6 Secrets to Sleep Training
When it comes to sleep there’s nothing more a recently pregnant woman wants after having her bundle of joy. I mean let’s be real you have been struggling for sleep for the past few months! People always say
Oh, you think your tired now, wait for the baby to get here!
In all honesty, I wanted to just smack every person who told me that when I was pregnant! But once I had my baby it all sunk in. Waking up every 2 hours trying to feed this little human from my breast. Not knowing a single thing about breastfeeding!
Don’t get me started on newborn sleeping. That phrase
Sleep like a baby”
That’s a lie!
The newborn stage is rough I’m not going to lie. Baby sleep training can help! But you can make it through! If you are able to follow some of these flexible rules you too can be sleeping in no time.
1. Set up a Schedule
You will hear multiple different opinions and facts on when you should set up a schedule. I honestly tried to set up a general schedule from the beginning. Somedays I felt like it worked and others I didn’t. But by putting a foundation on it I truly do believe it helped my daughter start sleeping through the night by 7 weeks.
You can use premade schedules or make up your own.I’ve attached sample sleep schedules made by Babywise
2. Babes Still Require Night Feedings
When it comes to sleeping through the night that doesn’t necessarily mean you are cutting out all nighttime feedings. Babies still require a certain amount of food and can only eat so much at one sitting. But there is one thing that will help you sleep train but still feed.
Learn the power of Dream Feeding
Dream feeding is when you don’t wake up the baby but instead feed him/her while she is still asleep.
For me, I was unable to dream feed while breastfeeding. She would either wake up or wouldn’t wake up enough to eat. So I started pumping for the night feedings.
Making night feedings with a bottle allows you to get some more sleep as well since you can split up feedings with your partner.
3. Learn How to Dreamfeed
Dream feeding is a life saver. It seems complicated at first but once you and little one get the hang of it your sleep training adventure will be so much easier. When dream feeding with a bottle I would simply stick that bottle in her mouth and that rooting reflex would go to town.
This never affected my breastfeeding journey either. Since she was never awake for that bottle feeding I don’t think she even realized the difference.
Starting this early is key so she learns how to do it and also she stays asleep and gets that circadian rhythm in the right time zone.
“The Circadian Rhythm: The circadian rhythm is your internal biological clock; it controls the timing of many events in your body. Sleep is one of those events, in addition to things such as hormone production, bathroom needs, and meal timing. The circadian rhythm is complex! Because it is controlled by exposure to light and dark, your child’s room environment is important during times of sleep. The circadian rhythm begins to consolidate your newborn’s sleep at night and wakefulness during the day, starting around 6-7 weeks old (usually coinciding with the onset of social smiling). Regular bedtimes pop up around 3 months. By 6 months, it becomes the main force behind your child’s sleep patterns. The circadian rhythm also does some counterintuitive things, such as strongly promoting wakefulness during the Wake Maintenance Zone (the “second wind”) right before it promotes sleep at bedtime. It is important to understand this phenomenon—and what affects it—when choosing the most successful time to begin your sleep intervention.”
Erin Smith, The Parents Magazine
By dream feeding, you aren’t waking up your baby so she learns that the long stretches of sleep are at night. Babies are not capable of not eating through the night until around 6-12 weeks. I know that’s a huge time range when your sanity is in play. But when its time, start merging feedings until you get that full night sleep.
4. Sleep Training Doesn’t Mean “Cry it Out”
Sleep training comes in all shapes and sizes nowadays. Finding one that suits you and your baby is key. I think I tried so many different methods but my baby just wasn’t ready yet and that’s ok. Don’t stress and try again next week.
We did a mixture of the gentle cry it out method along with slowly dropping night feedings. How it works is you have to ensure you put your baby down while she is still awake but very sleepy. Like eyes rolling in the back of her head but still awake status. When she was still younger newborn to about a month and a half old I would just sit in the glider in her room. She would begin to cry and I would comfort her but I would not pick her up. This way she knew I was still there but she did not get into the habit of crying and me running to pick her up. It was training not only for her but for me too.
I’m not going to like this can be tiring and can last weeks but eventually, it will kick in and you will be so happy you did it!
As baby gets older and is able to eat more in one sitting you can begin merging feedings. As well as leaving the room when you put her down to sleep. Normally this starts around 5-6 weeks. Leave the room even if baby is crying but put a timer on for 3 minutes (you can start as low or as high as 5 minutes) Once that timer goes off go back in and comfort her without picking her up.
Try the lighter cry it out method
Leave the room and you can either set it for the same time or add a minute. When they are still young I never wanted to grow the time to quickly. Mainly because it would hurt me more than her. Eventually, she will go to sleep. I would never put baby down and leave her and never go back in! This is not the cry it out method and that is not a method at all. Doing some research is key when finding the right method for you but leaving a young one to cry until they fall asleep with not checking on them is dangerous. I have heard of people doing this and coming back into the room the next morning and the baby was sleeping in a pile of vomit.
Now does this method work, yes it does. But it is not a safe method nor recommended by medical professionals. You can do the tougher cry it out method but just start with a 5 minute time and add on minutes till they fall asleep. This will ensure the saftey of the baby and does help teach babies to sleep through the night faster.
5. Good Sleep Routines does not Mean Harsh Rules
Sleep schedules for babies can be a blessing and a downfall all at the same time. Think of your schedule as an outline not something that will be exact everyday. Depending or relying your whole day on this schedule is not recommend. Because trust me theres nothing worse than a baby waking up 20 mins into a nap and not going back down. You then begin to stress on whether or not your baby has gotten enough sleep. Or worse, your baby becomes overly tired!
Through the first few weeks, it will be a roller coaster so just try to roll with the punches. Sometimes you will have to rock her till she falls asleep and that’s ok.
Adjust your schedule if a nap gets pushed back or forward. All you really need to worry about is the number of feedings your little one is getting a day. Newborns need to be fed every two hours for the first few weeks. Then you can move to every 3 hours. My daughter still on the 3-hour schedule and she is now 4 months old. She sleeps through the night 100% of the time.
However her daytime schedule still flucuates. Soon we will begin a stricter schedule to start building her daytime sleep habits.
6. Feed, Wake, Sleep Cycle
I can not stress this one enough! Falling into the habit of nursing your baby to sleep will come back to bite you, HARD! As much as I loved putting my little lady to sleep by feeding her it becomes more stressful as time went on. Babies build habits just as adults do and if you are being fed to sleep every time how are you supposed to teach yourself to fall asleep alone.
By implementing the feed, wake, sleep cycle not only are you allowing your baby to be fully awake to feed but you will help her learn healthy habits.
Your baby will learn how to fall asleep all on her own without a stimilualtion that is provided for you. Babies wake up in the middle of the night multiple times just like adults. So instead of screaming until she gets the comfort of nursing she can simply put herslef back to sleep.
Now doesn’t that sound magical!
If you want to learn more about the Feed, wake, sleep cycle i recommend investing in the Babywise book! It incorporates multiple different sleep training methods and allows you to implement what you think is best.