Is Sleep Training For You? 3 Things To Consider.

If you are reading this, chances are you are sleep deprived. I am sleep deprived as I write this. I’ve been sleep deprived since January 2017. So that is about 2 years of sleep deprivation. Are you tired, mama? If I could, I’d make you cup of a strong coffee and offer my couch to take a nap on. You probably wouldn’t get much sleep though, considering I have two really loud babies in my house who can easily bring the noise to deafening levels.

Sleep. I often think about what I would tell my former self before I had children, had I the chance to travel back in time and have a chat with her. I would tell her to prepare her final goodbyes to her good friend Sleep. Cut your losses, girl and get good at making some really strong coffee! Also-invest in some solid under eye concealer because the dark circles are FOR REAL.

But let’s chat about sleep training!

Most Paediatricians recommend sleep training beginning around 4 months of age. I have found this age to be the best time to start with my babies. Did you know you can give your baby comfort AND still sleep train them? It’s possible, YAAAS!

If you get the jump on helping them learn to sleep earlier in life then you will have to do LESS work to do down the road. *Talk to your child’s doctor before beginning.

If you are doing something that works for you, keep doing it. I’m not here to tell you that you are wrong so please keep doing what works for you. Maybe skip this blog post if sleep training aint’ yoh thing, ok? If you aren’t happy with what you are doing and find yourself struggling, consider sleep training. Getting my babies on a schedule and sleep training them has been one of the best decisions I’ve made as mom. If your baby is close to a year old (or older) and really struggling to fall asleep independently (if that is what you want them to do), consider hiring a sleep consultant. Sleep Consultants have a variety of amazing methods to help families in all situations! They are worth the money!

You decide how to help your baby learn things like sleeping, even if that means baby sleeps on you or with you-you are still teaching them how to sleep. How you do that is up to you!

Here are 3 things consider if you wonder if sleep training is for you!

  • Are You Willing To Be Consistent (and slightly boring)?

If you are serious about helping your baby establish sleeping independantly , it’s important that you are consistent. It’s contradictory to the whole process if you are constantly leaving your home all the time. Your baby has to learn that their room and crib is where they sleep. (if that is where you want them to sleep). If they are falling asleep in their carseat all the time, then that is where they will associate sleep with. Babies will do what they are consistently given the opportunity to do.

You won’t always be stuck at home but from experience (and talking to other moms who sleep train) I was (and am) pretty boring the first 6 months of my babies’ lives. That might sound unreasonable but it’s all about what you are willing to invest into helping your baby sleep. How important is it to you? It doesn’t mean you can’t EVER leave your house while sleep training. But it does mean sacrificing some of your time.

I believe that if you stick to a loose routine and follow some simple sleep training tips-you will have a baby who forms some sort of predictable schedule within a month or two. Don’t believe me? TRY IT! Once your baby starts getting into a routine of sorts and is able to stay awake longer, you can start planning outings around them. While it’s hard work, it’s not so bad. I promise. It’s all about how you approach the situation. It’s just a short season of being home, in light of all the years to come when I can do whatever I want. I get to be home with my babies, take care of their needs, be in comfy clothes, eat snacks and chill. EAT ALL THE SNACKS!

My second point is something that often discourages most parents from this whole sleep training deal.

  • Are You Ok With Crying?

I believe one of the reasons that sleep training has such a dirty reputation has to do with a misunderstanding of the crying aspect. What I don’t understand is why people do not do their own research but instead come to strange and negative conclusions about all forms of sleep training. Sleep training does NOT have to involve leaving your baby alone for hours to cry themselves to sleep without being offered any comfort. I have never intentionally just shut the door and left either of my babies to cry indefinitely for hours.

A common scenario I see in parenting forums or on social media often goes like this: “Hi everyone! My baby is x months old and a terrible sleeper. I nurse (or bottle-feed), rock or hold her to get her to sleep. She’s been sleeping on me or with me since she was born. She wakes up multiple times a night and refuses to nap during the day unless I’m holding her. I’m so exhausted I can’t see straight. Help me! What do I do?”

Then I see other mamas offering simple, straight forward sleep solutions that typically fall into the category of sleep training. The original poster will immediately reply, “Oh and I won’t do anything that involves listening to my baby cry! I refuse to let her cry!” And this is the face I’m making while I read the thread——————————————->

If you absolutely can not handle your baby EVER crying then buckle up my friend. It’s going to be a long ride in parenthood because babies (as well as children) CRY all the dang time. My 18 month old cried (screamed at me) today when I wouldn’t let him touch the cat’s butthole. I wish I was joking but phrases such as, “Please don’t dip your toothbrush in the toilet,” are a regular part of my day. I digress. You might be surprised if you let little Bobby fuss or cry for a few minutes only to find that he’s put himself back to sleep. We are biologically wired to respond to the distress of our children. Again, if this isn’t something you feel comfortable with when it comes to sleep then stick to what makes your family thrive!

There are extreme methods of sleep training that leave babies to cry until they’ve exhausted themselves, which I personally find to be stressful and counterproductive for all involved. In the first few months of sleep training, I employ timed checks which you can read about here. I love timed checks and it’s what I’m currently doing with my 4 month old right now. I would also like to talk about the whole “put baby down awake” thing. Sometimes that has worked with my boys but the majority of the time, I’ve fed/rocked them until they are almost asleep, up until they were a year old. I only do timed checks if they aren’t settling after I put them down. So, yes-you can feed/rock your baby to sleep, still teach them to fall asleep on their own and not form “bad” habits! AMAZING! Bad habits. (I’m rolling my eyes). Your baby needing you isn’t a bad habit, FYI.

My last point is pretty straight forward.

  • How Hard Are You Willing To Work?

This is my most important point for you to consider. Seeing the bigger picture is important to achieving success in this process. My husband has said more than once that its worth it to slug it out and blitz this whole thing now. I completely agree! You have to know that it gets hard before it becomes easier. Just like working out, it will take time to see progress. It will feel like you do the same thing for months with little to no progress. And then it will get better. Don’t be discouraged when you face disruptions with your baby’s sleep habits. It’s normal. I said I don’t believe in regressions when it comes to babies. I do believe that developmental leaps, teething, and sickness can cause a baby to have disrupted sleep. Comfort your baby however, in these times and make adjustments. But these things are just a few reasons why I believe establishing good sleep habits from the beginning is so important. If you can help your baby establish good sleep habits, it can make disruptions and changes a little bit easier to navigate, for all of you.

My children do not sleep perfectly. Like all children, they go through seasons of great sleep and poor sleep but overall their good sleep outweighs the poor. We combined our boys into one room a few weeks ago. Yup-a 4.5 month old and an 18 month old sharing a room! It’s been almost a month of some amazing nights and some really difficult ones. I’m so tired some days, I can barely see straight. But I’m not going to quit just because it’s hard. Like all learned things, it takes time and my boys will learn to sleep through each other’s crying, wake ups and commotion.

Consider that you are giving your baby (and your whole family) the gift of sleep. It’s a wonderful thing!

Whether you are just considering sleep training, in the beginning stages or deep in the trenches, I wish you all the sweet sleep in the world. May your coffee be strong and your concealer be thick.

Do you sleep train? What has or hasn’t worked for you? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Why I Don’t Follow BabyWise And What I Do Instead.

So, my almost 4 month old is going through what most sleep experts would say is a sleep regression. Add to that the fact that my 17 month old is cutting 3 molars all at once and you could say we are really tired over here. I don’t know if my youngest is actually in a regression. I think regression for me just means he’s growing and learning exciting new things so sleep is for the birds. I’m tired, nevertheless.

Soooooooooooo tired. Drink ALL the coffee.

Ahhhhh sleep and babies and sleep training! If you’ve read any of my blog up until this point you will know that I’m an advocate for sleep training. I think sleep training has gotten a really bad reputation over the years and it’s a term loosely thrown around. Sleep training for one family might mean something completely different for another. And here’s the thing. Even if you are staunchly anti-sleep training, you’re still sleep training. Training is conditioning yourself or someone else to learn to do something, right? So, if you are putting your baby in a carrier and wearing them to sleep every day-you are essentially training them to sleep while you wear them. It’s not bad but it’s still sleep training to some degree.

I don’t read those articles anymore about how you aren’t supposed to make your baby self-soothe and how sleep training is dangerous. They are incredibly guilt-trippy and I don’t need that in my life, just sayin’.

Here’s the thing. How YOU choose to help your baby sleep is up to you. Isn’t that great? I think we are pretty fortunate to have a lot of options available to us and we get to figure out what works for us as individual families.

Babywise. What the heck is Babywise? I bought this book when Hudson (my first) was a few weeks old. It’s a book on sleep training by Gary Ezzo and Robert Buckman. It came out in the early 90’s when I was still a little girl. People swear by their method of putting baby on a strict schedule that follows the Eat-Play-Sleep routine. There has been a lot of controversy since the book came out about how people were too strict with feeding schedules. This contributed to failure to thrive in many young infants. That being said, I know many people who SWEAR by the Babywise method.

The general philosophy of Babywise is actually something I agree with and that is getting your baby into a routine from the beginning. But I as I attempted more of their methods with my first, I found a few glitches along the way. Here are 3 reasons why Babywise doesn’t jive with me.

  • It’s confusing. I don’t know about you but once I had babies my brain no longer functioned the way it did before. I also don’t have hours and hours every day to figure out complex schedules and routines. Babywise is very complex or at least to me, it seems that way. It has you merging schedules and feedings. It’s not an easy read and it continually changes. Yes, a baby’s sleep changes as they grow. But I feel like it can be (it is) way more simple! 

  • It’s Too Strict. SO Babywise suggests that you feed your baby on a set schedule of every 2.5 hours to 4 hours, depending on their age starting from a week to 10 weeks of age. I don’t know about you but I had a really hungry newborn. He was 9 pounds 2 ounces from birth and he gained 1.5 pounds a week, at times. He was hungry ALL the time and if I didn’t feed him he was angry baby. As well he should be! I’m not a huge fan of when babies get into snacking but I firmly believe newborns (babies under 4 months) should be fed on demand. Chances are (as I’ve seen with both my boys) their eating patterns level out at around 3 months and take full feeds. Babies go through huge growth spurts ALL the time. Please please please, FEED YOUR BABY when they are hungry.
  • My Babies Want To Be Fed To Sleep. Most sleep training methods tell you not to get into the habit of nursing your baby to sleep. Babywise is one of those especially because they teach the whole Eat-Play-Sleep method. So the idea is that as soon as your baby wakes up, you feed them. Then they “play” and then when it’s time to put them down for a nap, you do so. But there is a flaw in this oh so seemingly simple plan. Hungry babies. I’ll be honest-I tried super hard not to feed my first to sleep once I started sleep training him. I didn’t know anything about babies and sleep so I just did what I was told by many sleep sites and books. It didn’t work and I had a hungry baby who only took catnaps. Once I started following my gut instinct to feed my babies to sleep-they slept better and sleep training was (is) more successful. Look. Do you like going to sleep on an empty stomach? I don’t! In my experience with my own babies I have found that a full tummy equals good sleep. If you are worried that your child will never go to sleep without being fed, just relax. My 17 month old gets a bottle of milk before bed but he finishes it and then we put the bottle in the sink. He falls asleep great! There are ways, down the road, to gently wean your baby from needing to be fed to sleep but I wouldn’t worry about it too much.

Ok-so we’ve established that Babywise didn’t work for me and WHY it didn’t work for me. But you are probably wondering what I did instead. Well, I did a lot of things! Here are 3 things I did (and do) to establish healthy sleep habits with my babies.

  • Create An Awesome Baby Cave. A peaceful environment is conducive to quality sleep. If you think about what helps you sleep well then it’s easy to apply that to creating an ideal sleeping environment for your baby. White noise is super important in our home. My husband and I even sleep with it! I have two of these Amazon Echo Dots that we’ve hooked up via bluetooth to old iPods/Android phones. My husband ripped a continuous track of white noise onto the devices so that it plays all night long. Make the room as dark as you possibly can. As your newborn becomes a curious baby, they will learn to scan the room to look for you and just have general interest in their environment. If there is too much light, this can make it difficult for them to fall asleep. My almost 4 month old already looks for his big brother like a hawk. It makes naptime a little tricky! Grab some blackout shades to help shut out the light. Keep the room moderately cool. A stuffy, hot room is a factor in contributing to SIDS. It’s also super uncomfortable! We keep our boys comfy in a fleece sleepsack (during the winter) and breathable, cotton jammies.
  • Establish A Simple Routine. I’ve probably said this a billion times but it’s because routine, even a simple one, is so important in contributing to sleep success. I do not thrive well if I have no structure to my day. I think babies are the same way. Pick a wake up time every day and start from there. If you wake your baby up at the same time every morning and feed them-their body clock can sync to this time. Be mindful of how long your baby is able to stay awake and start nap-time before they get too tired. Don’t keep them up in hopes that they will nap longer. I’m never afraid of the early bedtime when I have a little baby and when they’ve needed it, they generally sleep even longer through the night.
  • Be Ok With Being Boring. What I mean by this is if you want to see success with getting your baby into a routine and establishing healthy sleep habits-you kinda have to be home to do that. With my first I was super strict about his routine and schedule in the beginning. With my second, I’m more flexible but I’m still pretty boring during those first 6 months. Part of that is because we have one car and my husband usually takes it. I’m totally ok with being home the majority of the time because it’s worth it for me. I’ve seen the benefits of keeping my little guys on a good schedule. If you have one baby and find yourself bored with being home all the time-take advantage of this season of rest! Find a show to binge on or a good book! I know for me that there will come a day when we can go all the time if we want. This time of being at home is just a season.

Figure out what works for you as a family and then try to stick to it, if you can. Consistency is really important when you are establishing healthy sleep habits with your baby. I’ll be the first to tell you that we don’t have it all figured out in our home. This morning both my boys were awake before 6am. I’m really tired! But we do have a foundation of sleep to fall back on and that is something worth working towards, for us.

What have you found to work for you when it comes to your baby and sleep? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

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Newborn Sleep 101

“I’m never going to sleep again.” 

I have felt this way in the beginning with both of my babies! But it can get better.

 I wanted to share a little more in-depth about the things that have really helped my husband and I get our sons (and ourselves!) on a schedule when they were newborns. I consider a baby younger than 4 months to be a newborn. Doctor’s do not recommend sleep training until a baby is 4 months of age.

I have learned that the earlier you start helping a baby sleep independently the less sleep training you actually have to do along the way. So why not start from the beginning?

Here’s a few things that helped us along the way with sleep in those early months.

  • Swaddle, swaddle, swaddle. Newborns have the the startle reflex which will wake them up. That’s why swaddles are FANTASTIC in the first few weeks. Some of my favorites have been the Miracle Blanket and the Ergo Cocoon. Swaddling baby will help create that snug feeling of being in the womb and give you both more sleep in the beginning weeks.
  • White Noise. I hate sleeping in silence. I think babies do too! Also, my toddler is SO INCREDIBLY LOUD ALL THE TIME so white noise is necessary for my second baby to get any sleep during the day. I have this sound machine. “That ambient sound a baby hears in the womb – mainly blood running through your blood vessels and the movement of your stomach and intestines – actually reaches the level of about 90 decibels (about the level of background noise in an apartment next to an elevated train).” (
  • Swing away! Both my sons have lived in this swing which we bought used, for the first couple months of their lives. Praise the Lord for that swing. I recommend borrowing a swing or buying used in the case that your baby doesn’t like the swing. I remember one person telling me that it would be difficult to break the habit of the swing. Not true! You can decrease the speed every week and gently ween baby. Do whatever you have to, to survive these days. No one’s 16-year-old is still sleeping in a swing, seriously.
  • Dream Feed. Dream feeding is the act of feeding your baby, later in the night (but not too late) usually before you go to bed. It’s called a dream feed because baby is usually in a deep sleep and will not wake for this feed. It can help to fill baby’s tummy and give you both a longer stretch of sleep. This feed will be the very last feed you drop, when baby is ready to be weaned of all night feedings. Pam at Wee Bee Dreaming talks about the appropriate number of night feeding babies require for each age. Check it out here.
  • Day and Night Confusion. Help baby sort her days and nights, QUICK. Make it a priority in those first few weeks and you will find that you all sleep better. Lots of brightness during the day, open windows and don’t tiptoe around baby. DARK at night with swaddling, white noise and a baby cave that encourages deep sleep. Wake baby up every couple hours to eat, during the day. Let her sleep as long as she wants at night, unless your doctor has directed otherwise. You want her to take lots of calories during the day so that she doesn’t have to make up for it during the night.
  • Schedule. As soon as you can, start a simple schedule with your little baby! Even a basic, flexible schedule can bring some peace and order to your life. Rachel, A Mother Far From Home has some great schedules for babies, appropriate for each month of age. Remember, nothing is set in stone and every day may vary but having a simple routine can really help with peace of mind.
  • A Pre-sleep routine goes a long way in helping baby settle faster and sleep longer. My son Jack literally starts closing his eyes when I carry him into his room to put him down for a nap because he already knows what is coming. Lights off, white noise on, change diaper and put sleep sack on, soother and rock for awhile. At night it’s bath, jams, sleep sack, bottle, rock and night night! It doesn’t always go perfectly but I stick to my routine and he gets better every day.
  • Don’t keep baby awake longer, hoping for more sleep. An overtired baby will not be a sleeping baby. Catch baby before she’s too tired! Most newborns can only manage about 20 minutes to an hour of awake time in the first few months.

I’m not expert and I only know what has worked for my family. I wish you great success in sleep. I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

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10 Tips On Sleep Training.

*Edited June 2019*

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. When you click on a link and purchase something (anything) on Amazon I make a small commission. Thank you for supporting all the hard work I do here at The Messy Housewife.

In the early days of my first son’s life, when he was around 6 weeks old, I was seriously sleep deprived. When I say sleep deprived, I mean that on a good day I would get 2-3 consecutive hours of sleep. That was when I started thinking about sleep training.

I’m not here to say what is right or wrong but only to share mine and my husband’s experience with sleep and our son. I’m not an expert in sleep training and I only know what has worked for us as a family. If sleep training is something you strongly oppose, then I’d suggest skipping this post!


Please talk to your Pediatrician before you begin sleep training as they can give you a good idea of when it’s ok. The most common age to begin is 4 months. Before we even talked about sleep training, one thing my husband and I did do was start a very simple bedtime routine with our son. At 8pm it was dim lights, swaddled, bottle, bounce and into the bassinet in a dark room with loud white noise. Everything I know about starting baby on a routine I learned from this lady here.

Maybe you co-sleep and exclusively breastfeed but wonder if sleep training is possible? Absolutely! While I didn’t do either of those things long term, I think helping a baby learn to fall asleep (and stay asleep) independently is possible in almost any situation.

I lived in a tiny basement apartment with really loud neighbours when I sleep trained my first son. He actually slept better when we lived in the basement than he does now, on the main floor of the house. If I can sleep train in a basement….you can sleep train anywhere my friends!

The basics of what I’ve learned after sleep training 2 babies in two years are out lined here:

  • Babies can only stay awake for so long and this window of time is different each month. This awesome sleep consultant talks about this HERE on her blog. Understanding my son’s max awake time was a game changer because I learned to catch him before he was over tired. You do not want an over tired baby. This makes everything so much more work!

  • Babies will show cues when they are tired. Rubbing of the eyes, yawning, fidgety, etc. Keep an eye out for those cues and it can make sleep much easier!

  • Keeping baby awake longer does not equate to baby sleeping longer or better. Babies (and toddlers) will become over tired, their brains will stop producing the sleep hormone and they will begin to produce the stress hormone cortisol (which is like red bull for babies). If you don’t have an appropriate (and set) bedtime for your little one that could be why they are struggling to sleep. Pam at Wee Bee Dreaming talks about this here.

  • Routine is KEY when getting your baby on a sleep schedule. There are some great examples of routines by ages here. Getting a good nap routine down for my son was not easy. I did the exact same thing every day for months and it took months for it to click. By doing the same thing for naps and bedtime, you are cuing your baby that it’s time to rest. It’s amazing how quickly they catch on to this! Two babies later and I’ve learned that sticking to our routine has made the biggest difference in how well my boys sleep for naps and nighttime.

  • Sleep training is NOT leaving your baby to cry for hours in a dark room, alone. Was (is) there crying involved for us? Yes. I’ve cried and my sons have cried. Yes, I let them cry and no I’m not a bad mom. There are tons of resources on the internet that take a No Cry approach to sleep training. You will probably do all the things in the beginning such as rocking, swaddling, using a swing, feeding to sleep, etc. That is ok. You’ll know when to fade those things out!

  • It takes time to establish a healthy sleep pattern. You can not expect a little baby to figure something out in a few days or weeks even. The longer you wait, the harder it can become. I would say that if you are into the 6-12 month mark, it might be a good idea to consider a trained/certified sleep consultant. You can’t put a price tag on good sleep!

  • Sleep training at night can be easier than sleep training for naps. Sleep studies show that our biological drive to sleep is much stronger at night so it’s often suggested to start with night sleeping. I did things the hard way by starting with naps. Because of this I’ve had to do very little night sleep training.

  • The 40 minute sleep cycle is important to understand. It’s a maturing of the brain for a baby to learn to transition from one sleep cycle to the next. That is why it’s great to gently help a baby learn how to soothe themselves.

  • Be prepared to have a boring life for awhile if you are serious about establishing good sleep and routine. I know I have the reputation of someone who rarely leaves or house or deviates from our routine. I cancel plans or don’t make plans and prioritize my boys’ routine to set them up for better sleep habits. I know that sounds extreme but it’s worth it for me. This is a short season and I’m more than ok with giving up my schedule if it means my boys sleep well.

  • Be prepared for setbacks. Teething, sickness, time change, etc. Just remind yourself, it’s all a phase! If you can give your baby a good foundation of sleep, it can make these setbacks a little easier to navigate.

A few of my favourite items that helped during the sleep training phase in our home are these:

  • This Swing! Both off my boys slept in this week for the first few months of their lives and helped us all sleep much better in the early days.
  • This White Noise Machine has 20 different soothing sounds on a loop. The shushing sound worked like magic for my second son.
  • This Miracle Blanket swaddle kept my babies feeling snug and secure.

Around 5-8 weeks postpartum, I was diagnosed with extreme postpartum anxiety. It was when my son started to sleep better that I started to feel better. I don’t know if I would’ve made it through if I had not chosen to sleep train. It was a matter of survival for me.

Having a baby who sleeps well (or sleeps through the night) is NOT the hallmark of parenting. It doesn’t determine your worth as a parent nor is it a competition. But if you desire to help your baby get into a routine with restful and restorative sleep, hopefully some of these tips help!

Do you sleep train? Why or why not? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!