How to Sleep Train a Baby is by Flick Frankish at The Baby Vine
When I was expecting my first daughter, I was very apprehensive about how much our lives would change once she arrived. Mostly, I was very apprehensive about the lack of sleep I would be experiencing and how I would function. I never read any of those books about getting your baby to sleep. Instead, I went with the first mum ‘winging’ it approach and decided to see how it went.
Turns out, I was pretty lucky. Cassie was a dream baby from the start. Born at 4.2kg, she had plenty of chub to her and settled into her own three-hourly feed routine. This slowly stretched out overnight time, and by the time she was 12 weeks old she was sleeping through the night. This was well and truly all her own doing, and I felt so blessed – and well rested!
When it came time for number two, I had the same feelings of dread, except this time it was magnified. People told me how lucky I was with Cassie – and they were right. Surely I couldn’t get that lucky again? I kept hearing about this thing called a ‘trick’ baby. Where your first baby is really good and tricks you into having another, and well, that doesn’t go so well. Cassie was my trick baby. On top of this, people kept telling me I was going to have a terror second time around – I think it was their way at getting back at me for having such a good sleep. And it worked. I was nervous. So this time I looked up some sleep training methods and worked out a plan of action. If number two wasn’t a sleeper, I was going to do something about it.
Vivi was another chubby bubba, born at 3.9kg. She also settled nicely into a three-hour routine, but it turns out, she had her night and day mixed up – and that was not ok with me. I quickly set out to rectify it, and here are my tips for anyone wanting to do the same.
How to Sleep Train a Baby
Switching Their Days and Nights Around
- Wake them every three hours during the day. I know they say not to wake a sleeping baby, but in this case, that’s exactly what I would do. You want them to feed lots during the day to fill those tummies up for the night time sleep.
- Sleep them in the light during the day. Don’t shut them off from the world. Let them sleep in the living room and get them used to having light and sound around them at all times. It helps them get used to this idea of daytime.
- Play! That’s right, when they wake during the day engage with them. Talk to your little bubba, make eye contact and play before or after their feed.
- At night time, no play. Do the opposite. Simply lift them out of their cot, feed them and straight back to bed. No noise, no play time.
- Make it dark at night time. Close the blinds and keep it nice and dark and warm.
- Have sleep associations, whether it is a cuddle toy or putting them in a sleeping bag for their ‘long’ sleep.
These tips had Vivi switching her days and nights in a few days’ time and I was getting 4-6 hour stretches overnight.
Introducing the Dream Feed
This was something we did for Cassie from day dot and introduced again for Vivi. The concept was simple. I did the last feed at about 6/7pm and then Chris would go in at 9pm and give them a bottle while they slept. Of course, this didn’t work for either of my daughters – they both woke. So instead Chris just waiting until they woke for that feed (anywhere between 9-10) and gave them the feed while I slept. That’s right, I enjoyed about 6 hours in a row of blissful sleep thanks to Chris doing this feed for me. It was amazing.
Gentle Sleep Training
It just so happened that Vivi decided early on that 3am was her favourite time of the day. After a couple of weeks, I was wearing thin. She wasn’t all that interested in milk. She simply woke and wanted to party. So this was when I began a simple sleep training method.
- When she woke, I would go in and pick Vivi up and rock her back to sleep. If she fell asleep, I would put her in the cot and leave. If she didn’t I would feed and resettle and try again the next night.
- If Vivi woke after I rocked her to sleep, then I would feed her – she was clearly hungry. In the beginning, she woke again about 50% of times.
- After a couple of days of this method, I changed it to just going in the room and patting Vivi back to sleep (no picking her up). Same as above, if she woke or wouldn’t settle, I would feed and back to sleep.
- A couple of days later and I simply put the dummy in to get her back to sleep. By this stage I knew she didn’t want the milk overnight (she was barely drinking it and just using for comfort), so if the dummy didn’t work I would go back to patting.
In two weeks, she was sleeping through the night (at just 12 weeks old again). It’s not something every parent believes in or wants to go through, but it’s what was right for our family. I did it the gentlest way for Vivi and I followed her cues – never leaving her distressed or worked out. The days felt like years, and often I wanted to give up and just feed her so we could all get back to sleep quickly, but in the long run, I am so glad I held out!
Do you have any tips on how to sleep train a baby?
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