Sleep Training 101

When Rhett was about 6 months, Brian and I were pretty tired parents.  I was still nursing Rhett through the night whenever he woke up which was about 2-3 times a night.  I know that’s not terrible compared to some babies, but I was just over it.  So then I read some about sleep training and talked to some friends and tried to implement pieces of what they told me to do, but never quite had it all together.

Then I heard about a sleep trainer that some friends had used, and since we were desperate, Brian and I both agreed to give her a shot.  I’ll be really honest here, after meeting with her I was disappointed.  It seemed like we were doing everything wrong and that is sometimes hard to hear.  I also didn’t want to hear about how I needed to get R on a consistent nap schedule so he would sleep better at night. I liked my freedom of doing what I wanted and pushing his naps to whenever was convenient for me.  But I decided to take her advice and give it a shot.

We started out trying to stick to her schedule, but some things were just not going to work for us like a 7 pm bed time when Brian doesn’t get home until after 6 pm every night or a 6 am wake up when mama does not want to start her day that early.  After getting Rhett on a schedule that works for us and sticking to it, I’m happy to say it works!  He has been sleeping through the night, and I couldn’t be more proud of him and thankful for 8 hours of continuous sleep!  He takes two naps a day and although he still cries some before going to sleep, it’s so much better than it used to be!  I’ll outline his basic schedule below:

RBB’s Sleep Schedule

Wake up any time in between 6:45 am – 7:15 am
Wake up and nurse
Breakfast
Go to the gym or play at the house

Go back down any time in between 9:30 am – 10:00 am
Nurse Rhett with lights on while awake
Read a book
Put Rhett in his crib to put himself to sleep (usually still takes about 10 minutes to fall asleep)

Wake up any time between 11:00 am – 12:30 pm
Wake up and eat a snack or lunch if it is after 12 depending on how long his nap went
Run any errands or play around the house after lunch

Go back down any time between 2:30 pm – 3:00 pm
Sometimes I’ll nurse him again before this nap if he didn’t eat very much for lunch, because he tends to sleep longer if he is more full.
Read a book, change diaper, and put him in the crib awake

Wake up any time between 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Eat a snack while mom preps dinner
Play until Brian gets home around 6 pm, nurse, and then eat dinner

Bed time routine starts at 6:45 pm or 7:00 pm with bath time
Nurse before bed with lights on and Rhett fully awake
Pass off to Dad for Bible reading and prayer before putting Rhett in his crib fully awake. He will sometimes cry for a little bit and other times not even cry and put himself right to sleep.  It’s amazing!

Ok so this is what works for us. I really think you have to find what works for you, but I loved how the sleep lady gave us a full schedule of this is what you need to do and stick to. It was easy for me to read books and say “no, that doesn’t apply” or “I don’t like that,” but when someone comes to your home and tells you exactly what you need to do, it’s harder to say no to those suggestions.

Some other suggestions she had:

  • make the room pitch black
  • keep the air between 71 degrees and 73 degrees
  • 3 hours wake time between naps (don’t go longer than 4 hours or risk over tiredness)
  • less than a 45 minute nap doesn’t count
  • do a dramatic wake up (lights on, windows open, sound machine off) after every nap/sleep
  • use a loud sound machine (Marpac) with a constant white noise
  • get an air purifier

Gotta tell you we didn’t do all of those. I try to stick to what we can, but I wasn’t buying more black out curtains to make the room pitch black during the day after spending too much money on the PBK ones I had to have.  Also, after 5 consecutive days of him waking up after 35 minutes or so into his afternoon nap, I gave up on making him go back down to hit the 45 minute mark.  It just wasn’t working.  And once I stopped stressing that 45 minutes, he naturally fell into a routine of sleeping more in the afternoon so it all worked out anyways 🙂

Once again, this is what worked for us.  I’m so glad I gave up my freedom of doing what I wanted and stuck to the schedule, because now I reap the benefits of sleeping through the night.  It is life changing for me! I hope some of these tips might help you too.

happy boy with more sleep

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