Sleep Training at 6.5 months

In this post, I’ll give you a quick recap of our sleep training journey, the key concepts of sleep training that we worked with and what are the key values that we are revising according to age.

I learnt everything I know about sleep training from a few Facebook groups I am a member of, some friends who have sleep trained their kids and lots and lots of online reading. The women in those groups are super helpful and are full of absolutely fantastic advice. This post is my attempt to streamline all the info I gathered from various resources, all informal.

First off, sleep training can be very intimidating and I understand that very well because I went through it twice! We sleep trained baby D once when she was 5.5 months old. She started standing up with support at 6 months and this was very disruptive to her sleep because she kept practising her new skill even when she was put down to sleep in her crib. For the sake of my sanity, I started giving up during middle of the night wakings and started putting her on my chest to sleep.

Well, that was completely counter productive because now I wasn’t sleeping at all from the fear of her or me (!!!) rolling over. Also, my rationale for sleep training was same as that for baby led weaning. Independence. Good relationship with food and sleep. So I started feeling uncomfortable every time I let her sleep in our bed.

So my husband and I had a good discussion about how we had lost control and why sleep training was important to us. In the meanwhile, I also got help from the ladies in the Facebook groups and found out that I might have missed to recalculate the wake windows according to age.

So we started sleep training round 2, but switched to Ferber instead of the Sleep Lady Shuffle method because we felt hovering around was making our baby more upset.

Things you need to know before you sleep train

1. Sleep training involves crying. It completely depends on the baby how much they cry. Prepare yourself for a lot of crying.

2. Give yourself and your baby time to adjust. Understand what you are doing and stick with it. Don’t bother about anybody else’s judgement. You are doing this for a lifetime of good sleep associations for your baby and your own health.

3. Having a detailed talk with your partner or the person helping you take care of your baby at night is essential. If your plan falls apart in the middle because of disagreements, your baby will get confused due to break in consistency.

4. It takes time. And every night is different for the first few weeks. I considered my baby sleep trained only after she was falling asleep on her own for naps and night sleep. This will be different for each one of us. It took about three weeks for everything to fall in place for our baby.

5. Coming back to crying. As per my research, the crying is not because the baby is longing for their mother’s company but because they are trying to process sleep. They are not matured enough to process their thoughts in silence like we do. This really put me at ease when my baby cried. Try not to project your own fears on your baby.

6. As difficult as it may seem, keep telling yourself that it will work out. Because sooner or later, it will. Just keep the bedtime routine consistent, and follow your chosen method of sleep training consistently unless baby is teething or sick.

7. Don’t be rigid with time. Treat every time value as a range and figure out what works for your baby.

8. Sleep training does mean that you have to put your plans on hold till your baby is trained. At least that’s what it meant for us. For example, if we wanted to take a walk in the evening, we couldn’t, because our baby loved sleeping in her stroller and that meant she would fall asleep in her wake window. This would cut short her waking time and we would need to push her bed time to keep her awake for the recommended hours. After being sleep trained, she knows it’s not sleep time, and she’s had enough time to rest, so she’s doesn’t fall asleep in the stroller anymore!

9. Sleep train when no other big plans are in the near future – Sleep training needs to be uninterrupted. Do it when you have a couple of weeks on hand with no upcoming trips, guests or other plans that might need you to adjust your baby’s routine.

Key factors

1. Daily wake time – This should be the same time range every morning. Our is 7:00 – 7:30 AM.

2. Age appropriate wake windows – Babies can stay awake for longer as they grow. Staying awake for too much or too little during the day really messes with the quality of naps and night time sleep as well. Trust me, an overtired baby does not sleep well at night. Neither does an under tired one. I have made both mistakes and learnt the hard way. You don’t have to!!

3. Number of naps – Most babies initially start with three naps and then drop one nap at 6-9 months and transition to one nap later. I would recommend googling for the correct number of naps and sticking to those numbers.

4. Capping nap time – Allow baby to sleep according to age appropriate nap time. For example, at 7.5 months, baby D can sleep for a total of 3-3.5 hours with each nap capped at 2 hours.

5. Eat wake sleep – Nursing or feeding baby to sleep is very common. It’s a popular practice because it’s soothing for the baby and makes them fall asleep. But this creates an association between food and sleep. If this is something that bothers you, you may want to follow a plan where you feed the baby as soon as they wake up and then let them play and fall asleep.

6. Bed time routine – Doing the same thing again and again before bed cues the baby that sleep time is coming up. Our routine is a nice warm bath, lotion, brushing hair, snuggles, putting on the sleep sack, switching on white noise and then saying goodnight!!

The independence that sleep training can give your baby and the precious time you can get for yourself makes sleep training so so worth it. It is definitely not easy but it’s completely worth it!

P.S. Please know that I am only sharing my own experiences and findings from reading and speaking to other mothers. I am not a doctor. I am not a sleep consultant. This is not medical advice.

How not to lose your”SELF” after becoming a mom!

I am not the picture perfect example of what a happy mom should be like.

In the past 5 months since bringing my child into this world, I have cried at least twice a week, I have felt complete loss of control over my “schedule”, I have plopped my child on my husband’s lap and shut myself up in the loo and stared at the walls. I have done it all. But here I am, trying to fight a good fight! Can’t lose who I am in the process of becoming a good mom now, can I?!

When I don’t want to push my boundaries anymore, I just tell myself that I cannot be a happy mom if I am not a happy person. And an unhappy mom seldom bringeth up (lol!what?) a happy baby!!

Here are a few things I do. Simple things. No extra frills. Saying it like it is.

1. Stretch your body – two minutes after you wake up/two minutes after you put baby to sleep/two minutes before hopping into the shower. WHAT THIS DOES FOR ME – Childbirth is difficult. Being pregnant for 9+ months is hard work for the body. Stretching relaxes my tight muscles. Muscles that are tired from bearing the weight of a baby inside the body and now outside.

2. Comb your hair – I feel guilty putting this out there. Before baby D was born, I read jokes about mom buns and always assumed that wouldn’t be me. Well, was I in for a not so pleasant surprise! So wake up, and comb your hair. WHAT THIS DOES FOR ME – It makes me feel put together. It’s unbelievable how little time you can have for yourself when you have a tiny to care for. Pre – baby, I could spend at least 20 minutes doing my makeup and hair every morning. Looks like a far fetched dream now. It’s a lucky day if I can take a 5 minute shower! Just by combing my hair and not looking disheveled instantly makes things better!

3. Plaaaannnksss!! – Sorry, but you knew the “exercise” point was lurking around somewhere in this list! But I’m not going to say you need to work out for at least 30 minutes, 5 times a week. Because that rule doesn’t apply only to moms, it applies to EVERYBODY. WHAT THIS DOES FOR ME – In between finding out what exactly this new normal means to us and our baby’s schedule changing at the drop of a hat AND being sleep deprived, thirty minutes of exercise is a lot to ask for. In come planks. No equipment required. No previous experience required. Easy to learn. Strengthens the core. Google more about all the benefits of this “super” exercise. If your doctor clears it, you’re in for a treat!

4. Drink water – Simple. Nothing else to it really! But very easy to forget. Especially if you don’t live in a very hot place. WHAT THIS DOES FOR ME – Keeps the headaches away. Keeps the skin clear. Keeps the bowels moving right!!

5. Set a pamper day – Doesn’t need to be one whole day. Rather, CANNOT be one whole day, LoL! Just wash your hair, clip your nails and do a face mask. WHAT THIS DOES FOR ME/HOW I DO IT – Daddy takes care of baby D on Sundays. So I take a couple of hours off mommy duty to pamper myself. I am a mask junkie, so I do at least two rounds of masking! I also wash and deep condition my hair. Makes me feel good. Relaxed. Ready for a new week!

These are the things I found helpful in keeping me partially sane! I’m still very new to this game. Still trying to figure things out. Growing everyday!

Love,

M

Trying to set a schedule for a 4 month old baby

Babies are cute. They give you lots of happiness. They also give you sleepless nights and dark circles. Frustration arises as a result of the constant attention your baby needs and a sleep deprived mind and tired body. Wouldn’t you give anything for at least a 4 hour long continuous shut eye?!

I can empathize and with that I welcome you to our journey of setting a schedule for baby D!

The first thing we did was logging baby D’s nap times, wake up times and feed time. I already log the time and duration of each feed using my Medela app. We just pulled everything together.

The plan was to do it for two weeks and then collate all this data and observe the pattern. Husband man and I decided that if we found a pattern, we would create a loose schedule and see how it went for a week.

One of the articles I read talked about the schedule being baby led instead of following the parent’s routine. That really resonated with me. As much as I’d like for baby D to sleep during my evening coffee time, I must respect her natural rhythm.

We are on Day 14 today and have a schedule already! After day 5, we understood her pattern. Here are our observations, which also aligned with our online research.

OUR OBSERVATIONS

1. She sleeps within 1-1.5 hours of waking up in the mornings. This is a very short nap – 20 to 30 minutes.

2. She stays awake for 1.5-2 hours between each nap. Every nap is 30 minutes to 2 hours long.

3. The day after a vaccination day or a sick day is always different. She tends to nap more during these days.

4. She feeds every 3 hours till she falls asleep at night. This is when she has her longest sleep , 6-7 hours. She does wake up sometimes if she’s hungry and if the last feed of the day wasn’t enough.

5. I must also note that she has days when she just refuses to nap! These are mostly the peak days of her growth leap. (Shout out to the Wonder Weeks app which was introduced to us by a friend and we cannot thank him enough!)

Here’s a sample of how we recorded her schedule for the past 2 weeks. This is her schedule from yesterday.

SAMPLE SCHEDULE

4:22 AM – FEED 1

9:25 AM – woke up

10:07 AM – FEED 2

11:20 AM – 11:50 AM – NAP 1

1:07 PM – FEED 3

1:35 PM – 3:20 PM – NAP 2

4:15 PM – FEED 4

4:45 PM – 6:45 PM – NAP 3

7:30 PM – FEED 5

9:00 PM – 9:55 PM – NAP 4

11:04 PM – FEED 6

11:30 PM – Slept

**I rounded off the time in some cases so that calculation was easier – For example, 11:03 AM changed to either 11:00 or 11:05.

Our Learnings

  1. A strict schedule does not work. If the baby naps at 11 AM one day, consider this time as a reference point. The baby might sleep a few minutes before or later.
  2. Nap times are heavily influenced by activity level, wake up time and bed time.
  3. Once our baby got set into a schedule, skipping nap time made her overactive for sometime and then made her cranky.
  4. Put the baby down for naps in her “grown up” bed, that is, the crib. Baby D sleeps in a bassinet next to our bed now. But we plan to move her to her crib for overnight sleep when she is 6 months old. We are acclimatizing her to the crib during nap time to make the transition easier on her.

That’s it for now. We are learning something new everyday. I will post more about her schedule in a couple of months as Baby D grows older.

Love,

M

Keeping myself accountable?

As a new mom, my life has changed completely. Not that the change came to me as a surprise, but the magnitude of it hit me hard. I live on a minute to minute basis at the moment!!

I am a sucker for routine. I function well when I know what’s in store for at least the next few days. So to be completely dependent on “someone” else’s “unpredictable” schedule really took its toll on me. I know it sounds like I am unhappy, but no words can describe how much joy and love I feel for my little one (and trust me when I say that the road to having her in my arms wasn’t easy!).

I have measured my success as a woman in terms of how happy I feel about myself. It may seem superficial to some, but the truth is, having a strong body, a calm mind, clear skin, a clean kitchen, a great book awaiting me and (now) a happy baby make me feel like I’ve made it in life!

So by that definition, it may come as no surprise to anyone reading this post that my life feels upside down. But as they say, time makes everything better! As much as I thought I was ready for mommyhood because we attended every prenatal class available, did online courses and read books, it was still like starting from scratch!

In these 4 months, I have discovered so many tricks and products that make life easier for me. Now that we have that under somewhat control, it’s time for me to start working on my body again. So maybe writing my experiences and sharing them with whoever wants to read will keep me accountable? Maybe I can share my experiences with others in the same boat and they can take away something useful from this? Time will tell!