I know MANY of you have been asking for tips, tricks, and advice on sleep training and what my experience was with sleep training Leo, so I wanted to give you a little insight on our journey!!! Oh, and if you make it all the way to the END of this blog … there might just be an amazing giveaway for one lucky new mama or mama to be out there!!
First off let me say that I always thought I would be one of those moms that let my baby sleep wherever. I have fond memories of sleeping on a pile of coats in northern Alberta while my parents socialized till the wee hours. Justin and I aren’t “scheduled” people and so NO way was I going to “sleep train” my child. However, when I got summoned back to work almost immediately after Leo was born … I just about died. Two TV shows, building a house, travelling, and being a new mom … I needed SOME way to anticipate the day.
I also want to say that it’s not recommended to start sleep training until your baby is 3 months or 14 pounds, BUT there are ways to start to prepare and make your life easier in the interim while you wait patiently for baby to put on the pounds …
OK here we go!!!
A few months post Leo’s arrival, going back to work, and after exhaustion and breakdowns started to occur on the reg, and AFTER I read so many books and blogs with many failed attempts … I started to surrender to this process … that’s about the time WeeSleep reached out to me (HALLELUJAH!!!!) … I was soooo excited to get this started and LOVED the promise of a full nights sleep. But after a few nights, my excitement turned to angst.
It hasn’t been easy, but I was thinking the other day (after Leo had TWO 2.5 hour naps and then slept 11 hours through the night) “HOLY CRAP!! IMAGINE IF I HADN”T SLEEP TRAINED HIM!?!!?!
Lots of people wanted to know if crying was involved … so I think we have to be honest with that … 100% yes! Janey actually said to me that LEO was the babe that cried MORE THAN ANY SINGLE baby SHE HAS EVER HAD on night one! Lol … she also admitted she was losing her mind thinking “Seriously, this is happening with Jillian Harris for love of gawd … nooo …” LOL!!!
Having said that, (I know there are going to be some good and bad comments about this), I should let you know that WeeSleep’s method is no CIO (NO CRY IT OUT, which means no interaction and/or touch, words, etc.) … Although Leo DID cry, we were closely coached about how we could re-assure him, talk to him, be in the same room as him etc … It still made it terribly difficult but I wanted to trust the process even for a few nights.
From Janey: “Babies tend to cry when they are protesting change. When babe cries they are initially saying “Hey hey hey … where is that boob? Or my rocking? Or or or or- this isn’t how we roll!” Then, with consistency, they say “Hey, I am starting to detect a little pattern going on here … I am feeling safe and am kinda digging soothing myself to sleep thing!”
Janey taught me that there is NO reason to think that periods of crying, along with positive and loving, and attentive parenting have a negative impact and that research proves that structured sleep plans work and they increase health and well-being of the whole family. I was beyond relieved hearing this from her!! Basically, Leo would cry, but we could be in the room with him, talking to him or reassuring him … and eventually he didn’t need us anymore. But yes, crying is involved, and still when Leo wakes because of noise, teething or pattern interruption, we still let him figure it out on his own, (I mean lets be honest, like any diet or fitness training … we cheat sometimes 😉 … usually 90% of the time he now puts himself back to sleep before I cave and swoop him up.
So, I’m not 100% biased, there are SOME cons, and while they are slim, there are a few.
1. You need a controlled environment for naps: So Leo doesn’t really nap in a stroller or on the bed or floor (or at a randoms house on a pile of coats LOL) … it’s not like a “nap where you want” situation … so you need to figure out the WHERE and set up the nap locations if you aren’t going to be home (crib, dark, sleep sack, noise machine). Though, he WILL nap in the car, so road trips are okay!
2. You need a schedule: I was never a schedule person and now I find we are like clockwork, which I know does not sound fun to some parents … but you know what IS fun!??! Being able to entertain, watch a movie, have a bath … whatever you want when baby is sleeping! But you HAVE to stick to the schedule! This isn’t about YOU, it’s about the babe … so if you want results you have to stick to the routine!! Hahaha I sound like a fitness trainer!!! CRACK THAT WHIP! LOL! When you do, it’s amazing and you can go off it from time to time, but if you are wishy washy all the time then you won’t have the results!!
3. There’s no cuddling to or napping with baby: Yup. Which I really miss! LIKE SO MUCH!! Leo fell asleep on his Nana the other day while they were babysitting him and he NEVER does that with me anymore … and … I miss that 🙁
4. There are tears: As I mentioned above … there are tears, and every mom’s instinct is to fight that … so that was definitely difficult.
OKKKKK THOUGH … Then there are the PROS!!!
1. They SLEEP! So, Leo sleeps almost 4-5 hours during the day (2 big naps, usually 2 hours+ each) and goes to bed religiously before 7:30 and SLEEPS THROUGH THE NIGHT! OK DO YOU NEED MORE PROS THAN THAT?!?!??! LOL! He’s been doing that since he was around 5-6 months and has stayed on this schedule.
2. Cool, calm, and collected: I truly feel that most of his “cool, laid back” demeanor is due to the fact that he is WELL rested, and I am well rested … and so he rarely fusses …. which is amazing!! He is such an easy baby and RARELY whines or cries …
3. You can plan: Once you get your babe’s schedule down pat it’s easy to have and FOLLOW a routine! You can anticipate the day and know if you book a lunch at noon, you can take your babe and they will be a dream! No meltdowns! (well … I can’t guarantee that one … lol)
4. You’re not trapped at home: There is no feeling of being “imprisoned” … outside of nap time … You KNOW you have time during the day to work or clean, and getting a baby sitter is EASY because they just need to come sit there, no instructions for if they wake up because 95% of the time it won’t happen! At night, Justin and I have a glass of wine, work on the yard (or my computer LOL), and I really get a chance to get that downtime.
I am SO grateful for the process and highly recommend it!!! Though I REALLY still miss co-sleeping … at least I still have Nacho … LOL!!
If I could offer up two personal tips from me to you, they would be …
1. Bottle when baby WAKES not when they are going down for a nap (except before bedtime): Yup. Resisting the bottle in the middle of the night. Once they are “heavy enough” they can get through night 1-2 … and then you will find that they start eating WAY more during the day. Essentially they are getting their calories during the day, so they won’t need them at night! Sometimes this is hard with breastfeeding because you can’t measure how much supply you have or how much they are drinking, so for me, I found pumping and bottle feeding a great way to measure.
2. Sprout Baby App: I LOVED using this app when Leo was first born! Several caregivers can use it at once which helps keep EVERYONE on schedule as to WHEN baby woke last and when baby ATE last and for how long! It’s brilliant!!
In the end, there were about 4-5 tips that stuck with me, but to make it TRULY work, I think having a hard ass (cough … Janey … cough) to keep me accountable is what worked in the end. Picture a personal trainer here … sometimes you NEED that person to get the results. When I told Janey this she said that I wasn’t the first to point that out, having a check in person who KNOWS what is going on, having someone to vent to or hate during the process. It’s what helps parents move forward. Which, funny enough … Janey IS a personal trainer too … so she is not only a hard ass sleep coach but she is also that hard ass trainer … apparently, they go hand in hand!! LOL!! Alright … here are Janey’s top 5 tips!!
Dream On: Top Five Sleep Tips
1. Location, Location, Location – It’s All About the Crib
- Put your babe down to sleep in the same place as much as possible. Whether your child has their own room or shares, putting them to bed in a familiar place lets them know that they are safe and in a place where sleep – not play or awake time – is expected. They learn to love their crib – swear it!
- Sometimes you just HAVE to travel and be on-the- go. Then it’s time to improvise! Portable playpens and Dock-A- Tots are fair options if you have to be away.
- And remember, bare is best – a flat sheet on the mattress only. Sleep sacks are also a great safe addition.
2. Staying Up Does NOT Mean Sleeping In
- Think keeping your baby up later means they’ll sleep in later? HA. Think again. It’s actually the opposite. A child being overtired can cause early wakes, rough nights and of course a super cranky babe
- Think of the day as two distinct parts – 12 hours of day and 12 hours of night. If your wee one wakes at 7 a.m. then bedtime should be around 7 p.m.
3. Consistency is Key
- Babies, like adults, are creatures of habit. They love to know what’s going to happen next. Manage their expectations and keep it consistent. If they know that they get a bath, bottle, book then bed, then they’re ready for it and even start to look forward to it – makes sense, right?!
- Work out a night-time and nap-time routine that works for you – keep it less than 30-40 minutes or babe will get a second wind and blow your efforts out of the water.
Sample Bedtime Routine (30-40 minutes maximum)
Diaper, pajamas, sleep sack
Feed (if applicable for age) *Do not let babe get drowsy! Drowsy is dangerous. Cold
washcloths on the forehead are a great trick to keep babe awake and alert.*
Read a short story – with the lights on!
Sing a Song
Sample Nap Routine
Fresh diaper, change into comfy clothes (would you want to nap in jeans?) and sleep
Read a short story
Sing a Song
4. Drowsy is Dangerous
- This is for sure one of the hardest things to grasp about baby sleep. You do not want babe to be drowsy, half asleep and dazed when going into the crib. If awake is point “A”, asleep is point “B”. If your child needs something (like a soother, feed or rocking) to get from “A” to “B” you are in trouble. Ditch whatever it is and let your baby learn to put themselves to sleep. When it happens, it’s magical. And you’re there to support them every step of the way!!
5. Stick It Out
- Be committed to and excited about sleep coaching! It can be a bit scary and new at first, but remember that you’re finally going to sleep!! You’ll all feel healthier, more patient and obviously more rested. Embrace it. Revel in it. With the help of a professional, you know that someone is always on your side and looking out for you and your baby.
Alright, and LAST BUT NOT LEAST … make sure to enter the giveaway below if you are a new mama or a mama to be because this is WORTH IT!! Janey from WeeSleep is generously giving away a RESCUE ME Virtual Consult ($425 value) to one lucky winner!!
I hope you find this useful and that it answers some of your questions!!! Let me know what you think in the comments below and GOOD LUCK!!
Ps. The lucky winner will be randomly selected and announced on September 6th!