Sleep is pretty precious to me, I have always LOVED sleeping and after hearing everyone talk about sleep life after babies I was terrified! You know when you have those moments in your life pre-babies where you’re like “omg I HAVE to do that or I will NEVER do that” well I had two of those moments pre-babies that molded the way I would get my babies to sleep and nap!
So let’s rewind to almost 7 years ago when I had just found out I was pregnant with Greleigh…we went to a friends house for a cook out and they already had young kids, it was bedtime and the two moms got up and said to the kids (all 3 and under) “it’s time for bed guys” took them to their rooms, and the moms were back within 3 minutes!!! What?! How does that happen?So of course me and my husband started picking their brains because we knew we wanted that, we wanted independent sleepers that didn’t fight us every night, slept in their own bed and just overall had a healthy sleep pattern. We let my niece come over one night when she was about 2 and she has always slept with my sister and her husband so of course we let her sleep with us. Let’s just say that didn’t go well for us! Ha! Matt woke up and said “yah our kids are NOT sleeping with us” haha it’s so funny how quickly your ideas can change in one night!
So we asked them what all they did to get their kids to do that and they mentioned the “Baby Wise” book! I’m pretty sure that was my first official baby purchase and I read that thing cover to cover!
Now let me just say…I am all for what works for you! If you love your kids co-sleeping, not having a set routine, go with the flow sleep whenever, wherever then by ALL means please do what works for you! I am by no means an expert, but I do have babies that sleep consistently through the night by 6-7 months, put themselves to sleep at bed/nap time, sleep in their own rooms (Greleigh and Kaige sleep together now in her bed because they enjoy it), and don’t totally fight us at bedtime.
So I read “Baby Wise” and took from it what I wanted and sort of adapted things! One of the most important things I learned from it was the importance of the -eat-wake/play-sleep cycle- After those initial weeks where baby starts to establish a schedule other than being on your boob or having a bottle 24/7 and no wake times really I started this! I would make sure to feed baby, keep him/her awake during the feed, then have wake/play time followed by sleepy cues where you then go lay baby down!
It is so important for your baby to realized that they don’t have to eat to fall asleep which then results in mommy ninja trying to sneak out of a baby’s room when you’ve laid them down asleep! And let’s be real laying down a sleeping baby usually results in an awake, scared baby after leaving their mommys arms to a crib all alone…so that’s why it’s so vital for them to be put down awake but drowsy! I usually do a few rocks or back/booty pats and walk out…this is for nap & bedtime!
So let’s first talk nap! All of my babes take afternoon naps at the exact same time, I need that time, like really need silence! So from little baby stage I always make sure we are starting an afternoon nap around 12:45-1pm! The older three know to go potty and head to their beds when I say it’s nap time, there is no discussion, it’s nap time! They don’t fight me! I go in start their sound machine which played white noise in the beginning and now just regular lullabies to help drown out any background noise of me doing things, like opening my nap time snacks!
The older 2 still take naps on the weekends when we are home but they are also at those ages that they can make it through the day without being a total mess. Huxx takes naps EVERYDAY and he doesn’t miss! He also goes to sleep for the night by about 6pm and sleeps until 6:30 or so! That boy is just a whiny mess if he doesn’t get 12+ hours! It doesn’t matter what time we put our kids to bed they have always been early risers which is actually not a bad thing now that we all have to be awake for school.
Now don’t get me wrong, if we’re out and about I’m not one of those moms who will drop whatever she’s doing to go home to make sure my kids have their scheduled nap, but if we’re home it’s the same routine every day! Kids thrive on consistency and it shows in things such as nap time! I know it’s hard when they are fighting you but you have to show them that you are strong and don’t give in to them just because they cry not wanting a nap! Most kids at toddler age don’t want to stop playing, leave the action to go lay down so it becomes a negative thing but when you remain consistent and make it a positive part of their day they usually respond well!
Okay so bedtime is a lot easier in my books than nap time! We start in the early baby days, like a week old and do the same routine until they are big enough to know sleeptime is non negotiable!! So every night about 8:00 I start with a bath (some nights it’s just water), he plays in there for about 10 minutes or so and then he’s out. I do the bath every night because I feel like that is his main cue for realizing I mean bedtime. After bath I lay him in the same spot and we start the next half of the routine. I put lotion on the exact same way, put his pjs on and do everything the exact same way every night! Yes it can seem daunting but I truly believe this is what helps our children be such great sleepers. It’s like he knows as soon as all of this stuff is done he eats and goes to bed. After lotion & pjs I feed him in bed with me. He gets super sleepy but once again I DON’T LET HIM FALL ASLEEP! I keep him awake, feed him on both sides and then take him to get in his swaddle in the same spot on the bed I did his pjs! Once he’s in his swaddle I snuggle him for a second and then lay him down and usually walk off to go take my shower. Every night he lays there until he drifts off to sleep! I am getting about 6 hr stretches at night! (however we are in the 4th leap so blegh) Some nights he grunts and fusses a bit but I don’t do anything. I just let him do his thing! So bedtime routine around here goes like this for Sway right now and this will be his routine until he’s 2 or so!
So many of you have asked about sleep training and when I stop feeding at night so I’m going to touch on what I’ve done for my older 3 during “sleep training” I use that term loosely because I feel like so many people have such a negative outlook on this and I personally think done correctly it can greatly improve your child’s sleep habits!
Once again if you are against letting your child whine/cry for any amount of time and want to feed on demand all through the night, just skip this part, do what YOU feel comfortable with and please don’t send hate messages! I love each of my kids dearly and do what is best for us as a family and for us that’s everyone getting sleep!
So once my babies are 6 months old or so I begin sleep training, which means when they wake up I don’t immediately go pick them up to nurse/feed! I wait 1-2 minutes, go soothe by patting/rubbing their back & shhhhh’ing, put in the paci if needed, don’t pick them up and walk out! The next time they start fussing/crying I wait another minute and do the same! I increase the waiting time each wake up! I still let them know I am there and they feel love from me but I also show them that they are simply waking out of habit and don’t need to eat 4-5x a night! It took Greleigh 5 nights to learn, Kaige did it after night 2 and Huxx was my worst sleeper in the beginning, when I finally started training him he had been waking 5-6x a night to just comfort nurse and let’s be honest, by baby #3 I just wanted sleep so I would feed him in bed and end up falling asleep so he would basically spend the entire night in bed attached to me! I was miserable, my body ached from laying on my sides, my mind was foggy from disrupted sleep and I hated not being able to move when I wanted so in turn I was an unhappy momma!
So when I started him it only took 3 nights of this consistency before he was sleeping 10.5-12 hrs…this was after 3 nights y’all where he used to wake up 5-6x!!!! I can’t say enough good things about this, I adapted “Baby Wise” to fit our family and have just adapted it to fit each baby! I by no means let my children cry for crazy amounts of time without ever going in to soothe them! Also there are nights where I can tell something is different, or they are teething and I go in for some extra love & snuggles!
Again this is just my opinion and what has worked for our family! I don’t agree with any of the articles saying if you sleep train your children they are going to have psychological issues or feel neglected! I have 3 very healthy, happy independent sleepers who know I love them with all my heart but know I also have some boundaries in that area that will be enforced! Sway is shaping up to be a great sleeper as well and I can’t wait to see how long it takes him to learn to self soothe in the middle of the night but he’s still got 2 months or so of demand feeding at night!
If you are happy co-sleeping, feeding all night, or having to rock your baby every single night (I will still rock Sway when we move into our new house and have a rocker back once he gets “trained”) then by ALL means, please do that!! I was just asked to write down what we do & what works for us might not work for you and that’s okay! 😉
A few questions:
“Do you swaddle?”
-Yes by all means! Swaddling is a great way to help baby feel secure! We use the Halo swaddle and the Ollie swaddle on the reg!
“Do you use a paci? “
-Greleigh & Huxx were my paci babies! Kaige never really liked them! They are great for soothing during those middle of the night wake ups! Sway doesn’t really take one anymore which is honestly so nice because I hate having to find one, etc!
“What do you think about tummy sleeping?”
-Definitely talk to your doctor about this one, but once my babies had neck control they were all tummy sleepers!
“How do you tackle nap time alone?”
-My bigs are so intune to our routine that I say “it’s nap time” and they know to go potty and head to their rooms! I hold Sway or put him in his swing and get them situated and then lay Sway down last so the other three aren’t running around bugging him!
“Are you breastfeeding, do you feed in the middle of the night”
-Yes, all of my babies are exclusively breastfed! Around 6 months I stop feeding on demand at night! There are some nights I still feed, if I know babe is sick/teething etc!
“Best way to transition from pack n play to crib”
-Start with small naps in the crib, also when the baby is awake and happy put him/her in the crib for some play time so they associate it with something happy first!
“What do you do when you travel”
-We try to find a 2 room suite so we can have some division! We usually do the older kids in one room on the pull out couches etc and the baby is in the room with us in a pack n play. Traveling is hard and sometimes you just have to suck it up and realize vacations with kids are no longer vacations but…sometimes just torture! Lol