Sleep Training Your Baby in 4 Simple Steps

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It’s 3 A.M. and you hear the shrill cry of your baby. The baby who you just ever so gently laid in his crib.

You have spent the better part of an hour rocking, singing, nursing and doing whatever you can to get this monster…I mean angel to sleep.

Does this sound familiar?

Chances are it does since you have stumbled across this post (probably in the wee hours as you pray for sleep) in hopes that you can sleep train your sleepless baby.

4 simple steps to sleep train your baby

My first baby was never a terrible sleeper but he did wake every 2-3 hours. And he had to have lots of help getting to sleep.

By 4 months I knew I needed to start sleep training. He often had to be rocked, held or carried to sleep. Once he was asleep we would ever so carefully place him in his bed and pray that he would stay asleep.

His naps were often short and consisted of me having to rock or nurse him to sleep.

Now, before you judge me please hear me out when I say we chose to use the cry-it-out method for sleep training.

I like to refer to it as a modified cry-it-out method. I know I’m one of those “heartless” moms who can just let her child scream endlessly until they fall asleep. However, that is not the case for us and what we chose worked wonders for us.

Below are my sleep training tips that got my kids sleeping through the night and self-soothing within a matter of 3 days.

Disclaimer: I am in no way a doctor or sleep professional. Any and all statements and suggestions made are solely my opinion and experience. Consult with your doctor/professional before attempting any suggestions.

Routine

Before we even started our plan of action we decided we needed a consistent bedtime and nap-time routine.

We wanted to signal when bedtime/nap-time was for Blake. A bedtime/nap-time routine needs to be fairly simple and not take more than 30 minutes. A nap time routine should be similar to a bedtime routine but shorter.

Consistency is key here, at first, to help your baby know that what comes next is sleep. We implemented our bedtime and nap-time routines at least a week before we started sleep training.

Awake but Drowsy

Lay your baby down while they are still awake but drowsy. This means that you know your baby is tired or it is their set bedtime but you are not nursing, holding, rocking or singing them to sleep.

You lay them down while their little eyes are still fluttering open or completely open. This allows your baby to learn to soothe themselves to sleep.

With Blake and Raelynn we gave them a pacifier to help them soothe to sleep. To help ease them into this sleep time you may even add some “sleep phrase” here such as,

“Goodnight, we love you!”

Let Them Cry

Please hear me out before you decide to stop reading because you truly do think I am a “heartless” monster.

I am not advocating for you to let your child scream endlessly. I am encouraging you to set a time that you feel comfortable allowing your child to cry and slowly extend it over the nights to follow.

We chose a 2-5-7 minute increments the first night and then bumped it to 10 minutes the next night.

This means that the first night we let Blake cry for 2 minutes before we went in to check on him. If he cried right after we left we waited 5 minutes and then checked on him.

We then began extending the time until he fell asleep. If he woke up again through the night we started over back at 2 minutes.

The first night Blake cried for 1 hour and then put himself to sleep. By night 3 it was less than 10 minutes of crying. By letting him cry we were teaching him to self-soothe without us rocking, holding or nursing him to sleep.

Limit Picking Up

When we went in to check on Blake or calm him from his cries we would give him his pacifier, say a soothing phrase and maybe pat his back.

We did not pick him up or rock him because we wanted him to learn to put himself to sleep without our assistance. The only exception to this rule was:

  • 1). If he was uncontrollably sobbing and couldn’t catch his breath.
  • 2). If he was no longer lying down we would lay him back down.

This is what we did with Raelynn too and it helped her as well. 

Success and Encouragement

These are the choices we made with our modified cry-it-out method that brought us sleep success.

There are many methods to put a baby to sleep and none are THE ONLY WAY. Choose what works for you and your baby.

Baby boy sleeping soundly after being sleep trained
Fast asleep with his teddy bear.

I encourage that whatever method you choose that you try it for at least a week before throwing in the towel.

It only took us a few days and Blake was completely sleep trained and soothing himself to sleep.

To this day he is an amazing little sleeper who sleeps 12 hours a night and 1.5-2 hour naps.

Raelynn is also a 12 hour straight sleeper (see my post on dealing with her sleep regression). I didn’t even use this method with her because of what we started doing from the moment we brought her home. (When she hit her 8 month sleep regression we spent 1 day using this method.)

I hope this will/has helped your family get some sleep. Rest easy, it won’t be like this for long!

I would love to hear from you about any sleep tips or tricks you have learned. Comment below and save this post to Pinterest to refer back to 🙂

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