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Gentle Sleep Training

A question I get all the time is, “Is your baby sleeping through the night?” When I respond with yes, the response I get is, “Oh, so you bottle feed.” with a tone of judgement. The answer to that question is, “No we do not bottle feed.” (unless she is away from me) But, even if we did why the judgement!? For the first four month of my daughters life, she was a HORRIBLE sleeper. She didn’t sleep well at night, she didn’t nap during the day, period. Unless, she was cozied up on me half nursing/half asleep, she did not nap. Now, as much as I loved re-watching Parks & Rec, Friends, and Riverdale with her sleeping in my arms. I knew this bliss could not last forever. My house was a mess, I was a mess, and Cece was grumpy. She needed more uninterrupted sleep. My husband and I would spend countless hours googling how to get a baby to nap, and when I went back to work at 12 weeks postpartum I’m sure my mother-in-law was doing the same.

Her favorite place to sleep.

This is when we decided to start gentle sleep training. I completely understand this does not work for every baby and I am by no means an expert. I just want to share some tips for the mama’s out there who are struggling and feel like there is no end in sight. When we began this process I started to lay Cecelia down in her crib about every hour throughout the day. When she would wake up in the morning I would feed her, play with her/hold her, and then after about an hour of awake time I would lay her down in the crib. However, if she showed ANY signs of being tired before the hour was up, I would lay her down then. I realized throughout this process the “sleep window” is a VERY REAL thing. If she rubbed her eyes, yawned or stared for a while into the distance I would lay her down in the crib. I close the shades and turn on our white noise maker to Rock-A-Bye-Baby. This created those sleep cues. Sometimes this would work perfectly and she would be out. At first her naps were as short as 15 minutes to a half hour. Eventually, they became longer. Lots of times though the minute I would lay her down she would become unhappy. I would try and soothe her with out picking her up. More often than not this didn’t work. But, I gave it a good try. I didn’t want her to get so worked up that she was wide awake again. After a few tries if it didn’t work, I pretty much realized it wasn’t going to. But, I still made it a point to do the Feed, Play, Sleep schedule during the day.

At night whenever we would do bath time she always fell asleep better. This definitely helped her get into the routine of bedtime. But, bath time is a lot of work so I didn’t want to have to do a bath every night just to get her ready for bed. We tried to use the sleep cues: darkness, sound and light maker. This helped calm her and get her ready to be laid down. If she would fuss or cry we would again try and soothe her with out picking her up. Sometimes, this would work but not every time. After we would calm her down we would lay her down in the crib again. I think she eventually either got tired and gave up or realized its night-night time.

Soundspa Lullaby Sound Machine //New Version Sound Spa//Elephant Sound Maker
It was definitely hard at first to not immediately nurse her whenever she was crying. But, I will say as soon as she started sleeping through the night and napping throughout the day she was a much happier baby. I know it can be hard to let your baby cry even if its only for a couple of minutes but, at our house it was totally worth it. I now have a scheduled happy baby. It works a million times better for everyone. I also think beginning this at 12 weeks was very important. I think anytime before then would have been too soon. She was at the weight where we knew she did not have to be getting up multiple times throughout the night to nurse. Another sign she was only waking up to comfort nurse was that as soon as she would latch, she would fall asleep and “flutter suck”.

I will end by saying this time is so fleeting. From time to time even now I will let her comfort nurse, or fall asleep in my arms. I try and savor these little moments. When you are in the thick of it and getting no sleep it seems like it will never end. But, I promise it will. I hope this helps give you a few ideas to get your little one sleeping better. As always, please send me a message on here or Instagram if you have any more questions.

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