I don’t even know if you can call what we’re doing “sleep training,” but I guess we’ll use it for lack of a better term. I wanted to write out what we’ve been doing for posterity’s sake and in hopes of looking back on this roller coaster of time with a smile. And probably an eye roll at how little we knew.
We moved Riv into his crib right at the two-month mark. It might’ve been even sooner if we hadn’t put off installing the baby monitor for so long. Oops! We also tried to be strategic with the timing, knowing that we’d need to be at home for an extended period of time to ensure a routine could be established. We didn’t want to be out of town or staying the night at my parents’ house any of the nights and then end up totally throwing him off. I think the timing ended up working out well.
[By the way, I definitely recommend talking through a plan with your partner before starting the transition. Being on the same page is critical!]
Up until the transition, Riv was eating at 8 p.m. and then again at 11 p.m. before being put down for the night in his Rock ’n Play. I wanted to continue that timeframe for the most part, so we started aiming for bath time around 7:30. It hasn’t been perfect but we’ve been able to stick to it pretty well. Bath time has been anywhere between 7 and 7:45, and then we adjust the length of the bath accordingly. After his bath, I put a diaper on him, turn off the lights, pull the curtains shut, and turn on the Dohm before feeding him and putting him in his swaddle. Because it’s freaking hot and he’s starting to roll a bit, we moved out of the SwaddleMe and into the HALO SleepSack with his arms out and only a diaper underneath. He’s done well with it so far and the temperature seems to be just right. On cooler nights, we’ve put him in a long-sleeved onesie. He’ll usually wake up from his dream-like state when I put him in his swaddle/onesie and then that’s when the fun starts. Sometimes he yawns a few times and I can put him down in his crib for the night without issue. Other times, he’s wide awake and needs some extra pre-bedtime attention. It’s so hard not to rock him to sleep before transferring him to his crib, but I’m trying to be good about the whole “putting himself to sleep” program. If he’s pretty awake, I’ll read a book to him or sing him my annoying renditions of lullabies. I avoid normal talking at all costs and do a lot of shushing to remind him that it’s quiet time. Once he’s successfully in the crib, I put a few drops of lavender oil onto the sheet and right around the neckline of the swaddle, and place the Shusher (on loud) under his crib.
So far, we’ve only had a couple nights where he stays completely asleep from that point on. On more than one occasion, he has woken up and started screaming. I read a million things about what to do when this happens, but I realized most of it is easier said than done. We always listen/watch on the monitor for a couple of minutes to figure out what kind of cry it is. I was surprised at how often I’d hear him cry and then he’d go right back to sleep within a few seconds. By now, you know your baby’s tendencies and which cry means what. It might be hard to remember to stop and listen before rushing in at 4 in the morning, but it’s totally worth it. Once we know for sure that he isn’t going to chill out on his own, it’s time to move. Our instinct is always to pick him up and soothe him but, of course, that could create bad habits. I feel like everything you do as a parent has the potential to create bad habits. Add it to the freaking list! Instead of going straight to picking him up, I’ll go in the room (lights still off) and shush him for a little bit. If that doesn’t work, I’ll put one hand on his stomach to let him know I’m there and add some weight to his body that’s still adjusting to this new sleeping arrangement. One or both of those techniques usually work, but my friend (thanks, Jam!) shared some other things to run through when necessary. I go in a different order but the idea is the same. It’s called the soothing ladder from the book The Happy Sleeper. The idea is to start at the bottom rung (number one), spend 15 to 30 seconds on each, and work your way up as needed.
The Soothing Ladder Steps
7. Feeding him
6. Picking him up to gently rock until soothed but still awake
5. Jiggling baby in the bed
4. Your touch, patting on the back, rubbing head or tummy, hand over top of the head, and so forth
3. Replacing the pacifier and/or lovey
2. the sound of your voice, talking, singing, shushing
1. Your presence in the room
We’re now six nights in and I’m hoping Riv is going to become an expert sleeper in no time. So far, he’s slept in eight- to nine-hour stretches and we could not be more thrilled! The only thing better than a well-rested baby is a well-rested mom and dad.
Next up, getting him on a nap schedule! Ohhh the glamour of parenthood.
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