I’ve been getting a ton of questions about how my son puts himself to sleep and how I sleep trained him. This is a very important thing for babies to learn early on so I’m going to tell you guys everything I did to have such an easy sleeper.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and I am not a sleep expert. This is just my way of how I sleep trained my son. I am not a professional, nor do I claim to be.
So, do you want to know a little secret that will make most parents hate me?
Please don’t hate me.
My son has been sleeping through the night since he was 2 months old!
To be completely honest, it all kind of happened by accident. I never hired anyone and I never really “tried” to sleep train him. I just accidentally gave him way too much milk the night before and I woke up at 5am to a SLEEPING baby. I freaked out and thought something was wrong. “It’s been 6 hours and he’s still sleeping? Is this normal?” I put my finger under his nose to make sure he was breathing and thank god he was, so I just casually pumped and went back to sleep. He slept until 10am that night. That was almost 12 hours since I put him down.
I was shocked!
I asked my doctor if it was normal for a 2 month old to be sleeping 10-12 hours since we were past the point of him needing to eat every 3-4 hours. I need answers doctor!!! She literally looked at me and said, “Greta, count your blessings. He is showing you that he doesn’t need to be fed at night, so if he does happen to wake up one night DO NOT GIVE HIM MILK!”
I had done SO MUCH research prior to even having Levon, my son, about sleep training and instilling all these great sleep habits into babies early on so I’d been secretly applying all my research into him since Day 1.
Here are the 6 rules that I made everyone abide by, even the grandparents!
1. Do not rock or pat the baby to sleep.
If you do get the baby used to something like this then cut the habit QUICK! I used to pat him on his butt for sometime without even thinking about it and once I realized I had, or was about to, form a habit I stopped.
2. Do not carry the baby all the time.
…not even during feedings (if you are breastfeeding and the baby falls asleep, immediately put him back into the bassinet). Babies need to learn how to be independent. Let them play on their own so they can get used to keeping themselves entertained.
3. Don’t be afraid of noise, embrace it!
Keep the TV on in the background, or the window open, or just talk around the baby as you normally would. I hated it when people would see that he’s sleeping and start whispering…like no he needs to be able to fall asleep with noise. I also wasn’t a fan of white noise because babies get used to it and eventually they can’t fall asleep without it. Parents tend to unconsciously form this habit with babies because so many doctors recommend it but honestly babies don’t need white noise all the time. I would only play it if he was really fussy or was having a hard time sleeping.
4. Don’t put the baby to sleep using motion.
There are so many new bassinets that come with movement, strollers that can shake, and even those popular rocking swings that is on every mother’s registry. DO NOT GET THEM USED TO THAT! If your baby easily falls asleep in the rocking swing every time (which he/she probably does because motion naturally gets babies sleepy) then he/she will demand motion to fall asleep. I never had those rocking swings or a moving bassinet because I knew from the beginning that I didn’t want him to associate motion with sleep. Keeping them occupied in those swings is obviously a life saver but putting them to sleep in those swings, not so much. Yes, it’s easier because it knocks them out, but think about the long run. When they eventually transition into a crib or a bed, how are they going to learn to sleep without motion?
5. Try not to give them milk if they wake up at night.
Talk to your doctor before you go through with this step because some babies might still need a nighttime feeding. Since Levon already solved this problem for me early on I never really struggled with it. What I did do, and still do, is give him a sufficient amount of milk just before he sleeps so it keeps him full throughout the night. If he does happen to wake up, ill either trick him with water (make sure the baby is old enough to have water, consult your doctor) or just leave him to fall back asleep. Sometimes I’ll even put some Mylicon on his paci and that’ll do the trick. He usually never wakes up in the middle of the night unless something is really bothering him, like a cough that keeps waking him up. Basically, do everything you can to avoid giving the baby milk, especially when you are trying to cut them from nighttime feedings.
6. When it’s time to sleep, put them down, give them the pacifier, and leave!
It’s really that simple. If you do this from Day 1 then you won’t ever have a problem with sleep. Yes, it also depends on the baby. Some babies are naturally fussier and that’s okay because they are still babies and they adjust to every circumstance. If they always cry and you run to pick them up every time, then they make that association- crying will make mommy come to me. Babies, including newborns, are very competent and they make associations early on.
If you haven’t sleep trained and you want to start then here’s my advice. Put the baby down and leave the room. The baby will probably start crying, or won’t, and that’s okay. DO NOT go in the room when they start crying. After about 5 minutes (of them crying) go in, put the pacifier back into their mouth (or if they don’t use one just touch them and let them know you are still around- without carrying them), and walk back out. If you need to comfort them then do it so they are still in the crib. If it’s been 20-30 minutes and they are still crying then you can carry them, calm them down, give them a big comforting kiss, and put them back in the crib and walk out. They key here is to only go in if they are crying. If they are playing or trying to get your attention, but not crying, then do not go in. Do this for a few days and watch how quickly they learn.
Implementing these rules into my newborn helped me have such an easy sleeper. Now, don’t get me wrong he does have days where he refuses to sleep and he cries for what seems like hours. For example, the other night he napped for only 1 hour and come bedtime (9pm) he refused to sleep. He was up playing around, which is totally fine, I let him do whatever he wants in his crib (no toys) to waste some energy and tire out. Usually this works within max 20 minutes (most nights he knocks out within literally 5 seconds because he’s so sleepy) but it had been half an hour already and he wasn’t sleeping so I went in, put his paci in his mouth and walked out. I went in even though he wasn’t crying because I felt bad, I knew he was sleepy and he just wouldn’t sleep. Once I walked out he started to cry and scream, so I let him. A few minutes later I went back in, put his paci in his mouth again, and laid him down (he stands now). Again, he stood up and started screaming. This time I carried him (only because at this point he really needed to sleep), calmed him down, gave him some Mylicon, lots of kisses, and put him back down. A little more crying and he was knocked out. He rarely has these nights where he refuses to sleep or becomes frustrated because he can’t sleep, but when he does I don’t spoil him by carrying him. I still use my rules to show him that I’m around, everything is okay, and I let him put himself to sleep.
That’s the true secret. Keep up with the sleep training, don’t ever let it go because babies and their cycles change all the time. You might be traveling and they might get uncomfortable in a new environment, a new crib, etc but that doesn’t mean you should just forget all the rules. When we traveled to Laguna Beach for a night over the weekend he was a little cranky before bed and crying but I still stuck to the rules. I let him cry for a few minutes, then I’d check up on him, and I wouldn’t carry him until sometime had gone by. Usually, he just wants the skin to skin connection with me when he’s cranky because he’s so sleepy. Once I give it to him after letting him cry it out he knocks out within minutes because he knows he’s okay and that mommy is around. If I carry him before letting him cry it out, he literally will not stop crying! I know because I’ve tried.
Believe me, no one wants to hear their baby cry. It’s not music to my ears when he’s screaming and crying, but it’s just something I have to let him do in order to calm down. Crying isn’t always a negative thing with babies and toddlers. In fact, they actually NEED to cry because they have no other way of expressing emotions. I highly suggest reading The Whole Brain Child, this book explains how a child’s brain works and it just makes so much sense once you read it. I’ve recommended this book to every mom and mom-to-be and they have all thanked me, it’s that good!
Also, keep in mind that you can alter all these rules and try different methods to find which one works best for you. All babies are different and there isn’t one specific way to sleep train it all kind of depends on you and your babies needs.
I hope this helped you guys and if you have any other questions, or would like some more advice, just comment below or email me!
Good luck sleep training mamas!