How To (Sleep) Train Your Dragon (Baby)

We did it.

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We finally have a through-the-night sleeper.

Happy Restful Dance!

Can I get a Whoop Whoop?

George is almost 9 months old (seriously can we pause time), so it has obviously taken us a long time to get here.

George started sleeping in his crib every night a little before 4 months old. Because of our move and his spit up situation, before then was not possible.

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Our nightly routine was putting him down at 7:30, then waking him up for another bottle at 10pm, and then hoping he would stay asleep until I got up at 5:30. It was about 50/50 whether he would make it through that 10 to 5 stretch.

I was also noticing that he was having a hard time finishing that bottle at 10pm, and he would barf most of it up anyway.

So I got to wondering if he got restless more because I disturbed his deep sleep at 10pm, and obviously that bottle wasn’t helping him stay full.

This past month Tom was on evening shift meaning he would get home around 2 or 3 in the morning. So I felt like this would be an opportune time to cut out that 10pm feeding and see how he would do. My thinking was that if he got fussy it would be around the time Tom got home, and he would be able to tend to George’s needs so I could stay asleep. Selfish thinking maybe, but Tom wasn’t ready to go to bed anyway, so I think it’s more like using an opportunity and resources!

So how did the training go?

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Well, I obviously already gave it away that he is now sleeping through the night.

So it is safe to say it has gone pretty well.

There have been some nights he has woken up between his 7:30pm bottle and my 5:30am alarm. I am chalking a lot of it up to his ear infection he is just getting over. Usually once I cuddled him up, he would fall right back to sleep.

He also is now sleeping on his stomach a lot more. Throughout the night he inches himself into the end of the bed, and he has woken himself up by banging into the crib rails. He hasn’t quite figured out reverse. It’s a sad funny when he wedges himself in the corner because he tried rolling out of his predicament…So we just have to scoot him down, and he is fine again.

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I also noticed a huge difference now that I lay him down awake instead of completely rocking him to sleep like I have before. He is getting much better at soothing himself to sleep instead of us having to rock him. Usually, he will play with his elephant for about 5 minutes before he falls asleep.

I know that a lot of people may not have the schedule that we had this past month to take advantage of, but honestly that was a huge help. It made me a whole lot less nervous because I knew that a fully awake Tom would be checking on him in the middle of the night to make sure he was golden. (Which is a lot better than fully asleep Stephanie that needs the noise of a freight train to wake up.)

I also picked up on cues from George that that last bottle wasn’t really helping him sleep through the night. Him waking up had nothing to do with being hungry. He just wanted to be comforted.

So we found other ways to make sure he could be comforted on his own. He has his pacy and his elephant. He now knows how to reach and grab for things and knows his pacy is around even if it is not right in his face. So that has definitely helped that we don’t have to come every time it falls out. The elephant is also a great blessing. If you pull it’s tail it sings a lullaby, but it is still very plush that it is great for him to cuddle with. He also can chew on the tail ring or string “hairs,” which I have watched him do many nights to help those teeth pop up. He also uses it as a face mask…

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Sidenote-We did not put the elephant in there until he was more mobile and knew he could move around it or push it off. So just note that when you add other things to the crib so they aren’t suffocating hazards. I still won’t put a blanket in there because it scares me. It’s a judgement call really. We tried the elephant a few times during day naps before we left it in there over night. Naps are a really good opportunity to try sleep routines to get them to sleep in the first place.

A routine is generally a good rule of thumb for everything. We have a pretty solid one down now for bedtime: Dinner, bath, bottle, story, songs, then sleep. He usually goes in the crib around 7:30pm.

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It may not seem like it, but he was fast asleep in this picture. As you can tell he does not have one solid sleeping position…

I also do think that breastfeeding babies have a harder time completely sleeping through the night. There are rarely any breastfeeding babies (under 1) I have heard that don’t wake up at least once through the night, compared to my formula feeding friends. So I think that has also helped George feel better through the night now that we have completely transitioned over to formula and he is used to not nursing. (This is obviously not based on research, just my observation from my mom friends. Sometimes breast isn’t best, in my opinion.)

His sleep is not perfect by any means. There was a night last week where I slept in the rocking chair with him on my chest because he just wasn’t having a night alone in the crib. There are also a few mornings here and there (like this morning) where we co-sleep for that last hour before my alarm goes off. However, the majority of our nights are unbroken. Which is great because, Tom is now on a new shift where helping out in the middle of the night is not as much of an option. If we get through 5 days a week without having him wake us up, I call this a win as far as sleep training goes.

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Sleep training is not easy. What has worked for my baby, might not necessarily work for yours. There have been tons of tips that people have given us that George has basically laughed at (or screamed at). So I think you just have to be willing to experiment.

And have a lot of patience.

And prayers for said patience.

I am also lucky that Tom has been such a great comfort to George in the wee hours of the morning. So that teamwork was clutch for us.

We have made such a turn around in the past couple months. Going from the days where he refused to take naps and  having to rock him for at least a half hour at night, now to this…

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We have taken nuggets of wisdom from other families, but we also listened to what George was telling us along the way.

Here are my fast tips:

1. Have a nightly routine (I don’t think there is one way to do a routine, but I would just be as consistent as possible with your baby.)

2. Help your child learn to comfort themselves

3. Listen to your parent gut and what your kid is telling you (what works for others, may not work for you)

4. Have a good baby monitor (This keeps me from hovering over his crib too much. Because even if he is dead asleep, his baby senses tell him I am in the room watching and he will wake up.)

5. Be patient (This is not a one night fixed problem, unfortunately. At times, it is really hard. You will get there though!)

Sleep training is not an easy game, so if you are a sleep-deprived mama or papa, I tip my hat to you. Also I am here for morale support. While I can talk endlessly about what has and hasn’t worked for George, I would not claim to be a sleep training expert, nor do I have a wealth of knowledge on the subject. I’m just a George expert.

But sometimes I know all a parent needs to know is that they aren’t in the struggle alone.

Because sometimes at 2am, our kids can seem like a dragon that is hard to tame. But they are pretty cute little dragons that I don’t mind cuddling a little extra as long as they can keep that fire breathing to a minimum.

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What are your sleep training tips? Isn’t a sleeping baby just the cutest thing? (Yes, yes it is.)

10 thoughts on “How To (Sleep) Train Your Dragon (Baby)

  1. YAY! So happy for you guys. It is life changing when they sleep all night. So life changing that when Jimmie does wake up during the night, which is rare, it.is.a.nightmare. The other night was the worst. He was up for TWO HOURS. Luckily (not luckily) Jim got called into work, so I had to wait up for him to come home so the dog wouldn’t bark. Which didn’t matter because Jimmie was awake. UGH TEETHING!

  2. I’m so jealous! I do agree that the formula probably helps. My reasoning is that it’s harder to digest, so they have a full happy belly for longer. When Ju was with my parents for a week she was strictly bottle fed and slept through the night the entire time. Now that I’m trying to nurse her during the day and formula feed her at bed time it isn’t working out so great.

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