Teaching them to sleep

Sleep Training: the sequel

Guys, Rose sleeps like a dream.  Although at first I had seriously no idea how to get a newborn to sleep (It’s crazy how much you forget between children, even when they are only 16 months apart!), I have successfully navigated safely through the second round of sleep training thus far.

Reason 1: Rose is so easy-going.  She spoils me.

Reason 2: I think not having to supplement with formula this time around really made a difference when it came to learning how to poop and pass gas.  Rose didn’t struggle near so bad as Thea did; I don’t think she had near the gassiness that Thea did. Which leads to…

Reason 3: I also new how to help a baby pass gas this time as well as how to recognize the signs that she is gassy.  Just this knowledge alone was SOO helpful.

Reason 4: Probably the biggest reason Rose does so good with going to sleep is the fact that I have another child to attend to.  I can’t give Rose so much attention.  With Thea, I ran to her the second she was crying.  With Rose, well, she’s got to wait a minute.  So she’s cried herself to sleep before, which only took 5 minutes.  I have only had to do that that a couple times out of desperation as I learned how to balance two babies, but now, I don’t even have to go there.  She just goes to sleep.  Just that alone was a big deal.  But also, I’ll lay her down, and I’ll have to leave her because I have to go watch Thea, so if she starts to cry, I’ll go back up, but a lot of the time, I just have to see how she’ll do on her own.  And seriously, she does awesome!  With Thea, I would stay right by her side until she was asleep.  I just couldn’t leave her alone, not as a baby.  But with Rose, the best thing has been for me to just get out of the way.  I’ve noticed that if I stay with her, I really do get in the way.  For example, the second her binky falls out, I put it right back in, even though she isn’t crying; I don’t even give her a chance to be ok without it.  Or if she starts to fidget and fight with her blanket, I’m right there picking her up or patting her side to get her to stop.  But if I just leave the room, I don’t see any of that.  I only hear if she starts to cry, and I might have to go back in a time or two, but for the most part, she just does it herself.  So again, reason 4 is I have learned to just let her try without me getting in the way.

Reason 5: Rachel from mybabysleepguide.com has a page that outlines a bunch of suggestions for babies 0-3 months.  This has been my bible.  I love what Rachel does because she takes her experience as well as the research from the most popular sleep training guides and consolidates all that information in one place.  So she shares what works for her, what others suggest, and then encourages you to pick what you’re comfortable with.  So I read through the guidelines for teaching a newborn to sleep and applied it to me and my baby as I saw fit. I won’t go through everything, but just big stuff. She also has suggestions for the next stage 3-6 months, that has been helpful to read as Rose has transitioned into that developmental stage.  All I know is that I was CRAZY, absolutely naive to not do my research for teaching babies to sleep with Thea.  However, in my defense, I had no idea sleep even needed to be taught.  But this time, I had solid ideas to pull from to figure out what works long term, whereas last time, I just did whatever would work to get Thea to sleep the fastest.

Reason 6: Swaddling.  I didn’t know about the magic of swaddling with Thea.  At the hospital, they teaching you that newborns like to be bound up tight, but once we got Thea home, all she did was fight the swaddle, so I thought I just had a unique, claustrophobic baby.  Rose did the same thing, but I knew two things: 1. Babies might fight the swaddle for a bit at first, but they’ll settle into it. 2. Gassy babies don’t like to be swaddled.  Gas.  It was the demon that ruined Thea’s sleep training because I didn’t know about it.  But I knew about it with Rose.  So if she was fighting the swaddle, I’d lay her down at sure enough, she’d be pulling her legs to her chest: gassy.  So I’d pump her legs and rub her belly, and 9.5 times out of 10, I’d get her to fart.  The other .5 times, I just moved stuff around enough to not hurt anymore.  Then, swaddled back in she went and she wouldn’t be screaming.  Also, I knew about the startle reflex this time around, so even if Rose was fighting the swaddle, letting her try to sleep without being swaddled was just frustrating for everyone.  She did have a couple of times when she was newer where she did just fall asleep without being swaddled, but it seems like the older they get into the newborn stage, the more their startle reflex sets in.  Rose, at 5 months, still can’t get her arms to hold still enough for her to sleep.  Sometimes she like to be swaddled tight, and sometimes just enough to keep her arms trapped in a blanket, but not tight enough to not move.  Anyway, instead of ruling swaddling out early one, we’ve learned how to make swaddling an ally this time.

Reason 7: I don’t hold Rose while she is sleeping.  Thea was colicky, so sleeping with her in my arms was the only way either of us got any sleep; problem was just that breaking her of needing to be held to stay asleep was a nightmare.

Reason 8: I always put Rose down drowsy, and not sleeping.  This took the most self-discipline to do.  I’m always more concerned about them staying asleep then sleep training; but I have been diligent to not hold Rose to sleep.  I get her to start to nod off, and even to close her eyes, but once those eyes close, it’s not long before I put her down, even if it means she’ll wake up, which she does sometimes.  But when that happens, we just get her back nodding off and try again, whether I pick her back up or try while she’s still laying down.

Reason 9: Rose stopped sleeping like a champ at one point, which after a week or so, we discovered was because my milk was drying up and she was HANGRY.  Now she’ll take a bottle and she sleeps longer than she was before even.  Poor thing.

Reason 10: I realize now that even though Rose is a baby, she too needs wind down time before she goes down to sleep.  She, too, needs a bedtime/nap time routine.

Last thing I wanted to say was just two tips that have really helped me this time. Both come from Rachel’s website.  The first was to pick how long I was going to try to get Rose to sleep on her own.  So like after twenty minutes, if she still wasn’t making progress, then I just did what it took to get her to sleep without worrying about whether or not it was going to help or not help in the long run.  This helped me not go crazy!  The second was to focus on sleep training for nap times and to just do what was necessary for bedtime.  I definitely had more to give for nap time than for bedtime, and it seemed like Rose did, too.  Then, once she started making progress with nap times, we started with bedtimes.

Night and day difference, you guys.  Thea’s sleep training took everything I had to not lose my temper like every second.  Rose’s training has been nothing close to that.  I get that every baby is different, and what works for one might not with the other, and I get that some babies are just better sleepers than others, but knowing how to sleep train has made all the difference.  To those in the trenches, or about to get in the trenches, I offer one piece of advice: read up on sleep training.  When my baby wasn’t a good sleeper, I hated life.  Once we all got a handle on that, raising children is pie.

Sweet dreams, everybody.



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