I AM NOT A SLEEP CONSULTANT OR ANY KIND OF SLEEP PROFESSIONAL.
I am simply sharing my experience with sleep training.
I've been pretty hesitant to write this post. There are so many mommy shamers out there and honestly I've already been criticized by some people for doing this with my kiddo. Regardless, I feel like this may possibly help someone. You have to do what's best for your own family.
When most people hear the words "sleep training" they automatically think, "OH MY GOSH! YOU JUST LET THE BABY CRY IT OUT? THAT'S SO CRUEL". In reality, sleep training is about teaching your baby to self-soothe and fall asleep independently without the use of crutches (e.g. rocking, bouncing, pacifiers, etc).
Before my son was born a lot of people swore by the Babywise book. I decided to read it and soak in all the info. It covers everything from feeding to sleep to multiple births. Although I wished that book helped me with sleep training, it didn't. It wasn't specific enough for me. I need clear & cut rules/guidelines. Even my pediatrician recommended sleep training as my son was meeting all of his developmental milestones and gaining weight. She provided me with a handout but it wasn't specific enough either. I desperately needed answers as much as I needed to catch some zzzz's.
I'm not sure how I came across Maggie Moore on Instagram but I am so so so so grateful I did. She's a certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant and her guide to teach babies to fall asleep independently worked miracles for my family. It was very detailed. She also discusses sleep training tips, safe sleep resources, and random sleep Q&A's on her Instagram stories for free! Maggie recommends sleep training when your child is 16 weeks (adjusted age). I think we started sleep training when my son was about 17 weeks. He is now 23 weeks old.
1. I began this journey because the baby transitioned out of his bassinet. We started using a Pack-N-Play but honestly, that thing is hard as rocks! If I were a baby I wouldn't want to sleep in that and clearly he didn't want to either. He woke up often in the middle of the night and when he did, I placed him in our bed. Yep, I swore I would NEVER co-sleep but I started to just so I could sleep. I did this for a week and I lost more sleep doing so because I would wake up every few minutes to make sure he was still breathing and hadn't rolled over onto his belly. I NEEDED SLEEP. I wasn't functioning as a normal human being. I was irritable, sad, grumpy, irrational, you name it.
2. Prior to sleep training, I was already implementing the use of black out curtains and white noise in order to prepare the baby for sleep training. I also had a sleep routine by the time I started sleep training (dim lights, bath with soft music, lotion massage for the baby, pjs, feed, read a bedtime story, sleep).
2. I chose to do the controlled checks method as my pediatrician recommended this and it was one of the methods that Maggie covers in her sleep guide. This allows you to check on baby if he cries at intervals. During this check you make sure the baby's diaper is still clean, that they haven't spit up, etc.
3. Night 1 and night 3 were ROUGH. I was a mess! I cried so much because I just wanted to pick him up and console him. I feared he would end up having separation anxiety or hating me. My husband kept reminding me that he would get it and it would be so much better for all of us. I knew deep down he was okay as well. He was fed, had a clean diaper and I continued to check on him without picking him up. We made the mistake of having him in our room the first night. The next night we transitioned him to the nursery. It was so much easier and he fell asleep faster in his crib. He learned to self-soothe and that's one of the best parts.
4. We monitored him with the Cocoon Cam. We still use it and it has been amazing. I'm able to access it on my iphone, apple watch and ipad no matter where I am. It tells us when he's waking up, crying, when he has fallen asleep and monitors his breathing. All of the black and white pictures on this post are screenshots I have taken of the Cocoon Cam, they're in black and white because its dark in his room (black out curtains are amazing) but if the lights are on the video is crystal clear. HD.
5. I started to track how long it took him to fall asleep on his own and whether he protested or not. I would say it took him about 4 nights to really get it. Naps were the easiest. I would put him in his Merlin Sleep Suit (as it helped tremendously with the Moro reflex. He had already outgrown ALL swaddles at this point) and he would fall asleep within minutes without crying, rocking, or bouncing.
Did sleep training work?
Uh yes!!! At 23 weeks, he sleeps about 10-11 hours a night. 10-11 hours a night!! TEN TO ELEVEN HOURS AT NIGHT! We put him down between 6-6:30pm and we dreamfeed him at 10:30 p.m. and he is able to sleep until 6 a.m. He uses a pacifier (although it's not suggested) it works for us. He is able to pick it up and put it in his mouth. If the pacifier falls out of reach, he sticks his fingers in his mouth and falls asleep. He has now transitioned out of the sleep suit as he doesn't really have the moro reflex and is sleeping in a Halo Sleep Sack. There are times he still wakes up randomly in the middle of the night - I always check on him during these times if his eyes are open. If his eyes are still closed he usually soothes himself back to sleep.
For those of you thinking of sleep training, it's really tough in the beginning but it gets easier and your whole family benefits from this. People always ask me how I have such a happy baby and I think it's because he gets restful and restorative sleep!