I was hesitant to even write about this because I know the idea of “sleep training” in itself can be controversial, as it is so personal and different from baby to baby. Sage did not follow any schedule for the first five months at all, but I knew when the time was right for both of us to begin working toward a more structured routine. We worked toward getting two good naps each day in her crib (I was notorious for holding her during naps or just setting her down anywhere) and sleeping through the night. It took time but was worth it for my own routine with work and tasks around the house.
I didn’t even call it sleep training, but here are five things that worked for us to get her on a more consistent sleep schedule:
Start with Bedtime
Before we worried about naps, I started to pay closer attention to when we were putting her to bed. While it won’t be exact from night to night, I made sure to become a little more consistent about our nighttime routine to get her used to forming habits around sleep.
Learning Their Cries
As crazy as it sounds, I’ve tried really hard to familiarize myself with how Sage communicates what she is feeling and needing at the moment. I’ve started to know what the “I’m hungry” cry is versus the “I’m tired” cry. This has helped us in the sleep department because I can differentiate between what may be her rustling around restless in her crib or what may be something that needs my attention.
Know it Won’t be Perfect
I say this because there are definitely times when naps are shorter or longer than “planned,” and that is okay. You can plan all you want, but at the end of the day, sometimes their little bodies have something totally different in mind. If you go in with the mindset that schedules may need to be adjusted and things may not follow whichever specific guide you happen to be looking at, you’ll be better off in the long run.
Create a Safe Sleep Environment
Ensuring your baby’s sleep space follows all of the American Academy of Pediatrics Safe Sleep Recommendations will give you so much peace of mind when preparing to have your baby in their own room for naps and overnight sleep. I invested in the Newton mattress (Linds50) for Sage’s room after seeing how breathable the material is in case she rolled to her tummy.
Do Your Research
You are your baby’s #1 advocate. With so many programs and techniques out there to maximize sleep, make sure you are taking the time to read reviews, parent testimonials, and program credentials to make sure the teaching style fits your own parenting and lifestyle.
Most importantly, do what feels right for you and remember you are doing an amazing job. Also, nothing beats baby snuggles, so soak it all in while you still can!