Sleep Training Tips For Free
Ok, Mamas. I know your struggle. I’ve been there too: so stinkin’ tired from a lack of sleep, but not sure if sleep training is something I could get behind. As a new mom, I swore I would never sleep train. I didn’t want my daughter to need me and cry for me to help her – only for me to ignore her because I am “sleep training.” That seems downright awful. I also didn’t want to spend boatloads of money on sleep training, unsure if it would ever work. But at 14 months postpartum I broke, and it was the best thing that ever happened to my baby and me.
I am sharing a free sleep training guide and the best sleep training tips right here in this blog – it is the only thing you will really need because it is exactly what I did (and thousands of others) and had my baby sleep trained in 2 nights – not even kidding! Too good to be true? I thought so too. But it really isn’t.
I’m keeping this blog short and sweet because I know you’re tired and don’t have time for any hocus pocus – I find it kinda funny that all these sleep training books are as thick as a tree trunk; as if any sleep-deprived parent actually has time to read 1,000 chapters. Ha! Don’t let those big books intimidate you, I’ve taken the meat and potatoes on sleep training and put it all in this blog so you can decide whether or not sleep training is something for you and your family.
Why I Chose To Sleep Train
I’m a registered nurse. My expertise is in labor and delivery. I have a zillion nieces and nephews. Heck, I am around babies and kiddos all the time, yet as a first-time mom, I have had more insecurities than I can count.
One thing I’ve never doubted is the way I love my daughter. I’m confident she knows deep down in her bones that she is so loved. My biggest fear of sleep training was that she would feel less loved or that I am just abandoning her while she lay there crying. That would just break my heart.
As I said, I’m a nurse. I’ve had extensive training on the importance of ensuring your newborn can trust you. Because of this, I made the habit to soothe my baby any time I heard the slightest peep or squeak as soon as she was out of the womb. That being said, if you have a newborn, I definitely don’t recommend sleep training. As a matter of fact, I advise against it. However, experts say that by 5-6 months old you can safely sleep train your baby. As a matter of fact, a lot of experts recommend sleep training. 99% of mama’s who have tried sleep training swear by it, too. But, why?
It’s as simple as this: babies need quality sleep to properly grow and develop. But they don’t know how to fall asleep and stay asleep until we teach them.
If you want to be the best parent you can be, you need your shut-eye too. Truly. It’s not selfish, it’s necessary. It’s only a matter of time before your exhaustion turns into frustration with your baby. No parent wants that. No one can function on little or interrupted sleep for weeks after weeks, let alone months after months. Not even Superman! 😉
Free Sleep Training Guide
Ok, so now that you realize that you aren’t torturing your baby to no end and psychologically ruining them for life, here is what I did. I kind of altered the sleep training guide I used to best fit my family and me and that is 1,000% ok. You can do that too. The biggest thing you must keep in mind is that consistency is key. You and your partner must remain consistent with your sleep training plan for one full week. I am willing to bet it won’t even take a week, but if by one week your baby isn’t sleeping through the night then my advice is to take a break for a week and try again when you, your partner, and your baby are ready.
Sleep Training Tips For Naps and Bedtime:
- Begin your normal routine to put your baby down. Everything you would do except rocking/feeding/soothing her to sleep. You must keep your schedule as close to normal as possible while putting your baby in her crib awake (drowsy is best).
- Make sure your baby’s diaper is dry, she’s not hungry, not in pain, not sick, etc. right before putting her down. This ensures your baby doesn’t truly need you while she is crying for your comfort. She wants you, yes. But when she learns to self-soothe both she and you will be happier and healthier. Trust me on this one.
- Some moms recommend letting babies sleep with their favorite small stuffed animal or thin blanket that smells like you for comfort. As a nurse, I’ve always been taught that a bare crib is the safest crib. However, I do let my daughter – who is now 14 months old – sleep with her favorite small stuffed animals. Talk to your pediatrician before you introduce anything in your crib for your baby.
- If your baby is anything like mine, she loves her pacifier. Make sure she has her pacifier when lying her down. Also, you can put a few extra in the crib so if she wakes up in the middle of the night and looks for one she can find it easily. I put an extra one in her hand at night. I’m sure one day I will need to break the pacifier habit, but one thing at a time. 😉
- Never pick her up. This one is super difficult because any parent who is reading this blog definitely has a habit of picking up their baby when she is crying. (Insert that raising hand emoji here! This was my hubby and me too.) I mean, that’s why we need help sleep training! Ha! But this tip is truly key if we are going to teach our babies how to self-soothe. As much as you want to cuddle and comfort your baby while she is crying, just remember that it is healthy for her to learn how to self-soothe. Also, remember that you are teaching her the skills to fall asleep – and stay asleep – on her own. That’s no easy feat, but imagine how happy and smart your baby will become when she isn’t tired and fussy all the time.
- Remind yourself that you are not neglecting your baby. You’re a loving parent who wants the absolute best for your baby. Your intentions are pure. I had to always remind myself this because it feels wrong to leave a crying baby. But, as I said previously, it only took two nights of helping my daughter learn to self-soothe/her crying while I put her down for her nap/bed. By the third night, she barely whimpered when I put her down. She doesn’t cry at all now and it has only been one week. It is truly incredible.
Now that you are anchored with all the helpful tips and tricks for success, below you will find the sleep training guide that I used.
Sleep Training Guide:
- Lay your baby down & leave within 30-60 seconds, even if she is crying. Give her a kiss and let her know you love her and will see her in the morning. I always rub my daughter’s face and back while doing this. It is absolutely soul-crushing to leave your baby while she is crying, but remind yourself that you are helping your daughter learn to self-soothe and sleep on her own. She genuinely needs these skills for a sounder sleep. I promise you; you are not a monster. 🙂
- Wait 1 FULL minute before going in to reassure her that she is ok. Some experts recommend waiting longer, but I am sharing exactly what I did for my daughter that worked for us. The key is that you don’t go back in immediately. After the one minute mark, go in and kiss your baby, rub her back and let her know that you love her and will see her in the morning. I did lie her down again each time I went in. At first she would always just stand right back up, but eventually, she will stay down and will fall asleep. The biggest take away is this: Don’t pick her up. Also, leave the room within 30-60 seconds whether she is crying or not. (I feel like I sound so cruel as I type this. I remember being a new mom saying I would never, ever do this. But I am so happy I learned the importance of teaching my baby to self-soothe. Sleep training has been an absolute life changer for both me and my daughter.)
- Wait 2 FULL minutes before going in. If your baby continues to cry, wait 2 minutes before going back in. Again, some experts recommend waiting longer, but my heart couldn’t take it and I found that if I just doubled the amount of time before I went back in it was just as effective. The same rules apply. Kiss your baby, rub her back and let her know you will see her in the morning. Lie her back down and tell her you love her. Do this all within 30-60 seconds and then leave. Don’t pick her up.
- Wait 4 Full minutes before going in. If your baby is still crying (and she most definitely will be for the first couple nights), then continue the routine. Go in and kiss your baby, rub her back, lie her down and tell her you love her and will see her in the morning. Don’t pick her up and leave within 30-60 seconds.
- Wait 8 Full minutes before going in. At this point, you and your baby are exhausted. Your hearts are being shattered. It is very easy to break what you have already done and just pick her up. But mama, don’t do it. Remind yourself why you are doing this for her. Remember that you are teaching her to self-soothe and you are not abandoning your baby. Also, remind yourself that if in one week this whole sleep training thing hasn’t worked then you will stop altogether and try again later. This is what I experienced and how I helped myself get through it. I am genuinely glad I did.
- Wait 16 Full minutes before going in. I never went longer than 16 full minutes. If your baby continues to cry/fight sleeping at this point, I would go in every 16 minutes and kiss her, rub her back, make sure she has her pacifier, lie her down and tell her you love her and will see her in the morning. My daughter, Gracie, would be asleep both nights within 2 hours. I am willing to bet your baby will be too. Just hang in there, mama.
Okay, so you got your baby to sleep… now, what if she wakes up?
During the first couple of nights, your baby will probably wake up once or twice after she initially falls asleep and that’s okay, the biggest thing is to be consistent! Usually, if Gracie wakes up in the middle of the night I will wait 5 minutes before going into her room. If it’s just a fuss, you would be surprised because within 5 minutes, your baby will usually self-soothe herself right back to sleep 🙂 But of course, if the cry sounds like your baby is in pain then go in immediately. I know for me it took me a while to distinguish Gracie’s cries and if you’re unsure then, of course, go in–it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
After 5 minutes is up, go int, check her diaper, make sure she’s not in pain and doesn’t need anything and then repeat steps 1-6 🙂
Video On Sleep Training
A friend of mine, Cynthia Neoff, shared her routine with me via video and it was extremely helpful to see that sleep training really does work. I watched her baby self-soothe and fall asleep by herself within a minute or two with my own two eyes. It validated the effectiveness of sleep training for me. It allowed me to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
I shared a video of our sleep training experience on my Instagram page so you can watch our journey, step by step. You can find these videos in the “highlights” section on my Instagram page.
If your baby isn’t used to going down awake, it is almost a guarantee that she will cry. It is absolute torture to hear your baby cry for you and then you just leave, but when you witness the benefits of sleep training and a baby’s abilities to self-soothe, it’s very reassuring.
I am so fortunate to have a large following of mamas on Instagram who reached out to encourage me and give me advice while I was sleep training. I want to share some of their tips with you because they are amazing. So, I compiled a list below:
- Stay busy during the intervals
- Don’t stare at the monitor and watch her cry
- Alternate with your partner if you feel like you can’t stay consistent
- Ask your hubby to sleep train while you are out of the house ( I couldn’t do this one because my hubby would break faster – he’s a softie. 🙂 )
If you’re reading this and you have any advice or tips, please feel free to share! I wrote this sleep-training guide so we can have a place to share this information with one another for free.
Lastly, I purposefully emphasized within this blog that this is a free sleep training guide. I want mamas and daddy’s who can’t afford the hundreds to thousands of dollars for sleep training guides and coaches to be able to find my blog and get the help they need – for free. After using this guide I am confident anyone can “sleep train” their baby if they stay consistent, but if you find you aren’t successful, then it is 100% worth investing that money to hire an expert or coach to assist you. 🙂
Good Luck, Mamas! You got this! You (and your baby) will thank you when you are done! 🙂
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