Accidental Sleep Training

I first heard about sleep training through Pamela Druckerman’s book Bringing up Bebe. I was pregnant back then, and looking for more of a story than a fact-filled book to read. In her book, I learned about sleeping the night, and other excellent things that French kids do, like be polite and eat everything. The be polite and eat everything parts are for future consideration. My husband was most excited about the baby sleeping through the night at 2 months, instead of the typical 6-9 months or older American babies.

We were recently concerned with the amount of sleep that our baby is getting, and decided to track it (for some reason, we didn’t track her sleep the first 7 weeks). After only a couple of days, it became clear that she had a distinct day and night pattern: she sleeps from ~midnight to ~noon every day (I have to wake her up for feeds), and only naps between noon and midnight. Wow, we seem to have accidentally sleep trained her.

Sleeping through the night is not night weaning

I didn’t know that there was a difference, but it’s obvious now. This means someone else out there is confused as well. Sleeping through the night is well, sleeping through the night. Like from 9pm to 6am. Night weaning is when the baby doesn’t eat at night anymore. Babies are strange creatures who can eat half asleep, so just because they are sleeping through the night doesn’t mean that they are night weaned.

When I first heard about sleeping through the night at 2 months, I thought yay! We can get good sleep after 2 months if we do the French method. We have hit the 2 month mark, and while baby is sleeping through the night, she should not go through the night without feeding. Currently, we wake her up to feed every 4-5 hours if she doesn’t wake up on her own. She sleeps from about midnight to almost noon. She kind of sleeps from 7pm to 10pm, and has a brief period of activity before we put her back to bed at midnight. Given that we didn’t have to very actively get her on the schedule, I am happy with the outcome.

Setting up the easiest sleep training ever

From the start, I set out to help the baby develop a sense of time. We had dark curtains, and used only a small dim light in the bedroom, and made sure the living room is awash in light during the day (and we make it dark at night too) – all the better to make sure that her wake-sleep cycle follows daylight cycles ASAP.

I tried to make sure she sleeps better at night. We had a daytime sleeping area, and a night time sleeping area – we have the crib in the living room, where the adults are around all day, and the Rock and Play in the bedroom, where she will be spending the night. For the uninitiated, the Rock and Play is a bassinet from Fisher Price that you will see pop up everywhere over the internet where people discuss baby sleep. For whatever reason, babies sleep for longer in them (from 30 min to 9 hours! It’s a miracle!). It’s a little warm, so we use it only in the bedroom, which is cooled by A/C at night.

From the Rock and Play to 4 hour intervals at 2 weeks

From day 1, she sleeps in the Rock and Play at night, and takes daytime naps in the crib. The newborn baby is very sleepy, so it may not make much of a difference initially. We did notice that she naturally wakes after 1-3 hours in the crib, but can sleep for longer in the Rock and Play (I always have to wake her up after 3 hours, she doesn’t stir). At 2 weeks when we knew she was gaining weight fine, we stretched it out to 4 hours between feedings at night. That made such a difference.

We started out with 3 hour intervals because that is what the hospital was doing from day 1. I was managing with 3 hour intervals, but it made such a difference when we started 4 hour intervals at night. Going from 3 to 4 hours between feedings may not seem like a big deal but it is. Diapering and feeding, and putting the baby back to sleep can take 45 min to 1 hour, leaving you 2 or 3 hours to sleep. We continued with the schedule – poorer crib sleeping during the day, and more sound sleep in the RnP at night – and magically at 7 weeks when I finally tracked her sleep, I noticed that she had developed a decent sleeping schedule.

Transition from Rock and Play

Maybe I got lucky with a unicorn baby. I think we maximized our chances of “sleep training” by making sure that day and night are distinct, and making sure she sleeps better at night in the RnP than during the day. I recently read that my habit of only feeding from one boob is helpful too – she gets the hindmilk, which is fattier and can last her for longer.

We will have to transition from the RnP to a real crib, but others before me have worked out how to do it. It’s a little awkward that she sleeps at midnight, but I’ll take it. I hear that she will sleep earlier as she gets older.

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