If you’ve been following me on Instagram and reading my Flawless Friday posts, you may have read that we’ve not been getting much sleep in this house. You may have also read that I abruptly started sleep training with our daughter, after a night of no sleep and a day of grizzly children.
There are worse things in life than losing a little sleep, but it really does affect the dynamics in our family. I’m tired and grumpy, my littlest is tired and grumpy and we’ve run out of teabags. Tea doesn’t work when you have a child that doesn’t settle at night, but it’s a nice comfort in the morning. It’s like a hug in a mug.
I decided to start sleep training the morning after a dreadful night with six night wakes and a 5am start. I knew in my head it’d be tough, but it’s been a long time coming. We sleep trained our son when he was one years old and it only took one night, so I’m not sure why I’ve been dragging my heels with it for my sweet little girl.
So if you’re interested in sleep training your little one, I just wanted to share with you what worked for us. It took three nights, which progressively improved and now we have two children that sleep soundly throughout the night. With the occasional blip of course. Sleep training may not be for everyone, it’s every parents decision to do what’s worked for them, but it certainly worked for us.
I can’t promise it’ll work magic instantly, but it will work.
The idea behind this method of sleep training is to reassure your little one that you’re close and to reassure you that they’re also ok. It’s never nice to hear you little ones crying, but most of the time they’re crying from anger and upset that you’re not giving them what they’re calling for. This method was actually recommended to me by our doctor, he assured me it’s a lot of pain for a whole lot of gain and reminded me how important a good nights sleep is to little ones.
The first night is awful especially if you’re removing night feeds, but persistence really does pay off. I cried because it was tough, but that was the only night I found it difficult. The following nights didn’t send shock waves throughout our family and my daughter and I both knew what to expect.
- On the first night you’ll pop your little one down as normal and carry on your evening. Once they start to wake and cry, just go in rub their back, lie them back down if they’re standing and leave the room. They recommend not talking to them but I did whisper ‘love you’ and ‘get some sleepies’, because I just felt quite cold at the thought of saying nothing.
Once you’ve left their room leave them for two minutes before re-entering (if they’re still awake). If mine was only whingeing a little and it sounded like she was calming down, I added another minute before going back in to rub her back, a couple of occasions I didn’t need to go back in.
Once you gone back in to re-settle them, leave the room this time for three minutes.
Continue with this method and add a minute each time you leave their room. If you’re not comfortable adding another minute, then try adding thirty seconds instead. Increase the time outside of their room to whatever feels comfortable to you.
This could take half an hour or it could take twelve minutes, I think it all depends on the child.
The next time they wake that night – if they do, you can either pick up where you left off minutes wise or start again from two minutes. I personally started again at two minutes because the thought of leaving her to cry and whine for a full 8 minutes made me a tad anxious.
Continue with this each time they wake. Pat their back, leave the room and time the minutes.
The next night you’ll notice will be slightly easier, they’ll settle quicker and they’ll wake less. Keep up this sleep training method for the following nights until they’re not waking at all.
It took us three nights for her to sleep through and we now have an even bubblier little girl on our hands thanks to a full nights sleep.
Sleep Training Tips
- Remove all sleep props. My daughter would only settle with milk at bedtime and throughout the night. This also had a knock on effect with her appetite the next day, she now never stops eating. I stopped giving her milk before her nap and at bedtime and didn’t offer a bottle at all throughout the night. This was incredibly tough and I was tempted to give her a bottle on night one, just for ease. But she associated sleeping with having a bottle in her mouth, now she doesn’t wake searching for it.
It may be a dummy or a bottle of milk, but if it’s something that you find yourself giving to them throughout the night, it’s best to remove it around sleep times.
- Do they have a comfort? Both of my children have a comfort which they snuggle up to throughout the night and both are soft toys. Children like having something to cuddle or be near while they sleep, it gives them a feeling of comfort and safety. Most children already have their own special toy, but if your little one hasn’t decided on one yet, try giving them the same teddy each time they sleep and take it with you as often as possible.
Be strong. It takes a lot of determination and willpower to attempt controlled crying. It feels much worse when you’re tired, but it’s only short lived.
I hope this in some way helps you catch a little more sleep. I know how lack of sleep can really affect a family. It’s nobody’s fault and only takes a little guidance to help your kiddies settle throughout the night. Sleep training isn’t for everyone, so of course you know what’s best for your family and you’ll follow your own instincts.