Sleep training is diffidently not for everyone. It's not easy, frankly it's a pain in the ass. But, it worked for Vienna and I so I figured I would share my experience!
I'm going to start off by stating the obvious, if that's okay with everyone. Each child and each family is different. People want an easy solution to their problems, and there's no such thing.
When Vienna neared three months old I could tell we all were getting to the end of our co-sleeping nights. Jon wasn't getting good sleep because he was constantly worried that he would roll over on Vienna, Vienna was starting to eat less through the night and as much as I LOVED snuggles with my baby all night, missed laying in the arms of the man I married. We decided we were going to try and put Vienna in a bassinet in our bedroom so she could still be close but not be in our actual bed. She hated it. That lasted about four and a half nights. Next I brought her swing into our room, after all that's where she was napping during the day so why not try it at night? BINGO! From three to six months Vienna slept in her swing and only woke up once or twice through the night.
A little before she turned six months old we wanted to get her into a crib, we had a month long trip to Hawaii booked and knew breaking her habit of sleeping in a swing would be tough and not something we wanted to tackle while on vacation. I started researching different styles of infant sleeping and Sleep Training kept coming back to me so we gave it a try. LESS THAN ONE WEEK and Vienna was sleeping through the night in her own crib at six months old. And by sleeping through the night I mean asleep at 7 and not waking up until 5 or 6 in the morning. We got lucky in the fact that the first method we tried out worked for us. I hope in sharing this, someone else might find that same 'Thank you Jesus!' moment that my husband and I had!
What is Sleep Training?
The Process of helping your infant learn to fall asleep and stay asleep through the night.
When do I Start Sleep Training?
It's recommended that you start somewhere between three to six months. Before three months they are still in the fourth trimester (see blog post here) and they are too new and young to be training to sleep. After six months old your just going to make it harder on yourself. I started with Vienna when she was four months old and it worked well for us.
Rule #1 of Sleep Training
Put your baby to bed sleepy, but not asleep.
Dr. Richard Ferber, creator of the 'Ferberization Method' explains it like this:
"Imagine you go to sleep with your big fluffy pillow, and 90 minutes later you wake from your sleep cycle to find your pillow is gone. Of course, you are going to think, “Who the hell stole my pillow!” You check the floor, and your find that your husband has taken it. Back to sleep you go… 90 minutes later you wake again, to find your special pillow gone again. Of course, you can’t fall back to sleep. You need your pillow! Now, pretend we take this fun analogy a little bit further. Lets say you fall asleep, and wake after your first sleep cycle to find that you are no longer in your bed, but in your front yard! Do you really think you are going to fall back to sleep at that point? Of course not! “Call the police, someone has kidnapped me!”
If you think of it from an infants perspective, You rock your little one to sleep and transfer them to them crib. What do you think that baby is going to do when they wake up!? They are no longer being rocked in your arms. They are going to cry, A LOT! Just like you would if someone moved you to the front yard!
Your child wakes up a lot more than you do in the night and the first step in training them to put themselves back to sleep is for them to be able to put themselves to sleep in the first place. The scene they find when they wake up needs to be IDENTICAL to the one they saw when they fell asleep.
The Cry It Out Approach
In this approach you go in and check on your infant after increasing time intervals. You can go in and put your hand on baby, shhh baby, use your voice to calm baby down, but you are only to stay for LESS than a minute (I had to wear my watch at night so I would know how long i was in Vienna's nursery). You are only going in to let baby know you have not abandoned them. You have to remain consistent when using this approach, if you are not willing to do this, then don’t use this method. Its success is based on consistency. I promise you, if you don’t follow it the correct way, you'll end up attempting it for longer and putting you and your infant in more heartache than need be.
- First Day = 3 min (1st wait); 5 min (2nd wait); 10 min (3rd wait); 10 min (subsequent waits)
- Second Day = 5 min; 10 min; 12 min; 12 min (subsequent waits)
- Third Day = 10 min; 12 min; 15 min; 15 min (subsequent waits)
- Fourth Day = 12 min; 15 min; 17 min; 17 min (subsequent waits)
- Fifth Day= 15 min; 17 min; 20 min; 20 min (subsequent waits)
- Sixth Day= 17 min; 20 min; 25 min; 25 min (subsequent waits)
- Seventh Day= 20 min; 25 min; 30 min; 30 min (subsequent waits)