Sleep training is no where near one-size-fits-all. If you’re at your wits end, getting no sleep, tried everything, up all night googling, talked to your pediatrician and nothing is working, give these tips a try! It’s important to get the green light from your pediatrician before starting sleep training to eliminate any reflux or GERD issues your child might have which is causing them not to sleep.
I want to start off by saying that I am not against co-sleeping in any way, whether it’s in bed with your baby or just next to your bed in a bassinet. It just didn’t work for us because I don’t think either of us were ever really comfortable with her sleeping in bed. My husband is a heavy sleeper and I was worried about him rolling onto her. We started sleep training Rori at four months old and until than she slept in the Halo Bassinet next to our bed. Sleep training for us kind of just, happened. I tried putting her down in her crib for a nap one day and she slept like a rock! A few days later we tried putting her down in the crib for bedtime and she didn’t wake up til the next morning. I was shocked…I also woke up before her in a panic! It actually happened at the most perfect time because she just started to roll and we would’ve had to take her out of the bassinet anyway.
“you’re putting me to sleep where?!?”
I personally think that alone time with your partner at night is extremely important. No, I’m not saying kick your infant out of your room so you can start having sex again. If you and your partner both work and don’t get to spend a lot of time together, it’s nice to have some uninterrupted alone time. Even if you’re just sitting up watching a movie and eating icecream. To keep your sanity and to not let your marriage fail. Even if you’re a single mom – ALONE time is very important. I know I feel much better now that Rori sleeps ten to twelve hours a night in her own room. She’s no longer up every few hours to eat and this mama is feeling REFRESHED! I can also tell that she wakes up happier now that she’s not up every 3-4 hours.
- Put baby down awake
We didn’t implement any specific type of sleep training method besides what the pediatrician recommended to do. That was, put your baby in their crib awake. Yes, they will fuss and wonder why the heck they’re being laid down to sleep without mom or dad. In the long run, I believe this is what truly helped Rori understand that she can fall asleep on her own. Without being held, without the boob and without a snuggly blanket. The binky is a different story and we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it!
- Let baby cry (within reason!)
I know this scares most moms. It scared me too. Rori is a very aggressive crier and she literally turns tomato red when she’s really upset. I’m not saying to let your baby cry for hours and hours until they explode. We started at 2-3 minutes of letting Rori cry before going back into her room, giving her some butt pats and reassuring her that we’re there. Then five minutes, then ten. By that time she’s too tired of crying and falls asleep. After a few nights of this, they will realize that they can fall asleep on their own. The key to this is NOT picking baby up. No, babies cannot manipulate you but they will start to get used to patterns you set – such as getting picked up when they cry or getting breastfed to sleep and expect those things to happen all the time.
- Sleep sacks save lives
If your baby is now rolling, it’s important to take out any blankets, pillows or stuffed animals from their crib to prevent suffocating. We started out using a Kyte Baby Sleep Sack which was really great for keeping Rori warm when we took the blanket and swaddles away. Nested Bean sent us two of their zen sleep sacks to try out and holy hallelujah, they made such a difference! Rori started rolling over from her belly to her back a few weeks into sleeping in her own room. When she would flip she would startle herself and wake up and start crying which would result in me waking up and having to go flip her back over. This happened a good 3-4 times per night! Nested Bean Zen Sleep Sack has a small weighted pad on the chest filled with non toxic poly beads to mimic slight pressure from a parents hand. Rori is a belly sleeper so she wears her backwards! No worries about them laying on the pad if they flip, the beads will flatten. They have a ton of different colors and different sizes to fit your babe. They even have a thicker version for the winter months. We usually just put a long sleeve onesie on Rori and she stays warm, but it is still pretty warm here in New York.
- Essential oils
I use two roller balls on Rori before bed. One is for teething: a few drops of copaiba topped off with fractionated coconut oil. I roll this on to Rori’s jawline and spine. The other is to promote deep sleep: a few drops of lavender, a few drops of eucalyptus and topped off with fractionated coconut oil. I roll this on to Rori’s spine and the bottom of her feet. Another great EO is frankincense, it promotes emotional and mental rest. I really do see a difference in the way she sleeps when we use these! One night I forgot to use them and I swear she turned into a monster. Never again.
- Make baby comfortable
Most people say to keep a baby’s room really warm. I’ve found that Rori runs hot and is usually very uncomfortable when I bundle her up to go to sleep. Of course, you don’t want baby to be cold while sleeping. You can keep an eye on your thermostat and dress baby accordingly. Like I mentioned with the sleep sack, I don’t put pants or socks on her when she’s wearing it because I don’t want her to overheat. It is recommended to keep baby’s room between 68-72°F. Get to know if your baby likes sleeping on their belly or their back. Once they start to roll they’ll just do whatever is comfortable for them. Until then, watch your baby closely when napping and see if they fuss more on their belly, or their back. Do not leave baby on their belly at night or unattended if they cannot roll themselves over.
Bottom line, there are a ton of different ways to sleep train. Just go with your gut. Mommies know best. Don’t like the “cry it out” method? Don’t do it. Don’t feel your baby is ready yet? Wait a few more months. Don’t like sleep sacks? Don’t use them. Want to sleep with your baby until they’re eight years old or breastfeed all night? Do you boo!
Happy (hopefully) sleeping mamas!
Xo Mama Fusco