SLEEP TRAINING RECAP: how we did it, what our daily schedule is & our overall thoughts!
Happy FRI-YAY! I’ve gotten lots of questions since I posted about starting to sleep train Jack and I wanted to put it all in one spot for you guys! We have really loved sleep training and it made a HUGE difference for us. Literally. We went from him waking up 4-5 times a night to almost never waking up in the middle of the night. He sleeps better, is more rested during the day and is definitely happier all around. I understand that some people won’t agree with any form of “crying it out” – but I felt comfortable knowing that we weren’t abandoning him in the room, and that we would follow the “pop in” schedule as Cara outlines and suggests. Jack knows he is loved and he is cared for. That being said: if you don’t want ANY part of allowing your baby to cry a little bit while they learn to self soothe – this isn’t going to work for you. So do with that what you will! For the rest of you – check out all of my thoughts below:
SLEEP TRAINING RECAP:
how we did it, what our daily schedule is & our overall thoughts!
SO. To start: we ended up taking the ABC’s of Sleep by Taking Cara Babies to guide us on our sleep training path. I HIGHLY recommend it. 10/10. Cara is awesome, breaks everything down so perfectly and really got us to a point where Jack had a reasonable bedtime, wasn’t fussing at night and was getting 11-12 good hours of sleep. If you are brand new to sleep training, I really do suggest you start there first. Check out Cara’s other stuff as well – I also loved her 3-4 month sleep regression guide.
NOW: the good stuff. When we started sleep training, Jack was going to bed between 8-9pm every night and waking up around 1am, 4am and 6am to eat. He was up for the day between 7-7:30am. He wasn’t napping unless I held him and even then he wasn’t napping for very long or very often even though he was SO SO tired. It was really hard to see him struggle with sleep so much, and honestly I was also really struggling getting up so often with him.
The first step I took was to take away the frequent feedings and put him on my own schedule. We started the first week feeding at 10:30 and 3:30 and then after the first week, I dropped the 3:30 feed altogether and now we just have our 10:30 feed. I am not in any kind of rush to take that one out right now. He sleep through it mostly, and I really love the nighttime snuggles. I also feel good knowing he has one last, good feed in to carry him until morning. That is completely my own issue – Jack could sleep through the night fine. Our pediatrician said he doesn’t really need night feeds anymore, but this mama isn’t quite ready to give them up. It’s one time a day where I can just hold him and snuggle him. It’ll be completely up to you if you take away both feeds or stick with one!
This method does have some “crying it out” tendencies. Adam and I talked about this when we first started. I really didn’t want to just let Jack scream himself to sleep. We followed Cara’s ‘pop-in’ schedule and I was surprised how fast Jack adapted anyways. He hardly ever cries longer than five minutes now when going to bed or going down for a nap. More often than not, he goes to sleep faster than that with no fussing. We also changed Jack’s bedtime to 7pm. It’s been AWESOME. He does SO MUCH BETTER with an earlier bedtime. He sleeps more, and I relax more knowing he’s actually getting a good night of rest so if he misses a nap during the day, it’s less detrimental to him.
Additionally, Jack can self soothe now which is amazing for him just in every day life. He is a thumb sucker (which is okay with us) – and once he found his thumb, he has been able to put himself back to sleep no product throughout the night if he wakes up. During the day, if he gets fussy – he uses his self soothing tactics to help calm himself down (like when he’s in his stroller or carseat and he’s fussy).
One big key of this entire sleep training guide (especially for naps) is to watch for his sleep cues. Once I see those start, it’s immediately down for a nap or time to start our bedtime routine. He’s in a pretty predictable routine right now because of this and that has been very helpful for me, as well. Some notable cues Jack has are: rubbing his eyes, scratching at his face, sucking his thumb and burying his head in my shoulder.
OUR DAILY SCHEDULE:
- 6am: Wake up. First feed of the day. Sometimes Jack will sleep until 6:30 – but he never really goes past that. I let him wake up on his own.
- 7am: Down for first nap. Jack eats first and then plays for about 45 minutes and then he goes back down to sleep. This nap lasts anywhere between 30min-1hr.
- 7:30/8am: Wakes up from nap. Eats. Plays for 2 hours.
- 9:30/10am: Goes down for second nap. It lasts between 30min-1hr.
- 10:30/11am: Wakes up from nap. Eats. Plays for 2 hours.
- 12:30/1pm: Goes down for third nap. It lasts between 30min-1hr.
- 1:30/2pm: Wakes up from nap. Eats. Plays for 2 hours.
- 3:30/4pm: Goes down for last nap of the day. It is never longer than 30min.
- 4:30pm: Wakes up, eats and is awake until bedtime!
- 6:30pm: Bath time, story time and wind down for the evening. We are in his room from this point forward once he’s out of the bath. We dim the lights and talk more softly.
- 7:00pm: Jack will start eating around 6:45-7pm. He’s typically down at around 7:10.
- 10:30pm: Dream feed.
This is a loose schedule. I try to follow the nap, eat, play routine and it works really well for Jack. If we miss naps, I try to make them his afternoon naps. He really does need those morning naps still to have a day with minimal fussing. He is a REALLY good baby, so it’s rare if he does fuss but I find his demeanor and energy levels are just way better when he gets those naps in the morning.
When we started sleep training, I stopped feeding him before nap times because I didn’t want him to only be able to fall asleep if he ate. The switch in routine was very easy and he didn’t even notice. My milk supply adjusted just fine to eliminating night feeds. The first few nights, I had to get up and pump around 4am but it’s adjusted now to pumping after I feed Jack at 6am. I’m too full after going all night to just leave it, and I like pumping to add to my freezer supply. This is the ONLY time of day I pump down. Jack is totally on the breast right now with no bottles.
We did change this routine up to fit his needs when he goes sick a few weeks ago. He had a mild case of RSV and was really having a hard time. He had a WICKED cough and was miserable for a week. I fed more on demand than usual (in between play times and naps) when he needed it, and he went to bed around 6pm instead of 7pm. He was just so tired from coughing all day and he didn’t even skip a beat. We could tell he was grateful for the extra sleep. We switched this up to fit Jack’s needs at the time. Sleep training came second to his wellbeing.
PIN THIS FOR LATER:
Overall – I am really thrilled with how sleep training worked for Jack and our family. We get WAY more sleep and Jack is a happier baby. I could instantly see a difference when he had a full night of sleep. Since starting, he’s had 3 nights where we was getting up around 2-3am and crying for about 45mins. We aren’t sure why he regressed for those few days, but he went back to normal pretty quickly so we didn’t sweat it.
Have any sleep training questions for me?! Drop them below!! What was your experience sleep training? Did you do it? Did you skip it?