7 Tips When Starting to Sleep Train (& some encouragement!)
Sleep. I remember people consoling me about how I would never sleep again now having 4 kids. Do my kids sleep perfectly? No. But, they do consistently sleep through the night…(in the same room!) It is possible, mama! You CAN get regular, consistent and healthy sleep for you and your baby!
I was not a mama who relished in the early days with my newborns. Sweet? Yes. Cute? Yes. Tiring? So much yes.
Stephen and I decided early on after looking at many different families we admired that we wanted to sleep train our kiddos. It is a personal preference for every Mom & Dad, and I am not writing this post to be controversial or say that sleep training is THE way to parent in the early days. This post is directed to mamas looking into sleep training as well as the mama who might be in the midst of it and discouraged.
We have sleep trained both Cade and Mack as well as the twins. All 4 boys were sleeping through the night (11-12 hours) by 4 months of age. Is this possible for many babies? Absolutely. Is this the formula for all babies? Absolutely not. It all depends on when you want to start, & how you want to implement it. There are many ways to sleep train your baby that stay within your comfort zone. There are a TON of resources HERE for you on how to get started. This blog has numerous articles on sleep training with Babywise principles, schedules for each age, troubleshooting schedules or sleep issues, etc. If you’ve got a specific question, check it out!
Here are 7 Tips When Starting to Sleep Train that have helped me personally.
Get on the same page
This is pretty crucial as you make the decision to sleep train. You definitely need your spouses support in helping you implement sleep training principles because consistency is key in the beginning. Make sure you and your husband are on the same page and in agreement about your method of sleep training. It is also incredibly helpful when there are hard days to have your spouses support to not grow weary.
Sleep Training Cade was the most difficult because I didn’t have any experience. I was incredibly grateful for my cousins and some mamas at church that had sleep trained their babes and their willingness to let me text them constantly with questions! Find a mama friend that has done it before and see if she would be willing to be at arms reach for any questions you may have beyond the resources you’ve read.
Celebrate the small victories
If you are a recovering perfectionist like myself, you may find yourself discouraged if your child’s day doesn’t go “perfectly”. I used to get extremely discouraged while training Cade and he would wake up from a nap early, or have a hard time learning to soothe, or wasn’t sleeping through the night. I equated my success as a mother with how well Cade was sleeping and that was an awful place to be! First off, remember that your identity comes from Christ, not from how well your child sleeps. I learned quickly that these principles were a GUIDE to help establish routine, but not my ultimate source of wisdom as a parent! With that said, I learned to celebrate the small victories, rather than letting the enemy steal my joy if the day didn’t go “well”. The first time Cade learned to fall back asleep after waking early from a nap? Victory! Twins fell asleep for their naps on their own for the first time? Victory! Each little milestone that your baby hits, celebrate that small victory even if the rest of the day goes haywire! I think getting discouraged when the “plan” does not go “perfectly” is one of the main reasons some mamas give up on sleep training so quickly. Hang in there girl! Celebrate those small victories!
Do naps in different places
Now, some books might actually be against this, but I have found that doing this has made my kids more flexible sleepers. Do most of their naps in their crib, but maybe 1 time a day, have them nap in a baby carrier (you get some extra snuggles too) Do a nap on a walk, in the car, in a pack-n-play while visiting at a friends, at Grandmas, etc. The reality is, you still are going to have to go places with your babe! You can't be tied down at home for the entirety of your day because your baby is on a schedule. They will learn to nap elsewhere when they need to if you start those habits earlier on. Will the naps be perfect? Probably not. They might wake early or take longer to fall asleep etc. but one nap that isn’t perfect is not going to screw up their whole day!
Similar to the last tip, don’t isolate yourself at home as you are sleep training. You might go insane (at least the extrovert in me does!) Get out of the house with your babe! That might mean a walk around the block, or a trip to the store, to a friends house, to coffee, whatever you enjoy. You can strategically plan these outings during your babies wake time or have it be at a time your baby is supposed to nap and that can be their nap for the day in a different place!
Don’t stop your life
This is hard to do. It does take consistency to implement your babies routine. But if there is any advice I can give, it’s to keep living your life. Continue to go to church, even if its smack dab in the middle of nap time. Continue to go to Bible study, even if it’s right when they’re supposed to eat. Not only are you showing your child that the world doesn’t revolve around them, but you are also showing them the importance that church and community has in the Christian life.
7. It’s never too late to start!
Maybe your babe is older, but you’re deciding that you’d like to give sleep training a shot. Don’t be discouraged! It’s never too late to implement a routine for sleep. Here is a helpful blog on how to get started late!
Maybe week 1 didn’t go great with sleep training and you need a break. THAT’S OK! Start when you feel most comfortable. Take a week off, and try again.
I hope these tips can be helpful for you as you start the journey of sleep training. I think the main message I’d like to convey is to remember to look to Christ as your ultimate source of wisdom as you parent your little ones. He chose YOU to be that sweet babes mama, and he will give you unique wisdom on how he wants you to specifically train up your child. Be encouraged, God is with you and for you!
What tips have been helpful for you with sleep training? Resources? Share in the comments below!
*photo by Valentina Glidden