Updated: Nov 27, 2019
You Don’t Have to Sleep Train the Hard Way:
This is how I used God’s Guidance, Child Psychology, Wisdom and Patience to get Through the Sleeping Training Stage!
No, I really get what you’re going through, mama. My heart and prayers go out for you right now.
All mamas know that sleep deprivation is real thing. And with sleep deprivation, comes not so good judgement and trying to make it through the next minute without pulling out your hair or going outside to scream your lungs out.
Please keep in mind: THIS IS ONLY A STAGE
REPEAT: This will not last long! This will not last long! This will not last long! A child doesn’t stay 6 months, 1 year or 2 years old – so keep in mind also that this sleep training is only a stage. A child’s mental capacity broadens as they develop. Remember, babies brain cells are developed in and out of the womb. A baby is not born with the gift of a mature brain. So as it develops, so does their mental capacity. This happens through time. A 1 year old is capable of doing more than a 6 month old. Always keep this nugget in the back of your mind. Some parents start at 3 months with sleep training and I didn’t feel right in my spirit to start so young. I knew there was some maturation that needed to develop within my child before giving her to the wolves. This brings me to my next point.
Start when you are READY – not when you are FORCED
The biggest lesson I learned is not to heavily believe outside influences when it comes to my child. I know the Lord gifts each mama with what it takes for the child He blessed them with. So, you know your own child. You know when it’s time to start training to walk, feed solids and potty train – so you will also know when your child is about ready to sleep (or getting to sleep) on their own. Guidance from books and articles are helpful – however each child is different in growth and development. What may be good for the goose sometimes is not good for the gander. Know your own child. Even though I was dead tired, sleep training my daughter early didn’t sit right with me. Tried to start at 2 months, 3 months, 7 months and it just didn’t sit right with me. As much as my physical wanted to let her “cry it out” so she would train herself – the Holy Spirit led me to the right time.
Alright mamas – now I researched finding some ways to sleep train without being harsh (hurtful) to the child. There was the:
“Cry it out” method – where you just let the baby cry without comfort. The
The gentler “cry it out” method -where you go in every 5 or so minutes to comfort and put the baby back down (and repeat) until the baby is sleep.
There was putting the baby down in crib to sleep without picking her up but rubbing her back / tummy to soothe to sleep.
“Rocking chair” method – sitting in the room (in a chair) with the baby as she is in the crib to fall asleep – every night moving the chair a little closer to the door until you were eventually out of the room. The object of this one, not to touch her at all, but let her sense your presence as “comfort” until she is sleep.
So I decided to try to combine and make up my own (with God’s help) to help both of us relax during this process. I do recommend starting this process before the first birthday. I slept (in the same bed) with my daughter from birth until about 9 months. I breastfed her, so it was easier for me to roll over in bed during the night, rather than getting up and trying to feed her from another room. So around 9 months, when I was transitioning her from breast milk to Enfamil transition formula – I was also set to sleep train her.
My daughter, just like most children, is a very clingy little human. So, as an infant –she didn’t like to be put down. Not in a rocker, not on a boppy pillow and not in a swing. She wanted to be on me – all the time. So, in the beginning this would be hard for her to get adjusted to. So I had to transition my mind and give myself this pep talk before (and even during) the process:
“Ok, I am an adult that can control my emotions more than my little girl can. I have been on the earth 32 years, and she has been on the earth for 9-10 months. She didn’t ask to be brought into this world, but we made her. It’s unfair to leave her crying when she needs to know we care about her and love her.” And, here we go!
The Strategy: Stage 1
I first learned between her whimper cry and her distressed cry. Mamas we tend to jump at every cry, but the Lord brought to me that crying is her sign of communication, sometimes whimper and sometimes distress. When infants (children) cry it is a sign they need something. Early on – this can also mean hey, I’m not used to this so ease me into it! The first week, I started putting her down in her own crib at night. (I already set up a bedtime routine with bath, bottle, prayer and a little cuddling.) So the first week after everything I would put her down with her pacifier and have some soft music playing in the background. After no more than two minutes of her “whimper cry” I would go in to comfort her until she stopped and would put her down again. She (of course) cried again, and I would go back in to comfort her (walk and rock with her) until she was sleep – and then put her down in her crib. When she would get up for feeding (like clockwork) I would go get her from her crib, bring her to our bed and feed her. From then, she would go directly back to sleep and be with me for the rest of the night – only getting up to feed her. I stayed at this stage until she wasn’t whimpering / crying anymore when I first put her down for the night.
The Strategy: Stage 2
Once she got comfortable doing this, it was time for her to “graduate” and more work for me. This meant doing the same thing as above, however, instead of bringing her back to our bed when she woke up (and if she started to cry) I would go back in her room to comfort her and put her down in her crib. So, when I first put her down for the night, it would be when she was almost to sleep (like that delirious state) to where she would go directly to sleep or whimper a little until she was sleep. Also, during this stage, my daughter had times where she would be really fussy, or had nights she would wake up more times than not. This is because she had to get used to her own bed and sleeping through the night. Don’t be discouraged. I celebrated each step as a victory and one day closer to getting her to sleep on her own. Remember this is a marathon and not a sprint.
The Strategy: Stage 3
So once she understood what was happening and got comfortable, I started stage 3. This stage was controversial for me because it involves TV. I didn’t want my child to be a TV junkie – or that she needed TV to be put to sleep – but I did want something other than me rocking her to sleep. So after her bedtime routine (like before) – I placed her bottle (she was on almond milk at this time) in her crib and also turned her TV to our beloved Baby TV (educational shows). (Too late now, but what I would recommend are some great YouTube lullaby stations that are great for bedtime). What helped most was her pacifier. I know a lot of moms don’t use pacifiers – but the pacifier saved my life during this time. This stage she got old enough to have her pacifier clipped to her and if it fell out during the night – she would find it and put herself back to sleep on her own. In a baby forum – I also read a mom put several pacifiers around her baby in the crib to help self soothe. Whatever works.
So after the night time bath and prayers, I would put her in her crib with her cup of milk, water or juice, her favorite blanket and her pacifier with the TV on and leave her until she went to sleep. I would check on her periodically until she was. Some days she would go to sleep immediately, and some days it took an hour. (Still, patience is your friend. During this time awaiting for your child to sleep, I recommend getting ready for the next day, or cleaning up from dinner. This way you’re focused on other things). Once she was sleep, I would turn the station to a jazz, instrumental or christian music station for her to listen during the night – something soft to play in the background.
Some products I used throughout this process:
Oilogic Slumber and Sleep essential oil roll on – used as directed and massaged her neck and feet
Lavender candles and incense – helped throughout the stage 3 nighttime routine
Shea Moisture Baby Nighttime Soothing Shampoo Bath Milk & Lotion (smells lovely!)
Always keep in mind the goal throughout this process: getting your baby to sleep on her own and to sleep through the night. There will be nights that will not escape you – (ie sick nights). During this time, you must keep your mind on other things from being frustrated for not getting the sleep you desire. From my personal experience, I remember 4 nights in a row when my little one had a cold and stuffy nose – and I was up every night getting 3 hours of sleep each night – working 9 hour days and restarting it all over again. Couldn’t escape it – but prayer helped me through this time. Prayer for my daughter and prayer for patience.
But with God’s help – He provides the strength you need. I look back at a very short season of sleep training and it taught me so much – especially patience. I believe every child would want patience during their transition from the womb to earth. That, I definitely could give my daughter and I wouldn’t change nothing about this journey.
Now you are probably going to say This is going to take FOREVER! This seems like a harder way than letting her cry it out! Well – to you. But in desperation mode, we, as humans, will do anything for sleep! But you, mama, for this journey will have to train your mind on providing a gentler way of doing for your child to help him or her get to sleep without all the anguish. It’s up to you.