There are a million different ideas out there about how to sleep train your children. There is the cry-it-out method or more commonly known as “extinction” as if that makes it sound any better! (ha!) Then there is Ferber, Weissbluth Method, The Sleep Lady Shuffle (seriously…who came up with that name?!), Parenting by Connection, The Sleep Sense Program, The Shush-Pat method and the damn list goes on and on with a million variations of how to get a kid to sleep.
Sometimes I think I always had an upper hand in having twins first. I was one person with two babies and not enough go-go-gadget arms to snuggle them all to sleep. From day one, I never cuddled them to sleep. I placed them down in their bassinets. It wasn’t all daisies and puppy dogs, let me tell you. Most nights I found myself reading all the sleep training books ever written but the one thing I found in common was that allowing your baby to figure it out and to understand their new world was the best thing you could do. Shut those books and listen to your mother’s instincts. Think about how they did it hundreds of years ago! We are capable and I think too much information is telling us we aren’t.
Now my kids are not and never were the swaddling type. They were cool all baby burrito-ed up the first 2 weeks but after that they wanted to be free. Those arms were wild! We dealt with horrendous acid reflux and we did what we could but truthfully, the first few months (5-6 months) are, what I think, the learning stage. The kids need this time to understand themselves, and you, and it takes that long to get into a good routine.
At 3.5 months and after a trip to Germany and back to baptize them I started following proper wake times. I literally owe it all to this graph for getting our routine in place. This gave me a better idea of how they should be sleeping. Again, it’s not a magic wand and it’s not like POOF your kid is sleeping but with consistency and time, it will come. I PROMISE YOU! I “trained” twins, at the same time, who are two completely different birds. If I can do it, anyone can! Note: I follow what my kids show me they need. At 10 months they should be awake for 3-3.5 hours. Sometimes its less, sometimes more.
From one day to the next I went cold turkey and started putting those rascals into their own room, their own cribs. Naps and sleep time all in bed. I read a lot about starting one than the other. I guess do what is comfortable for you. But I wanted them to start getting used to the idea that this is their new special place to sleep. It took a while but my routine is like this for naps:
Lay in their room
Read a book or two
Sing a couple songs
Put on sleep sack
Turn on white noise machine
Sing our special “goodnight” song and place baby into bed while continuing to hum this song as I leave the room.
I did this every day, all day. This was our new naptime routine. As for sleep time, I did it a little bit different. Its the BBB method for me. Bath, Bottle, Bed. As tedious as it was, and exhausting as it was, I bathed them. It was my one moment with each boy alone at the time. Now I throw them both in the tub together but back then, it was special. Cleaned and so fresh-fresh, we snuggled up and had the last of their bottles (well, not me…but the boys…obvi!) Then I followed the same pattern of the nap time routine.
I won’t lie and say it was easy. Some nights/days were hard. There was some crying but I never let them cry for long. I also allow them to have pacifiers, loveys, and blankets. All the crutches possible, they can have it all. Because that is how I parent. And “training” is possible with all of those things, regardless of what you read about. I am living proof, and so are my boys.
I do need to stop and talk about our sleep sack success. This goes for swaddled babies too! Initially I just kind of wrapped our boys in a blanket but this seemed to always scare us a bit too much when the blanket would creep towards their angel faces. But then I discovered sleep sacks. Our absolute favorite, ever, ever, EVER is the sleep sack from Nested Bean. They also have a swaddle blanket for those babies who love to be as snug as bugs in a rug.
So why is this one so impressive? Well, I’ll tell you why! Keep your pants on!
A few times in my distress during the first few months and because I couldn’t hold both screaming babies, I placed my hand on their bellies/chest to try and help calm them. To give them the idea that mommy is there. Well, in walks Nested Bean with the brilliance of it all! A swaddle and a sack that has a light weight on the chest area to resemble the comfort of sleeping in your arms. I mean, people, this is BRILLIANT! A sleep sack that actually does something!
So, instantly, I noticed that the boys were sleeping better. Once in a while they would wake up and need a pacifier replaced or what have you but they were sleeping through the night a lot better!
And just to note, My brunette dude was sleeping through the night at 7 months and the blondie at 8.5 months. Just to give you perspective.
This ended up being a longer post than I had expected it to be but there is a lot to be said about sleep training as you can tell from all the thousands of books written about it. I’m hear to tell you to listen to your mommy instincts. Not one kid will ever be the same as the kids that are describe in those books. Sleep begets Sleep. It is never too early to put your kid to bed. Note: Our kids are in bed by 5:45/6pm every night. Never later!
You can do this! Sleep will come again! I promise! Lets all raise a glass to that precious thing we easily gave up in our 20’s and desperately need back in our 30’s. To you, Sleep!