**Like many parenting techniques
(think co-sleeping, formula feeding, extended breastfeeding),
sleep training seems to be quite polarizing with big fans for it
and critics against it. I'm not recommending this for others
or saying it's the only way, just sharing our experiences :)
YES! The time has come, it's time to SLEEP. We've starting sleep training, for the third time! It's brutally hard as a parent to delve into the world of sleep training - I know from experiencing this twice already - but it's oh, so worth it. Chloé, let's do this girl.
After seeing such enormous success sleep training Lily with the Babywise method, we were eager to do it with Oli, too. He took longer than she did to master his schedule but I think part of that was our fault. We were less consistent with him because we were worried about normalcy for Lily, so it was hard living on his schedule when it meant doing less with Lily (trips out of the house, etc). Though the initial sleep training isn't more than a couple of weeks, it was still hard to go full-on with Oli when we had Lily to think about. Plus when we sleep trained Lily it was in a larger condo where her bedroom was farther away... point being? Crying wasn't so hard to live through. With Oli, it felt like during the times when he'd need to cry-it-out, it was a pervasive cry all around us and it was hard to get through. I caved a lot and was less disciplined, which resulted in a harder time for all of us. To this day Oli isn't as great a sleeper as Lily and we often wonder if it's because with her we were so structured and hardcore with sleep training and much less so with Oli.
We've started with Chloe and it's already amazing! Babywise is the kind of parenting method that you have to do full on or it doesn't tend to work, so it's been a week of sticking to a very strict schedule, but already she's adapted incredibly! Before we started, Chloe was staying up until about 1am every night and when she'd wake for her night feed (around 3 or 4am), it was a two hour affair. So she was never really sleeping longer than three hours. Now she follows the above schedule almost to the tee, and after her 11pm feed she sleeps right until 4am! The five hours in a row is bliss. She's also taking her first three naps really well - no crying when I put her down and she sleeps right until the two hours are up. Where we're having trouble is the 5-7pm nap (she usually cries straight through) and the "bedtime" and evening sleep from 8-11pm (she sleeps and fusses on and off).
There has been some bad press about Babywise that I'd like to quickly clear up. I've read and heard of babies failing to thrive on this schedule, loosing weight, and mom's milk supply dwindling. It's important to know that the book never suggests following this schedule until mom's milk supply is well established and baby is over birth weight, and if baby ever seems hungry to first feed her before putting her back to sleep/cry-it-out. Babywise babies I know (those whose parents follow the book to the tee and did the scheduling full-on) are often very chubby, and actually gain weight on the schedule since they are eating and sleeping much more regularly than otherwise, making them very healthy.
Babywise principles are well supported, but I suggest following them along with a strict schedule since my babies tend to need that frame to really grasp the naps and night sleeping. But if scheduling and crying it out isn't your thing (I don't blame you, it's not for everyone!), these can still be really helpful.
- Baby shouldn't be awake longer than 1-1.5 hours
- Baby should nap no less than 1.5 hours, ideally 2 hours
- Baby should eat every 2.5-3 hours and have a full feed
- Baby should nap often during the day but proper lengths of time
- Baby should have limited soothing tools so she learns on her own (motion, swings, nursing to sleep, etc)
Top priority: Baby sleeps when she should (naps, night)
2nd priority: Baby sleeps when she should, in her own bed (not in a swing, in your arms, etc)
3rd priority: Baby sleeps when she should, in her own bed, and falls asleep on her own (not fed to sleep, rocked to sleep, etc)
Right now we're just focusing on the top/1st priority!
We've loved this form of sleep training in the past because of the results, not because it was easy! It's quite challenging for the whole family at first - adjusting to baby's schedule for the initial training weeks (eventually the best part is that the baby is able to sleep anywhere!) and hearing her cry at times. But I'm ready to dive in. Because I'm ready to sleep through the night, myself ;)
You can read about our past adventures in Babywise here and here
I've read the book over and over again, but I still have to write out the baby's schedule every time we start or transition to a new schedule. Above is the schedule for a Babywise baby at first. It says 0-3months for simplicity, but I wouldn't recommend starting Babywise until your baby is at least 1 month old (and the book suggests waiting until breastfeeding is well underway, so that will change depending on the person). It's just helpful for me to have a visual. I made these to remind me, feel free to use them also. Below are the next steps for Babywise. You'll notice naps are always 2 hours but awake time gradually increases. The dream feed eventually is dropped and Babywise babies end up sleeping 12 hours at night very consistently. I've never met a family who did Babywise full-on and didn't see this result! It does take time and there are sacrifices to this type of strict scheduling, but guys, it works LIKE A BOSS.
What have you done for sleep training in the past?
There are so many books + methods out there!