To be honest this isn’t for those that are strict about sleep training methods of crying it out from when they are a few months old. This is for those that are unsure about what method to choose for their child.
There are plenty of resources on how to get your child to sleep and you have to find the way that works for both you and your child. Nobody can decide that for you. My ultimate goal is to show you a way where I was able to find sleep for my child. I tried the cry it out method at 4 months, 9 months, and again after he turned one. All attempts failed and I tried to keep calm but always had a thought, “Am I ever going to teach my child to sleep?”
I’m a firm believer in doing whatever you have to do to get your child to sleep. We rocked, swayed, and held for hours just to get our baby to bed. All I know is that, even though it drove us absolutely nuts, it was a better option compared to crying it out.
1.) Know your child. Does your child like being held? Rocked? What helps soothe her? Does she need a binky? Is he/she cranky before going to bed? If that’s the case, why don’t you give them what they need at that time. There’s a lot of debate on whether that’s going to be a habit they’re going to keep and not wanting to teach bad habits. I get it, however, if your main priority is sleep, start with getting them to sleep first. Sleep is your goal, habits can always be fixed.
2.) Know and follow wake times. There are multiple charts on Pinterest that show how long a baby at what age should stay awake for. I found these to be SO helpful and I would suggest to follow those lightly because every baby is different. I used them as a guide and watched his behavior and if the two added up, he needed to sleep. If he was fussing for no reason, he was tired. I always tried to put him down before he would get to that point, but let’s be real. It takes time and practice. You are constantly getting to know your child and their behaviors.
3.) Have a consistent routine at night. The more consistent you are, the better. That doesn’t mean his WHOLE day needs to be a perfect timeline, but starting from dinner time on, that should be consistent enough for him to recognize signs of getting ready for bed. I always dim the lights, turn on the sound machine, and give him a hug and kiss before he goes to bed. The sound machine is like a light bulb moment for my son and he immediately knows that it’s time for him to sleep. We use the Dohm sound machine that was gifted to us at our baby shower. It’s a must in our household.
4.) If you are crying it out, have a time frame for crying or knowledge to know something is wrong. We knew that our max time we could bear is around 20 minutes of cry it out. If we did everything routine then by around the 20 minute mark, he would be asleep. Those nights were hard and frustrating. And there were plenty of those nights that would follow. We backtracked a few nights by going in earlier and that’s okay! As parents, we aren’t perfect. Also, if he was crying past our time frame, we tried to figure out why. Was he pooped? Was he not feeling well? Was he too hot/too cold? Whatever the reasoning, there was something bothering him and preventing him to sleep.
5.) Don’t do this alone. I’m lucky enough to have my husband at home during the times we practiced this. He worked night shift and won’t be home until 2-3 AM on some days. On those days, I caved and couldn’t follow through with my plan. When you have someone that’s able to reassure what you’re doing is right for you, you’ll be more likely to achieve your goals.
This worked for us and now we have a 15 month old that I can happily say, we tuck into bed during each nap or bedtime. There’s no better feeling than being able to tuck them in at a younger age. It’s so much more less stress on my end and I don’t dread the end of his bedtime routine anymore. Let me know what worked for you and your children, and good luck!
Disclaimer: I am in no way a sleep expert or trainer as these are my personal thoughts and opinions that worked for our family. I encourage you to do what you believe is best for you!