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Sleep training is a very controversial subject.
Bring sleep training up in your favorite mom group and I bet you’ll get at least a few rude comments.
“You’re going to emotionally scar your child”
“I couldn’t put my baby through that”
And that is just a few I have heard.
But when my twins hit the six month mark and started waking up every damn hour between midnight and six am, I needed to do something.
I was becoming a MAAASIVE B to my husband and we were fighting way too often because of it.
I was just TOO exhausted.
Waking up each night to a screaming baby every hour was driving me insane. I was to the point of practically sleep walking through both day and night.
When you hear that the first year is a blur- those moments are what they are talking about.
Before I started to transition the twins onto a sleep schedule, days were blurring into each other and I honestly couldn’t have told you when the last time I ate or changed a poopy diaper was.
Everything was a blur.
At that point I had just had enough. I was mean, exhausted, hungry, and in desperate need of a shower.
So I went to my local mom group for help and one of my friends suggested sleep training.
At first I really didn’t have anything against it, I was just unsure how it all worked. I had previously read into a few different methods but nothing seemed to answer all of my questions.
After talking with her about what worked with her son, I felt empowered and decided to go for it after my finals were over.
Oh did I not mention?
All of this was also going on during finals week.
Talk about STRESS!
Diving into sleep training was something it turns out I was NOT prepared for. At all.
After a few different tries and struggles, we finally got it down and…drum roll please…
The twins started sleeping twelve hours straight at night.
That is right, twelve sweet hours of ALONE TIME. SLEEP TIME. WHATEVER I WANT TO DO TIME!!
Now that we have gotten it down, I wanted to share with you guys a few do’s and don’ts for when it comes time for you to take on the daunting task.
Sleep Training Do’s and Don’ts
Do- Start with naps
I really believe that my sleep training success came from starting the process with nap time. Instead of letting them fall asleep in my arms, or in the living room, I started to take them into their room to sleep in their cribs.
This helped them get comfortable in their cribs for shorter amounts of time, and it was easier on me. It is a lot easier to hear them cry and comfort them during the day than it is at 2 am when all you want to do is give in and tuck them into bed with you.
Don’t- Dive straight in
It is likely your babies aren’t used to sleeping in their room- hence the sleep training. So don’t dive right in with nighttime because you will not make it through. Nighttime is ROUGH. Odds are they will cry for a very long time during the first whole night in their own room. If you haven’t prepared yourself for a few days during the daytime naps- you won’t make it.
Do- Create a night routine
Everyone says this, but create routine for your babies. It doesn’t have to be bath, change, feed and read each night. I don’t even bathe my twins at night. We do it in the morning because that is when it works best for me.
Instead, come up with something you are comfortable with and confident that you can do each (or most) nights. I just put them in jammies, offer a bottle and read them a book.
Don’t- Throw them in bed for the night
Without a nighttime routine, your babies will have a harder time differentiating between night and naptime. They don’t have a sense of night and day, so you have to teach them. Adding a routine to their bedtime is a great way to help them learn this is nighttime and this is nap time.
Do- Have a different nap routine
This kind of ties in with the previous, however I think it is a good point to hit. Make sure that when you put them down during the day you aren’t doing the same things you are at night. I simply put them in their cribs for naps. That’s it. Nothing special.
Don’t- Do the same thing for naps and nighttime
If you do the same routine, like say change, bottle, sleep for each time they go down for any kind of sleep it’s likely they won’t learn day and night. Like I said above, we have to teach them the difference in times of the day and with that comes an appropriate routine.
Do- Put them in their crib awake
This is the hard part. They will cry. Whether it is for nap or nighttime, they’re going to cry for some amount of time. But the whole point of sleep training is to get them to learn how to sleep on their own. So take a deep breath and put them in their cribs and close the door.
Don’t- Rock them to sleep
The whole point, like I just said, is to get them to learn how to fall asleep on their own. If you continue to rock them, hold them, nurse them, use binkies or anything of the sort- they aren’t learning to sleep on their own.
Do- Follow their lead
Just because you need to get them to nap and sleep, doesn’t mean you must be super strict. I started out by following their lead and putting them down for naps when they started showing “I’m tired” cues like rubbing their eyes, having a gloss over look or yawning. That did help me gauge when their naps and nighttime needed to be.
Don’t- Stick to strict schedules
Sticking to the schedule is going to make your life miserable. Now maybe for the first week or two make sure to closely stick to nap and sleep times, but if you want to go do something that falls during a naptime, or go out to dinner- just do it. Odds are they are just going to fall asleep while you’re out anyways. If we are out past 7pm, the twins fall asleep in their car seats and we just drape their car seat covers over them and that’s that.
Then when we get home we offer a bottle and put them back down for the night.
Do- Stay strong
The absolute hardest thing- staying strong. But you CAN do this! The first night is the worst. You will not get any sleep and neither will anyone in your home. But trust me- give it your EVERYTHING to get through that first night.
I didn’t make it. I tried three nights in a row where each time I would give up by midnight. I would get one baby to finally sleep, and then the other one would wake up screaming and then I would scream and just game over.
But on that fourth night I prepped myself with movies, my favorite snacks, plenty of coffee and creamer and just went for it. I would be lying if I said it wasn’t the hardest thing I have ever done. I truly think it broke me. But you know what? They only woke up twice the next night and went right back to sleep each time.
Don’t- Give in
YOU CAN DO THIS.
I know just how hard it is. I know how much your heart hurts to hear them cry like that and to just walk out of the room. I understand the pain of hearing them cry for hours and just wanting to give in and hold them close. But remember WHY you wanted to do this.
For your own sanity. For their sanity. For everyone to get some damn sleep!
And it will come.
You just have to stay strong momma. Re-watch Friends, eat some pizza and ice cream, and get through it.