Tag Archives: baby sleep

Bedtime With Cora

I posted a couple of weeks ago about our supposed “sleep nirvana” that we had reached after doing some sleep training with Cora. Nirvana is definitely not where we are at but there is a night and day difference between how Cora sleeps now and how she slept a month ago. She is putting herself to sleep for naps and bedtime with no stress and no tears, she sleeps through the night, and she wakes up happy! So guess who else is sleeping… ME! Sometimes… Josh and I have developed a habit of staying up super late because we hoard our “just us” time like my mother hoards See’s Candies. BUT, on the nights that we are responsible and go to bed at a reasonable hour, it’s now totally worth it because we can keep sleeping until morning instead of waking up an hour later to a distraught baby. Life is wonderful! Sleep is super important guys… but that’s a whole other post. Though we went through a lot of trial and error, frustration, and experimentation trying to get Cora to sleep better and feel more comfortable in her own bed (Co-sleepers anonymous member over here), I attribute a large part of our final success to our bedtime ritual. Cora was ready to sleep on her own a long time ago but because she was so used to sleeping with us (not to mention being on my hip ever moment of every day), when we put her in her crib and left the room, she kind of panicked. Or maybe she was just ticked… Regardless, I know that the reason she does so well now is because we take those 15-30 minutes before her bedtime to do a few things as a family, the same things every night, to make her feel comfortable, loved, and of course, sleepy. It’s made a world of difference for Cora. Our nightly activities not only are great ways for us to spend time together, but they have become cues to her that it is about time to go to sleep. We’ve actually been having to rush through the tail end of our ritual lately because she’s been winding down and getting sleepy right at the beginning! So if you think you’re kiddo is ready to go to sleep and stay asleep on their own but things aren’t working, read the rest of this post and try to dial in your bedtime routine. If there’s one thing I’ve learned since becoming a parent its that babies thrive with structure and consistency bundled up with a heck-ton of love! So give it a try. I’m going to make this simple and just write out what our nightly routine with Cora is. Here goes:

6:30- Right after dinner, I nurse Cora for the last time of the evening.

6:45- Cora gets in the tub and plays for 10-15 minutes. Then I get her all washed up.

7:00- Dad gets Cora out of the tub while I get her pjs ready, bedroom blinds closed, and pick up any stray toys. Then we lotion her up, get her dressed, comb her hair, and brush her teeth. We also always use my homemade sleepy-time lotion or put diluted lavender on the bottom of her feet.

7:05- We turn her white noise machine on, kneel/cuddle for family prayer, and Daddy says goodnight. I then read her one story and say a “personal prayer” while she cuddles with her lovey and favorite blanket.  After a song or two I tell her that her Daddy and I love her, that we’ll be here if she needs us, and lay her in bed. Then I walk out and shut the door. And she goes right to sleep!

That’s it! We don’t do a ton and everything is super simple but I know that Cora feels comfortable with the consistency and that it’s working for us. Bedtime routines don’t have to be hours long or have to be anything grand. Just take those last few minutes to love on your kiddo before you put them down for the night. I know I’ll never regret these times because Cora has been such a busy-body lately those cuddles right before bed are all I ever get!

Thanks for reading! Let me know what you guys do for your bedtime routines or what has worked for your family.

Hint: I do the same routine for naps I just skip the bath and all the shenanigans with Dad.

My Thoughts On “Sleep Training”

If the last three months of your life have been anything like mine, you’re probably looking at your screen through blood-shot eyes that are underlain with enormous, purple bags. You probably haven’t gotten more than a few hours of straight sleep in weeks, and those hours of “sleep” have most likely been on the recliner (or worse, the floor) of your child’s bedroom.

I have been putting off “sleep training” Cora for months for a few reasons. First, I’m a wuss and hate to hear her cry, and refuse to do so when it’s my fault. Second, I didn’t want to force anything when I knew she already wasn’t feeling well and we are still having a daily struggle with major digestive issues that no one can seem to find the answer to. Third, I wasn’t ready to give up my precious time with my sweet infant when she still liked to cuddle (Really, I’m still not). BUT, despite all of these items being continually true, my wish to mother my baby through the night was impeding my ability to mother her during the day. I have literally had days where, once finally in bed, I cannot remember what I did that day, what I wore, or what I ate. I felt like that if I was even being an acceptable mother, I was unaware of it. I was living in a fog. I needed some flipping sleep. After this realization, and a few more stubborn sleepless nights that would hopefully give a bit more time to get Cora’s tummy under control, I decided to attempt some version of sleep training (again).

My biggest holdback with sleep training, really, was that I always want Cora to know that I love her and am here for her, whenever and wherever but I felt like “sleep training” as I knew it would conflict with that goal and require me to  leave her in her crib for hours on end and create some catastrophic psychological issues down the road. Though, I have been told repeatedly that that is false. Though that method is the solution for some people, I couldn’t do it.  I really did want Cora to learn to sleep on her own and to feel comfortable in her bed without me, but I didn’t want her to feel totally abandoned either… After talking to a good friend and fellow new mom who told me what she had been doing with her daughter, I found a compromise. The goal was to do my usual bedtime routine, tell Cora that I love her and put her in bed, and leave for only one minute. After a minute of crying, I went in and reassured her however I felt was necessary. I sang, held her hand, rubbed her back, and even picked her up when she wouldn’t otherwise stop crying. I would stay in her room for thirty seconds, then leave again, this time waiting two minutes. I continued this, alternating comforting her then leaving for increasing amounts of time, until we reached five minutes of crying. I knew that this was an amount that we could both handle. After that, I went into her room and held her hand and sang to her until she fell asleep. We did the same thing for both of her naps the next day but only ever got up to one minute of crying. By that second night, she was falling asleep on her own without a tear and last night she slept completely through the night!

I want to say that this “method” is a miracle-worker but I know that it isn’t. I think that the key to our success this time around, (this most definitely was not our first attempt) was that Cora and I were both actually ready. I had read about this “being ready” bologna a few times before and never understood it. I thought maybe it just meant that both of us were sufficiently sleep-deprived but it turns out the opposite is true for a baby… My advice to anyone who has wondered at this same question is to take a guess and try to sleep train now. For me, more than one or two nights of hysterics was too much and meant I needed to wait a while longer. For others, a week or more may be the limit. You pick an amount of time, try it out, and if it doesn’t work, try again later. Sleep is just around the corner! Or a few… but you’ll get there.