This post was sponsored by Owlet Care. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.
Before we dive into controversial sleep training mumbo jumbo I have to stress the importance of sleep. For all members of the family. (Cough cough .. that means you too momma.) If baby isn’t sleeping, mommy isn’t sleeping. But sometimes, even if baby IS sleeping, mommy isn’t sleeping. We hope and pray and beg for them to sleep. We try everything for them to just relax and drift off to dream land. And then when they do .. we worry the poo out of ourselves and get up 16 times to make sure they’re breathing. Sometimes even jeopardizing that sleep by investigating. Anything for the safety of our babies that we love so much. That’s why my new favorite product is the Owlet Smart Sock. I had seen this bad boy all over the interweb before I even found out I was pregnant. I knew I wanted one from the moment I saw it. It was lust at first sight. Our relationship has since turned from lust to love. This Smart sock gives me so much peace of mind and I wish I would have had one with allll my babies. The Owlet Smart Sock is designed to notify you if your baby’s heart rate or oxygen levels fall outside the preset zones. Having my babe sleep in her own room all alone gives me anxiety. Leaving her to cry it out alone in there gives me anxiety. But knowing that the Owlet Smart Sock is tracking her heart rate and oxygen brings me so much comfort. I can see her live readings at any given moment from my cell phone, and if the readings drop below the preset zones, it will notify me. Not only on my phone, but on the base station as well. It is such a beautiful gift for any mom who has ever worried about their baby and his/her oxygen levels and heart rate … aka any mom that ever existed since the beginning of time. I highly recommend the Owlet Smart Sock to any and every momma out there!
Now onto sleep training. Sleep training is such a controversial topic. You’ve never seen hostility like moms with differing opinions on a Facebook thread about sleep training. I’m usually allllll up on those threads; just munching on my popcorn and getting my daily dose of drama and entertainment. What would we do without Facebook drama?
Every Mom is entitled to “do motherhood” the way they best see fit. I wish we could all just say, “to each their own” more often and really mean it. One thing I learned when I became a mom was that people love to give their unsolicited opinion. And a lot of times, those opinions made me feel inferior as a new mom. Over time I learned that my motherly instinct is good for me and my little people and I shouldn’t doubt it. It’s worth a lot more than I gave it credit those first few years. So if you’re a new mom, listen to that instinct and then pat yourself on the back. You are doing a great job and your baby needs YOU!
If you’re curious about how I get my babes to sleep through the night, stick around. Or if you are just here with a box of popcorn to disagree with my style of parenting, that’s cool too. I hope it’s kettle corn.
I have read quite a few books about sleep, and sleep training. I’ve taken bits and pieces from each and created a sort of sleep training cocktail that fits our family and each of our kiddos best. My favorite books are Babywise, Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems, and The Happiest Baby on the Block.
In my opinion, the most important step to getting your baby to sleep well is her daily schedule. Babywise stresses an Eat, Wake, Sleep schedule. Many people fall into the Eat, Sleep, Wake cycle because babies are so sleepy after they are fed. But I have learned from much experimenting that having their “wake” time after eating is key to sleeping well. Not only during the day, but at night as well.
The second most important step (in my opinion of course) is getting full feedings. This is so tricky in the beginning because, hellllllo, babies snooze as soon as they get near your boob. It’s a giant (well, some are giant. Not mine.) warm and cozy pillow and they’re like, yeah right, peace out. And I’m like … priorities kids. Food is life! I’m constantly tickling their tiny toes, patting their bums, undressing them and even wiping them down with a wet wipe. I’m a mean mom. But a full feeding is so important if you want them to nap for more than 10 mins. You gotta be able to do more than empty your bladder while they sleep. We work on establishing feedings every 2.5 to 3 hours initially. But the clock doesn’t control us. If baby is hungry, I always feed her. But 3 hours is our goal from day 1 and all of my kiddos have caught onto that pretty quick. Tess is no exception. She eats every 3 hours and takes 5 two hour naps a day. Plenty of time for me to catch up on the Facebook comments, brush my teeth and throw some dino-nuggets in the toaster oven.
After baby learns when to sleep, we focus on teaching where to sleep. It is extremely important to me that my baby knows how to sleep in her own bed. I learned the hard way with Nora that if you hold them for all of their naps, they will quickly learn to prefer being held and will despise all other sleep locations no matter how hard you try to trick them. With Gwen and Tess, I focused on laying them down a lot in those first few weeks. It is so hard to do because they are snuggly and cuddly and they smell like heaven and alllllll I want to do is hold them. But I know it’s good for them (and everyone else) to sleep in their beds.
It’s also really important to me that my babies put themselves to sleep without the need of sleep props. I like to know that I can lay Tess down in her dock-a-tot awake and she will fall asleep without needing intervention from me or a binky, swing, rocking chair or more breastmilk. That’s not the case for everyone and I totally get that. Like I said above, to each their own! You do you boo! For me, self soothing is important. Once they know how to do it during the day, their night sleep improves tremendously. The skill carries over. Tess will wake up several times during her naps and at night, but she hardly makes a peep and puts herself back to sleep so that she is achieving her 2-2.5 hour nap.
A couple of the things I picked up from The Happiest Baby On The Block are swaddling and “shush” (as they put it in the book. I just call it white noise). We swaddle for every nap and bedtime and we always have white noise going. I talked about both of these things in my last post about my must-haves for the first month. I think they’re both crucial to creating the perfect sleep environment.
Achieving the self-soothing is obviously the trickiest part of sleep-training. And sometimes I think the term “cry it out” is more important for the momma than the baby. Listening to your baby cry suuuuuuuucks. It’s hard. But I know from experience that sleep is important for development, health, and sanity (for everyone in the home). To achieve the sleep they need, my kids have had to cry it out. There are different methods of “crying it out” and we’ve done what we feel is best for our kids. This is where I use a bit of the Ferber method and adapt it to fit our comfort level. We started small at 4 weeks with Tess letting her cry for 2 mins at nap time. We would go in at after 2 minutes and burp her really good and calm her down. Then we would lay her down again and if she started crying again, we would again wait 2 minutes. We repeated this cycle until she fell asleep. It never took more than 4 times. Every couple of days I bumped up her crying time. By the time she was 6 weeks, we were letting her cry for 10 minute intervals (if she even got to that point). She rarely cries when she is laid down for a nap now. Witching hour still gets the best of her some nights and it may take her 5-8 mins of crying to fall asleep. But most of her naps and bedtimes look something like this:
In my opinion, focusing on her daytime schedule, getting full feedings, and teaching her to self-soothe during naps has created the perfect foundation for her to achieve optimal nighttime sleep. And starting from a younger age this time around has meant that I haven’t had to do any nighttime sleep training. (Hark! The Herald angels sing!) Although I believe in nighttime training if my babes aren’t sleeping 12 hours at 12 weeks, I am realllly glad Tess has achieved this on her own! Laying the groundwork makes all the difference. Babies sleep in cycles and it’s natural for them to wake up after 45 mins of sleep. They have to learn to connect these cycles. I think it’s easier to teach them how during the day and they can carry it over into their nighttime sleep. Because ain’t nobody got time or energy to be an all-night diner.
With Nora and Gwen, we did have to do some nighttime sleep training. I think it’s because we didn’t start with good daytime dynamics until they were a bit older. But it’s all good. It’s never too late to start. For nighttime training, I would make sure they are in their own bed in their own room. Show them where to sleep. When they wake – let them cry it out. At 12 weeks I feel they can handle longer crying periods. I went into it knowing I would never let them cry for more than 45 mins at night but they never got to that point. And while they may have still woken throughout the night, each girl only took 2 nights before they were sleeping for 12 hours straight and not waking. They catch on rather quickly.
I could go on and on about the different intricacies of sleep training but I’d rather eat cookies and milk and catch up on the Bachelorette. So if you have any specific questions – shoot them my way! I’d be happy to answer them! If you can’t look at me the same now, I understand that too. But don’t unfollow me, because my kids are super cute and you’ll miss seeing their smiles on your instafeed. Thanks for reading friends!