Disclaimer: Every baby is different so what works for us might not work for you. You have to get to know your child, be flexible, and figure out what works for you. Also, no judgement please, because there is no right or wrong when it comes to parenting.
We started sleep training Asher since he was 6 weeks old. My friend Mun Foong lend me a famous sleep training book “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child” by Dr. Marc Weissbluth. After reading the book, I was quite determined to fix Asher’s bed time at 7-7.30pm (it didn’t work).
It wasn’t easy for us because a lot of crying was involved. The book is pro CIO (cry it out) method but I wouldn’t let Asher cries for more than 10 minutes before I pick him up and sooth him again. I spent an average of 2 hours each night trying to sooth him to sleep. I was really stressful and I started doubting myself, if I am doing the right thing.
Maybe it’s time to take a different approach. So I continued with my usual bedtime routine, and Asher will decide what time he wants to sleep. While sleep training him, I also record down all his feeding, diaper change, nap and sleep time in the baby tracker app. Usually he falls asleep at around 8.30pm to 9.00 pm. So I moved my bedtime routine to 8.00 to 8.30pm, depending on the timing of his last feed. It works better for our little family too, because Asher gets to join us for dinner (he’s sitting at the bouncer while we eat) and daddy gets to play with him after work.
Our bedtime routine starts with me carrying him into the bedroom, telling him that we are going to bed (in a cheerful tone). I’ll wipe him clean with cotton sheet dipped in warm water, change his diapers, change into pyjamas while singing to him. After that I’ll carry him and show him how I close the curtain and off the light. Then I’ll offer him a bottle, and after bottle I will play lullabies from the baby mozart app. If there are no signs of sleepiness then I will talk to him about our day lol. Then it is time to place him on his cot when he looks drowsy but still awake. I will gently stroke his head and say good night to him. Usually he will fall asleep on his own until the next feed (dream feed). Sometimes if he whines, I will offer him pacifier (he only accepts pacifier before bedtime, weird).
Kampungboy will do a dream feed at around 11.30-12am before we go to bed. He will tell Asher “daddy is going to change your diapers now, then daddy will feed you milk”. So Asher will not startle when KB moves him. After milk, KB will quietly burp him and put him back to his cot.
Initially, Asher still wakes up once or twice at night. I will offer him my boobs but he will only suck for a while before falling sleep again. We take it as a sign that he is not hungry. On some nights, I tried offering him pacifier or stroke him back to sleep. And then miraculously, he sleeps through the night (9pm to 8am) from third month onwards! I think this is because his circadian rhythm/biological clock has been fully developed. Every morning, we will gently wake him up at 8am so his routine wouldn’t be too far off. It is a “loose” routine for us because we will not purposely wake him up from his nap for milk, 30 minutes to 1 hour difference is fine for us.
-track baby’s eat, sleep, play time since week 6 then roughly fix a schedule from there
-help baby differentiate day and night (noisy vs quiet, bright vs dark)
-have a fixed bedtime routine (ours is 抹身 wipe body, change diapers, change into pyjamas, bottle feed, chit chat/play lullaby)
-understand your baby’s sleepy cues (we are quite lucky because it is very easy to understand Asher, he will yawn and staring off into space with minimal movements on the hands and legs when he’s sleepy)
-then you will be able to protect baby’s nap during the day (good nap = good night sleep, we will still carry him or pat him to sleep during day time if needed)
-no more than 2 hours of wakefulness during day time (try to sooth him to sleep if he’s awake for too long)
-put baby down when he is drowsy but awake (no carrying or latching to sleep. we realised that if we put him down when he’s asleep, he always wakes up crying because he was shocked that he ended up in the cot)
-dream feed + change diapers before you go to bed (+0.5 oz fo your ebm or fm)
-if baby wakes up at night and you know that all his cares are well taken care of (not hungry, no wet diapers, not sick), avoid eye contact and avoid playing with him. Keep the environment quiet and calm while soothing him to fall asleep again.
-be consistent (i.e. sleep on the same cot, do the same bedtime routine)
-wake your baby up at around the same time every morning (his day starts at 8am to 830 am)
Again, don’t blame the baby for waking up in the middle of the night! This is because baby’s sleep cycle is much shorter, with an average of 50-60 minutes (mine is only 45 minutes, you will know if you record their nap time). Usually they sooth themselves back to sleep without us realising. Even adults wake up in the middle of the night!
Also, a very important lesson that I’ve learnt is do not follow any methods strictly because every baby is different. Be flexible, use methods that you can adapt according to what you think works best for your child, and also your lifestyle. Do not expect success overnight, it took us 1.5 month to get there.