Hello, fellow mothers (and fathers). Odds are you’re reading this post holding an overly tired child in your arms — phone in one hand, and patting a bottom with the other.
Having an infant is so much fun — but sometimes it’s plain exhausting.
You spend your days changing diapers, making 3 meals, bottles, and snacks… Then cleaning up after your baby, only to spend hours-on-end trying to get them to sleep. Sound familiar?
It’s time to sleep train.
You know that you’re child is old enough and all their needs are met, yet they STILL WILL NOT go to sleep. It’s frustrating and exhausting.
I remember stressing about waking up every 4 hours to nurse when Carlee was a newborn. I would set my alarm, but I was too tired to wake up to anything except her cry. She would sleep 6-8 hours, no problem. Eventually, she started waking up more often and it took longer to get her to sleep.
Once she got older and more coordinated, it was more like a wrestling match than rocking an infant. A wrestling match that I never won, and always ended with me sweaty and crying.
I’d go back to bed feeling like a terrible mom for getting aggravated from exhaustion, desperate to get some sleep. My rocking chair enslaved me. My butt went numb from rocking so long — and I was done.
I spent months researching and trying different “no tear sleep training” methods. I watched more YouTube videos than I can count. Nothing worked. They all ended in tears and frustration all over again.
So I took it upon myself to create my own method by mixing a few I found that didn’t work for us. Not standing alone, anyway.
Step one: Determine a good time to end the last nap.
For us – that golden time is 4:00 pm. She does not get to nap from 4:00 pm-8:00 pm. This is the perfect wake time for Carlee to play, do her bedtime routine, and not be overly tired. She’s just tired enough that she won’t be laying in there waiting to fall asleep for hours.
Step two: Set a basic bedtime routine.
Set a routine that you start at the same time EVERY night and in the same order.
We struggled with this a lot and still do on some nights — especially because Carlee doesn’t get a bath every night and we live hectic lives. But we do most steps every night.
– 6:30 pm dinner
– 7:00 pm bath/playtime
– 7:15 pm lotion, diaper, and jammies
– 7:30 pm last bottle and brush teeth
– 7:45 pm bedtime story and song
– 8:00 pm hugs, kisses, lay down and lights out.
Then pick a phrase to say EVERY TIME you lay him/her down. Even at nap time. We use: “Good night Carlee. Sweet dreams. I love you.”
Step three: Don’t leave!
THIS WORKS and this is the KEY. Do NOT leave the room. Yes, that’s right. Do whatever you want to do to comfort your child. But try to avoid going back to rocking if possible. It takes some patience, but trust me.
For Carlee, all I did was pat her or play with her hair. Sometimes I would sing or hum if she was extra squirmy. Some nights this would take hours, but it’s worth it to me. No tears, no aggravation, no rocking, and no feeling like “bad mommy” while I was falling asleep at night.
Step four: Shorten the pat-time.
Once Carlee started falling asleep faster, I started to stop patting her sooner. Just before she fell asleep. But I’d still stay in the room until she was dreaming.
Step five: Don’t look them in the eye…
Carlee was getting even quicker at falling asleep on her own. So, I’d do her bedtime routine and sit by her crib until she fell asleep on her own.
The hardest part about this method is no phone to keep yourself busy, and no eye contact because it’s such a huge distraction. Once I’d look at her, she’d be right back up and wanting to play.
It’s most difficult when you’re exhausted and the room is set for sleepy time. It took her a little longer to fall asleep than before because I wasn’t helping her at all anymore, but eventually, she would go to sleep on her own. If she stood up, I’d simply lay her back down and repeat our phrase.
Step six: Sneak out.
Eventually, it was obvious that my being in the room was more of a distraction than a help to her, so I took a chance and left the room one night. Not one peep. She fell asleep on her own, without me in the room for the first time.
Warning: This method is not perfect and I am not a doctor. Talk to your healthcare provider before sleep training your child.
Some nights she will still whine for less than 30 seconds before going to sleep. Emphasis on the word whine, as in not really crying. Other nights she goes right to sleep without a sound. Sometimes she will cry, and if it lasts a minute, I will go in and use our phrase. But I’ve only had to do that once or twice in about a month — including naps. And I’ve never had to go back in twice in the same night.
Also, at first, she started waking up again, once a night for about a week, but we would still go in, use our phrase, and she’d go right back to sleep.
Now she sleeps a good 10-12 hours most nights, sometimes even 14 hours uninterrupted and I get SO MUCH more done. I’m most productive at night, and sleep training Carlee has been a life-saver.
All-in-all, the process took about two weeks, but it was worth it. To get her to go to sleep all by herself in her own room — with zero tears.
I hope this mommy-method sleep training works for you and your family and helps you have more productive, restful nights.
The not-so-perfect mommy.
This is a guest post by my good friend, MiKayla! You can shoot her a friend request or a message on her Facebook profile.
Thanks again, MiKayla!