It’s true, I started working with Jake on sleep-training at 8 weeks. Before Jake was born, I planned on going all-out on sleep-training as early as possible, but I changed my mind a bit after he was born.
For a few reasons, I started to push full-blown sleep-training for when he got a little older. However, while I wasn’t after a full 12-hours yet, I chose to establish a bedtime routine anyway. That way, when the time came for ACTUAL sleep-training, we wouldn’t struggle with the “putting him to bed” part because he’d already be used to it.
I wanted bedtime to always be this peaceful time for all of us. A time of bonding, love, comfort, and free of anxiety for Jake or us.
And so I did as all millennial mothers and frequented the internet to educate myself on some bedtime routines that I thought would work for Jake.
How I Established My 2-Month-Old Baby’s Bedtime Routine
FIRST: I started by just paying attention to Jake’s habits. We started noticing that he would pass out for his longest stretch of sleep around 6PM. This was around 6 or 8-weeks old, I think(around Christmas time).
This was a deep sleep, and our post-natal routine until then had been cuddling on the couch and falling asleep on daddy.
Recognizing this relatively consistent “sleepy-window”, we made his official “bedtime” 7PM. We DID end up changing bedtime to 6PM, because 7PM ended up being just a bit too late for him.
SECOND: I tried to fit all of his age-appropriate feedings during his waking hours to help him sleep and ensure he was getting all of the nutrition he needed.
(I’ve struggled a lot with breastfeeding/pumping, so I was always very stressed about his eating. You can learn more about it in my post [here], if you want.)
Anyway, we kept a pretty strict routine:
- 5:45PM Bathtime
- 5:50PM(ish) Fresh diaper and swaddle
- 5:55PM(ish) Bottle
- 6:00PM Lay down in bedside bassinet with a pacifier (he was usually asleep from his bottle feeding)
Sometimes he would fuss, and we’d have to go back in and comfort him or replace a pacifier once or twice.
But as the days went on, and he got used to a routine, we were able to lay him down quicker and quicker without intervening throughout the evening.
After a week or so, we could plop him in bed with a pacifier, and he’d take care of the rest. From then on, he’d wake up when he was ready for food and then go right back to sleep no problem.
For the next couple of months, he was a pretty great sleeper. He’d fall asleep at 6PM, and wouldn’t wake up again until between 11PM – 4AM for a feed. I was still letting him decide when he wanted to eat at night.
Transitioning From Bed-side to the Nursery
This was really tough for me. I had a lot of anxiety about him not being within arms-reach… I’m sure you also feel/felt it too.
Aside from just the typical new-mom anxiety, I had 2 cats. While I love them dearly, I was always afraid they would jump into Jake’s crib and accidentally smother him.
Obviously, I could close the door to his bedroom… but these were just “mommy” fears.
Not to mention… I loved having Jake right next to me at night. I loved reaching over and putting my hand on his little belly.
I loved listening to his breathing, and the convenience of quickly being able to replace a missing pacifier without having to get up.
But around 3 months old, we recognized that teaching him to sleep independently in his room was essential for long-term success.
I didn’t want to wait until he was more… sentient… and feel extra stress from the transition.
Some of my anxiety was alleviated, thanks to the Owlet Baby Monitoring System. We love it. It has its kinks, but it TRULY helped with sleep-training because I could always look over and see his little heartbeat and know he was breathing.
If you want to learn more about baby products that helped me survive motherhood, here’s my post on that, too!
We followed our same bedtime routine, but instead of laying him in his bassinet, we would lay him down in his crib.
And to ease my stress, when my husband and I went to bed, I would bring him back to the bassinet.
After a few days, I felt confident leaving him in there all night. His sleep evened out, and we celebrated both his bravery and mine that he was sleeping in a big-boy bed.
His naps were shitty. 30-minute catnaps periodically that were always a struggle full of crying until he’d conk out. I figured it was a trade-off for now for a decent sleep.
But things got a little complicated around 3.5 months old.
When I Decided To Start Sleep-Training | The 4-Month Sleep Regression
So Jake tends to be ‘advanced’ when it comes to meeting milestones. He was always able to lift his head from the time he was born, rolling over at 3 months, etc.
He also started teething at 2 months old AND having the 4-month sleep regression at 3.5 months old! So it was a whammy of a time, lol. My boy went from at least 6-hour stretches to waking every 1.5 to 2 hours.
It was really rough because I was the only one getting up with him at night. As a freelance copywriter, I work from home, and my schedule is flexible. Whereas my husband has to get up very early.
He would always take care of Jake at night “until we went to bed”, so I’m not saying he wasn’t being a wonderfully devoted dad.
But waking up almost every hour, and sometimes having a little bean that was inconsolable for hours at a time takes a toll.
(… as I’m sure you understand…)
There were a few nights when Jake wasn’t the only one crying like a baby, lol.
When I read that the 4-month sleep regression never technically ‘ends’, I decided it was time to sleep train.
(yeah sorry if this is the first time you’re finding THAT out)
I figured if I could sleep-train him DURING a regression, it might future-proof his sleeping for when the next regressions hit.
My “Little-To-No-Cry” Sleep-Training Method Part 1
When I say “my” sleep-training techniques, let me be clear that I’m not an expert. I just took a bunch of tips and ideas from multiple resources and implemented them in a way that I thought would be most effective for Jake.
This is just an amalgamation of researched sleep-training methods combined with what I knew about my own baby.
I knew for sure that I wanted as little crying as possible. I’m a big softy, and I wasn’t going to cope well with CIO(cry-it-out). I could handle a little bit of crying, that’s to be expected, but I wouldn’t be able to leave Jake alone in the room for more than a few minutes at a time.
I’m not saying it’s wrong to do that, it just wasn’t right for me.
Now, you have to understand something. Your kid is most likely going to cry at some point, but you learn the different types of crying.
You’ll start to recognize the “I’m pissed that you aren’t holding me” cry versus a “Mommy I need you” cry.
Trust me… you WILL know the difference. One cry will make your heart hurt, of course… but the other…
The other fires instinct through your limbs like lightning and your baby will be in your arms so fast it was like they were always there.
And pity whoever was in your way.
So, while I prefer no-cry sleep training methods… I accepted that there would be times when my baby was going to cry, and that’s okay.
I started the same way I always start. I went to the internet and researched no-cry sleep training methods.
I was kind of emotional and super exhausted and ended up paying $100 bucks for a “personalized” sleep-training plan.
I did benefit from some of what it had to share, but it was far from REALLY personalized, and you could find any of the techniques I learned from it for free online.
This FB Group is the ONLY Mom Group I am on, and it’s an INCREDIBLE sleep-training resource and community. I strongly recommend it.
After researching, I decided that taking the pacifier away at night might be the key to Jake’s long-term success.
I chose to strictly focus on night-time sleep-training and leave naps for later. I also learned that naps and night sleep are handled by two different areas of the brain, so I could let Jake keep his pacifier for naps.
After some research, I made my only goal on night one be:
Get Jake to fall asleep without a pacifier.
It didn’t matter what other soothing techniques I used… as long as, by the end, he fell asleep without a pacifier.
He definitely did not like this. At all.
And this is where the “almost” part of my “no-cry” method comes in. Jake cried, he was a mad baby.
But I cuddled, rocked, sang, and provided bountiful butt-pats until he finally settled, and begrudgingly fell asleep.
It took me about an hour.
That night he slept for 5 hours straight for the first time in almost a month.
It definitely made me sad to hear him cry because I could see in his face that he knew that I knew what he wanted.
And he did not understand why mommy wasn’t letting him have his pacifier.
I teared up a little with guilt. It would’ve been so easy to give in, stick a pacifier in Jake’s mouth, and be the good guy again…
But I knew it wasn’t what was best for Jake.
So I just hugged, and love, and rocked that baby in every other way I could think of to comfort him.
I also teared up with pride.
I was so proud of him.
I was so proud of him when he finally fell asleep without the pacifier. Seeing him take that first step in mastering a skill was so beautiful.
And once he DID fall asleep… he didn’t wake up again until around 10PM.
And when he woke up whining, I told myself I’d give him 10 minutes to see if he could settle down (as long as his cries were just whines).
And within 4 minutes… he was back to sleep ON HIS OWN.
He ended up eating around 2AM and then conked back out AGAIN without a pacifier. Only waking again for another feed around 4AM.
It felt like such a HUGE victory.
Night two took about as long as night one, but I was also added in the “pick up and put down” method at the same time.
When I had him “calm”, I’d lay him down in bed, and if he did more than whine, I picked him up and comforted him until he settled down again.
My husband or I stayed in the room with him until he fell asleep during the first couple of weeks.
Neither of us could handle leaving him alone to cry any length of time without us being right by his side. So we stayed and supported him throughout the sleep-training journey.
My “Little-To-No-Cry” Sleep-Training Method Part 2
As the days went on, bedtime took anywhere from 10-30 mins. He’d whine, but never really cry to the point he was suffering, and my husband and I took turns reading him stories and loving on him.
One night, by accident, we noticed something. Something very huge.
It was my husband’s turn to put Jake to bed that night, and he came downstairs quite suddenly- much sooner than was conceivably possible.
I had heard Jake was struggling more than usual to go down. Kyle (my husband) looked a bit crestfallen as he descended the stairs. I asked what was wrong and he said, “I forgot my phone. It looks like it’s gonna be a long night, so I at least wanna have my phone for some of it”.
Yet, as he was saying that, we realized that Jake had suddenly gone quiet. We waited, breaths held- confused and ready for a shrill demand from our son that his father return to his post in the rocking chair.
But the quiet continued.
I opened the Owlet app, and lo and behold, our incredible little baby was fast asleep.
Perhaps a fluke, we thought.
Maybe he was just extra tired that day, we surmised.
So I decided to try something similar the following night.
I followed our usual bedtime routine. Which ended with lullabies, hugs, kisses, and “mommy and daddy love you so much, have the best sleep ever! Goodnight”.
I laid Jakey down, and I left the room.
I stood outside the door, listened to him whine for maybe 30 seconds… and then he rolled over and went to sleep.
My husband and I realized then that our presence in the room had actually been doing more harm than good.
We were distracting him.
Our little hero didn’t need us to fall asleep. He had it in the bag, we just hadn’t realized it.
And from then on out, Mr. Jake’s sleep improved almost 80%.
Part of my sleep training was getting Jake on a more set feeding schedule.
I wasn’t ready to cut his night feedings(as explained above), but part of my research helped me decide that Jake would eat once around 10PM, and then he would not eat again until at least 3AM.
If Jake woke up earlier than 3AM, I would let him use his pacifier to soothe until it was time to eat.
As long as he did not use the pacifier to FALL asleep at bedtime, I was okay with giving it to him instead of a bottle to settle him down in the middle of the night. That way, we conditioned him to less/no night-feedings.
Jake’s Sleeping Habits Now | 8 Months
Having watched and gotten to know my son, I chose to let him guide our night feedings. Learning how to sleep without a pacifier made an incredible impact. It’s absence helped us know that when he woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep, he was genuinely hungry.
Slowly but surely, his two feedings per night naturally decreased to one feeding per night (usually between 11PM and 2AM).
And, a little over three weeks ago, Jake started sleeping entirely through the night. Going to bed at 7PM, and not waking up until 7:45AM-8AM.
And it was all on his own.
Part of my sleep-training also included making an 8AM wake-up time a habit. I don’t take him out of bed and start his day until at least 7:45AM.
If he wakes up, he can have a pacifier, and he usually conks back out until it’s time to get up.
It’s an incredible feeling seeing my baby grow up. Watching him master sleeping like a big boy and loving bedtime.
Quite frankly, almost before our nightly lullabies are over, he’s squirming to get into bed and sleep.
“See ya, mom, I got this! You can go- k thx bye”
Now I follow our usual bedtime routine. Still ending with a lullaby, a big hug, kiss, and “mommy and daddy love you so much, have the best sleep ever, goodnight”.
And Jake’s rolled over onto his belly and practically asleep before I leave the room.
Now if he wakes up at night, I watch him on his monitor. He’ll whine a bit, roll around like a rolly-polly, and put himself back to sleep no problem.
The only nights that he struggles are if his teething is particularly painful. If I notice he just can’t get to sleep after a half-hour or so, then I’ll give him some Tylenol, cuddle him for a minute or two, and he’s back to sleep.
The Most Important Things You Should Do For Successful Sleep Training
No matter what method you choose. Stick to it. Don’t give in because it’s easier. You’re sending confusing messages to your baby, and basically starting from scratch each time you give in.
Get Rid Of Sleep Crutches
Most of the stuff I’ve read says that you should get rid of as many “sleep crutches” as possible when sleep training. That includes swaddles, pacifiers, rocking to sleep, feeding to sleep- etc.
Basically, ANYTHING your child must have to actually fall asleep.
I’m a big fan of this. Removing Jake’s pacifier at night was- literally- game-changing for our sleep training endeavor.
Lay Baby Down AWAKE
This is the ultimate goal of sleep-training. You’ll know you’ve conquered baby sleep once you can set the baby down with their eyes open, and they’ll handle the “falling asleep” part without your intervention.
(or by using a sleep crutch)
Routine. Routine Routine.
I’m someone who thrives on routine. I love predictability. It’s kinda embarrassing to admit that I’m truly at peace when following a schedule.
Jake seems to benefit similarly. So I’ve made a very concerted effort to regulate his sleeping schedule from a very young age.
This is how I help Jake’s brain prepare for sleep by keeping to this same schedule every night:
- Bath every few nights(he has eczema, so I’m real sparing with his baths)
- Diaper change upstairs in my room with low lighting
- Put on his Owlet Sock(heart monitor)
- Lotion/Eczema Cream
- Put on PJs
- Turn on all white noise in his room(currently an AC and two white-noise makers)
- Sit in rocking chair and sing 3 lullabies, in the exact same order
- Hugs, Kisses, and Goodnights
- Lay Jakey Down in Bed and leave
Usually, by the last lullaby, he’s yawning, rubbing his eyes, and drowsy. He takes care of the rest.
Don’t Go It Alone
If you can, have your partner or a support person help you during this time. Sleep training is physically and emotionally exhausting, so if you have someone who can help you, rely on them.
If you don’t have someone you’re comfortable asking, join an online community for support, encouragement, and advice.
This is the Facebook Group I joined. It’s an absolutely fantastic community full of support and advice. They have great moderators because I’ve never seen a SINGLE rude or confrontational post on ANYTHING.
So, no matter what sleep-training method works for you, you’ll find a group of people you can turn to.
So, technically, I never officially nap-trained Jake.
Regulating his night sleep seemed to even out his naps. Which was incredible, because Jake’s naps were absolute dogshit. I was sure I would have a harder time nap-training than sleep-training by a LONG SHOT.
But, just by paying attention and following a semi-flexible schedule based on Jake’s sleepy-cues, Jake started going to sleep in his room (with a pacifier) and sleeping for 1.5-2 hours.
That was just… unheard of. Between night sleeping and better naps, I can focus on my building my business… and let my son get the sleep he needs.
I’ll admit that the past week or so has been a bit rocky with naps, but I wholly believe that’s for three reasons:
- Sleeping solidly through the night has warped his daytime sleeping schedule
- He’s almost 8-months-old, so his nap schedule is changing
- He’s reaching new milestones (lots of standing and even using a little ‘walking trolly’ to walk independently)
I’m pretty sure we’re about to drop down to 2 naps, and I just have to figure out his new nap window.
He’s also become much more independent, and can often play and watch Puppy Dog Pals. At the same time, mommy works at her desk, so his longer waking windows doesn’t impact my ability to get work done.
I also, obviously, flex my schedule around his needs. I usually get up around 6AM. That way, I can get a solid couple of hours before he’s ready for breakfast, and then fit the rest of my work around his needs until around 2-3PM.
Ugh, that was a long one, but I knew it would be. I hope that my experience with sleep training has given you confidence once you’re ready to start your own journey.
It truly is a priceless gift you can give yourself and- more importantly- your baby. Giving Jake the tools to sleep on his own has improved his mood and is helping him grow big and strong.
I’m so proud of him, and it feels so incredible that my baby can have a peaceful night time that doesn’t bring about anxiety for him or for me.
It helps me be a better mom. It helps me be a better business owner because I’m not a zombie just trying to survive lol.
So, it definitely can be intimidating, but you can do it. Your baby can do it.
If you’re waiting on a sign to get started on sleep-training, let this post be that sign.
You got this.
Your baby’s got this.
I wish you all the good vibes, great nights, and LOTS of sleep.
I’d love to hear about your own sleep-training experiences, and please share your tips in the comments below for a new mom who might find them helpful!
Also, it’d be super sick if you subscribe. I really love sharing my motherhood experience with you, and it’d be awesome to have you on that journey.
Thanks for checking out the post, and I’ll chat with ya soon!