UPDATE FROM CECI JOHNSON: SLEEP TRAINING YOUR BABY AFTER AGE ONE
Those of you who know me well know that I completely swear by sleep training your child. It’s a MUST in my book, so all you new moms reading this, listen up – this is for you. When I first tried it, my son, Mason, was 2.5 months, and it changed my life (read the guidelines here). As he grew older, I had to adjust as he transitioned into two naps a day (read the updated version here). And to this day, I am so grateful I stuck with it because sleeping is relatively easy in my household. I am proud to say that Mason diligently goes to bed each night at 7:30pm and sleeps through the night until 7:30am. Of course, you have to embrace those nights when your child is teething or may have a cold because the cries in the middle of the night will happen (it’s inevitable). Colds and teething kinda throw the sleep schedule out the window – ugh. So be patient on those nights. Now that Mason is approaching the two-year mark, we had to adjust his sleep schedule during the day. The biggest difference is that the afternoon nap is eliminated. As your baby gets older, they only require one nap during the day. We also cut out the bottle before bedtime. Doctor says that’s better for his teeth so the milk doesn’t sit in his mouth all night. Best to wean off. Here’s what our days look like now.
7:30am – wake up for the day + playtime + eat breakfast + bottle
10:30/11:00am – back in crib for naptime (the naps should be anywhere from 1-3 hours – wake up your baby if he or she is sleeping more than 3 hours)/Mason typically sleeps for 2-3 hours.
1:30pm – wake up + playtime + eat lunch. After lunch he plays until dinner – no more afternoon naps.
6:00pm – start evening bedtime ritual 6:30pm – eat dinner 7:00pm – bath then PJs 7:15pm – sing lullaby/read book 7:25pm – back in crib for the night 7:30pm – asleep for the entire night
Tip 1: VARYING MORNING WAKE UP TIME It’s important to know that the schedule is not always perfect. Sometimes Mason wakes up on the earlier side. If it’s any time after 6:30am, I’ll make an exception and go in and get him. However, if it’s any earlier than that, I DO NOT go in. I read that babies have internal clocks that go off at 5am. I’ve also heard that if you allow the 5am wake up time, they will get into the habit and wake up that early every day! That’s not happening in my house. So what I do is ignore him talking in his crib. He eventually rolls over with his lovey and snoozes for a little bit longer! Of course, if you prefer to start your days that early, then go in to get your baby.
Tip 2: GET A LOVEY A lovey is essentially a little blanket with a stuffed animal head attached to it. It is your baby’s “sleep buddy” and is VERY IMPORTANT! Introduce it to your baby at 3 months. Only give it to your baby to snuggle when it’s time to sleep. If you use it outside the crib, the lovey loses its magic powers.
Tip 3: GET 3 LOVEYS It’s always best to have a backup so I recommend buying three of the same loveys. Angel Dear caught on and now packages them in groups of three, and they come in over 30 different designs. Having more than one is key when one is in the wash or if you happen to lose one. This way you’re covered – and your baby will never know the difference.
Now Mason is so trained that when he sees his lovey, which we affectionately call “Ellie,” he knows it’s bedtime. He snuggles up to Ellie and immediately falls asleep. I can tell Ellie is important because it’s in Mason’s arms throughout the night. It’s very cute. And from where I sit, it’s the smartest tool to help your baby sleep. Special thanks to my best friend who showed me the way. Hope this helps you, too!