Sleep Training

sleep-training

{Please note I never let her sleep with all these blankets by her face. She fell asleep in my arms and I took this photo when I set her down. This moment lasted briefly, I soon had to swaddle her up and place her in the crib again}

There are so many different theories out there on how to sleep train your child, I’m not saying our approach is the best, but it is what has worked for us. And I still struggle in many ways with Liliana and sleep, but I hope by sharing what we’ve found through the last 5.5 months, it will help someone out there.

It all started with breast feeding and feeling so incredibly tired in those first few weeks. And the doctor told us to wake our baby up to feed her. After doing this for four weeks, Brian and I decided to take control of our sleep and Liliana’s sleep. We did research, because we were mostly confused on just how long Liliana could go without feeding and how much sleep she actually needed.

BABYWISE

I heard a lot about Babywise when I was pregnant, so I ordered the book and I ended up really loving how it broke down by week how much sleep she needed and how many times she needed to eat. The key for my sanity was finding out how long she could go at night. They broke it down by saying if she was 3 weeks, she could technically go three hours without eating at night and so forth. So we started attempting a schedule with her at 5 weeks. Meaning we could sleep for 5 hour chunks at night and it was amazing!!!! We followed the Sleep, Feed, Wake approach with her, so when she would wake up from a nap we would feed her then play with her, as apposed to using feeding as a sleep aide. That started to help right away with our days. Nighttime was strictly business—if she woke up, I would feed her and put her right back down.

WE BROKE THE RULES

We didn’t follow everything….for instance Babywise talks about having your baby sleep in the crib right away. Liliana slept in a bassinet in our room for pretty much as long as she would fit in it, which was 3.5 months. I did however start to have her nap in her crib around 2 months, just so she could start to get used to it. I started by putting the bassinet in the crib and then eventually removing the bassinet.

SLEEP

Liliana took to sleeping through the night pretty well. I think she would have slept a solid 8 hours well before we let her. However, day sleeping started to become a real challenge around 8-10 weeks. She started to sleep for 30-45 minute stints and then would wake up and not put herself back to sleep. So I inevitably would rock her back to sleep so she would get the sleep she needed. That was a huge part of my day and I literally felt like it was the bane of my existence. It was so tiring and it kind of messed with my state of mind. I really couldn’t get anything done. I was rushing to eat, brush my teeth, walk the dogs. Everything came second to her getting the nap she needed.

Now nearly 6 months later, she is finally starting to consolidate her naps. One day she napped perfectly, right on schedule. She gave me a 1.5 hour nap and a 2.5 hour nap in the same day. It was so amazing. I felt like I could breath and take a minute to enjoy some down time or at least do a task at a normal pace. She will still have her bad days where she just does 30-45 minute naps, but she gives me at least one good nap a day, which is around 1.5 hours. So we are getting there. I researched this short nap thing multiple times as you can probably imagine. I found that some babies during brain development are literally unable to consolidate day naps. It is as if that part of their brain isn’t mature enough. I thought her not being able to take solid naps was me for a very long time.

CRYING IT OUT

Brian and I did practice letting her cry it out, mostly during her nighttime routine. And yes, I cried when she cried and I held Brian’s hand so tight. I needed his strength to keep me from going to grab her. But it paid off—to this day she goes down at night like a champ. And it only took a few night for her to get it. During the day I did the same, but she often wouldn’t go back to sleep. And she would also just wake up quietly and stare at the flowers on her wall for 30 minutes or more before she would cry. So it was often just easier to go and rock her back to sleep so we could both get on with our day. Now that she is older I have let her cry and she is able to put herself back to sleep and continue her nap most of the time.

LAYING HER DOWN AWAKE

At night we have always put her down in her bassinet, now crib awake and Liliana puts herself to sleep.  It has always been part of the nighttime routine and it has worked in our favor as the easiest time to put her down. I’ve tried to carry that over to nap time, but it hardly ever worked. So early on, I would rock her until she was either just about asleep or asleep completely before I put her down. Since she was around 4.5 months I have been trying harder and harder to just put her down awake during the day and it seems to be working more and more. It just seemed like she was ready for it so I did it. And for the last two weeks now, I never ever rock her anymore. Progress!

SWADDLE

We have used a swaddle since day one. She started to break free of the typical blanket swaddle pretty early on and her arms would go all crazy and she would wake up and it was just bad, bad, bad. So I invested in the Miracle Blanket and this is what has really helped to keep her in a calm state so she sleeps through the night. I actually still have to use it with her. I know a lot of people are able to ditch the swaddle by 5 months, but she still needs it. I have tried having one arm out during naps, and she is better than a month ago, but she still wakes herself up. So not having her swaddled at this point kind of defeats the purpose. I will continue to swaddle her until she shows she no longer needs it. She fights it at first almost every time. But my cousin saw me do it, and she was shocked and said it was like a drug, at how fast after the crying she just got so relaxed. I have also looked this up and read that some babies need to be swaddle until 9 months. I’m hoping that we don’t have to go that long, but I will do whatever she needs.

As you can see we don’t have a perfect situation, but we’re getting there. I know sleep training can be very consuming and sometimes defeating, so I hope this helped in some way.

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