Before I get into it, I want to talk a little about Bellas worst sleep ever, which was when she was around 4 months. Yup, The dreaded 4-month sleep regression, it was brutal. She wasn’t sleeping like at all. She would go to sleep at around 2 in the morning and still wake up early the next morning, she wouldn’t nap for very long, maybe 30 minutes, she was crying a lot, it was insane. At the time I felt like she was too little to be sleep trained, she just wanted to be held and I didn’t want to take that away from her. I also knew that her being that little wasn’t going to last long and I wanted to soak up every minute of it even if she was crying and I was severely sleep deprived.
Around 7 months is when I decided to sleep train her. I knew I didn’t want to do full-blown CIO but I also knew there was going to be crying and it was going to be a rough couple of nights. So the first day I only gave her 3 naps, and I did not put her down for a nap after 5 pm. My plan was to have her bedtime be at 7 pm. So, I did her regular bedtime routine which was a bath, some baby lotion, pajamas, sing a song, white noise, and a bottle. I put her down in her crib and she wasn’t crying but I could hear her baby talking and moving around.
Then she started crying. I let her cry for about 5 minutes, I set a timer on my phone, it felt like an hour. I hated to hear her cry but I knew she couldn’t be rocked to sleep her whole life, I knew if she could learn to put herself to sleep it would be better for both of us. 5 minutes of crying wasn’t going to hurt her. After 5 minutes I went in there and I picked up all the pacifiers she threw out of the crib put on in her mouth and the rest in the crib, I gave her kiss, told her good night and laid her back down since she was standing up holding onto the railing of the crib. She was okay for a couple minutes but then she started crying again.
Again, I let her cry for 5 minutes, I did not increase the time. I went back in there and did the same thing, put all her pacifiers back in the crib, one in her mouth, gave her kisses, said good night, laid her back down. This went on for less than an hour. At around 45ish minutes she finally went to sleep, on her own.
The next night was the same, it didn’t get any better, in fact for about a week, it didn’t get better, but I stayed consistent.
One night, I lost track of time and realized I hadn’t started her bedtime routine, I didn’t have time to give her a bath and I figured putting her to bed at the same time every night was more important for sleep training than the actual routine. That night she went to bed after the second time I went in there to lay her back down and gave her the pacifiers.
I did some research online and found some babies are stimulated by baths and others are relaxed. I realized Bella was probably having a difficult time sleeping because the baths were making her hyper, not relaxing her. I decided to test this. I started giving her baths during the day instead. After a nap too so she wouldn’t have a hard time napping.
So, the next day I gave her a bath during the day and at night I did everything else but a bath and she slept much better. I decided to skip nighttime baths and after a couple of days, she went right to sleep on her own.
So, today I don’t even have a bedtime routine anymore, she doesn’t need it at all. Her bedtime can even vary and as long as there has been at least 3 hours from the last time she woke up from her last nap, she’ll go right to sleep at bedtime.
The first few weeks of sleep training she was waking up once in the middle of the night to eat and I would always wake up and feed her but it was tiring. What I decided to do was give her less and less milk every night. Eventually, she stopped waking up in the middle of the night.
Sometimes I put her down for bed at 6 pm and she’ll sleep until 6 am. Don’t think the later I put her to bed, the later she’ll wake up, I’ve put her to bed at 7:30 pm before and she’ll still wake up at 6 or 6:30 am.
Let’s talk naps.
For naps, I didn’t want to do the same method because I didn’t want to overwhelm her. I wanted to be a bit more gentle with the naps.
So, for naps, all I did was make sure she was tired. I know it seems obvious but if she wasn’t very tired or sleepy, she’s not going to want to take a nap, and if she’s overtired, she’s also not going to be able to sleep.
I needed to find the perfect time, it seems difficult but you know your babies and you’ll be able to tell.
Look for the eye rubbing, the yawns, the fussiness. All signs of sleepiness.
I would change her diaper, give her a bottle, and lay her down, she would roll right over onto her tummy and put her butt up in the air. I kneeled down next to her crib and patted her butt and I did that until she fell asleep, she cried sometimes but not for very long. Another thing that was necessary for naps and bedtime that still is today, at 10 months old, is white noise. She sleeps so much with white noise on, her baby monitor plays white noise, but if yours doesn’t you can get some machines that do on Amazon pretty cheap, it doesn’t need to be too loud either. Even some adults need white noise to sleep, the air conditioner, the fan, the tv. It helps a lot.
After a while, I would only pat her butt for a little bit, not until she fell asleep, each day I did it for less and less time and eventually, she didn’t need it at all.
I know all babies are different and Bella is pretty amazing with sleep now but there could be things your baby doesn’t like that you do at bedtime, just like Bella didn’t like baths before bed. Do your research like I did and find what you think will work best for you, your baby, and your lifestyle.
If your baby is having a really, really hard time with sleep and it’s concerning you, always consult your pediatrician.
If you have any questions, contact me.
Thank you for reading.
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