Best Sleep Training Methods I Used for My Babies

I hear you. You want sleep. No, you NEED sleep.

Yep, been there. Three kiddos later and I still would say there are things I can improve on, but with each kid came a lot of useful tips and tricks, all of which I am gifting to you!

Many parents are all about formal methods, like the Ferber method, or the Weissbluth method, when sleep training their littles. My approach is a bit different. Instead of focusing on one method, I like to focus on tweaking the details of all of them. Find what works, change what doesn’t. That’s it!

Deb to the rescue! Someone make me a cape or something.

I’ve done the time, worn all the coverup one face can take, and have found the best sleep training methods I used for my babies that you can now use for yours, minus all the pain and suffering.

Okay, that’s not totally true. There will still be some sleepless nights in your future, and probably some tears, too. But rest assured, you will have far less sleepless nights than I ever did. (Now who’s envious of who!)

Read on, and remember to thank me later!

  1. Comfort from a distance

When my oldest was a newborn, I was all over her after every little whine and cry. Big mistake!

I get it, its our motherly instinct to want to scoop up our crying babes into our arms and keep all the big bad tears away, but you aren’t doing her any favors. Let her fuss, but make sure she also knows you’re right there if she really does need you. She will learn how to soothe herself to sleep in no time.

  1. The baby bundle

Babies are used to not having much space to move. It’s actually soothing to them. That’s all they knew for nine months. So while you may think that because you love your space, your baby will want space,too. But you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to catch more zzz’s!

Bundle up your baby in warm (but safe) clothing. You know those super duper sleepsack inventions? I suggest you invest in one. Another option is the good ol’ swaddle blanket. Your baby will love the added comfort and warmth.

  1. Consistency is key!

This is something I definitely struggled with (and sometimes still do)! But it makes all the difference. Yes, there will be sacrifices. Yes, you may have to let go of your hip, wild, spirit child who makes you forget to check the time, kind of like Cinderella.

But let me be the first to tell you, getting more sleep and saying goodbye to those horrifying under-eye bags is way more satisfying than any late-night party ever could be!

When you are consistent, your kids learn the rules a lot quicker, and a lot less painfully.

  1. Drowsy, but not asleep

You don’t want to hear her cry. I get it. I didn’t either. But if only you knew how much more difficult you’re making it for her. Soothing herself to sleep is a huge part of her finding her independence. So, when you notice the first signs of her getting tired, lay her down in her crib.

I promise, it gets easier!

  1. Establish a bedtime routine

A soothing bath, a new diaper, clean pajamas, warm milk, and a sweet bed time story while gently rocking in the rocking chair. All this makes the perfect formula to create a sleepy baby. Throw in that “consistency” word, and voila, your very own almost fool proof nighttime routine.

Think about it, routine is human nature. The more we do it, the easier it becomes. So, start a routine for your child, and soon, you won’t need to remind her of bedtime. Her routine will do that for you.

  1. Start early

The earlier you start, the sooner your baby will adjust. And, that means more sleep for you. If that’s not incentive, I don’t know what is.

Sure, you’ll want your little one close by when she’s just made her grand entrance, but try not to get caught in the trap of co-sleeping. Take it from me, it’s a hard habit to break. VERY HARD.

Start good habits now, because if you wait for “later,” that time will never come.

The Takeaway

The best sleep training methods I used for my babies all comes down to two things: be proactive and keep trying. There will be some things that work, and some things that don’t, but as long as you give things enough time to work, they will most likely work.

You may have gathered from my earlier comments that I was totally clueless with my first child. Most parents are, so don’t sweat it if that’s where you’re at. By the time I had my third, I felt like a pro. Well, most of the time I felt like a pro.

I’m here to tell you, it gets better. Stick to your guns, remain hopeful, and maybe have a motivational mantra or breathing technique handy when things get rough (and they will)!

Sleep on.

Breastfeeding Tips That Got Me Through The Night

We’ve all had those sleepless nights. Baby is hungry. Baby is hungry again. And again. Oh look, a diaper change! And she’s hungry again.

For a breastfeeding mom, you don’t even have the option to trade off feedings with your partner, unless of course you have a stash of pumped milk and your breasts aren’t about to burst.

Sound familiar?

Well, I have good news and bad news for you. The good news is, breastfeeding is awesome for your baby. The bad news is, it sucks for momma.

Yes, I just said breastfeeding sucks. It makes you a slave to your baby’s empty belly, which seems to be empty about 95% of the time, regardless of how often you feed her.

What can you do about it? Lots! Let me tell you all the breastfeeding tips that got me through the night. My hope is that they will give you your sanity back, too!

  1. Dream Feeding

Sounds nice, doesn’t it? Dream feeding usually happens when mom and dad go to bed, around 10 or 11 pm. You essentially wake up your baby just enough to feed her, fill her up, and she’ll drift right back to sleep, giving you more time to sleep until baby has an empty tummy again.

I was lucky enough to learn about this God send with my first and I used it for all three. Amazing!

  1. Keep the lights off

Turning the lights on, even if its just one of the brighter night lights, signals your baby to wake up. After she is up, good luck getting her back to bed.

What I recommend is having a night-light with a very dim light, portable or stationary, near the area where you will be feeding the baby. Make sure to keep the area near her crib very dark. Babies that little aren’t scared of the dark. They are too little to care. So any lights in her room at night will just disturb her body’s ability to produce melatonin, the sleeping hormone.

Look at me sounding all scientific!

  1. Easy access pajamas

No, not for your husband! You don’t want to be up at 2am trying to unbutton your pajamas just to be able to get your milk jugs out to feed the baby.

The longer you take, the more the baby will cry. The more the baby cries, the more awake she becomes. And when that happens, each passing second is burning down another piece of that bridge that is going to lead your little one back to dream land.

That low V-neck t-shirt you own? Yeah, that one. Get at least 5 more of those and wear them every night.

  1. Feed while laying down

This is one more for your sake than for baby’s. While you won’t be able to completely fall back asleep during the feed, you can at least relax and rest your eyes.

Your baby will even sense your slowed heart rate and calm breathing. That will translate into her keeping calm and relaxed, too. Once she’s satisfied, she will already be so relaxed that she dozes off with no effort on your part.

All you’ll have to do is gently place her back in her crib. That part may take some practice.

  1. Keep your baby close

Don’t underestimate the value of a bassinet in those first few months. That magical invention was the only thing that saved me with all of my kids. I was so gung-ho about keeping my first-born in the crib from day one that I got in the way of my own sleep. I drove myself crazy.

Then, my mother-in-law brought over the bassinet she used for my husband back in the day. Rather than hearing about how I don’t appreciate her gifts later on, I figured I’d at least try it once so I wouldn’t be lying when I told her I had used it.

The first night I saw a difference! Having the bassinet right near my bed meant I didn’t have to give up some prime real estate on the slowly shrinking King-sized mattress set my husband and I slept on. Yet, my daughter was close enough that I wasn’t scrambling across the room multiple times every night of her needy newborn stage.

Do yourself a favor, get a bassinet and keep it close at night.

  1. Organization

This one has to be my favorite of the breastfeeding tips that got me through the night.

Diapers, wipes, diaper rash cream, burp cloths, hand sanitizer, snacks, water, and extra set of cloths for you and the baby. These are just some of the “extras” you’ll need throughout the night with a newborn. Yes, I used all of these things many many nights with my kiddos. Trust me when I say, the last thing you want to be doing is fumbling around your dark bedroom or nursery trying to find them.

As a side note, breastfeeding can get messy, especially when you can’t see what you’re doing. So you may even consider keeping a towel on hand to lay on while you breastfeed laying down. That way you don’t have to keep an extras set of bed sheets handy. What a nightmare!

Been there. Not fun. So stay organized!

The Takeaway

You and sleep don’t have to part ways just because you have a hungry newborn. Your night time routine will be different, but as far as I’m concerned, breastfeeding mommas have it easier than formula-feeding mommas, as long as they do things the right way.

Follow these breastfeeding tips that got me through the night and you’ll be just fine.

How I Used a Star Projector for My Nursery

What is part nightlight, part attention grabbing activity, and part gateway to sleepy-land all in one?

A star projector.

Forget a mobile. Two out of three of my kids actually were scared of the mobile. Or maybe it was the way I danced around their nurseries as if I was a fairy when the music played. Now that’s a scary thought. Hopefully no long-term damage was done.

Who am I kidding. They’re fine. And don’t pretend you didn’t get a little bit crazier once you became a parent. It happens to us all.

Anyway, I saw a huge difference with my third child after I put a star projector in her room. Sleep training was so easy after that! The way she stared at the stars on her nursery ceiling was mind-blowing. I could leave her in her crib and she’d put herself to sleep without any crying.

So how did I choose one? Well, I wasn’t about to spend thousands and thousands of dollars on the best of the best star projectors. Yes, there are star projectors out there that cost thousands of dollars. It depicts star constellations just like the night sky, shooting stars and all.

I don’t know about you, but my newborn baby doesn’t really care about all that jazz.

So, I did the only thing a mother with no prior knowledge about star projectors would do–I googled it.

Contrary to what you may have been told, googling takes some finesse. It’s not as easy as it looks. There’s a lot of garbage out there. And at the time, I was less than competent with a computer so this was a real struggle for me. But, alas, I found the perfect star projector for my tiny human child.

I’m not about to give you the name of it, though, because as time goes on, better products are made. That magical machine isn’t the best anymore, but what I will do is give you a list of all the things you need to keep an eye out for when buying your own so you can use it exactly how I used a star projector in my nursery.

  1. It can’t get too hot or it will become a fire hazard. It shouldn’t have easily accessible batteries. As you know, these can pose a choking hazard (or worse). And it shouldn’t have a ton of cords. Cords and babies don’t mix.
  2. Auto-off. You usually won’t want this thing to run all night, so get one that has the option to stay on all night (just in case) and an auto-off option, too.
  3. Quiet. The last thing your baby needs is to hear unwanted background noise. And the last thing you want is to disturb her slumber. So make sure it doesn’t rattle, hum, or squeak.
  4. Durable. Something that can take a little tumble and barely be affected is ideal for being in a kids room. Even if your little one is too little to even reach the star projector, you may find yourself stumbling through a dark room, knocking over anything in your path.
  5. Good Reviews. Always check out the reviews on the products you buy for your kids. Someone else’s story about their disaster with the star projector you’re considering could save you a huge headache.
  6. Display. Make sure it is something your kids will want to look at. My daughter’s star projector actually rotated so it looked like the stars were moving. I guess it was almost like hypnosis for babies, the way it knocked her out. Genius!

That’s it! Simple. Yet, so SO hard! Hang in there, once you find your magical machine, it will change your life.

Okay, okay, that may be a little extreme, but if your kids take to it like mine did, you will be singing the sweet star projector praises just like I am.

All you have to do is place your baby in her crib at bedtime when she starts getting drowsy, turn on the star projector, and let it do all the work for you. This is where the auto-off option comes in handy. It’ll run for about 30 minutes and shut off automatically. By then, your baby will be knee deep in dreams about milk and cuddles with momma.

And that’s exactly how I used a star projector for my nursery. It gently sends your baby off to dream land, while you, my friend, have more time to enjoy your evening, whatever that may mean.

How to Successfully Soothe a Newborn Baby

“If that baby cries one more time I swear I might start to cry.”

If I had a dollar for every time I said that I’d be sipping Martinis on Leonardo DiCaprio’s yacht right now. And I know I’m not the only one. It’s a burden we parents must bare.

Don’t worry, it gets better. Then it gets worse again. Then better! …Then worse… again.

But someone once told me, “If you’re story has a bad ending, then it’s not the end.” I’m pretty sure that was from a fictional, fairytale movie on Netflix, but it can apply here too, right?

If there is one thing I learned after going through not one, not two, but three newborn stages with three different babies, it’s how to successfully soothe a newborn baby.

Want to stop that crying and reclaim your sanity? I feel your pain. And that’s exactly why I’ve given you all the tips right here, so you don’t have to do it three times to figure it out on your own.

Why? Because the world can always use one more sane parent.

Oh, and one more thing, I know you don’t have all the time in the world to sit here and read a list of 30 things you could try. So, I’m going to make it easy on you and give you seven of the tops ways to soothe your sweet, noisy baby.

  1. Movement

Rocking, swinging, swaying, dancing, try it all. At one point, I think I did all of those at once and for a month straight that was all that worked to soothe my first child. On the upside, it’s a great workout!

  1. Noise

Your baby is used to hearing constant noise from your body or you or your spouse talking. So turn on a fan, hush her with a “shush” noise, use a white noise machine, or just simply try talking to her. Even have your spouse try talking to her. Sometimes the source of the voice makes all the difference.

  1. Cozy up

The womb is a very tight place. So tight there isn’t much room for your baby to move. I’m getting claustrophobic just thinking about it. Anyway, try swaddling, snuggling, or putting your baby in a body sling. It’ll remind her of her days in the safe, warm womb.

  1. Colic or gas?

It could be colic if your baby cries inconsolably for 3 or more hours per day. One out of every five babies develops colic. It usually peaks at around six weeks and can resolve itself by 3 months. If it is colic and you’re breastfeeding, watch your dairy, caffeine, and onion intake, as well as any other food on the face of the planet. Okay, so that’s not realistic, but that’s what it felt like. I’m sure you can relate!

If gas is the culprit, lay your baby down across your knees and gently rub her back. I used to make a bicycle motion with my kids’ legs and that worked wonders. If nothing seems to work for you then ask your doctor about using gas drops for your baby.

  1. Sucking

Some babies find sucking to be so soothing that giving your little one a binky may just be the answer. And according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), there’s nothing wrong with giving a newborn a pacifier.

If you breastfeed, you may have noticed that your little one sometimes likes to nurse just for comfort rather than to eat. With my kiddos, I tried breastfeeding for as long as possible so that anytime any one of my babies got a bump or bruise, I’d go straight to breastfeeding. Yes, it was that easy to make the crying stop, and no, I’m not ashamed of it one bit!

  1. Basic needs

The baby might have itchy clothes and want a new outfit, or she could be too hot or too cold, or she may be too stimulated by either lights or noise.

  1. Boredom

Try switching with your partner. She may be tired of looking at your old mug (the truth hurts!). She may just want a change of scenery. Try going outside.

The Takeaway

There are dozens upon dozens of reasons why your baby cries. Think about why you cry as an adult. Sometimes it is for no reason at all, right? Cut your baby some slack. They are experiencing a lot of uncomfortable changes all at one time and so suddenly, too.

But also give yourself some slack. It is not easy trying to find out why your baby is so upset. God forbid it is because that precious little bundle of joy is in pain. They can’t tell you what they need, so crying is the only way to express that there is a need.

But let’s be real, sometimes we like the sound of our own voice. Your baby might, too. There may be no real reason why she is crying other than to test out those lungs of hers.

If you want to know how to successfully soothe a newborn baby, you can follow the list above. But where you’ll really see the difference is when you trust your gut instinct.

You go momma!

Fun Dinner Time With My New Educational Placemats!

What is better than having your beautiful little family together at dinner every night? Having your beautiful little family wanting to be together for dinner every night.

“Deb, get real.”

Hold it right there, momma. I get it. If you would have told me three months ago that this was possible, I would have said the same thing. But give me a chance to explain.

What do kids want? Fun. We all know that. And while you can’t make every moment of every day fun, that just means you have to find some prime time throughout the day to integrate more fun in the simplest of ways.

So I chose dinner time. I created fun dinner time with my new educational placemats! But here’s the kicker. The kids have no idea they are educational, so it’s a total win-win.

Okay, I know what you may be thinking, “Won’t that take away from the togetherness of dinner time?”

Yes, at first, it did. You’re right. The kids would play mostly, and take short breaks to throw a bit of food in their mouths. That didn’t leave much time for family.

But that is exactly why I’m going to save you the trouble of going about using these placemats the wrong way. I did it and I’m here to save you.

My number one suggestion? Make a rule.

Kids need structure. They need direction. And when there is a reward involved, they will be all too happy to follow your lead.

Our rule was, “Wait until everyone is done eating before you use the placemats.” This rule actually killed two birds with one stone. It made them eat all their food, and made them more interested in dinnertime together because it meant play time was around the corner.

When my husband and I realized how transformative these placemats had become to all three of our kids, I set out two more placemats at the dinner table–one for me and one for my husband. That way, we all were on the same level, seeing the same things, and engaging in the same context. We could play along.

Let me tell you, that little switch made all the difference. Our kids love dinnertime now, but, better yet, they love dinnertime with the whole family. It has brought our family much closer.

Who knew that placemats could hold the key to a happy family!

So you may be wondering where to start. In looking for an educational placemat for your little ones, look for:

  1. Color

We all know how easily our little ones can get sidetracked. So this thing should look like the rainbow’s crazy step child, a masterpiece all it’s own. This is even a great opportunity to teach them about color, if they don’t yet know.

  1. Art

The placemat can either have art on it for them to admire, describe, or recreate, or it can be a chance for them to create their own art, say, with dry erase markers. Fun, no mess projects can never be underestimated.

  1. Bundles

Bundles of placemats with the same theme (ie. letters, animals, colors) can be switched out often for new challenges, extending it’s shelf life in your home.

  1. Games

Interactive games can sometimes be the easiest way to capture a child’s attention. Counting games, spelling games, and the like are great ways to keep your child busy with something fun and educational. Having pasta for dinner? Have your child count a few noodles to see how many she can fit into a specific shape on the placemat.

  1. Simplicity

Kids don’t need anything too complex. That may lead them to give up too early, which wouldn’t solve the problem you were trying to fix in the first place. Not sure where to start? Try something easy and work your way up as needed.

The Takeaway

I am in love with this new “distraction,” although that makes it sound like a negative influence on my kids. It’s actually quite the opposite. Fun dinner time with my new educational placemats is where it’s at these days.

If you’re even crunched for time after dinner, what with all the tooth brushing, book reading, and other bedtime routines, then try doing it before dinner. I guarantee these placemats will make dinner preparation much easier for you.

These placemats are fantastic now, but I don’t know how I will manage when they are teenagers. That is a thought I’d rather forget at this moment in time.