14 Sep Sleep Training-7 tips that saved us (+ some comfy pj’s)
So I know this has nothing to do with China or getting ready to move to China, or does it? I don’t think I would be up for moving abroad if I didn’t have miss Wynnie sleep trained. But, I also want to share all parts of our lives on this blog so sometimes my posts will have nothing to do with our soon-to-be home. 😉
Disclaimer: I am not a parenting expert, not even close. 90% of the time I have no idea what I am doing and I worry often that what I am doing is all wrong. But, we all have our strengths and the one thing I do think I am good at is the first year. I thrive off of the constant schedule and routine that newborns thrive on. I like to plan my day and stick to that plan! I also am very fortunate not to have to deal with much PPD and anxiety. When Emry was born I cried all the time, but in a good way. I would look at her and just cry from sheer happiness. I wasn’t too anxious, she was great at nursing, and I had Chance who provided great support. With Wynnie I obviously didn’t have raging hormones running through me (she is adopted) when we brought her home but I did go through different types of stress. We had just adopted a baby we essentially knew nothing about and that was so scary. I wanted to bond quickly like I did with Emry and I think I put a lot of pressure on that. I struggled with wanting it to be exactly like everything was with Emry but I quickly got a reality check and realized that the situations were very different, so why am I expecting them to be the same? I was trying to nurse her but it just wasn’t working like I had hoped, so I stopped after a month of pumping around the clock even through the night. I instantly became less stressed and felt like myself again. That is when the bonding really happened and I think she finally realized who I was at that time. I think when it comes down to it you need to give yourself a break and get to know your child. The calmer the mom the calmer the spirit is in your home and I truly believe that babies feed off of that.
My littles don’t have the same biological make up as each other but surprisingly they share the same sleep patterns and remind me so much of each other! Both kiddos started sleeping through the night at about one month and they are/were excellent nappers. In this post I am going to share a few tips that I think have saved me when it comes to sleep with newborns and naps for toddlers.
Before we get into the good stuff I just want to say that WE ALL NEED SLEEP. You cannot be a good parent without sleep and studies show that children do most of their developing while sleeping. It is essential! So please put it as a top priority when it comes to planning out your day.
#1. Take care of YOU. -Being a first time mom is overwhelming and scary. But please remember that you were made to do this. God created you to create life, grow that life inside of you, and to help that sweet spirit on their path back to Him. Knowing that I was made to do this helped me so much when it came to navigating through the unknown of the beginning stages of motherhood. So when it comes down to it, the calmer you are about your situation and the more confidence you have in yourself and your abilities, the better you will do. Do what you need to do to lower your stress and anxiety. Like I said earlier, I 100% believe that babies feed off of our emotions (same with toddlers). When one of my kids is having a moment (or a hundred moments 😉 ) I can trace it back to my attitude like 75% of the time. Isn’t that true with anyone though? If your husband/wife is having a bad day doesn’t it make your day harder as well? I know, it puts more pressure on us and it’s something I am working on every minute of everyday! But I have seen it work, when I change my attitude I often get an attitude change from them.
#2. Follow a schedule! -I’m not talking about your schedule. I am talking about a sleep/eating schedule when it comes to a newborn. We read the book “Baby Wise” and LOVED it. It seems like common sense when you are reading it but when you are a new parent you have no idea what the crap you are doing! So, this book really helped us. We follow a simple schedule; basically your baby wakes up in the morning, eats, has awake time, then naps, then wakes up and eats again. This goes on for the whole day basically until you start adding solid foods into the mix. Notice that you aren’t feeding your baby to sleep. Eat, wake, sleep, eat. That’s the routine. So with Wynnie (this schedule is when she was eating every 3 hours) she would wake up around 8 am and eat. Then she would go down for a nap at about 9:30. She would wake up from her nap at about 11 and eat. Then she would go down for another nap at about 12:30 (often this nap was a cat nap). She would then wake up around 1 or 1:30 and I would feed her around 2 or 2:30. The routine would change a little bit here. In the middle of the day she wanted a longer afternoon nap (this started at about 3 months) so I would feed her at 2:30 pm and lay her down. She would then sleep till about 5 or 5:30 pm and when she woke up I would feed her. By about 6:30 or 7 she would take another cat nap and then we would feed her for the last time around 8:30 and put her down for bed. This routine saved us! I think as a first time mom you are worried that when your baby cries she is hungry. That is not always the case! A lot of times they are just tired. I know it’s annoying to be that stuck to a schedule but I have no doubt this has helped my kids become such good sleepers!
#3. Don’t be afraid to let them cry! -I know hearing your baby cry is one of the saddest (and stressful) sounds in the world. It will make you ache deep inside. But, it is okay to let them cry. When it comes to naps don’t rock them to sleep. Occasionally I will rock Wynnie to sleep but it is not the norm. Take advantage of the first month when they will sleep anywhere and hold them and snuggle them. But, once they aren’t sleeping 24/7 you need to teach them to self soothe. I know this may sound cruel and like I don’t snuggle my baby enough but I promise you I do! During wake time I hold her, play with her, and snuggle her. But when it comes to sleep time I swaddle her up, rock her for a minute, lay her down, give her a kiss, and walk out and close the door. When she first started napping in her own room she would cry for a little bit before she fell asleep. Now, 80% of the time she goes down without a peep. The “cry it out method” is heartbreaking for a couple days but I really believe that for most babies it works!
#4. Move them to their own room. –This is a hard one. Especially if you are an overly stressed mom. SIDS is real and it is terrifying. So when it comes down to it you need to do what works for you. We moved both our girls into their own room at a month old and that is when they both started sleeping the longest stretches. To give me peace of mind we have a cheap monitor, a video monitor (the model we use is no longer available but it is a video monitor that connects to my phone), and we use the Owlet sock. If I hear her on the monitor I can then turn the video monitor on my phone to see what she is doing, and I can also check the Owlet sock app if I haven’t heard her for a while to see if she is still getting the right amount of oxygen and to check her heart rate. We didn’t have the owlet with Em so I checked the video a lot more frequently throughout the night. The Owlet is totally worth it! Moving our girls to their own room was a game changer. They slept better, they napped better, and we had our own space to feel like humans (instead of walking burp clothes) at the end of the night. 😉
#5. Perfect the swaddle! –Now it’s true, some babies don’t like to be swaddled. Before you give up though you need to perfect the swaddle or find a swaddle sack! I’m telling you, if they will be swaddled they will sleep better and longer! There is something about the perfect swaddle that instantly calms them down. I am a photographer and I can’t tell you how many times a screaming baby is calmed down by a tight swaddle (and often times the mom tells me the baby doesn’t like to be swaddled). Wynnie is 5 months old now and we still swaddle her for bed. I also like to make sure she has jammies on underneath that fit well and don’t get bunched up in the swaddle. I don’t use the gowns because they are too bulky for a swaddle. I love these pj’s from the Gerber collection at Target!
#6. Be consistent. –The hardest thing about having two kids for me is the difference in schedules. Adjusting Wynnies nap schedule to Emry’s schedule (or vice versa) is so dang hard! Then when you add in my job things just get all sorts of crazy! To somewhat control this I have chosen things for Em that work around Wynn’s naps. Emry has dance at 11, after Wynnies morning nap. Em goes to school in the afternoon while Wynnie takes her afternoon nap, and she has tumbling in the evening after Wynnie has gotten up from her afternoon nap. Sometimes Wynnie takes her naps in the carseat but that’s okay, a nap is a nap wherever they end up taking them! My work schedule is very flexible (I’m a photographer) so I try to schedule shoots around the girls and I edit while Wynnie naps and Em is at school. Emry napped until she was 3 1/2 years old. We achieved this by being consistent. I made sure I was home in the afternoon so Em could have her nap. Emry knew that after lunch she could play till 2 and then it was time to take a nap. She would fight it for a few minutes then she would eventually give in and fall asleep. She could have gone longer but we took a trip to Orlando when she was three and half and I didn’t force nap time while we were there. So when we got home I cut her afternoon nap out but we made her bedtime earlier (7 pm). It was a nice change not being stuck at home in the afternoon and then Chance and I got more time together in the evening. This is/was our schedule and it works for us! Another thing we have tried to be consistent of is where they sleep. For Wynnie we purchased the docatot and we have loved it! It has been so nice to have her bed wherever we go. We have camped with it, taken it on flights, and moved it from room to room in our house. She has never had trouble sleeping somewhere new (Emry did when she was little) and I think we can definitely thank the Dockatot for that. Find what works for you and your kids and be consistent. Consistency really is key for a sane mom (and kiddos). 😉
#7. Stay calm and roll with it. –Most days I can keep this schedule pretty easily. But, somedays these girls throw me a curve ball and things are all over the place. Take those days as they come and remember that tomorrow you can start over and so can they. Just because your baby has a hard day does not mean they are a hard baby. They will bounce back with a little extra attention and a good nights sleep!
Well, those are my tips when it comes to sleep training your little one. I realize that every baby is different and every mom is different. Find what works for you and create the perfect recipe for you and your family. Motherhood is not for the faint of heart. It is exhausting, unpredictable, messy, and there is no such thing as a time clock. There have been days when I have been defeated and felt like I should throw in the towel. Parenting a toddler is no joke, once Em turned 3 I had no confidence in my abilities. If you have any advice for teaching kids to be grateful, getting them to clean up after themselves, managing screen time, teaching them to read, and helping them to learn to deal with their emotions, send it my way! I told you, I can do the baby thing. But once they start telling me I’m the worst mom ever, I check out. 😉 We need to stick together when it comes to parenting children. We need to build a community of people that are willing to help and not hurt each other while we are on this path. It takes a village y’all, can I get an amen?
PRODUCT REVIEW: Miss Wynnie is wearing the “Sleep n’ Play” pj’s from the Gerber collection at Target. We love them! They are cute, comfy, and a great price. I love that these have a zipper for easy diaper changes, ain’t no body got time for all those buttons! And they also have the little snap that covers the zipper so it doesn’t un zip or poke your little ones face. Go get some of your own HERE. You won’t regret it. 😉
Here are some links to other products I mentioned in this post.