I have to tell you- I’ve always hated articles like this because they always made me feel like I was the only one doing things wrong. I am not a doctor or a master at sleep training. This is my third baby and the other two kids took YEARS to fall asleep on their own. I have read recommended books, articles, and taken advice from other mamas but sleep training never seemed to end very successfully. Maybe I was too impatient, I don’t know, but I was determined with baby number three to get him falling asleep on his own from about three months. All three of my babies have been colicky. So between years of unsuccessful training and colic it seemed like a hefty goal to have him falling asleep on his own so soon, but we did it and I’m going to share what we did. I hope my experience will help you too.
(Isn’t my baby so sweet!!!???)
A couple of tips first:
It’s important that your baby isn’t overtired. Start the process when he’s sleepy, but not upset. Your baby will start to yawn, heavy eyes, it’ll be close to routine nap/bedtime, trying to eat even if he/she isn’t hungry, and your babe might start getting a little fussy. They’ll usually warn you before they’re full out exhausted. But let’s get real, it’s going to happen from time-to-time so they’ll just need a little extra feeding/soothing time. Don’t stress.
Colic seems to let up around three months and bad sleeping habits cannot be formed until four months, and so I started training him at 3 1/2 months. Babies also need to eat less often at three months than when they’re newborns, so you can get away with feeding your baby less often.
I use this sound machine. It’s soothing and helps block out the noise from his big brothers. myBaby SoundSpa Portable
My baby likes to be warm even borderline hot when he’s sleeping so even this summer I had him in warm jammies.
If your baby doesn’t have a sleeping schedule then it is time to form one. Here is mine. It’s not exactly the same time every day, but we try to stick pretty close to this. Some people are more strict about schedules than I am, but just do what is best for you.
Now the process:
- I still fed my baby to sleep the first few days of training, but woke him when laying him down. To do this, I would unlatch him from breast or bottle right after he fell asleep and then lay him down immediately. I didn’t give him time to fall into a deep sleep before putting him in his crib. He held (and still holds) a muslin blanket in his arm away from me while he’s nursing, and then would lay him down with it for him to cuddle. Make sure it is MUSLIN because they’re breathable and won’t suffocate your baby. It may take a few days for your baby to be OK with this step and that is OK. It’s fine to let him/her cry for about 15 minutes as long as it is a tired/fussy cry, and not a distressed cry. Repeat this step if you need to.
- He did step two for a few days and now I feed him for a minute or two on each breast, lay him down awake, talk to him for a minute, and walk out (don’t forget the blanket). He will usually fuss or talk to himself for a few minutes, but he will usually fall asleep on his own. It only took about a week for him to pick up on the process.
- When he’s a little bigger I plan on eliminating feeding him before naps altogether. He still needs that extra little bit to hold him over nap time. At night, I give him an extra feeding before bed.
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Mason, my baby, is off to a much better start than my other two kids were when they were babies. I just couldn’t figure it out, so don’t feel bad it if takes you some trial and error too! Jaxon, my oldest, up until he was five (so until a few weeks ago) always needed dad in the room to fall asleep. If my husband was home, he HAD to be in the room until Jaxon fell asleep. Before that, until age three, he had to have a bottle in bed. We’re trying to break the bottle (in bed) habit with our 2 1/2 year old now. I was not about to repeat that with Mason! It’s not the worst thing in the world, but it definitely makes potty training difficult. It also makes it hard to develop healthy sleeping routines- OK, so it is the worst thing in the world…
Also, remember everything is a phase! Their sleeping will suffer if they’re teething, sick, new life changes, and unexplained reasons on some days. It’s going to happen so try not to get downhearted, keep chugging along, and rest when you can. Ironically, it took three hours to get my baby to take a nap today. He just fell asleep in his swing haha! He usually does great though!