We can all agree as moms that having a baby is one of the most beautiful experiences. You feel all the feels, the love and emotions flow and your heart is full.
At the same time you are overjoyed, you are also extremely overtired, and it is challenging!
I really attribute everything that I am about to share to the book, Baby Wise, By Ezzo and Bucknam. I’ve linked it here, because even though I am giving an overview, I am such a believer that really every mom should read it! It changed my life when it came to knowing what to do as a new mom and with each individual child.
Let me preface this by saying, it works! All three of my girls have VERY different personalities and temperaments, yet all three sleep through the night 12-13 hours, and they range from 4 months to 4 years old. They sleep in their own beds, never co-sleep and also take age-appropriate naps (a good solid 2 hours).
So let’s get to the basics of how I sleep train. Again apply this all as you will; everyone is different, but this is how I work it.
- Start it early. You determine what you want your sleep life to look like. If you don’t mind co-sleeping early on and every night and then having to break that, that is okay. I did not want that. I wanted to be able to sleep in my bed with my husband and get a good solid night sleep after my baby was old enough to do so. The first week, even two are the hardest and basically, I did whatever was possible to make my baby comfortable. After all, they were just in my womb for 9 months and are trying to acclimate to the world. I allow much grace for myself and sleepless days and nights during that period. Usually, around 4 weeks is when I start to seriously sleep train, which I will get to what I mean in a bit. Up until that time I practiced putting my baby down for naps while drowsy, not asleep, for the first 4 weeks. Sometimes she would fall asleep, sometimes not, and I would gauge whether or not I needed to pick her up and let her sleep on me. As moms, we have this inherent ability to know what’s okay and what’s not for our babies.
- Get your baby on a schedule and as early as possible. I am usually able to get the schedule rolling by 2 weeks. I have read articles that suggest doing this around 4-6 months, but for me this is too late. It is possible to get them on a schedule and it helps you as a mom and for the rest of the family to know, one, when baby will need to eat and how much time you have in between feedings, and two, when you put your baby down for a nap, and they fuss/cry a little, (which they will) it is not because they are hungry, but because they are tired and are either fighting sleep or learning to put themselves to sleep.
- Be consistent! Babies need consistency, just like we all do. Whatever schedule you come up with that suits you and your family, stick to it! This may mean needing to wake your baby for a feeding, especially the first feeding of the day. This is the most difficult, because if your baby is sleeping and you are exhausted, why not sleep? You will thank yourself later! As your baby grows, he/she will drop feedings and you continue to adjust. I have included a sample feeding schedule and all of the merges that will take place below. This can be a lot of information, so take it slow, and message me if you have questions. I am by NO means an authority on this, however I’ve been through it three times and it’s worked EVERY time
Overall, when you take the plunge and start sleep training, whether it’s early on, or your baby is 6 months +, the first step is to watch for your baby’s cues and when he/she is tired. Yawning, fussing, rubbing eyes, etc, are all cues. You want to catch your baby at this point so you prevent him/her from becoming overtired and then harder to put down to sleep. When you see this happen make sure your baby’s diaper is dry, take them to their room/crib and start your napping routine, ie; rocking for a minute or two, singing a song, etc; whatever works best for you and then put your baby down. He/She will most likely fuss, cry, etc and this is the MOST difficult part. Your automatic reaction is to run and pick him/her up, however after reading Baby Wise and other articles written by pediatricians, etc, it does NO damage to allow them to cry for 10-15 minutes. Again, I am a walking testimony. All three of my girls are perfectly healthy and fine! The crying is hard to listen to, but a tired baby WILL fall asleep, but you HAVE to remain consistent at nap times which will then follow to nighttime sleep.
There really is so much information when it comes to this topic, but I tried to make it as succinct as possible, yet it’s still a long post. If you have questions, please reach out, I will be happy to help! I know how exhausting it is, and when your baby starts to sleep it makes all the difference in the world.
Here is the sample schedules from newborn, on!
SAMPLE BABY FEEDING SCHEDULE
The whole principle of this is to teach your baby to eat during the day and sleep at night.
8pm Right to bed. She gets used to this being her bed time.
Middle of the night feedings: 2am and 5am usually
*I usually had to always wake the baby up for this feeding, and it was a smaller feeding, but nevertheless good to continue this one until she drops the middle of the night.
When you are consistent with this, the baby will first merge the two night feedings into one night feeding around 3am. Remain consistent with the day schedule until she drops the middle of the night feeding completely.
The baby will drop the middle of the night feeding and start to sleep 8 hours. Your schedule should remain consistently the same as above.
You will start to notice she may take less and less at the 11pm feeding, or just stops wanting to eat all together at that time. This is when you can drop the 11pm feeding. Your schedule will then look like this.
Still keep the feedings at about every 2.5 hours to keep at least 6 feedings in during the day.
You will start to notice your baby can stay up a little longer and might be disinterested in one of the early feedings during the day. At this time you can drop her down to five feedings at about every 3 hours. So your schedule will look like the following:
8pm Right down to bed
Your baby will be able to be awake for even longer, approximately 2 hours as well as start to be able to take more ounces at the feedings. Once you start to notice this you can merge the final feeding. Your schedule will look like this.
4pm 6 pm*
*(as she gets older, she will drop this nap and just take two naps until she is about a year old)
This is just a general guide that I used for my babies. You have to find your routine and what works for you. Also keep in mind you want to stay to the schedule as much as possible, however let your mother instincts lead you to know what your baby needs, ie: she’s not feeling well, teething, etc.
If you read the book it gives the general time frame (ages) you can expect these merges to happen. My babies always did it sooner than the book says, which I think happens if you really stick to it!
Blessings to all!