THE VERY FACT THAT YOU WORRY ABOUT BEING A GOOD MOM MEANS THAT YOU ALREADY ARE ONE
Let me start out by saying… no matter what you choose to do or don’t do, I will never judge you. I know, as moms, we are all the same. We all just want the very best for our babies : cry it out method or no tear method, vaccines vs. no vaccines, breast feeding vs. formula, co-sleeping vs. crib sleeping blah blah blah. There is no right vs. wrong & we are all doing the best, we are all giving it our all, we are all amazing mamas! We won’t agree on everything, but I can promise you that I will never tell you that you are doing it the wrong way and I am doing it the right way. I don’t believe it’s black and white like that.
THE GIFT OF SLEEP
I truly believe sleep is a gift to our babies. I saw the difference in Dax, when he was not sleeping as much verses when he was, and it has been a night & day difference. A true gift. I am not a doctor (obviously), I am just a mom who is figuring it out as I go. I don’t have it all together, and things change from day to day, but following these guidelines have helped give us a structure to follow. I have been on the other side, the side where you maybe are, and I know it sucks. I don’t want to sit here and have it seem like I am bragging about how my baby was sleeping through the night at 2 month old, but I simply want to give you hope that you can train your baby to love sleep.
The amount of times I went back and forth between doing a schedule and not doing a schedule is ridiculous. If you could’ve seen the dialog I was having with myself in my head you would’ve felt overwhelmed for me. I am so indecisive! I decided to finally do it, when I realized how exhausted I was… truly exhausted! Dax was one of those FOMO babies, that needed a schedule if he was ever going to take naps and if I wanted to keep my sanity! Every baby is different (I’m hoping my next is a tad bit easier lol), but this is what worked for us with this babe. If you are struggling (like I was) then I know you feel the same… you’ll try ANYTHING!!!
For Dax, we followed the principles taught in the book Baby Wise. After reading the book Baby Wise & asking my pediatrician, we decided to start sleep training when Dax was about 7 weeks old. It’s hard to put into words exactly how things go… because honestly, every single day something changes, doesn’t go as planned, I make a wrong decision, blah blah blah (but I did my absolute best to give you a guide to follow). I would suggest first, getting the book Babywise and especially reading chapters 5, 6 and 7. From there you will take it and alter it to fit your baby like I did. Since doing a schedule, I have learned so much about Dax. I know when he is tired, hungry, or doesn’t feel good.
2 MONTHS OLD : OUR SCHEDULE
Thanks to a couple super moms who told me I needed to do this, Dax was already on a 3 hour feeding schedule, give or take 15 minutes here or there. As time goes on, you will learn your babies cries and pick up on different cues (like when they may have hit a growth spurt and needing more food more often). I fed him at 7am, 10am, 1pm, 4pm, 7pm, & 10pm.
*Before we started sleep training, Dax was up 2 times in the middle of the night. During sleep training we got it down to 1 time in the middle of the night, with the exception of two nights when he regressed & went back to waking up 2 times in the middle of the night (which is common). After a couple of weeks, about 2 months old, he was completely sleeping through the night (7am-7pm with his dream feed at 10pm which I woke him up for before I went to bed).*
I fed him at 7pm, burped him, and he was in bed by 7:30 for bedtime. The first few days of sleep training he would cry and cry and cry, but he learned quickly. After a couple of days he would go down so easy; he knew it was bedtime and started separating night from day. Based on BabyWise, most babies drop this 10pm dream feed between weeks 10 and 15,
Babywise suggests adding in another feeding in the day (when they drop the nighttime feedings). I added in the extra feeding for a couple days, but then realized he didn’t actually need it. We used Babywise as a guideline and did what worked best for us. Sometimes it takes a little trial and error, and it can get frustrating, but it will only last a couple days. Just remind yourself at this point… your baby will be sleeping through the night, so that in itself is an amazing thing. The main goal of sleep training is a baby who sleeps through the night.
EAT, PLAY, SLEEP
The plan…. feed your baby, then you change their diaper and have “play time” (which will get progressively longer as your baby gets older), then you lay them down for a nap. The only feeding’s I didn’t do this with were the 7pm and the 10pm, when I just fed him, burped him, and laid him right down.
SIDE NOTE : After he was sleep trained, if there is ever a random time he did fall asleep after I fed him, I would just lay there and hold him and rock him. It usually only lasted about 20 min, but I would just soak it up. Once your baby is sleep trained, the best thing you can do is BE FLEXIBLE… because there will be things like growth spurts, teething, tummy aches, family vacations & holidays that will mess with your “schedule”. They also grow SO DANG FAST… so above all else, enjoy your baby! When they wake up early from their nap, & are clearly not tired anymore, go get them and do something fun with that extra time you get with them! I don’t care how long Dax sleeps anymore, as long as he got enough sleep to be happy when he is awake!
At 10 weeks old this is an overall of what our day looked like (most often but not always):
7am : eat, play sleep
10am : eat, play sleep
1pm : eat, play sleep
4pm : eat, play sleep
6:30pm : bathtime
7pm : eat, sleep
10pm : change diaper first, eat, sleep (no lights, no talking)
- For naps, Dax didn’t always sleep the perfect amount of time, he liked waking up early. I usually would wait it out and noticed that if I let him lay in his crib (even if he did get a little fussy or his eyes were wide open), he would usually go back to sleep. Granted this is not always true & sometimes I just got him up early from naps. But you will learn all about your baby, and know when to leave them or get them. When they wake up, pause before you go in and get them. Sometimes I got Dax, and would end up regretting it when I realize he is still tired.
- When Dax was officially “sleep trained” I would sometimes rock him before I laid him down, especially at night. Before his daytime naps the rocking would only last a couple minutes, but sometimes longer. There was a solid month between Thanksgiving & Christmas when I started rocking Dax to sleep all-the-time (and wouldn’t lay him down until he was asleep) and I was totally ok with it. After about 2 months of doing that, Dax was 6 months, I started going back to laying him down when I noticed him getting tired and he easily would fall asleep on his own. My baby was growing up and loving sleep and his bed.
- Even after your baby is sleep trained there may still be times when he/she cries when you lay them down. Dax sometimes would cry for about 15 seconds, even after I considered him sleep trained. There have also been times after he was sleep trained, when he would cry longer than 15 seconds, and I would go in and pick him up to make sure he didn’t need to burp. Sometimes he did burp, but sometimes he just needed that extra little love and would fall asleep almost instantly in my arms. You learn as you go. Give yourself grace & do your best.
CRY IT OUT METHOD
So hard in the moment, but your hard work will pay off. I suggest just reading this whole chapter in the book if you decide to use this method. Read it while you are in the middle of actually doing it, to remind yourself of why you are doing it. I had so many different opinions about when was the perfect time to start this, but after talking to our pediatrician and following this book, we decided we needed to do this for Dax. He DID NOT (notice past tense) like taking naps in the day, and that is a big part of the schedule that gets them on their way to sleeping through the night. Now saying he loves naps is a huge understatement… he gets cranky when it’s nap time and that’s how I know I better lay him down or let him get comfy in my arms (BECAUSE THIS KID DOESN’T LIKE MISSING HIS NAP TIME)!
I would bounce Dax a little and wait until his eyes were drowsy, before I laid him down, just to make sure he was in fact tired. I would then lay him in his crib with his eyes open. I failed sometimes, and went in his room to soothe him sooner than I should’ve. One time (ok two if I’m being really honest) I just gave up & went in to rescue him… we went downstairs, opened the windows, turned on some Jack Johnson, lit a candle & had an early bath time. Looking back I think the more you make yourself stick to your guns, the faster you can get through it all. I would lay him down, wait 10 minutes (SET A TIMER), and if he was still crying I would go in & pat him on his back as I whispered “it’s ok…. shhhh shhhh shhhhh” for about 30 seconds then I would walk out. Repeat as many times as needed. Lucky for me, I rarely had to go in a second time, but I do know mama’s who had to go in multiple times, so do not give up hope. Just keep reminding yourself you are doing this for your baby.
THINGS YOU MIGHT WANT TO INVEST IN (MUST HAVES IN MY BOOK)
- Owlet Baby Monitor (we felt this was necessary because Dax was a tummy sleeper)
- Actual Video Monitor
- Sound Machine
- Diffuser & Oils
4 MONTHS OLD : OUR SCHEDULE
We dropped a feeding around 4 months & went to eating every 4 hours. We also introduced purée foods between 4 and 5 months.
7am : eat, play sleep
11am : eat, play sleep
3pm : eat, play, sleep
5:30/6pm : bathtime
7pm : eat, play sleep
5 MONTHS OLD : OUR SCHEDULE
We put a little time between giving him his bottle & giving him his food. At this point you will know so much about your baby & their specific cries (last night I had to go in three times after I laid Dax down, because I could tell by the way he was crying that he needed to burp). Not every night is perfect, but for the most part he is still sleeping through the night 7pm-7am.
7am : eat (bottle)
8am : eat (mashed banana & baby cereal)
9am: nap time (if your baby wakes up early from his nap, do something fun to keep them busy until their next feeding)
11am : eat (bottle)
12pm : eat (vegetable)
1pm: nap time
3pm : eat (bottle), play
4:30pm/5pm : short nap (but not always necessary depending on how long his first 2 naps were)
5/5:30pm : eat (vegetable), bathtime
7pm : eat (bottle) *Dax usually takes all three naps, but when he doesn’t take his last nap, I feed him as early as 6:30 and he is in bed by 7.*
I hope this helps, Just remember… every baby is different. Use the feeding schedule to get on a good schedule during the day, & most often, the night sleeping will fall into place! Don’t stress if your naps aren’t perfect, or if nothing is perfect! I did stress in the beginning, & now that I am more carefree, everything is that much better!
YOU ARE A GREAT MOM… NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO OR DON’T DO!!! YOU ARE DOING AMAZING. YOU ARE ENOUGH. YOU ARE KILLIN’ IT. YOUR BABY WILL BE JUST FINE NO MATTER WHAT YOU DECIDED TO DO OR DON’T DO.