It’s clear that I have resigned to being a total zombie. 🙃 But, for those of you tired parents actively looking for a change, here comes another post in “The Sleep Series.”
Out of sheer necessity, my friend Penny sleep-trained her twin boys at five months and I’ll tell you, every night at 7:30 p.m. I look at Zach and say, “Well, Penny and Brian should be sitting down for dinner now and having a conversation!” 😉
The Sleep Series
At what age were your boys when you decided to start a sleep schedule with them?
We started at 5 months.
What method/schedule did you use? Could you also talk about what you would do when your babies would wake up crying? I think this is the crux of all sleep training and what derails so many of us parents!
We used the cry-it-out method. Which didn’t end up being that much crying! Before the training, the boys would have their bottle, we would hold them with a little rocking and put them to bed once they fell asleep, so upon training they got their bottle and to bed they went. The first night was definitely the hardest – they cried for about 45 minutes with Jack crying a little longer then Liam. Then, the second night, maybe a half an hour and the third night I’m pretty sure Liam didn’t cry at all and Jack only for a few minutes. Then it was over, no more tears! Not to say Jack didn’t have an off-night every once and a while. And, Liam loves his sleep, so he never really cried after that.
Then for the first month into that training, when one would wake through the night, I would get up, give him his soother and pat his bum until he fell back to sleep. I never pulled them back out of the crib. After about a month of that, I stopped getting up and would let them cry again, this again only lasting maybe three nights with smaller time frames. They learned how to fall asleep all on their own! Pure bliss! 😊 The boys are now 20 months and they have been sleeping for 12 hours a night for well over a year now. They go down at 7 p.m. and wake around 7 a.m., then nap for two to two-and-a-half hours in the afternoon, no fights, no tears, they walk themselves to their bedroom, kiss me good night and off to sleep they go!
I guess I should add that when they were little – like when we started the sleep training -their napping was a little weird. I think it was like two hours awake and two hours asleep. Something like that.
Had anyone given you advice on what to try or had you read about the certain method that you wanted to try?
I tried to read a few articles but mostly just listened to my mom! And, I guess that was her method too, but I don’t think she ever put as much thought into as we do nowadays. I feel like we as parents today stress about how our babies might react or feel about situations, when if we just give them some time to give it a chance they will find out they can do it too!
What were the challenges along the way? What was hard about it? Were there times you thought it wasn’t working and wanted to cry? (!)
The crying was hard, and yes I cried too! But Brian is an amazing man and just kept reassuring me that this was gonna work, and they were okay!
What worked great? What was really easy about it?
I personally think the crying method for us worked great! It wasn’t easy then, but once you get through the few nights of tears, you have the rest of your life to get back to sleeping! Sleep makes babies and parents happy!
Do you remember the first night that you had more than five hours of sleep in a row? The first night that you had eight hours of sleep?
Ha ha! I don’t remember exactly – but I was so happy once the training was over and we were all sleeping! I wished I would have done it earlier, like once they weren’t eating through the night anyone more. Maybe that’s when I should have done it. I will definitely try earlier training on the next one!
In terms of feeding, how did you work out dropping nighttime feedings? At what age did you start doing this?
Feedings for us were always and kinda still are on a schedule. When they came home from the NICU we were on a three-hour feed schedule. I would set my alarm at night and wake them to feed them. Once they had gained sufficient weight to keep the doctors happy, I fed them at 10 p.m. and then waited for them to wake up hungry. Once they made it to four hours, we never went back to anything less. So, if they woke after three hours, they were hushed back to sleep. So, I just kinda stuck with that – after they made it to five hours, we never went back to four, and so on.
Do you have a bedtime routine? Do you think this is crucial? (i.e. bath, books, etc., etc.?)
Yes, yes we have a bedtime routine! I feel I have a schedule or routine for everything. I thrive on it personally so I instilled it in my kids and it seems to be working for us. We normally do bath for 6:30 p.m. (give or take a few depending on moods and what we are doing) then bottle and bed. I’m hoping to drop the nighttime bottle in a few months, before their second birthday. We recently, in the last month, dropped their nap bottle and they had no issues, they still go down just fine and sleep just as long.
Did you find that you had to modify your plan along the way at all to work for you and your babies?
Not much modification here! ☺️ That has to do with my stubbornness! Ha ha! And they really haven’t pushed for change – they seem pretty happy with how everything happens.
What would you do when things such as traveling, colds, shots changed things? (i.e woke your babies up in the middle of the night or made it difficult for them to nap.) Would you find that they could get back onto their schedule pretty quickly?
We haven’t traveled too much, and as for the colds and shots, they really didn’t effect too much. Some nights, yes, I did get up to soothe them if they were sick, but they kinda grew out of needing us to help them sleep – they like sleeping on their own. And sometimes that nighttime snuggle just made it worse – Jack would then sometimes wake when I put him back down and we were doing it all over. But, if I was just a little patient and allowed him a little time to cry, he would fall back to sleep.
What about time changes? How do you modify when the clocks turn back or forward or if you travel somewhere where the time is two to three hours different?
Time changes I had to take slow. I think it’s hard for all of us to adjust to, so I never stressed. I kinda just counted on sleeping a little less and within a few days we were all back to normal.
And, they say that if anything goes awry with naps during the day, that nighttime sleep is affected. Have you experienced this?
If the boys don’t get in there usual nap their mood shows it shortly after dinner. If it becomes unbearable then it’s just an early night and to bed they go. And normally sleep until their regular time in the morning. They really do like their sleep!
What is the boys’ sleep schedule like now? (Naps and bedtimes.)
Naps: 12:30 p.m. -2:30/3:00 p.m.
Bed: 7:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Now, I know some of my answers may sound crazy but I was honest and this is really how much my kids sleep and they never fight me to go to bed. There is hope for all of the restless parents and babies out there. Babies need to learn how to sleep on their own and we as parents are the ones who are supposed to help them learn that. Sleep makes everyone happier and healthier. Believe it! Believe in yourself! xoxo, P
Well, those look like happy, well-rested babes to me 😉 Thanks so much Penny!
And, as always readers, let us know if you have any questions – I will pass them along to Penny or to any of our other interviewees.