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The first few months of Dolly Jean’s life, I would always find messages in my inbox asking how we “sleep trained” her to fall asleep in her own bed at such a young age. I still get questions from new mommas asking the same thing, so I figured I would share our experience here.
A Little Background Info
From day one, Dolly slept in her pack & play (we have the Chicco Lullaby Dream Playard) next to our bed. She was the poster child for “sleeping through the night.” At 4 weeks old, she was making a 4 hour stretch; 6 weeks, 6 hours; and 8 weeks, 8 hours. Yes, we still had rough nights every once in a while, but for the most part, she was a great sleeper — an “easy baby” as some would say. But I attribute most of the credit to the fact that we had her on a great eat-play-sleep schedule from day one.
Around 3.5 months, the dreaded 4-month sleep regression hit. She started waking up multiple times a night to eat, which was also around the same time we spent a few weeks traveling, so we had to be flexible. By the time we got back, rules were thrown out the window. Dolly was used to me getting her in the middle of the night if she made a peep and bringing her in bed with us so that she wouldn’t wake whoever else was in the house we were staying in.
I decided to start sleep training when we got back home. The first few days were exhausting (for both of us), and yes, we let her cry for a certain amount of time *if all her needs are met. After only a few days, she would whine for maybe 10 minutes, then fall asleep. By two weeks, she could be placed in her crib and fall asleep on her own without waking or crying at all throughout the night.
I found a freedom I didn’t know I needed. Dolly started sleeping better, so I started sleeping better, too. She took better naps throughout the day, so she was happier overall. She was truly THRIVING, because she now had the freedom to fall asleep on her own.
Tips For Helping Your Baby Sleep
The Halo Sleep Sack and Love To Dream Swaddle Up Organic are my two favorites for the first few months. Dolly started rolling both ways around 4 months old, so when we started sleep training, we actually ditched the swaddle altogether.
2. Bedroom Naps
Put them down for naps in their own room, so they know that it’s a safe space. We have the Delta Children Farmhouse 6-in-1 crib and love it!
3. Time to Sleep
Help distinguish between play time and sleep time — turn the lights off, close the door, turn a sound machine on.
4. Bedtime Routine
Establish a nighttime routine so your baby knows when it’s time to wind down for the evening. Take a bath, read a book, sing songs, pray, etc.
5. Lay Down Awake
The biggest tip is to lay your baby down awake, but drowsy. That way they know they’re safe in bed, but also tired enough to actually fall asleep.
When Baby Wakes Up
This is by far the hardest part for me. The chain of events I would typically follow was this: let her cry a few minutes, then go in her room and reassure her. Give her a paci if it fell out, and try not to pick her up (this usually didn’t work, so we’d move onto the next step). Rock her for a bit, but keep the room dark and try not to get in the routine of just feeding every time. I wanted to be the least invasive so she didn’t have to rely on me every single time she woke up.
Taking Cara Babies is a great resource for sleep training! She has a course for newborns, along with one to help navigate the 4-month sleep regression, and a 14-night guide for 5-24 month-olds.
The main thing to remember is that babies aren’t robots. They go through growth spurts, sleep regressions, teething (these frozen pacifiers are a serious game-changer), and a whole bunch of other developmental milestones that can disrupt their sleep habits. Sleep training is not a “one size fits all,” but this is just what worked for us. I hope this is helpful!
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