Let’s talk about baby sleep training today! Woohoo! I’ve used the Snoo now for both of my babies, so this chat will heavily involve the Snoo. Milo is a little over 2 years old, and my younger son, Dayton, is 5 months old today. (Time is truly flying by this second time around! How was he ever so tiny?) Both boys are great little sleepers now, so I figured I would share the method that worked for us for getting my babies to sleep 12 hours through the night.
First off: I adore the Snoo and have almost nothing bad to say about it. (You can read my full Snoo review here, if you’re interested in knowing more about it.)
I love how helpful it is with rocking the infant back to sleep, especially in those first first postpartum weeks when everything hurts and getting out of bed is painful! I also love how it helps to keep the baby asleep in months 4, 5, and 6 when they’re not quite perfect at soothing themselves back to sleep.
The only thing I don’t like about it is the expensive price tag…but even though this baby bed costs as much as my first car, I think that it’s worth every penny.
Sleep training is one of my favorite topics to discuss with my girlfriends because sleep literally = life.
I felt inspired to write this blog post because Dayton started sleeping 12 hours fully through the night last month, and I feel AMAZING. His ability to sleep reminded me that my energy levels affect every part of my life. I even created all of my 2022 goals around the word “energy” because I realized that with adequate sleep and energy, my dreams and goals are much easier to achieve. Yay sleep!
A Few Starting Points...
– Sleep training is good for the baby and it’s good for the parent. Getting enough sleep changes everything in my life: my mood, my relationship with my toddler, my productivity, my joy, my appreciation for my partner…EVERYTHING.
When I get enough sleep, I work smarter and I make more money. I enjoy life to a much greater degree. I feel great all day long and I enjoy these precious days with my adorable little 2-year-old. I make better food choices. I have energy to workout and build a stronger body.
Sleep training is a bit of work, but it’s worth it.
– Sleep training is harder on the mom than it is on the baby. As moms, there are a million sources of guilt and anxiety thrown our way.
During sleep training, that guilt comes in the form of questions like “am I ignoring my baby and causing permanent emotional trauma??” or “what if he’s truly hungry and I’m starving him?” or the thought “he’s a poor little helpless baby and just needs me to love him and give him physical contact.”
I’ve had all these thoughts. Which is why I’m going to share the most important part of sleep training for me.
The most important part of sleep training: Changing my thoughts.
The anxiety-inducing thoughts that I listed above weren’t going to help me out, so I decided to get rid of them and switch to these thoughts:
“My baby is happier when he is fully rested.”
“My baby desperately needs my help in training him how to sleep 12 hours through the night so that his brain and his body can grow and develop while he sleeps.”
“Sleep isn’t hard.”
“My babies are great sleepers!”
“Teaching my baby how to sleep soundly through the night is one of the greatest gifts I can give him.”
These thoughts were helpful to me, and honestly they’re the most important part of sleep training.
There are obviously a lot of different methods of sleep training, but I truly believe none of them work unless you change your inner dialogue about sleep training.
Milo's Sleep Training Story
Milo was my first born, and I didn’t have a clue what I would do with sleep training. I figured I’d just wing it. We bought the Snoo when he was about a week old, and I decided to let it do its thing. I didn’t read any sleep training books or follow any methods.
However, I remember taking him to the pediatrician for his 4 month checkup. Milo was nice and chunky, hovering around 95% in size (aka well-fed, happy, and healthy) and his pediatrician asked me how he was sleeping. I responded “well, I still need to get up with him once in the middle of the night for a feeding” and she quickly said “I’m going to stop you right there and ask you to change the phrase “need to get up” to “choose to get up.”
And that really impacted me! Now, I absolutely love our pediatrician. She’s really kind and caring, and never gives off a judgemental tone. She’s really there to champion us parents along and encourage us to be the best we can be. And because of that connection, the words that she shared felt positive and uplifting to me.
I can imagine that if those words came from someone who was harsh and judgmental, I would have gotten angry and then ignored them. But since they came from someone who I loved and trusted, I really took them to heart.
A few weeks later, Milo was sleeping 12 hours through the night and we had dropped the night feeding.
All of this to say: the words that we tell ourselves regarding sleep training make a HUGE difference
Dayton's Sleep Training Story
So with my second son, I approached infant sleep with the mindset that I shared earlier. My thoughts were “my babies are great sleepers” and “Dayton will be a happier baby when he’s sleeping through the night” and “my baby desperately needs me to train him how to sleep.” These thoughts made all the difference!
We used the Snoo again with Dayton. Just like all newborns, he had to nurse every couple of hours. Babies have the teeniest little stomachs!
I nursed him whenever he wanted food or snuggles, and I held him close and talked with him and enjoyed lots of skin-to-skin time.
He would sometimes make it 4-6 hour stretches of sleep, but other times it would just be 1-2. No matter. Sleep training wasn’t on my mind during the first 8 weeks.
My friend Courtney sleep trained her babies by 10 weeks. I asked how she did it, and she said she used the method in The Baby Sleep Solution by Suzy Giordano and it worked like a charm for both of her babies!
Although Milo was sleeping through the night by 4.5 months without any sleep training, I figured I would go ahead and see if I could get Dayton to sleep through the night a bit earlier than that. It couldn’t hurt to try, right?
So I read this book and took a lot of concepts from it. I didn’t follow it exactly, but I took the main idea from it: make sure your baby is eating enough during the day, and then he’ll be able to sleep all night.
Again, for me, the method wasn’t as important as the thoughts behind it. A lot of my friends have had success with the Taking Cara Babies course, the Ferber method, and of course there’s the Baby Sleep Solution that I read.
The main thing that I had to remember was that I had to be really intentional about my thoughts around sleep training. I had to remember that it was probably going to be harder on me than on my baby. I knew I might occasionally feel some emotions like guilt and worry, and I would choose to feel those feelings, ride them out, and then continue sleep training for the greater good of the entire family.
My Exactly Sleep Training Method With The Snoo
Step 1: I worked on my thoughts. I’m a broken record here, but the first step was changing my thoughts. (It was crucial! That’s why I’m mentioning it a trillion times.) From the time Dayton was about 3 weeks old, I chose to think the thought “Dayton is a great sleeper. He’s happiest when he’s well-rested.” I wrote this in my journal, said it in my head, told it to my friends and family.
Step 2: I nursed him a bunch for the first two months. I took a break from work, unplugged from social media, and had a nice, cozy maternity leave with my infant. I nursed him all the time! We had no feeding schedule, and I just didn’t worry about it. If he wanted to sleep 6 hours? Fine. If he wanted to cluster feed in the evenings and nurse every 30 minutes? Also fine. This helped me develop a really good milk supply, and it also helped Dayton gain lots of weight.
Step 3: At 10 weeks old, I dropped his nighttime feeding. At 10 weeks old, he was sleeping from 10pm -6am with one feeding in the middle (around 2 am). I really wanted to drop that night time feeding, soI basically followed the method in this book (read it for exact specifications). I would nurse him a lot before putting him down around 10:30, and then when he woke at 2 am I would give him his pacifier and allow the Snoo to shush him back to sleep. (It took a little bit of convincing for the first 2 nights, but then he would fall right back to sleep.) Then I’d feed him again at 6 am. I gradually pushed the borders of his sleep window so he was going to bed at 9 pm, then 8 pm, then 7 pm. By 11 weeks old he was sleeping from 7 pm to 7 am.
Step 4: I moved him to his own room. From weeks 11-14 Nate and I took turns sleeping in Dayton’s room because he kept wiggling his arms free of the Snoo sack and waking himself up with his hand in his face. He would wail until we stopped the Snoo, re-swaddled him, gave him his paci, and then watched him fall back asleep.
Ok, this is the dumbest thing ever and I’m so annoyed I didn’t know about it: we used a dish towel underneath the Snoo swaddle, and his arms stayed in place all night and he slept soundly. Ugh. How stupid is that? It’s a $1600 bassinet, and it took a cheap-o dish towel to make it work correctly. (I wish we had known this with Milo, too!) As soon as we figured out how to keep him all swaddled tightly, he was able to fly solo.
At this point was 14 weeks old. So after we discovered the dish towel trick, that’s when he officially started sleeping 12 hours through the night without any assistance from me.
I’ll wean him from the Snoo once he outgrows it (probably around 6 months old.) Based on my experience with Milo, weaning from the Snoo won’t be any problem at all!
Raising a baby is equal parts exhausting and exhilarating. I’m a firm believer that parents everywhere need more sleep, which is why I think it’s fun to talk about sleep training.
I’m also a firm believer that parents don’t need to be shamed into sleep training their babies. Rather, they need to be empowered to know that they are 100% capable and deserving of it.
So if you’re working on getting your baby to sleep through the night right now, I hope you there were a few helpful snippets in here for you! Xx, Kelsey