It’s important to know there are two philosophies for getting your baby to sleep: cry it out method and the Dr. Sears sooth to sleep. Both work, it just depends on what you’re willing to go through/do to help your baby sleep. We used the Dr. Sears method. Mostly because I wasn’t willing to let Archer cry for extended periods of time and I generally believe it’s the right approach.
If you opt for the cry it out method of sleep training it shouldn’t stat before 4 months or before they weigh 14 lbs.
We’re not sure if we’re lucky because we have a baby who is a great sleeper or if we had good habits early on that have helped our baby become a great sleeper. Probably a little bit of both, but what we did has worked.
-Make the crib a happy place. We would help Archer fall asleep by walking and rocking him to sleep. Then we’d put him in his crib. If he woke up, we’d get out of bed, pick him up and help soothe him to sleep again. He learned that we’re there for him and going to bed isn’t scary and he isn’t alone.
-Gradually start putting your baby in their crib when they’re just drowsy, not fully asleep. At first when you start doing this, you may have to put them down up to 4 or 5 times. Each time Archer would start to cry and fuss, we’d pick him up promptly before he’d get too upset, tell him it’s ok and it was time for bed, and when we was calm and falling asleep again, we’d put him back.
-Now at 4 months our night time routine is set: promptly at 7:00pm we get him in his PJs and sleep sack, bath or wipe him down (sponge bath) and turn off all the lights in the house. Then I hold him laying in my arms and we walk around the house for 5 or 10 minutes until he’s calm and starting to self soothe. Then in his crib he goes! He knows it’s bedtime. If he fusses we quickly pick him up and walk or rock him a bit more. Sometimes we have to put him down once and he’s out and other times we have to put him down up to 4 times. Yes it takes anywhere from 15 to 45 mintues to get him to sleep, but there isn’t any crying involved and it’s more bonding time between me and him.
Some people say up to 45 or more minutes to rock and walk with your baby to put them down is too much, but I disagree. When you do sleep training (cry it out method) it can also take to an hour, but that hour is filled with crying. Which would you rather have? An hour of crying or and hour of holding your baby in your arms and walking around? Easy answer for me, but as my sister says (who sleep trained) it’s all about what you’re willing to do.
My whole motto with sleep is to not make it scary or forced. Make your baby feel secure, that you’re there for them and if they have trouble one night falling asleep that’s ok. You’re there to help them. Don’t you have trouble sometimes? It’s only natural.
Now at almost 5 months old, he sleeps 10 hours every night and another 2 or so after he gets fed in the morning. I will say that during certain developmental milestones (e.g. cognitive burst around 3 1/2 – 4 months) he has more trouble than other times going to sleep on his own. That just means sometimes I have to hold and walk with him longer than usual.
I’ll also note that sleeping through the night for us has varied. When he started teething he would wake 3 times a night for a few weeks. It was bad. He often wakes 1 time a night still even when not teething. I asked my pediatrician about night waking and she said her kids always woke at least 1 time a night so nothing to be worried about just something to deal with. (for those of us who don’t sleep train I guess)
This is a tricky subject for all parents, you have to decide what you’re comfortable with and what you’re willing to do to get your little bundle to sleep. Good luck and feel free to share what worked for you!
Here’s Dr. Sears’ video on sleep tips: