All three of my children are good sleepers. Of course, they didn’t start that way. When they were born, as it pretty much is with all baby’s, their sleep clocks were a hot mess. While I don’t remember all the details of how I got my girls to sleep through the night, I am definitely able to share how I got Maverick sleeping through the night and why it makes me a better Mom.
Maverick was a premie, born 6 weeks early. For the first few months of his life, his sleep schedule was pretty non existent. I made lots of excuses for delaying creating a routine with him. He wasn’t ready. He was born early so he needs more time. I can’t let him cry. This list goes on. After 4 months of sleep deprivation and being in a constant haze, I decided it was time to get his sleep in check.
I will say, for most baby’s sleep training, as they call it, is not a quick process. I attribute our success to being patient and letting Maverick be my guide, while taking it one step at a time. The first thing I did was create a routine in the evening that even a young baby can become accustomed to. Around 6:15pm I started with a bath, followed by a nice baby massage with lotion and into his nighttime diaper and pajamas. I then got him into his sleep suit (we used the Merlin Magic Suit until he was almost 7 months and it was a total game changer) and then fed him his bottle. 75% of the time he would fall asleep and I would then transition him into his crib. The other nights, when he was awake, I knew he was fed and clean so I would allow him the opportunity to settle himself down to sleep. In the beginning, he would fuss a little. I am a believer of the CIO method (cry it out) to a certain degree. Unless he was truly crying for several minutes, I would not go in his room. The few times he had a hard time settling, I would go in and put in his pacifier and just quietly let him know he was okay and it was time to sleep. After about a week Maverick caught on. I remember saying to my husband in shock, “he put himself to sleep.” Then again the next night and the next. I couldn’t believe it.
Another area I worked on was addressing his cries and feeding during the night. In the beginning, when he was a newborn I would get up and go into his room anytime he would cry, assuming he was hungry or needed a diaper change. When we started the sleep training around 4 months, Maverick was down to one feeding per night which was typically between 3am and 4am. So, I was getting eight hours of sleep but it was interrupted. I would have a hard time falling back asleep most nights after his feeding. My husband and I decided to try another tactic. Instead of the middle of the night bottle, I had my husband do a dream feed (feeding the baby when he is half asleep) around 11pm. To our surprise this was the golden ticket. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the clock and it said 6:30am. I had slept a full 8 hours. I felt like a new woman! After a few nights, when he would awake and fuss or cry a little I would give him a few minutes to work it out. Now that he is 6 months, he rarely cries out at night and that is because he has figured out how to self soothe.
Going back to when I said his sleep schedule has made me a better Mom…well, there is several reasons besides just the obvious getting a good night sleep. It has given me my evenings back to spend with my daughter’s and husband. Once Maverick goes down to bed, I feel reset and at peace after a busy day. His bedtime routine is quiet and calm and there is no urgency. Just me and my little boy. We both get some very special one on one time which is hard with work and everyones schedules during the day. As I feed him his bottle, I hold his hand in mine and try to soak in every second of his tinniness and the sweet smell of his freshly washed hair. I know one day this bedtime routine I have come to cherish will fade away. So I always rock him a little longer and love on him a little harder.
Feel free to share your experiences with sleep training successes and woes in the comments! I love hearing from my readers!