Up until Morris was 5 months old he was a terrible sleeper. He would wake hourly, for no apparent reason, and would need to be rocked/nursed/walked around the house until he fell back asleep (I wish I had had a dockatot). I was exhausted and frustrated. I did a bunch of reading and was given some sleep training info from a friend who had done it successfully. We desperately needed our evenings back as a couple and our sleep back at night. And so the day Morris turned 5 months this is what we did to sleep train him. (*Disclaimer: I am NOT a sleep coach, this is just worked for us… please see below for a recommendation of a gentle sleep coach if my method doesn’t work for you)
7 pm: bedtime
7 am: wake up (we weren’t super strict with this, if Morris made it to 5 or 6am we’d give it a few minutes to see if he went back to sleep quickly, if he didn’t we counted ourselves lucky and went and got him)
9am: nap (minimum 45 mins, max 1.5hrs) This nap could be anywhere, stroller, car, etc.
1pm: nap (min. 1.5 hours, no max.) This nap was always in his own crib at home. (not in stroller or car)
A bedtime routine:
6pm- We fed him (so that he didn’t fall asleep eating)
7pm- Bedtime, Morris slept in his crib in a sleep sack. We read him 2 books while he was in bed. Originally we read the same 2 books (for a couple of months) then we rotated between about 6.
7am-Wake up (I would nurse him/give him a bottle right away)
The principles we followed were as follows:
1. Put him down wide awake
2. Be consistent
3. Follow Through
Sleep Train Options
We read about a number of sleep train plan options (see below) and we chose option D.
Option A – Extinction – put baby in crib, don’t go back in till am.
Option B – Ferber – put baby in crib return with comforting actions every 2,5,10, 15 minutes etc.
Option C – Sleep Lady Shuffle Start with chair/mat beside bed and each day move closer to the door till outside door no eye contract. You would need to be in chair/mat most of night to stop night wakings. Try to make it outside door by day 4 or 5.
Option D (THIS IS WHAT WE DID)- Shhhh –Night 1 – put baby down awake and offer shhhing and keywords (its ok, I’m here, etc). As long as baby cries you need to continue to shhh and keyword. Night 2 – Do the same as night 1 but shhhh only. Night 3 – intermittent shhing. If any prolonged crying in subsequent nights give either a quick shh or key words intermittently.
More details of our sleep training
The first night: Morris cried for 45 minutes before he fell asleep, while I shushed, I suggest taking turns with your partner because this made me really light headed. He then slept until about 2 or 3 am (if my memory serves correctly) and then I shushed for another 50 minutes. The longest I had to do it was 50 minutes, but I’ve heard it can be 2 hours.
The second night: I didn’t shush him, because I didn’t need to, he fell back asleep much faster, like 15 minutes.
The third night: Morris again fell asleep within 15 minutes and then he started sleeping 12 hours.
I was told that naps could take up to 10 days to implement, I found it took much longer to get consistent naps.
You should notice a change within 3 days.
Day 1 you are breaking the habit.
Day 2 you are creating a new habit.
Day 3 you are instilling the habit.
A few more notes:
If Morris was sick/teething we would try to stay as consistent as possible, but obviously go to him when needed. If you do fall off track during these times, try to start to sleep train again as soon as you can.
1 Put down awake….not drowsy
2. Be consistent
3. Follow through… as there is no value in starting if you don’t.
*Sleep Coach recommendation. I met Steph, who is a child and infant sleep consultant and Certified Gentle Sleep Coach (also owner/creator of Sleeping Beauties) at Movies for Mommies in Toronto this past fall. Chatting with Steph, the gentle approach to sleep training she described resonated with me. I’ve already decided that if need help with Rose in the future Steph will be my first call. Her philosophy is to help create a positive association with sleep, she does this by empowering parents- teaching them a gentle approach to use with their babes.*
**A note from my husband: hey there this is Erica’s husband Brandon… this is one parenting issue I feel strongly about and to Sleep Train is in fact the only piece of parenting advice I ever give to new parents. You need to stay strong and just turn your music up if the crying gets too loud. Otherwise… flash forward a few years and you will have a 8 year old climbing into your bed.