Sleep Training: Yay or Nay?

Parents: How do you get your child to sleep through the night?

I realize sleep training is a sensitive topic for parents, but I am genuinely curious HOW parents train their child to sleep six or more consecutive hours at night. There is so much information available but it’s overwhelming, especially when you’re exhausted and baby is fussy. This motherhood business is seriously hard stuff, y’all.

I have to be honest: this post has been in the works for several days. For two nights in a row, Kamden has boycotted our bedtime routine. He did so well last week, sleeping seven consecutive hours, four nights in a row! Monday night, however, things changed. He was extremely tired and it was hard to keep him awake during his bedtime bottle. Husband was literally acting a fool, jumping up and down, clapping his hands, making funny faces to keep Kamden awake long enough to eat. Tuesday night, I started our nighttime routine an hour earlier, thinking it would benefit him while eating and get him to sleep sooner. Well, it didn’t work like I anticipated. I read a book to him, fed him, rocked and burped him, and he was wide awake. Thirty minutes later, he was fussy. An hour later, he was really fussy. All the while, he’s yawning and rubbing his eyes — clear signs of a very sleepy baby! After two hours, he was ready for another bottle. I fed and burped him, then gently rocked him. He was asleep in minutes and slept five hours. His daytime habits have not changed, nor have his feedings. Last night, we bathed him at 9:00 and we cuddled for a few minutes while I trimmed his fingernails. By 9:45, he was getting fussy for his bedtime feeding. By 10:45, lights out and he was sound asleep in his Pack N Play. What gives?

Kamden is six weeks old today. I realize this is a young age to be thinking of schedules, but I want to be informed, educated, and prepared for the days, weeks, months ahead. Despite our sleeping woes the past few nights, he has some patterns:

  • Kamden has three priorities: eat, sleep, and clean diapers. Simple, right?!
  • He eats six ounces of pumped breast milk every 2-4 hours.
  • Typical bedtime feeding is 10:00pm and he’s asleep by 11:00pm.
  • He naps an hour (sometimes two) in the morning and takes a long nap (2-3 hours) in the afternoon. Most evenings, between 5:30 and 7:30, he’ll take a short nap but no longer than an hour.
  • Kamden sleeps in the Pack N Play, located in his bedroom, for long naps and at night. For shorter naps, he’s either in someone’s arms or his swing.

There are hundreds thousands of books I could read regarding babies’ sleep, but I don’t care about technicalities or statistics. I need real stories from real parents with real experience.

More thoughts on sleep training:

  • Cry It Out sounds harsh but some parents swear by this method … that’s if you can survive the first few nights of relentless crying. Unfortunately, I absolutely HATE hearing a baby cry and will rush instantly to soothe them! I don’t know if I could handle this practice without crying myself.
  • I like the idea of putting baby to bed awake but drowsy so they’ll self-soothe. And, preferably without a pacifier. Kamden has a pacifier but is very selective about how and when he uses it.
  • Consistency is important. I want Kamden’s routine to be repeatable night after night and something Husband/Daddy can do too!
  • I want Kamden to associate his crib with sleep and it be a positive, pleasant experience. I don’t want to go into battle every night.
  • Thus far, Kamden’s naps have been consistent in duration and time of day.
  • In regards to noise, I continue regular activities during the day (i.e. television, dishwasher running, washer and dryer buzzer, vacuum, doorbell, etc.) but completely quiet at night. I can’t decide if a noise machine is appropriate for his room or not. Thoughts?
  • Since day one, we’ve kept rooms as bright as possible during the day and dark at night to help Kamden distinguish between day and night. His bedroom also has room-darkening curtains.

MORE QUESTIONS:

How did you get your little bambino to sleep through the night? Do you employ a specific method? Do you believe in a particular theory? How well did your little one respond? What were the advantages and disadvantages? What were some successes? Failures? What did you try and it not work? What would you have done differently?

What kind of schedule/routine is your baby on? How many naps does your little one take? How long are their naps? When is his/her bedtime? Do you wake a sleeping baby to change their diaper or feed? How many times does your baby feed in a 24-hour period? How much does your baby eat (breast milk or formula) at one feeding? When did you move your little one to their crib? How long does your baby do ‘tummy time’? Does your baby consume breast milk or formula or a combination of both? Do you nurse at the breast or pump and feed with a bottle? How did you decide which formula to use?

Enough questions. I’m going to cuddle this child of mine while he’s still little and loves his Mama’s cuddles!

By |2014-01-30T00:47:31+00:00January 30th, 2014|Blog, Kamden, Motherhood|0 Comments

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  1. Rebekah January 30, 2014 at 3:07 am - Reply

    We follow the book BabyWise but I’m not super strict about it. I need a routine and James seems to be thriving on his schedule. It’s flexible to allow for growth spurts and fussy days. I love our schedule but it isn’t strict. We do the 3 hour schedule-eat/play/sleep. James’ total awake time is 1-1.5 hours counting eating and then he naps. He naps in his crib and only naps in our arms if necessary. We do CIO loosely-it’s hard but it works if you’re consistent. Now he fusses for a few minutes and puts himself to sleep. At six weeks James went through a growth spurt so maybe that’s what Kamden is doing? James is up once a night-2 times during growth spurts right now. He sleeps 11ish hours with those wake ups and I don’t see him STTN anytime soon and I’m okay with that. I’m thinking of moving him to his own room next month and I think we’re both ready. Possibly 🙂 this momma thing is tough!

    • Nicole January 30, 2014 at 3:41 am - Reply

      Wow, Rebekah, thanks for the information! I’ve read a bit on Baby Wise too. Is that the same ‘theory’ that includes E.A.S.Y. – eat, awake, sleep, and your time? That seems easy enough, especially for Kamden’s age and current schedule at this time. I’m definitely curious about Kamden’s growth spurt right now simply because he’s eating so much. I mean, I love that he’s eating and thriving, but SIX OUNCES at every feeding at six weeks of age seems like a lot to me. But his fat rolls are soooooo adorable!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Rebekah January 30, 2014 at 10:29 am - Reply

        Yes! We started practicing that schedule around 4 weeks and we adjust as necessary. I should clarify on how I do CIO-I let him fuss for about 5 minutes before going in to comfort/shush him. Usually he just needs his pacifier popped in and then he’s asleep. It hurts my heart each time to hear him cry but I know that I’m not hurting him by letting him fuss a little. I can’t let him cry more than those few minutes. Growth spurts are rough-we’re just now finishing the 12 week one and I highly recommend the Wonder Weeks app! We thought James might be starting his growth spurt and when I checked the app it said he could be going through it now. I suggest being a little lenient during them-they need lots of cuddles and can either sleep a lot or not at all. James napped one hour total one day 🙂 you’ll get through it and you’re doing great!

  2. Michelle @ Michelle's Desk January 30, 2014 at 4:54 am - Reply

    We did a very altered version of cry it out!!! I researched and found something called the Ferber method, but I altered it to fit our needs. Basically, at 8 months when I was comfortable with him being in his crib away from me, I began our routine. I bathed him every night at the same time. After bath we read a couple of books. While I was reading, he had his blanket and his pacifier. Then, when book time was over, I gave him his bottle (which I’m working on weaning him now…this is a whole different story). Once the bottle was finished, I rocked for about 5 more minutes. I then placed him in his crib. At first, he cried. He didn’t want anything to do with it. So, he cried and I left the room and closed the door. After 3 minutes of crying, I went back into the room, rubbed his back, said Shh Shh, and left. This took about 30 seconds. He cried again. I waited again for 3 minutes, and then did the same thing. This time, I waited 6 minutes to go back. After the 6 minutes, I went in, did the same routine, left, and he cried a little bit more. This time it only lasted 4 or so minutes and he soothed himself to sleep. I didn’t need to go back in there until about 2 hours later when he woke up and realized he was still in his crib. So the process started again, but I only needed to go in there 2 times. He then slept all night. (All night to me was about 9 pm until 4 am.) I continued with the same routine and same practice, and after 3 nights, he didn’t cry any more. (You steadily increase the time between visits in the room…3 mins/6mins/10mins/15mins…until they fall asleep. You can alter the times as you see fit!) Here we are at 13 months and he sleeps like a champ in his crib. He loves the routine and knows as soon as I give him his blankie and start reading, he’s about to go to sleep. He loves his crib now, too.

    Sometimes he doesn’t sleep all night, but I just go in there, rub his back and shh shh, and he eventually falls asleep. In the end you have to do what makes the best sense for you…do what makes you comfortable and your heart will let you know if you are doing the right thing!!

  3. Celeste Zachry January 30, 2014 at 5:31 am - Reply

    We cried it out and it was HARD on me – especially when preggers w/ number two, but Brandon helped all of us through it. PLUS we played a Sarah Mcgloughlin (sp?) CD EVERY single night so they’d recognize that CD as go to bed time. When she could talk, Britt would say, “That’s the night night lady!” when she heard her on the radio 😉 Added perk? My kids love great music.

  4. April January 30, 2014 at 7:51 am - Reply

    I have a feeling I may be very different than a lot of other opinions but that’s okay. 🙂 I simply couldn’t do CIO. I tried with Belle and it nearly killed me. I did something very similar to the No Cry Sleep Solution. We would rock/shush until she was almost completely asleep and then I would put her in her crib, gradually laying her down earlier and earlier in the process. She quickly got to where she laid down and always went right to sleep on her own. Austin hasn’t had that luck/benefit. With another kid constantly bothering him, he doesn’t sleep well on his own. I do the Sears sleep method now. It works for us, and since I have the benefit of being at home, I don’t have the need to sleep train at this time. But the Elizabeth Pantley book/method worked well for us! Also, we use fans as white noise in all our rooms. I like the idea of air circulation. 🙂

  5. Kasey January 30, 2014 at 8:53 am - Reply

    6 weeks is a growth spurt so that could be what’s going on. Here’s a link to growth spurts that helped me. It’s nice to get an idea of when to expect them! http://kellymom.com/bf/normal/growth-spurts/

    KellyMom in general is a really great resource that I used (still use!) a lot. She has some breastfeeding info that was very helpful.

    My daughter is 9 months and still wakes every 2-3 hours at night. She’s in the midst of teething. Fun! I’ve never employed a sleep schedule so I’m no help there although I’ve heard great things about the No Cry Sleep Solution. I just follow her lead for now. When she wakes in the night, I just nurse for a few minutes and she’s back out (usually). My body has gotten used to waking that often. lol. It seems like when you get them figured out, they go through a growth spurt, new milestone or teething and it throws everything out the window! Another resource I found recently is The Wonder Weeks (they have an app too). It explains “leaps” that babies go through and about when to expect it. My daughter should be going through one in a week or so. It’s interesting!

    I don’t know if that helps at all but I thought I’d share some resources! Good luck!

  6. Jess January 30, 2014 at 9:29 am - Reply

    If you’re only 6 weeks in, you shouldn’t expect a regular sleep pattern. It’s not natural for a baby to sleep through the night for a lot of reasons (the need to eat for one, and the need for protection another). CIO has been proven to be seriously detrimental to your baby’s brain development and well being all the way through adulthood, so I would recommend not even considering that as an option. I personally think it’s rather cruel and selfish (I for one wouldn’t want to be essentially abandoned for unknown reasons by the one person who I needed most in the world and left to “self-soothe); I know sleep deprivation sucks, but it only lasts a little while, and I think it’s more important to give your child what they need rather than trying to enforce a sleep schedule that isn’t natural for an infant. I think it’s much more stressful to impose our own notions on a baby than to just go with the flow and follow their lead. My philosophy has been to follow my son’s lead, but to try to gently guide him in the direction I want/need him to go. Having a night time routine is a great way to do that.

    My son is 15 months and still wakes once or twice a night to nurse. I know it’s just a comfort thing at this point, but why not provide him the comfort he needs to go back to sleep instead of trying to force him to do something he’s not ready to do? It would be much more uncomfortable to make him do something than just giving him what he needs. Of course, we still use his co-sleeper, so I don’t even have to get up and out of bed to get him back to sleep at night. When he was 6 weeks old, he barely had a sleep pattern and was still having day/night confusion (he was a preemie, so his sleep development was a little different at first). By the time he was 12 weeks old, he was sleeping 2-4 hours a time at night, then needed to nurse and would go back to sleep. He’s always hated naps and didn’t settle into a nap pattern until he was about 6 months old. He’s now down to just one nap a day (and sometimes he doesn’t even do that anymore). So you’re lucky to have a napper, lol!

    I think what you’re doing with a night time routine is excellent! Sometimes it takes a while to sink in, and “sleeping through the night” is a popular misconception especially for a 6 week old baby (and even for older children). It sounds like he’s already developing a really great sleep pattern, though. I know things are tough and overwhelming at this stage of motherhood. I remember spending hours online looking for sleep answers and stressing myself out because my son wasn’t doing this or that. It took me a while to realize that I just needed to listen to myself and my son and go with the flow. Some nights were easy and others were hard, but following his lead made even the hard nights easier to bear (that being said, once it was light’s out, even if he didn’t go to sleep easily or quickly, I didn’t turn the lights back on or play with him – I would make him stay in bed with me until he would fall asleep).

    You’re doing a great job; don’t over think things!!! It can be hard to “see the forest through the trees”, but when you look back you’ll think things weren’t as bad as they felt at the time.

  7. Ronda Porter January 30, 2014 at 9:45 am - Reply

    We trained! It has to be one of the hardest jobs parents undertake. Once I knew they were old enough to sleep through the night, I would enter their room less and less as the weeks went by, and yes they cried, and yes I cried too, isn’t that what Moms and Dads do? We hurt when our children do. But I was determined to stick it out and with time the crying lessened and eventually stopped, they learned to comfort themselves and fall asleep. Therefore as toddlers and young children, when it was time for bed there was no drama in our house, they just went to bed with hugs, kisses and prayers. I would hear my friends tell horror stories of their children getting up needing water, going to the bathroom or an wanting an extra hug – we never experienced this. And to ease your mind, because at the time as a young mother I thought I was traumatizing my children, our children are now 25 and 19 and are wonderful well adjusted young adults – and they love their parents! Good Luck on your quest!

  8. Tracey January 30, 2014 at 11:13 am - Reply

    I’m in the “baby sleeps when baby wants to sleep” crowd. It worked for our 3 and all turned out ok. Lol

    • greengoround January 30, 2014 at 2:13 pm - Reply

      I’m with Tracey. We did eventually start a very loose form of the Ferber around 8/9mos with Hudson (the oldest) but I just couldn’t handle hearing my baby cry for hours–15minutes was hard enough. With the second baby, I just followed his lead and relaxed a lot more. We all survived. They now both take naps and go to bed at night easily. They are well adjusted and flexible. Every child is different with different needs. Trust your instincts and just go with it.
      Once you think you’ve got one thing figured out, there’s another stage or phase to figure out….motherhood’s funny like that. I promise it gets better though. You’ve got this, Mama! Xoxo

  9. babyjill7...Marilyn Griffin January 30, 2014 at 6:10 pm - Reply

    Oh, my gosh… so many “sleep methods”… I’m totally from a different generation… and think each child finds HIS/HER way…Not disputing the knowledge…but, seems so “bookish”…I just want to cuddle them… etc. …Just had to comment!, ha, ha!
    Had two boys…One a “stay awake and fight it little guy”… and the other… “give me my bed and I’m happy!” little guy…
    and basically they are pretty much the same way today!

  10. Rebekah January 31, 2014 at 10:17 am - Reply

    I’m not much further into this parenting thing than you, so I can’t tell you how to get him on a sleeping schedule because my daughter is almost 15 weeks and although she usually sleeps 6 hour nights, we’re still working on it. The biggest thing I’ve learned so far is that for the first while, there is no “normal”. So much is changing in their mental and physical abilities. I have as close to a regular routine as I can manage each day and the rest of the time I just go with the flow or I’ll loose my mind. At 14 weeks Cora is eating about 4 ounces of expressed breast milk (while I’m at work, I nurse if I’m with her) every 3 hours. BUT she’s clearly going through a change right now (eating half a bottle and going to sleep, not really eating as regularly) and I’m waiting for everything to settle down and try to decipher what her new routine & schedule will be. We haven’t tried the CIO method yet, we let her fuss for a while if we know all her needs are met but try not to go running for every little whimper. I did read somewhere once that if you do CIO, set a timer, if they’re still crying after X number of minutes go try to comfort and back off again. At least that way there aren’t endless hours of wails. This weekend we’re moving her to her room from ours, so this is what I’ll be trying. Good luck Momma! It gets easier (I hope…).

  11. […] convinced there’s no perfect answer. But that didn’t stop me from writing this post seeking the advice and personal experience from parents about sleep training their own children. […]

  12. Carolyn February 11, 2014 at 8:55 pm - Reply

    Oh sleep! The most controversial part of parenting! 🙂 I’ve been really lucky with Weston’s sleeping habits, but I do have some tips!

    First thing – move up the bedtime if possible. When we started putting Weston to bed at around 8pm he started sleeping through the night!

    Second – I started putting Weston in his crib throughout the day so he’d get used to it. Not sure if you’re ready to transition but getting baby used to the crib definitely helps!

    Third – Weston didn’t really like the pacifier after about a month, so he had to learn to soothe himself without it. I found giving him the same toy for every nap/night helped him associate that with soothing.

    Fourth – if he’s squeaking, moaning or whining,don’t run to him. Let him figure it out on his own… If he starts crying that’s different but letting him try on his own first will help!

    I could keep going, but this post is getting long! I’m more than happy to answer any other questions you might have… Seriously! Ask!!

    • Nicole February 12, 2014 at 3:49 pm - Reply

      Carolyn, this helps a LOT. I’m sending you an email now!

  13. […] convinced there’s no perfect answer. But that didn’t stop me from writing this post seeking the advice and personal experience from parents about sleep training their own children. […]

  14. […] convinced there’s no perfect answer. But that didn’t stop me from writing this post seeking the advice and personal experience from parents about sleep training their own children. […]

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