Before I had a child of my own, I used to babysit for my nieces and nephews when they were so much younger. (They are teenagers now, btw.) I remember trying to avoid doing two things with them – feeding them and putting them down for their nap.
Feeding babies was just a messy affair I really didn’t have the patience for, that is, until I had my daughter eating. As for making them take a nap… Well, let’s just say I only gave myself three tries before I let them have their way.
I admit now that this would not the best sleep training method for my baby, but sometimes it got the job done with my nieces and nephews. They would be so tired from playing at times that they would fall asleep ON THEIR OWN right in front of me. You are probably thinking I’m a bad babysitter (and aunt, for that matter), but, the important thing was that the children got their nap, right?
They were able to get that much-needed snooze time to help them grow. It doesn’t matter how I was able to do it. THAT is what I used to tell myself BEFORE I had my daughter.
When my daughter came into my life, everything changed. Yes, even the way I put her to sleep. No, I didn’t wait until she was so sleepy.
With my daughter, figuring out the best way to put her to sleep was more of trial and error. I had friends and family to observe before I became a mother, so I had done my research, so to speak. All I needed to do next when my daughter came was to proceed to the “experiment phase.”
The Sleep Training Methods
Sleep Method 1
First, I tried dancing her to sleep. I remembered seeing my mom doing this with one of my nieces and since mothers know best, it was obviously my first choice. So, when it was nap time, I would cradle my baby in my arms, stand in the room, and shuffle gently to the left, and then, to the right. A little to the left again, then a little to the right. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat… until my sweet angel fell asleep.
Then, I’d gingerly and carefully lay her in her crib. This particular method was effective, indeed, and had a couple of plus-es. One, my baby would be asleep in five to ten minutes. Two, I was able to get some form of exercise for my core in whenever my “little dance” included a twist to the left and to the right. (This benefit was really appealing for a new mommy if you know what I mean.)
Sleep Method 2
Next, I tried letting her fall asleep by herself. AND no, no, no. This wasn’t like what I did with my nieces and nephews. After giving her a bottle of milk (breastfeeding and I didn’t see eye-to-eye) and making sure she burped, I would just lay her in her crib, switch on one of her mobile/nightlight/music box and leave her in the room.
Why would I try another sleep training method if the dancing one worked you ask? One day a good friend and her family came to visit and stayed overnight. At bedtime, I excused myself to put my daughter to bed, thinking that it would just take a few minutes like usual.
I guess my daughter had other plans for us that night because each time I would lay her in her crib, she would startle herself awake. So, I’d pick her back up and repeat our dance (and the humming) all over again.
To make a long story short, what used to take five minutes ended up lasting for almost an hour. When I finally made it out of the bedroom to join the adults, my friend reminded me that my daughter won’t remain that small and light.
As the weeks go by, she would become bigger and heavier. Would I still have the energy and the patience to do a 5- to 10-minute dance with a longer and heavier baby? That got me thinking.
So then, she suggested putting my daughter to sleep like how she put her sons to sleep. She had two sons, by the way, and both are older than my baby, so she was explaining all this to me very confidently. Now you know how Sleep Method # 2 came about.
Did it work?
I have to say my friend’s method did not work for me at all. I tried it during my friend’s visit and she saw for herself. A few minutes after I closed the door, my daughter was bawling. My guess is that she wasn’t accustomed to being alone in the dark before she was asleep.
Or it could be also that my body heat or the feeling of being cocooned when I carried her was what helped me sleep. My friend said to let her cry and that she would eventually get tired and fall asleep, but I really didn’t have the heart to do that.
So, what did I end up doing?
I have to say that the best sleep training method for my baby would be the last one I tried because it just made my daughter and me both happy. The third way was sort of a mixture of Method #1 and Method #2.
I would prepare her bottle (breastfeeding and I didn’t see eye-to-eye), lay down next to her on the bed, and stroke her hair while she had her milk. Sometime during my humming and hair-stroking, my baby’s eyes would eventually close and I’d watch her breathing become more rhythmic.
I wasn’t tired from dancing her to sleep and she was already comfy in bed by the time she dozed off. No more getting startled when I put her in her crib. No crying as well. Only lovely and comfy Mommy-and-me time.
To each his own, I guess. So, what is the best sleep training method for your baby?