Sleep training for us was very daunting! I kept pushing it off, loving my sweet baby snuggles. Parker was a baby that had to be bounced all the way down, and held for naps or she wouldn’t sleep.
For the first month after bringing her home we co-slept her, every time we tried to lay her down in her Halo bassinet or her pack n play she would wake right up. We finally found the holy grail, the Fisher Price Rock n Play! This thing was a god send for us, it played music and automatically rocked her all night long…after this, she began constantly sleeping through the night to the point that I would have to wake her for her night feedings. Unfortunately, this amazing device did not work for naps…she still needed to be held or she woke right back up. As you can imagine, this got frustrating when it came to taking a break or getting things done around the house. Eventually we transitioned her to sleeping in her Halo and then her pack n play (once she got too long for the Halo). We ended up trying it when she was around 5 months because we knew we would be leaving to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with our families in California and she would be sleeping in a pack n play while there. She actually did well with the switch. The only problem we had was since we shared a room with her, we constantly woke her up when we would come in for the night…she’d have to be bounced back down! As you can imagine, this was not ideal.
We pushed off sleep training until Parker was 7 months old because we wanted to wait until majority of our travels were over. We were going back and forth from California every 2 weeks for 1-2 weeks from the end of November until mid-January. Everything I read stated that we had to be consistent with her sleep training for at least 2-4 weeks, including naps. Neither myself or my husband wanted to start something just to have it get messed up by taking her to a different state.
Trying to research what is right when it comes to training your baby to self soothe is very intimidating. There are so many ways to do it and so many people have such harsh opinions.
- The fading sleep training
- The pick-up-put-down method
- The chair method
There are so many arguments for and against each method, it’s hard to know which one to go with. At the end of the day, I recommend doing your research (at least a tiny bit) on each one and decide what feels right for you and your baby. There truly isn’t a right or wrong way to go about it, you just need to trust your gut and know that not everyone out there is going to agree with your decision. Originally, I would say we were attempting to do pick-up-put-down method when she was in our room, this wasn’t intentional but after reading about it, it was what we were essentially doing.
When we decided to move her to her own room, we started off with our usual bouncing her all the way to sleep before placing her in her crib. We wanted her to be comfortable waking up in a new place in the mornings and after naps. After about a week of this we decided to do the Ferber method. My husband and I did consider the chair method, this is where you start off putting your baby down drowsy and sitting close enough for him/her to see you, so you are there to soothe. Each night, you move the chair further away until you are outside of the door. Eventually you take the chair away all together. However, after a lot of discussion, we decided this would be confusing for Parker and in the end, would only agitate her more. Her first night alone in her room was so hard for me, I didn’t sleep at all. My sweet baby slept peacefully through the night and I think I spent ¾ of the night up watching the monitor intently!
I can honestly say, I think Ferberizing is harder on the mama than the baby! There were 2 nights that my husband literally had to block her bedroom door so I didn’t turn around and go back into the room to console my crying baby.
The first night, we got her to the point where she was drowsy and laid her down. She of course cried the second we left the room. We waited 3 minutes, then went in for ONE MINUTE (this is key, you do not want to be in there longer than this…and you normally do not want to pick them up). We went in there, rubbed her back and spoke to her in a soothing voice, then left the room again. The next time we waited 5 minutes, then 10, then 15…after this, you stay with the 15 minutes mark, each time only going back in for one minute. The second night, we started at the 5-minute mark and planned to work up to 20 minutes. The third night we waited 10 minutes the first time and didn’t need to go back in after that.
We were very lucky with Parker, the first night it only took her 30 minutes to fall asleep…I’ve read other people whose babies took up to 2 hours to go down (YIKES!). The next night it took her 15 minutes and since then, she usually goes down in 10-20 minutes of rolling around in her crib. We also realized a couple times that for us, it was almost better not to go in at all. Parker would cry for 2 minutes, stop for 2 minutes and start again. We ONLY went in if it was consistent crying for the allotted time we gave her. We noticed that when we went in, it almost upset her more.
Naps were a little bit harder, I think we would’ve been smart to get black out curtains early on to ensure she knew it was time to sleep. It took us longer to get her sleep trained for her naps. There were a few days that I pulled her out of her crib, waited an hour and started the process over. Some of the articles and blogs that I read stated that if after 30 minutes they have not gone to sleep for a NAP, then pull them out and try again later. It was with trial and error that we found a routine that worked for us and came to an understanding of how long she needs to be awake between naps for her to be tired enough to go down but not get overly tired. She is now 9 months and we have her up for 2-2.5 hours before her first nap in the morning and 3-3.5 hours before her second nap.
There are still random days where she cries (though lately I think it is more due to teething than being upset) and some days where she fights going down for 25 minutes. I have had a random day here or there where I have to pull her out after 30 minutes and try again in the afternoon…I’ve realized that this usually happens when she doesn’t get enough independent play time and sometimes when we miss our walk.
Overall, we were very lucky that she did so well…I know other moms who have not had the same luck. To all the moms out there, whatever method you choose to go with, just go with your gut. Do what is right for you and your family.
My last bit of advice, wait until you are ready for it as well…not just when baby is ready. I’m so glad I waited a little longer than other people I know because even though I didn’t handle the crying well, I did handle her being in another room much better than I thought. I was ready to have more free time during her naps, I was ready to have my room back and for my husband and I to have time together at night. This was incredibly important to me, I refused to be rushed…and I hope none of you let yourself be rushed either! It isn’t something to make a hasty decision about, again you should do what is right for your family. Sometimes this means doing it early and sometimes it means doing it later.
Overall, sleep training has been amazing for us! Parker sleeps so much better and so do we!