Friendly Sleep Training for Your Baby

Sorry I’ve been away for so long. I had my baby! Wow, what difference having a baby makes! My little one really is a handful but I think the core of the problem for many parents is how to get their child to sleep on their own! There’s even a book out there that’s a best seller that pokes fun at the subject called “Go the F&*% to Sleep.” Funny for parents but seriously don’t show this to your child as a children’s book.

My baby Elli requires shushing, rocking, and holding and while she was less than 3 months old, I gave her what she needed. I knew that the first three months is like the last trimester and they need to feel secure. A loved and secure baby makes for a confident baby later on. The more love you give your baby the first 3 months, the less they’ll fight and cry after that three months. There’s no such thing as spoiling a baby in the first three months. They do not know what is going on yet.

However, after that three months is when training should really start. They are acting more and more like a human being, not screaming in pain when they are hungry. They can wait a couple minutes to be fed instead of “right that second.” Yes, parents, you know what I mean! Babies really don’t have patience! However, after that 3 month mark, I really see a huge difference in personality! She no longer has to be fed right away. She can wait actually up to 30 minutes after waking to be fed and even when hungry, she’ll just slightly complain instead of the usual crying incessantly until that nipple is in her mouth.

Ok, about sleep training. Before three months, I held her, rocked her, and shushed her until she was asleep and then put her into bed and even then, she’ll wake and I’ll have to start the whole process all over again. As she gained more weight, my back also gave out so I knew I had to do “something” about the problem! It was getting so stressful for my husband and I. Since my baby rarely takes longer than 2 hour naps. The process of putting her to sleep can be stressful if it takes 30 minutes each time. It means no rest for mommy and daddy.

Step 1 of sleep training program: Make sure your baby is tired by noticing whether she yawned or rubbed her eyes or pulled her ears, etc. I put her in bed first and hold one of her arms down with my hand lightly (like half swaddling) and with the other hand, I gently pat her other arm/body until she has a slight vibration. Not too soft but not hard so that she can’t fall asleep either. Pat pat pat in a rhythm, close your eyes, and keep saying “Shhhhhhhhhhhh” repeatedly. If baby screams and cries, say “Shhhh louder” and pat a little firmer but with the same rhythm. Do this for as long as it takes for the baby to calm down. Don’t be afraid to shush loud loud loud because they need to be able to hear the shushing for them to calm down. If they’re crying louder than you, they won’t be able to hear your shush them. “Shhhhhh” creates a womb like sound and calms babies down. It’s weird but really true. I pat, pat, pat, pat, ….. while shushing no matter how she’s yelling or crying. Within 15 minutes, she’s slowed down her cry and her eyes are closing. Her complains are now to a whimper. She knows mommy/daddy is near and with her so she’s not scared but just complaining and whining since most babies like to stay awake to play. But the shushing is very hypnotizing and the rhythm of the patting is so comfortable … and she’s asleep! It was amazing the first time I got her to sleep like this. Then I tried patting her thighs once and it worked too. I did this for about 2 weeks after she turned 4 months. Then I proceeded to Step 2 after she was comfortable falling asleep in bed without being in my arms.

Step 2 of sleep training is even easier. Do what you did in Step 1 EXCEPT only for 5 minutes. Then after 5 minutes, if your baby is not asleep, she’s probably not crying either since she’s used to the routine. She may whine and complain but not cry. At this point, she may be drowsy and look at you or suck on their fingers. You look at them, put your palms together and by your face and “signal” night night like a baby. This creates an association that they need to sleep so in the future, when they see this sign, they know you’re asking them to sleep (which I’m also teaching my child sign language so she can communicate with me before she learns how to talk – more about this in another post). After you signal that, you walk out of the room and turn the lights off if it’s nighttime. She may start to cry. Let her cry for a couple minutes and if she doesn’t stop, walk in, sit by her bed again and shush a little and reassure her that mommy and daddy didn’t desert her and they’re still there. After 1-2 minutes of comforting, signal night night again and walk out the door. See if she cries again. This time, let her cry for a “few more minutes” before walking in again and comforting. Keep dragging out the time in each session until she falls asleep. It took me going in ONCE more after the initial time and she was trained and fell asleep on her own within 1o minutes! She’s already used to sleeping on the bed without being in my arm and now she knows I’m near so once she’s figured out I won’t disappear, she’s happy to fall asleep.

A secure child is easier to train than an insecure child. This is why the first 3 months needs to be lots of warmth and love.

A 4 month old is easier to train than an older baby. Just like adults, the older you get, the more you’re set in your ways. Babies are easy to mold into what you want them to be as long as you start early before they develop a habit.

This method is with love and not the usual cry it out method. I hope this was helpful and let me know if it works for you!

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