Like many new parents, my sleep-deprived husband and I just started sleep training our baby. Let's just say things are not going well. It's so hard, you guys, but we need sleep which means we're willing to try almost anything to get some some damn reprieve. So I did what any desperate mom does when she's looking for parenting advice: I turned to the internet for answers. That's when I discovered that Reddit is the place where other parents share their best sleep hacks. Thank the baby-sleeping gods.
I found some sage-like advice and suggestions to try from parent Reddit users on the sleeptrain subreddit. Their advice included tips that, sure, I thought were pretty obvious. For example, suggestions like trying not to cave when your baby cries, which is always easier said than done. There were some "perfect" moms who thought their way was the best way (but honestly, if they successfully sleep trained their child, then I might actually agree with that sentiment). There were also a few "hot mess" moms like me, who are still figuring things out. For the most part, though, I definitely felt like I had a whole new tool box of sleep training tools to use.
If you are interested in giving sleep training at try, read on for the best tips and baby sleep hacks that parents of Reddit had to offer:
Use A Monitor
My partner and I discovered that any time we checked on our baby, we were actually keeping him awake. Yeah, that's not our goal. It was almost as if he had trained us to come in when he made the slightest sound.
It was time to hook up the video monitor,so we could save checks for when he actually needs us.
Change Your Routine
I previously co-slept and rocked my babies to sleep, so I really didn't come up with a bedtime routine until my kids were much older. I now know that kids thrive on routines and succeed when they know what to expect. So my partner and I are taking this advice and working hard to come up with a relaxing bedtime routine for our baby.
Resist The Urge To Give In
This is the hardest part of sleep training, at least for me. Logically I know that my baby isn't hurt and that every peep, whine, or cry is not indicitive of a life or death situation. But it's hard to not break down and bring him to bed or snuggle him back to sleep. As hard as it is, I am seriously trying to stay strong, because I don't want to undo the progress we've made.
(Plus, every day it's getting a little bit better.)
Try A Later Bed Time
This advice seemed counter to other sleep advice I have received. Still, when sleep training for the first time, it is totally better to pick a time when your baby is actually tired instead of forcing them to try to fall asleep when they are ready to party.
Leave The Room
I can't bear to hear my baby cry, so as long as I can see him on the monitor and make sure the's OK, it's fine to walk out of the room, go to another part of the house, or turn the volume down. His tears are likely to be minimal if I can just stay strong.
Don't Nurse Your Baby To Sleep
This one is so hard. I was used to breastfeeding or a bottle being a magical elixir of sleep. The problem with relying on feeding to get your baby to sleep is that they begin relying on it, too, which means that they might also need a bottle or boob to get back to sleep if they wake up in the middle of the night. Yeah, that totally defeats the purpose of sleep training.
Rip Off "The Band-Aid"
The thought of taking away all of my baby's comforts and loves — his bottle, his pacifier, and me — at the same time is a little overwhelming, but I get the logic behind the idea. If you have to teach your child to give up each thing one at a time, it's like starting sleep training all over again, and trust me, you don't want to do that.
Pick The Right Day To Start
This one makes logical sense. You don't want to start sleep training when you baby is on a weird schedule, is sick, or going through tough times. I learned this the hard way when trying to sleep train our baby right after vacation and while he was teething. It didn't work, and everyone in our home was miserable.
Repeat Reassuring Words
For as long as I can remember, my mom said the phrase, "Good night, I love you, I will see you in the morning," every night before we went to sleep. I love the idea of repeating a reassuring phrase to let my baby know that I love him and will be there when he wakes — preferably in the morning.
Get On The Same Page As Your Partner
This is great advice for sleep training, parenting, and relationships in general. Get on the same page. Let your partner know what you want to try and what part they need to play. It's important so that they feel invested in the process and so they don't undo your hard work by accident.