Journey into Sleep Teaching

Savannah turns 6 months old today and we’re finally doing it, we’re going to begin the dreaded sleep training. I have been putting it off for some time, soaking up as much time as I could get before my baby girl had to be moved into her own room and would slowly stop needing me to help her sleep. While it certainly is a good thing (for our sanity and for her own growth), it also makes me so so sad to think about turning over in the night and not have her right next to me, lightly snoring or blowing little raspberries with her lips signaling to me that she is awake. It’s all we’ve ever known and while most people are completely ready for it to happen, I am dreading it. 

In the beginning I was adamant that she would be in our room for her entire first year of life. She was so so tiny in her bassinet in those first months, I absolutely thought it was possible! Now, head to toe, she’s almost touching the entire length of what has been her little home for the past 6 months. That’s one reason we are doing it. She has started to roll absolutely every where too! Side to side, she rolls to get places now. We like to call her our little rolley polley. Pretty soon she’s going to be able to sit up on her own and sides aren’t tall enough for that. That’s another reason we are doing it. Lastly, she’s come to rely on me to get her to sleep. Not just at bedtime when we are getting her ready to fall asleep (though she does need us to get to sleep) but in the middle of the night, especially in the past week, something will wake her up and because she knows I lay right next to her bassinet on our bed, she’ll turn towards me and start making noises. She doesn’t cry exactly, she knows at this point that she doesn’t need to do that because I am such a light sleeper, so she will whine a little until I sit up and pick her up to soother her. The thing is, as soon as I start lifting her in the air her eyes start to close, and once I have her cradled in my arms, she’s asleep again. It’s the craziest thing! I usually wait about 5 or 10 minutes and then slowly lower her back down. But as soon as her head touches that bassinet, her eyes are open again and she looks at me with the saddest eyes! So, for the past 4 days, we go through this over and over again – usually around 6 times a night. Yeah, I know, it’s a lot. She’ll feed maybe once or twice out of that but usually she just wants to lay in my arms. Which just breaks my heart! She’s so innocent, all she wants is to feel safe and comfort. I know people think babies are manipulative at this point, but I don’t think that’s exactly what it is. I think they are smart and know what to do to get what they want, but their wants are incredibly innocent. We brought them into this world, so it makes sense that all they want to do is be with us – even if it’s in the middle of the night. If I wasn’t so terrified of the possible consequences, I would absolutely co-sleep. I fully understand why moms do it! But, Trev and I have agreed. Even though its way earlier than I had wanted, its time to teach our little Savannah Bee how to sleep on her own.

I honestly didn’t really know all that much about sleep training. I’ve heard about the option of letting your little one crying it until they learn to self soothe and fall asleep. I’ve heard of the soothe, lay down, and repeat tactic – your little babe cries when he/she wakes up, you pick them up to soothe them, but then lay them back down once they calm down and you do this until they eventually fall asleep. While I understand both of these, I wanted to know more – like, what else could we be doing to help the transition. We had a pretty solid routine when she was a newborn, but we have definitely gotten lazier as time has gone by to where we have a very hesitant routine. I want to rebuild that so I looked up what that my entail!

A YouTube called “BabySleepMadeSimple” has an awesome YouTube video on 6 month old sleep training and some essential steps to follow. Since we are starting from scratch, I just want us to experiment with it a little and see what works for Savannah. The number 1 step she said is key to a successful sleep training (meaning Savannah would sleep from 5-8 hours stretches at a time since she will still need to eat 1 or 2 times a night at her age) is creating a concrete sleeping routine. That no matter how the day goes for us, we will always do this same routine to get her familiar with what it means to go to sleep at night. She says that a solid sleep routine and nap schedule go hand in hand for successful sleep training so last night, we started with our first attempt at a sleeping routine! Here is what we have so far. A lot of what we decided to do came from the tips in this YouTube video as well as advice from some of my mama friends. When in doubt, ask a mama! You are absolutely bound to find something that works well for your family with enough conversations!

Step 1: 6:30pm Diaper Time

A couple of weeks ago, we realized that Savannah looooves playing in just her diaper. I think she had an explosion in her diaper and it was so late at such an awkward time at night that instead of putting her in her bed clothes right away after giving her a bath, I just let her play around a bit in her diaper. She was so excited! So we decided that each night we are gonna give her some diaper play time. Since we have been successful at pushing her sleep time from 9:30pm to 8:00pm, we decided we would start that diaper time at 6:30pm so she had ample time to get all of that amped up energy out before we put her in her PJ’s!

Step 2: 7:30pm Bath and Lotion Time

The #1 advice I got from other mama’s was the value of having bath time every.night. I have heard so many women just swear by it! We have noticed that she sleeps much better with having a bath before she falls asleep so we were like, lets do it! To take things to the next level, my friend Christina is a mama of 2 and she told me that lavender is like magic for babies – it just gets them completely calm and puts them right to sleep. I have been wanting to switch to a cleaner product for her and have had my eyes on the baby brand Hello Bello because its EWG verified (if you haven’t heard of the scale for EWG aka the Environmental Working Group, you should absolutely look it up) and I’ve heard their lavender soap and lotion were amazing. Long story short, it is. And its so so cheap! The brand was created by Kristin Bell and Dax Shephard because they fully believe that non-toxic products should be available to all, so you can purchase their products from their website or from Wal-Mart! I love it! I think I spent $12 all together for the soap and lotion! Savannah was looooving it! She was 100% fighting it because I honestly think the scent and its powers took her by surprise, but while I was putting lotion on her after her bath (I also like to give her a little massage on her arms and legs while I do this) she was very much falling asleep which I have never seen before! I honestly don’t think I’ll use anything else on her now! I also want to note that I took this an even bigger step further and played the sound of waves while putting the lotion on her – I think that made a big difference!

Step 3: 7:45pm Feeding and Story TIme

Next up in the sleep routine is feeding. The youtube video said that a big feed is a great step but you should do it 30 minutes before they fall asleep. So the plan was to feed her and then have Trev sit down and read to her after for about 30 minutes. Well, I’d say about 5 or so minutes into the feeding she was out like a light! I kept the wave machine going and just rocked with her to see if she would stir and wake back up, but no dice! I actually felt kind of bad because Trev was excited to be able to read to her again! Since we want to get that in, we may have to switch things around a bit. 

I am thinking the new nighttime schedule will go Feeding, bath/lotion, story time. The goal is to put her in bed with her eyes open, but tired enough that she will be able to fall asleep soon after. We want her to be able to recognize that she is in her crib and that when she falls asleep, its by herself and not in my arms.

Next Day Results:

I am super happy with these results so far! The biggest concern we had  was that she wouldn’t end up sleeping for the 5-8 hour stretch that we want because she fell asleep in my arms again and not on her own. I also want to note that last night we just focused on the sleep routine – not the transition to her own room. I know I know, we really need to do that, but while we were giving her the bath I just got soo sad! Trev said that we didn’t have to do that part tonight so we will try that again soon. Anywho, she ended up sleeping SO well! We put her in her bassinet at 8:00pm, she woke up for about 10 minutes at 9:30pm, and again to feed at 10:45pm, but then didn’t wake up again until 5:00am! Yes! I can officially say we will continue with this nightly routine! With some minor tweaks.

She had her 6 month appointment today where she got 2 more shots so I have a feeling today and tonight are going to be a little rough, but that’s ok. We will do her routine anyways! Super happy to see great results so far, but I know we have a long road to go!

What are your go to ways to get your little one to sleep? Did you do anything different to help teach your little one to sleep in their own room? How long did you let them sleep in your room/if you did at all? I would love to know! My greatest resource is all of your first hand experience and I always am looking for more insight!