health and happy baby and that is all that matters in the end.
My only warning to parents is DO NOT feel like you have to pay money for those “sleep training courses”. Whether they are online or in person. This is not something you have to pay to learn. I just followed my instinct and learned what worked for my son through trial and error. He thrived on a consistent sleep routine and we just made sure to consistently follow it. As a parent you will know what works for your child and what does not. You should not have to pay anyone to learn how to put your baby to sleep in a way that ensures their happiness and yours.