Baby Sleep Training from an overwhlemed new mom’s perspective
Baby sleep is by far one of the most challenging obstacles to power through when it comes to motherhood, not to mention training a baby.
And to top it all off, there is a huge discussion on whether one should sleep train a baby at all.
If you are unaware of such discussion, we will get to it shortly.
And if you are aware of such discussion and want to decide whether to sleep train your baby or not, do read on you guys are in the right place.
Bear in mind this is a post answers the basic of what sleep training is (for babies before 1 year old) and why I chose to sleep train my baby.
If you want to learn more about baby sleep methods in the link below.
Alright, let’s begin.
Important: I’ve left a journal freebie at the end of this post for mamas who need it. It will help with your emotional processing, self-discovery, and daily reflections on your motherhood journey.
Baby sleep training definition
What is baby sleep training?
From one mom to another, basically, baby sleep training is about having your baby self-soothe back to sleep on their own without the need to rely on the parent’s assistance through rocking, singing, holding, or breastfeeding.
Below is the list of what baby sleep training entails:
- is at least 4 months old
- have a routine in the house
- have a set nap time and bedtime
- have a conducive environment for sleep
- you will need a sound machine and a baby monitor to go with sleep training
Let me emphasize that at the end of the sleep training, your baby will learn to fall asleep without your assistance.
Isn’t that wonderful? (bliss)
Below is a quick overview video on baby sleep training:
Facts about baby sleep training
Baby does not know how to fall asleep at an early age
Or at least, they do not know how to self-soothe back to sleep.
This is one of the most informative news to me as a new mom! I thought sleep was a given, not a learned skill.
You may read about baby sleep as a learned skill from zerotothree.org in their key takeaways.
I was wrong about sleep being a given.
At the beginning of the first 3 months, my newborn would nod off so easily during breastfeeding sessions that I would not need to lift a finger to put her to sleep.
It was peaceful, the only major challenge I had that time was getting her to latch.
I used to associate late night feedings as a contributor to mom’s sleepless nights.
But there was more to it.
Once my baby past the 3-month mark, and became more wakeful, I realize it was harder for her to fall asleep on her own, and the harder I needed to work to put her to sleep.
It came to a point where it would take me 1 hour through rocking, singing, and swinging to be successful. And when I settle her into the crib, she would wake in less than 30 minutes, sometimes immediately!
It was crazy!
I would then repeat the routine all over again. I’m sure a lot of moms out there could relate to this.
Talk about running yourself to exhaustion.
That’s when I started reading up and learned about this important fact about sleep being a new skill for babies.
Sleep train baby only 4 months onwards
So the next important fact to know when you do decide to sleep train your baby, is that there is a minimum age to start.
There’s a reason you’re not encouraged to start any earlier than 4 months. Something to do with their developmental phase and the ability to tune into the circadian rhythm.
The article here will explain better. It talks about the suitable age to begin the training, right before they tackle the various sleep training methods.
For me, I started sleep training my baby at 5 months old.
Why I startted at the 5th month and not any earlier?
That’s because I didn’t know there’s such a thing prior to that!
And those days were tough, really tough.
I remember being awake but was in a daze all day, like a zombie. I even fell asleep while watching my baby girl, how dangerous that was. I was that out of it from the extreme exhaustion and lack of sleep.
And not to mention through it all, I had to manage my cranky baby who was either too tired to be interested in her surroundings or couldn’t get enough rest because she’d wake every 30 minutes.
It was an exhausting ordeal for both baby and I.
Expect to sleep train your baby again every few months
This is something good to know before starting to sleep train the baby.
Understand that sleep training your baby is not a done and dusted kind of thing.
It requires re-training every few months due to setbacks or developmental leaps.
My baby girl will sleep better after I sleep train her. But I also generally notice a trend where it takes her more effort to fall back asleep during the developmental marks like around 3, 6, 9, 12-month mark.
And of course, her sleep is very affected with teething days and when she’s ill. On those days, I’ll treat her naps a little differently by giving her what she needs, but she ultimately still falls asleep by herself.
The good news?
Here’s the thing, I realize the first time training is the hardest part to bear.
After my baby picked up her self-soothing skill, the training no longer takes up as long and less tears when it came to retraining during the developmental marks.
All babies and parent’s success rate are different
All babies and parents are different. This is important to keep in mind.
As at training your 9 month old baby, it is a 70-80% success rate, not 100%.
I put this up because I want fellow new moms to understand if they do fail at baby sleep training, it’s not because they did not do it right, but probably because it just doesn’t work for you and your baby and there is nothing wrong with that.
Just dust of, know that you’ve learned a method that doesn’t work for you (like Edison the lightbulb guy), and move on.
The good news is, there are parents out there who have made it work for themselves without sleep training their babies.
They have made their own resolution about their sleep approach and arrangements and accepted it and roll with it.
Check Carly from mommyonpurpose on her journey with baby sleep without sleep training her baby.
Baby sleep training does not mean ‘Crying-it-out’ for your baby
I was actually surprised that when talking about baby sleep training, some people immediately associate it with crying it out.
This is not true. There are many methods out there, and there are methods that require less to no crying at all. Those methods just take longer to succeed.
So to be clear, baby sleep training is the idea of having your baby learn the skill to self-soothe to sleep, crying-it-out (CIO) is just one of the methods, a means to an end for your baby to learn to self-soothe.
You don’t have to do CIO if you don’t want to.
In fact, once you understand the goal of baby sleep training, you can mix and match or create your own method for your baby to self-soothe to sleep.
It may not be for everyone
Baby sleep training is not for everyone, for one, if your baby has medical conditions, or ill you will need to consult your doctor on it.
Here are general guidelines from raisingchildren.net.au on what to expect for an estimated sleep pattern for babies with no medical conditions.
Meanwhile there are other reasons that will hold back some parents, like:
- can’t bear to hear their baby cry intentionally
- may think it’s a cruel approach
- feel guilty for subjecting the baby to such a traumatic experience
- may feel their relationship is ruined
- may damage their babies mentally
The list goes on and on.
Whether sleep training is good for you is all subjective to each individual.
If you’re on the fence about sleep training your baby but feeling very uncertain, anxious about the potential risks do some research on baby myths and their facts.
That will help you make a more informed decision rather than a guessed one.
I was struggling with my baby sleep and was on the fence for months, but once my doubts were cleared and sleep trained my baby, my days are much better.
I just wish I could have learned about it earlier!
Why choose to sleep train your baby
For me, my struggle with my baby’s sleep came to a point where it was affecting my sanity and energy level.
I could not perform any task properly at home, not be awake, nor be present for my baby’s needs was.
I was in self-destruct mode, I know if I were to continue in this path, I will truly lose myself, not be happy as a mother, resentful of my baby and my husband.
And not to mention unable to provide a positive conducive environment for my baby to thrive.
Those were the reasons what made me decide to do something about my situation through baby sleep training.
The list below might be something that can help you assess if you want to sleep train your baby:
- you are severely lacking sleep and can’t properly function in a day
- you are not present for your baby or yourself (or anyone else)
- What you’re doing is not working and you needed something more sustainable
- you do not have the help that will allow you to rest
- you start to resent or become very impatient towards your baby
- co-sleeping with your baby is not working out or not an option
- rocking, swinging or singing to your baby for long periods of time regularly is startling to take a toll on your body (ie. carpal tunnel, wrist sprains, painful knees, etc.)
Some parents may not need it, but to some who may be experiencing the above, you know something different needs to be done.
And that was me on all the above.
The positive outcome of sleep training a baby
At the end of my sleep training, my baby was able to sleep well and that was because my baby has learned to do all the things below:
- she has learned to self-soothe (which is a life skill!)
- she no longer rely on me to fall asleep
- she can go back to sleep on her own when she wakes up in the middle of the night (or during naps)
- I can settle her in the crib awake but tired (with the baby monitor on) and leave the room
- I don’t have to wait until she falls asleep
- my baby was less cranky or even happy during the day because she was well rested from her naps
The time, energy, and sanity I get back for myself
Sleep training my baby has brought back a tremendous amount of time, energy, and sanity for me. It has:
- given me back quality sleep at night
- given me space to rest and breathe during her nap times
- I am much happier because I am well rested and my baby is happy
- I am able to be more present to my baby’s needs, the people around me, or even my house chores because I got to rest
- now that I am rested, I can think straight and have a clearer head
Sleep training my baby is one of the single most effective thing that have turn around my spiraling days as a new mom.
If any overwhelmed mom were to choose to turn 1 thing around, I’d recommend looking into baby sleep training.
It will make a world of a difference, I guarantee it.
Conclusion on baby sleep training
People have a lot of opinions when it comes to how to raise a baby and what is the right or wrong way of doing things.
But I feel we should not be deterred from a potential idea that may benefit both the mommy and baby.
I was terribly confused in my first few months before sleep training my baby.
Let her cry, don’t let her cry?
She’ll be damaged, babies are resilient.
These confused me heavily and I did not have a stance nor an opinion towards my baby’s sleep.
But when I decided to take charge and look into baby sleep training properly, I have not regretted my decision since.
Whether you decide to sleep train your baby or not, sticking to your own conviction from making an informed decision will help you navigate this difficult journey called motherhood.
Forget about all the noise out there, what is your stance and value in raising your baby?
That will be a good guide on how you want to approach your baby’s sleep.
I chose to sleep train my baby because I needed a sustainable solution to our sleep struggles. Giving the rest that my baby and I so desperately needs.
I hope this article has helped nudge you closer in the direction of deciding to sleep train your baby or not.
Don’t forget to download your free prompt journal below! It will give you a more directed approach to journaling and you may even learn something new about yourself!