I used to be that girl that would say I will never sleep train my child. I couldn't imagine leaving my baby in a room and letting them cry themselves to sleep. Then, I had a baby who needed to be soothed and rocked to sleep every night and realized it may be the best thing I can do for myself and the baby. I get a lot of questions about how I sleep trained baby Liam so I wrote this post to share with you guys what I learned about sleep training and how it worked for me.
Something I did not know is that there are different kinds of sleep training methods which means there is not one solution for every child. Every child is different and what works for one may not work for another. I worked with a sleep trainer in Ottawa, Antea from The Mama Coach to discover what will best work for baby Liam and she was just amazing! She understood my concerns with sleep training and clarified some misconceptions I had about it, like whether it affects your connection with the baby (ps: it doesn’t!) For these reasons, we opted for a controlled comforting sleep training method. This is not a harsh method and allows your baby to grasp the idea of self soothing to be able to go back to sleep on their own.
You can google this sleep training method to get details on how it works and what to do, or you can contact a sleep trainer in your area to help you work with this method. I personally enjoyed working with a sleep trainer for the following reasons:
Sleep trainers help you figure out a routine that works for YOUR child based on specific things they may learn about them. i.e colicky baby, type of feeding (bottle or breastfeeding) etc.
They help you overcome your fears about sleep training through constant communication. Anytime I felt like I needed help with the sleep training process, or if part of Liam’s routine changed which made me unsure of how to continue with sleep training, she was always there to guide me.
What sleep train your baby?
It means teaching your child that they are capable of going to sleep without you soothing them. This especially helps them in the middle of the night when they wake up and realize you are not next to them, and so they will be able to go back to sleep on their own instead of needing you to help them.
When do you sleep train your baby?
The suggested time to sleep train your baby is between 6-9 months. It depends on if the parents feel like they are ready to do so. I actually tried sleep training Liam at 8 months and just couldn’t go through with it. I was confused about the whole thing and I couldn't stay consistent with the routine. But I tried again at 9 months and it worked like magic because I was in a better head space and wanted it to work. The reason why there is a suggested time period is because the older your baby gets, the harder it is to sleep train them since they become more stubborn about sleep!
How do you sleep train your baby?
You can sleep train your baby either on your own or with the help of a sleep trainer, who will create a routine for your child to work with everyday. From the second your baby wakes up until your baby goes down, you will need to create a plan for feeding schedules, nap times, play times and bed time routine. This will help because you will then feel confident that your baby is well rested and fed throughout the day which will not be a cause for a disrupted bedtime. Liam’s bedtime routine is dinner, bath time, bottle of milk, brush his teeth, read a book, and then kisses for sleep. Also, I always have a white noise machine on for him. It is something that helped him sleep better when he was younger and I just never stopped using it. I may wean him off of that soon though.
Then, choose the kind of sleep training method that works for you. You can research the types of sleep training methods on google and you will know which will feel the most comfortable for you. The controlled comforting method felt right for me. The controlled comforting method means going into the nursery in intervals 5, 10, 15 mins until your baby falls asleep. Each time you go into the room, you cannot pick up your baby, rather, you speak to them gently, calmly and with love. Me and my husband would go in and say, “goodnight, I love you, it’s sleepy time my love.” Then, I would pat him on the back or lay him down and leave the room. It was not easy for the first few days but with each passing day it would take less time for him to go to sleep on his own. You would follow the same method in the middle of the night as well. By day 7, he would complain for a split second and then lay himself down to go to sleep. Since doing this, he stopped waking up in the middle of the night to have milk which he never really needed because he was well fed throughout the day but it was his way of soothing himself back to sleep. Sleep training helped him realize that and also meant mama was more rested in the morning! :)
Stay strong and don't give up
They say it takes 3-5 days for sleep training to work but it took me a full 7. It can feel a bit stressful sleep training your baby because of how hard you’re trying to follow the daily plan, making sure your baby is well fed and also that they nap on time so it doesn't affect their bedtime everyday. It is okay to feel a little overwhelmed but take it day by day, and know that you will get the hang of what works best for you and your baby.
Keep in mind sleep training is not constant. There are factors that will change things up for you and your baby for some time but once it passes you can get back to your routine. Times like when your baby is feeling sick, going through growth spurts, going on vacation etc, can really change your baby’s sleep habits. In times like this, I remind myself that it is temporary and most importantly my baby needs me. Plus, I use these times to soak in the cuddles while I still can!
I hope this was helpful for any of you thinking about sleep training. It honestly has been the best thing I did for me and baby Liam. He started sleeping better because of it and so have I. Let me know in the comments what you thought of this post and also if you have any other questions! :)
Love you guys!