What I learned. Sleep training: Part 3.

I’m not an expert by any means, but I did learn a few things along the way while sleep training Vivian. Here are a few of my tips for anyone starting a “progressive waiting” approach.

  • Make sure you are committed, but be flexible.
    • If you are going to sleep train your baby, make a plan, but remember that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with flexibilty. Change it up if something really isn’t working.
  • Get your significant other on board.
    • There’s nothing like having a partner to remind you that you aren’t cruel, that it’s all going to be okay,  and that your baby is OKAY!
  • Set aside time to sleep train.
    • If at all possible start on a weekend or take a little vacation time to devote to sleep training. The first three to four days can be especially brutal. Brad was with me on Day 1 and 2, but I really missed his support on Day 3 and 4 while he was at work.
  • Be prepared to listen to some crying.
    • Your little sugar will cry. Probably scream too. It’s horrible, especially if you’ve really only heard that level of crying a couple of times before, like during shots at the doctor’s office. I cried along with her. Seriously, Brad and I both looked like we were sucking lemons for the first two days.
  • Wait until your baby is old enough to handle it.
    • I can’t imagine sleep training before 5 months old, personally. I don’t think most babies are emotionally able to cope before that age, but let’s face facts: sometimes you just have to sleep train earlier. Maybe you are going back to work and desperately need sleep. Maybe your baby is cranky all day long because they aren’t getting good sleep. So I understand sleep training earlier, but I’m glad that I was able to wait until Vivi was 6 months old. I don’t regret nursing Vivi to sleep for the first 6 months, and honestly, if it still worked, I probably still be doing it, but that’s just me!
  • Stick with sleep training for at least 7 days!
    • If I had given up on the worst day (Day 4 for me), I would have missed out on several very successful days.
  • Don’t be afraid to modify.
    • I struggled with “following the rules” to the tee, but once I gave myself leeway to follow my gut, Vivi and I were both happier. Listen – your baby is special! No book can plan for your little sweetling’s personality and needs. If the approach doesn’t feel right, make tweaks and get it right for you and your baby.
  • Nurse to drowsy, not to sleep!
    • Ferber doesn’t recommend nursing to sleep, and I have to agree based on my experiences. When I nursed to “drowsy”, Vivi went down easily. When I nursed her until she was asleep, she woke up shocked and distressed when I put her down into the crib. I can relate- I would probably be distressed too if  I woke up in a different place than I fell asleep.
  • Keep living your life!
    • Don’t let sleep training make your home a prison. If you need to run an errand or want to grab lunch with a friend but it’s Baby’s naptime, go anyway. Life is short!
  • Offer extra snuggles during waking hours.
    • Crying is tough for both you and Baby! Offer snuggles while Baby is awake. I use the baby sling around the house more often now. I’m not saying you should overcompensate by holding your baby all day long – no need to feel guilty – but a little extra love while sleep training is sure to make both you and Baby feel better.
  • Have a baby that won’t sleep anywhere but your arms? Use the swing before you start Ferberizing!
    • Vivi loooooved to nap on me when she was younger. Around three or four months I started using the swing for naptimes, and it worked great! If you have a cuddler too, start by letting your baby nap in a swing for a few weeks. They will get used to falling asleep, albeit assisted, out of your arms. Once used to sleeping away from you, the transition to the crib is easier.

Anyway, I’m sure to learn more as this little journey continues. I hope what I’ve learned helps someone out there in BlogLand! Good luck!

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