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Sleep Training - Hard but Worth It

I wanted to write this post in hopes that it might encourage some mommas or help some parents out. Most of you know, we have two sons. Cash is 2 1/2 and Stetson is 9 months. We have sleep trained both of our boys and it made us happier parents and a happier family after sleep training.

Everyone has a different parenting style. Everyone disciplines their children differently, some people formula feed or breast feed, co-sleep or have their baby in their nursery from the day they come home from the hospital. Every parent is different just like every baby is different. With that being said, the way we have sleep trained our kids won't be for everyone. And that's okay.

When Cash was born, he was the easiest baby in the world from the beginning. I'm not just saying that cause he's my kid. I've had plenty of experience with babies and children of all ages. He was seriously an angel. I can probably count on my hand how many times he was fussy just to fuss, if at all. But, when he was about 7 months old I needed for him to sleep in his own room. I hadn't had a good full night of sleep since before being pregnant with him and he would wake in the night for me to feed him. I was breast feeding on demand and that's tiring.

We set his room up and established a routine. The first night of sleep training with Cash was the hardest. Since he never cried, it made me so sad that he was crying so hard. I ended up crying because it was hard for me to listen to him. But, it was worth it. He cried pretty hard the first two nights, but after that third night, he was completely sleep trained. That was it. Since then, he has been an awesome sleeper for us. He goes to bed around 8:30 and he wakes up around 8-9 in the morning. He's taken an afternoon nap at 1:00pm since we sleep trained. His nap is around 3 hours and he's done awesome with his nap as well as bedtime. He knows the drill and he actually looks forward to bedtime. He'll grab his blankie, bear, a toy and we'll bring his sippy of milk in his room. Now that he's in a big bed, he climbs up, gets comfy, and gives us kisses. It's awesome that he loves his downtime and looks forward to sleep. I think creating that routine and sticking to it since he was a baby set him up for success. Of course there are days that I have to go into town and he misses a nap and boy can you tell. That one nap a day and his bedtime routine are so important to his schedule.

Now fast forward to having Stetson. He has been the complete opposite of Cash. He has been a grumpy baby and he gets so fussy. It's been a completely different experience for me as a mom. It stresses me out when he cries and I feel like I'm going to lose my mind. The one thing he's been pretty good at since he was a newborn was sleep. His naps weren't the greatest, but pretty often he'd take a good couple hour nap. At night, he would wake up to dream feed (breast feeding him on demand just like with Cash) and I had been co-sleeping with Stetson since the day we brought him home. I know some people are against co-sleeping, but that truly helped save my sanity with him. I think I will probably co-sleep with all of our kids because it helps both the baby and I get better sleep when we're right next to each other and they can just eat whenever they need to.

But anyways, I was actually really nervous to sleep train Stetson. I knew how well it went with Cash, but I thought it was going to be a nightmare with Stetson because he is very dependent with me and he would wake up to feed so much throughout the night. I figured he'd be up every couple of hours and I was so scared that it was just going to be terrible. But boy was I wrong!

We did the exact same thing with Stetson as we did with Cash. We set up his crib in his room, established a routine and put him to bed around 8. I didn't know what to expect that first night with him. After I laid him down in his crib, he cried hard for about 2 minutes. After that, he was out like a light. Even less crying than Cash when we sleep trained him. It was not what I expected at all.

I was checking his video monitor all night to see if he was waking up and if I'd have to go in there. But nope, anytime he moved around in his crib or fussed for a minute or two, he'd just put himself back to sleep. The next night, I did the same exact routine and he fussed again for a couple minutes, but put himself to sleep again. We've made it through about a week now and it has been so awesome! I quickly regretted that I didn't start sleep training him sooner. I think both Stetson and I would have been much happier if I started this earlier. But oh well, better late than never! And I definitely enjoyed those snuggles I got with him in bed for those 8 months. They were special and although I lost sleep, it was a sweet time.

I want to break down our routine for bedtime with you so that you can see what set us up for success with sleep training and some important things. Before sleep training Cash, I researched quite a bit to learn what's best for babies and how to go about all of it. I was nervous both times with sleep training our boys and I think that I will be with every kid. You just don't know what to expect and it's a big transition for baby and parents.

What we do every night:
  • Feed the boys dinner. Making sure their bellies are full before they go to sleep is important. I don't like to sleep train when they're really young because they are up to feed quite a bit when they're little and aren't ready to be sleeping through the night when they need to be eating every couple hours. So, personally I like to wait until they're a little bigger and are eating solids so that their bellies are full and they won't need to be up through the night to feed.
  • Bath. We don't do a bath every single night, but I did do a bath with Cash every night when I was first sleep training him. It's a good way for them to get sleepy and connect that bath time means bed time will be coming soon if you do it every night.
  • Put fresh clean jammies on. It's not something you have to do, but they know they're 'getting ready for bed' when we put their jammies on and tell them that's what we're doing
  • With Cash, he gets a sippy of milk for bedtime. With Stetson, I breastfeed him right before putting him to bed. If your baby is formula/bottle fed, then give them their bottle before bed. 
  • I put Stetson in his crib when he is sleepy, but not asleep. This is HUGE. Part of sleep training is that they learn to put themselves to sleep. If you put your baby in their room when they're asleep, you're not letting them learn to get used to falling asleep on their own. They will be dependent on you to fall asleep. It's good for them to lay around or be bored in their crib and fall asleep on their own. It's best when they're really sleepy, that's why it's great to feed them their bottle or breastfeed them before putting them in their crib so they can wind down and get tired.
  • Let baby fuss. This is so important! The first night, I laid both boys in their cribs and headed out. That's it. It's not good to linger in the room and let them see you. This whole process is about them learning to be independent. If Stetson saw me watching him in his room, I guarantee he wouldn't have quit crying.

Those are some of the most important parts. It's called the Ferber Method or CIO (Cry It Out) Method. When first starting, you are supposed to go into the room after a certain amount of time. Some parents do 5 minutes or anywhere up to 15 minutes. But from what I remember, you go in after 5 minutes of crying. Open the door, comfort your baby and put your hand on their back, but no talking. Just let them know you're there and didn't leave. Then walk out, close the door and wait 10 minutes this time. Do the same thing and go in their room to comfort them. Then back out and wait 15 minutes this time. Keep repeating this process. Typically the first night is the worst for most parents/babies. But it. is. worth. it.

It's so hard sitting outside their room or just knowing they are in their room crying and wanting you. But, it's so good for baby to learn to be independent when it comes to sleep and will be so great as they get older. A lot of people say it's easier to sleep train a baby than it is to sleep train a toddler. I can't imagine sleep training Cash right now because he's old enough to open doors, walk around, play with toys, all that good stuff. Lol. 

I truly think sleep training is so important for everyone in the house. It makes everyone happier and it's great to get everyone on a good schedule for sleep. I don't know a parent that doesn't get excited for bed time! Lol.

The way we have done things probably isn't for everyone and that is just fine. But, I know it's hard and scary going into transitions like this as a parent and sometimes reading about it and getting some help or encouragement can make things just a little bit easier. 

So, the key things for you to remember when it's time for sleep training: establish the routine. Kids do so well when they have a routine and know what to expect. It doesn't have to be anything crazy and strict. Feed those babies and make sure they have a full belly. Know that this is hard for everyone. It's not easy by any means, but I can tell you that it is worth it. And don't be afraid to reach out to other moms or research about different methods to find what works for you. I've found it best to just do what works for us, so do the same for you. Do what you think will work for your baby.

Before I finish this up, we also use sound machines in both the boys rooms. We keep them on all night and they don't have to be anything fancy, just something to block out noise in the house through the night. This is Cash's sound machine, we turn it on for naps and bedtime. This is Stetson's, it's also a projector and sound machine. The only reason I got that one for Stetson is because I found it brand new at a thrift store for a couple bucks, otherwise I probably would have just gotten a basic one like Cash has.

We also have video monitors in both their rooms so we can check on them anytime from our room or wherever we are in the house so we don't have to open the door and wake them up. The cameras we have are great because D can even check on them when he's at work by using the app that is used with them and you can even talk on them if needed. These are the ones we have and love them! Best deal we could find online and it comes with two. I get updates on my phone when there is movement detected on them which is really nice. These are under $50 and typically when you look for baby monitors (especially video monitors), they get really spendy. I looked up video monitors instead so that I could find the best deal. These are typically used for security cameras, but work perfectly for baby monitors. What's nice is that we can use these for security cameras or to watch our dog and chickens while we're out.

I think that's everything now! Lol. If you have any questions at all, I'd be happy to help. I'm only a couple years into this parent gig and I'm no expert but I'm always here to talk and help any mommas out <3

Good luck on this sleep training journey, mommas and daddas! You can do it!


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