Isn’t Friday the 13th funky? I can’t decide if weird things happen because I am looking for them, or if the day is really just whacky. Today, I’m happy to announce that one thing that is NOT whacky in our lives is OBGs sleep (FINALLY!!!!). She is sleeping from about 7 pm-6:30 am every night without wake ups. Or if she wakes, she quickly puts herself back to sleep. Hallelujah!!!!
How Did We Get Here?! When it came to OBGs sleep, we thought she was the easiest and most genius baby in the world when she seemed to sleep train herself at 2 months. She just fell asleep at 8 pm one night, woke once around 4 am to feed and was out again until 8 am. We thought, “Wow!!! Parenting is so easy. Our baby just sleeps perfectly all on her own. Why does everyone complain so much about babies not sleeping? We’ve got this!” And then she turned 4 months, enter 4 month sleep regression (yes, sadly, it is a thing!!!) and she never slept for more than 1-3 hours at a time until we started to sleep train her at 11 months. And when she woke every 1-3 hours, the only way she would go back to sleep was by nursing, rocking, bouncing. It was nearly impossible to put her down without waking her again. So tough. I have NO idea how we survived that long. I was a total zombie and not even recognizable as a person.
What Did We Do? I read every “gentle” sleep method book/blog/advice out there and tried and failed with several approaches. Out of desperation, I researched and talked with many sleep consultants before hiring Gentle Sleep Coach Tracy Spackman. I clicked with her immediately as she explained her gentle methods to coach little ones to sleep. There was just no way I could ever leave OBG to cry alone in a dark room. I know that approach works for many people, but it didn’t align with our parenting philosophy (never push OBG to do anything that doesn’t seem to come naturally) nor warnings received from psychologist friends about teaching babies to self-soothe before the age of 1. There is so much controversial advice out there regarding babies and sleep, so we did we felt right for us. Every baby, situation, family, tolerance, temperaments, etc. are so different! Which, is why a sleep coach is a great option, because they will (or at least they should) study your unique situation and your child’s temperament to find the perfect solution for your family. Worth every single penny, and then some!
How Does It Work? Getting started is super easy. It’s all done over the phone (Tracy’s based in Phoenix), a quick consultation call, some homework to help Tracy study OBG’s temperament and then a longer call to discuss step-by-step instructions on the coaching itself. The coaching can take several weeks, but usually people see results in a few days. Our method involved my husband camping out in OBG’s room next to her crib and patting/sushing/coaching her to sleep for a few days. By the second night, to my huge relief, she was already sleeping 6 hours straight. She responded so well and so quickly to it! The coaching gradually tapers off as he gradually worked his way out of the room. I won’t go into too much detail about the training because there is so much involved and it’s so unique to each baby, but if you find yourself in a sleep challenged situation, just call Tracy. She will save you!
Things To Try Before Coaching. I learned so much from the first call that immediately improved OBG’s sleep. Before we started coaching, she was sleeping 4 hours at a time, which was a HUGE improvement! Most of what we learned was so surprising, but these were the biggest shockers:
- Drowsy But Awake, NOPE! Everyone suggests that you teach a baby to sleep by putting them down “drowsy but awake,” which we were tried for months with OBG. We were like ninjas, trying to roll our arms out from under her, or her off our arms, you name it. Tracy helped us understand that OBG is a super alert baby, so every time she was close to falling asleep, her mind was jolted awake when we tried to put her down. The only way she would ever go down in a crib was to learn to fall asleep all by herself (after weeks of coaching her to do it). Aha! That explained so much!!
- Lights Be Banned! Because OBG’s mind is so alert, she needs to sleep in complete darkness. WHY on earth are there so many lights on everything that goes in a baby’s room!? Monitors, humidifiers, night lights, dancing lights! I was completely under the impression babies needed some light, so wrong! I felt so duped by all things produced for babies. As soon as we removed all the lights (and taped up lights on the monitors, blacked out the window, draped the door, etc.) she was sleeping soooo much better. Also, don’t get me started on the evidence about how horrible blue lights are for sleep. WHY are there so many blue lights out there on baby devices? Seriously, they should be banned.
- Sleep Begets Sleep. So many people tell us that OBG naps too much or that she goes to sleep early. If she went to sleep later, then she would wake up later. All LIES! Really, I know everyone means well, but they couldn’t be more wrong. The better the sleep during the day, the better the sleep at night. It is always like clockwork … the days OBG naps perfectly (2 naps for a total of 3 hours) and goes to sleep right when she shows tired signs (for naps and bedtime) she sleeps so well at night and wakes later. Without perfect naps, she wakes a couple of times, sometimes requiring coaching back to sleep and is up for the day earlier (sometimes 5:30 a.m.!!!). Tracy explains this is all due to cortisol rushes … totally makes sense once you see it in action!
What sleep training methods have you tried? Are they working? I’d love to hear from you!