For the past 4 to 5 months I have been getting an amazing night’s sleep at least 90% of the time! Do you want to know what my secret is? Getting our infant to sleep in her own bed!
I have been avoiding this post for a few months because I had an irrational fear that I would jinx myself and my 11 month old, Zoey, would start waking up multiple times during the night again.
Our first daughter slept in our room until she was about 8 months and didn’t sleep through the night until about 10 months. So when we had Zoey, I made a promise to myself that things would be different this time. I have to say that I am not one of those people who can live off no sleep. I don’t know how people do it. When I get sleep deprived I get cranky and sad and don’t know what to do with myself. Somehow I survived the sleep deprived months with my oldest daughter and for the most part without tears. I didn’t want to go down that road again so I told myself Zoey needed to be out of our room at 6 months.
In fact, we tried sleep training Zoey, in a separate room at 4 months…and then again at 5 months. Neither time worked. She just wasn’t ready. It’s important to note that you need to read your child’s cues. Are they ready to be away from you? It’s not always easy to tell but you’ll figure it out. My mother’s intuition never lets me down.
When we brought Zoey home from the hospital we had a bassinet setup in our room and attempted to make this her sleeping area. It didn’t work! I don’t know what made us attempt this again since or older daughter hated it as well. Neither of them would sleep in it and to be honest I haven’t met a mom who has actually gotten their child to sleep in one, so props to you if you’ve been successful with the bassinet!
From that we went to the Pack and Play and again no luck. Next we tried the Rock N Play Sleeper and she loved it! So that’s where she slept for the first 4 months. Unfortunately, she never slept through the night. She would wake up about 4 times a night. Eventually she no longer liked the close quarters of the Rock and Play so that’s when we tried the crib. Fail! When this didn’t work she ended up in our bed. Yes, we were THOSE parents! Not only did I not sleep well due to the constant baby arm in my face or foot in my back but also due to the fear that we would roll over on her. This fear kept me awake most nights. In our bed she would wake up two to three times a night simply because she was uncomfortable. It was time to try the crib again.
Since we were running out of options, we introduced some of the following things to encourage her to get better night’s sleep. Be warned that some of these are not widely recommended so take my advice with a grain of salt and always do what feels best for you as a Mom.
A Lovey – I know about the risk of SIDS and that’s why we waited until we knew she could move things away from her face herself before introducing this. This choice is entirely based on the parent and their comfort level. We chose it because when she would cry for us it seemed like she just didn’t want to be alone. This helped the transition and helped her feel comforted. We used a small lovey that she could grab and hold and also push away.
A bottle right before bed so she was nice and full and ready to sleep through the night.
A set bedtime – I have always struggled with this and still do with our toddler because our days vary so much when it comes to activities that sometimes the kid simply isn’t tired and ready for bed yet but with Zoey I wanted to make a conscious effort to put her down within the same 30 minute time period nightly so her body would get used to a bedtime. For her, that’s 8:30 since she takes a later nap and sleeps in a bit. At first, it wasn’t always like clockwork but after a couple of months, she now starts rubbing her eyes as if they were the hands on a clock striking 8:00. We then take about 15 minutes to do our last play session and the other 15 minutes to prepare for bed by making a bottle, last diaper changes, goodnight kisses, etc.
Jammies – I know some people will put their babies’ jammies on an hour or so before bed but we found that didn’t work for us because she no longer associated the comfy clothes with bed time so we decided to change her within 30 minutes of bedtime so she would start associating the two.
Her crib! This was what changed everything for us. With my toddler, I took a long time to transition her into her own crib because I was scared of leaving her alone. As with many second time mamas, a lot of fears dwindle as you gain experience with your children and are tired and seasoned. We first tried her crib at around 5 months and then when that didn’t work we tried again at 6 months. At that point we felt like she was ready or at least that we were! She had a hard time the first couple days adapting to being alone in such a large space but after about day 4 she seemed to embrace her ability to roll around and stretch out in her own space.
Cry or comfort? We would let her cry it out but sometimes she would get so worked up we had to go get her. After 4 days she was fine and started sleeping through the night.
Black out curtains are a dream! They let your child be able to not only nap during the day undisturbed but allow them to sleep in later in the morning! Heaven on earth!
Night light – Our little one was scared of the dark so we made sure to incorporate a night light that shows a projection right above her crib. It allows her to see a pleasant picture (in our case a Disney princess projection) as she drifts off to sleep and see a light in the background so she can still see and not feel afraid.
White noise – Another tip I want to add is a White noise machine. This actually worked with our oldest but we never incorporated it with Zoey, because by the time I thought of it I didn’t want to start from square one with sleep training.
I’m starting to think I might have jinxed myself since I’m on my way upstairs to comfort my daughter for the second time tonight. What we mothers need to realize is babies’ sleep schedules are always changing, for better or worse. This time it’s due to teething but there will be other reasons down the road. Motherhood is beautiful and worthwhile but it can also be tiresome and can leave you sleep deprived.
Keep on keeping on Gorgeous Mamas! We were made for this!