Our Experience With Sleep Training + Some Tips For New Moms

Hi!

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With my big kid!

Thanks for being patient with me. It feels weird to be sitting at a computer typing out a blog post- but here I am. We’ve had so much happen in the past few months, but now things are simmering down and I hope to get back to my devotional study. Our next topic is going to be ‘The Husband- Wife Relationship’… so stay tuned for that! 🙂

Today, I wanted to talk about sleep-training! I feel like a know a lot of new moms or soon-to-be moms that could use this information, so I wanted to gather everything I’ve experienced and put into practice into one blog post in hopes that it will help someone out there. Here goes:

I have two children now: a 19-month old and a 7-week old. But, my sleep training goes all the way back to my babysitting/nannying days. I’ve seen a lot of methods to get kids to sleep…some that worked, some that didn’t…but this is our experience, and this is what worked for us. Every baby/child is different, so take what you can use and leave the rest!

When I was pregnant with our son, I read a lot of books on sleep-training. I came across ‘Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child‘ by Marc Weissbluth. I read it front to back and really liked the basic principles of his way of sleep-training. His is one of no crying-it-out (though that method is in the book, it isn’t the basis for getting your child to sleep) and he also doesn’t focus on getting the child to sleep through the night when they are younger than 4 months old. Let’s face it- babies need to eat. Often. I didn’t think it was realistic to expect my newborn to sleep through the night, and the author seemed to agree. So those were two points that led me to choose this method of sleep-training.

After being born, my son would sleep anywhere, anytime. Newborns don’t have a nap schedule, they just fall asleep.They do have preferences, however. And my son really liked sleeping on me or his dad. His second choice was motion. He loved being swayed, bounced, or rocked to sleep. The book let me know that this was typical behavior, so I complied to whatever seemed to make my son happiest.

Around six-eight weeks, we began to change things up. I began using the swing less and less with every passing day. Instead, I would pay attention to his sleep cues (the book goes over this too). I knew that children that young should not be awake more than two hours at a time, so after about an hour of being awake, I began to watch him and his behavior to see if I could tell when he was getting sleepy.

When Joseph began getting sleepy, he would make less eye contact with me. He’d look away or stare off into the room for a long period of time. He’d kick and wiggle less. He’d start to yawn- BOOM! Number one sign, right there! With the yawn, I knew it was time to put him down. I found that if I waited until he was fussy, cranky, or even crying- that I’d waited too long, and that would result in a short, light nap or no nap at all. Some older children will not do these things when tired, but will become defiant or “bratty” (I hate using that word, but it’s the only one I can think of!) instead of yawning and whatnot.

So, I began putting him in the crib whenever he would get tired, most of the time that was only after an hour of being awake. I’d put him in the crib (sometimes in a swaddle, but he never seemed to like being swaddled and would bust out of it if I did it) tired but still awake and leave the room. He fussed for the first few days, but not for very long. It was more of a whine than a cry- that’s how I knew he was okay. Mothers know their child’s cries! After a few minutes of whining, he’d drift off. I should mention that I started sleep training with one nap a day. He still slept in the bouncer at night because I wanted to get the naps down first, so nighttime would be an easier transition.

At 3-4 months of age, I noticed a pattern to these naps. He woke around 8, and took his first nap at 9 (sleep for three hours), another nap around 2 , and then again at 5. He went to bed at 8 or 8:30. Once I noticed a pattern, and once he was taking regular naps in his crib, then I transitioned him to his crib at night. The transition was actually really smooth (thank goodness!). I thought for sure there would be fussing and crying, but he was familiar with it, so he went down with no problem.

It was also when I noticed a pattern with his naps that I introduced a sleep routine. A sleep routine helps your child know when its time to sleep. It gives him the cues and tells him “This is what we do before we go to sleep.” It’s a routine that lets your child know sleep is coming.

Our routine looks like this:

  • Change diaper and close the curtains
  • Find “lovie” and go sit in the rocking chair
  • Rock and sing “Jesus Loves Me”
  • Read “The Going To Bed Book” and “Goodnight Moon”
  • Hold hands and pray together
  • Turn out the lamp
  • Put him in his crib, cover him up, say “I love you”
  • Leave and shut the door

I shorten this for naps. We only read one of the books for nap, and I recite it in the dark without actually looking at the book. At nighttime, we do the whole she-bang 🙂

There came a time around 5-6 months of age, when I knew that three naps was too many. His bedtime was getting all wonky because he took that evening nap. So, I began to transition him out of the third nap by moving his bedtime earlier. It took about three days for him to get used to this, but I found that when I took out the third nap, he went to bed more easily and woke up in a better mood. So, his bedtime became 6:30 instead of 8 pm.

He now only took a morning (9-11am) and afternoon nap (1-3pm),and it stayed that way until he was thirteen months old. He dropped the morning nap on his own. And in order to keep him happy and able to make it to his 6:30 bedtime, I had to morph his one nap a day. Children this age should be up for no longer than four hours at a time. Since he was waking at 7, I knew that his nap needed to happen around 11. I still looked for sleep cues as well…I began doing his nap routine around 11. Now he sleeps from 11 or 11:30 to 1:30 to 2:30.

He will eventually drop this nap on his own too. Kids typically stop napping altogether between the ages of 2.5-3.5 years old.

As he’s gotten older, I’ve not only had to modify his sleeping times to best suit him, but also the routine a bit. For example, the old routine isn’t enough for him anymore. He seemed to go to bed a little wired, so I began to add “Body Slam!” to it 😀 I cradle him like a baby in the air over his crib, count to 3, and drop him into his crib while yelling (in my best wrestler voice) “Body SLAAAMMMM”. And then I tickle him until he cant breathe and is exhausted. But he goes to bed happy and smiling, and I don’t hear a peep until he’s up from his nap a few hours later. It works for us 😀

With my new little one, she’s a bit different. She enjoys being swaddled and won’t sleep on her daddy for anything. The first few weeks, she only wanted her mom. We’re using the same method with her. Right now, we are in the process of getting the naps-in-the-crib part down, and then we’ll transition her from the bouncer to the crib at night. She’s up to two naps in the crib, the third is usually taken on me, in the stroller, or in the carseat…because, seriously. I have a toddler and cannot sit around the house all day, haha! You do what you can!

Here are some other tips:

  • Learn when the growth spurts happen in babies and children, and know that this usually interrupts sleep. — with our son, he became really fussy at night from six to twelve weeks of age. Nothing we did could soothe him, and we tried everything. Then one night my husband brought in a paci, and we used it for those six weeks. It was like a magical sleeping truck had hit him! The fussing stopped as soon as the paci was in his mouth, and once he was asleep, I’d remove it from his mouth or crib. (I was determined not to use a paci, but it was a life-saver for those six weeks!)

 

  • BE CONSISTENT.You will have days when your child doesn’t want to go to sleep, skips naps, or takes a weird, unplanned nap…but still. Once you have a routine, stick to it no matter what. There will be days when the naps get out of whack, or he’ll miss one, but the very next day, get right back on track. For us- this happens on holidays and vacations. I try to keep to his schedule as close as possible, but sometimes it just isn’t realistic. But once we get back home or the holiday is over, back to the routine it is.

 

  • Unless my child is hurt, has pooped his diaper, or is in serious trouble, I do not go back into his room until at least 1.5 hours have passed. There are the rare days when Joseph sits in his crib, babbling to himself. If he doesn’t feel like sleeping- that’s fine, but I never go get him until most of his naptime is over. Sitting in a quiet, dark room without much stimuli is still a great way for them to rest their minds and refresh. (I would advise anyone starting a sleep routine on an older child to do this- if they are whining or crying, unless there is something seriously wrong, don’t go in there. Day after day, they will get used to being put down at that time and it will be less of a struggle as the time passes…)Which brings me to my next point:

 

  • Put them down with confidence. I know this sounds funny…but I always put my kids to bed as if I EXPECT them to go to sleep. I’m not shy or scared about it. I don’t pace in front of their door, listening for every noise. I don’t plead with them to take a nap, I just act as if they’re going to. I put them down and walk away. Know that it typically takes a child anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour to fall asleep. That means there will probably be some talking, some rolling around, some whining or crying…but I don’t act as if I’m going to be close by when I put them to bed, so they know ‘Mom’s leaving and she won’t be back for a while.’ This gives them the freedom to rest and fall asleep.

 

  • “If they wake up crying, they’re not ready to wake up.” If my son wakes up in a bad mood, I do not make that moment the start of his day. I go to see what’s the matter (ex: poop diaper, dropped his lovie, his socks came off, etc) fix the problem, and cover him back up to go back to sleep or let him rest until he’s happy and ready to start his day. Sometimes he wakes in the middle of the night because of one of the problems mentioned above- in that case, I use a dim hall light ( I never turn on his room light at night), I speak to him in a whisper and don’t make eye contact. I don’t want him to think it’s time to play or to begin wanting attention from me at that hour, again…it’s all about setting that expectation: “Here’s your lovie sweetie, I love you, goodnight.”

 

  • Vacation- Sometimes, before long trips, I would schedule our leaving time to coincide with his naps, so that I’d be doing the nap routine in the car. It worked like a charm and he’d sleep almost the entire car ride to our destination. I try to keep his nap schedule as much as possible while on vacations, but sometimes it doesn’t work out. Instead of two naps, he’d only take one and be really tired come bed time. Sometimes that nap would be in a stroller or in our hiking backpack…but these are special occasions..and I knew we’d get back to a routine once we were home.

 

  • Invest in some black-out curtains for their room.

 

  • Get your child used to noise while they nap. From an early age, once those naps became regular, I’d vacuum and go about my day, making any noise I needed to in order to get things done. I never tread lightly in fear of waking them up, I wanted them to be used to sound and commotion while they nap, and I definitely didn’t want to have to keep super quiet in order for them to sleep.

 

  • Children don’t know when they need to sleep. It’s much more fun to be up playing with mama or going outside! But getting good sleep now helps to establish good sleep patterns for life. Think: You and your husband finally enjoying some alone time on the couch, when your fourteen year old comes downstairs to ask for another glass of water or just to chat. Um- no thank you! Haha, GO TO BED.

I think that’s all I know about sleep-training. We’re in the thick of it now with our daughter, and it’s going pretty well. She’s adapting easily to her crib for her first two naps. She still seems to prefer being held during her evening nap, and being in her bouncer for bedtime, but we’ll get there!

I hope this helps someone! See you next time,

Stacey

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Thankful…

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I haven’t written a “thankful” post in a while…figured it was about time! So, on that note…

I’m thankful for…

1. Morning tea and time spent reading His Word

2. The birds singing outside of my window in the morning…this is my wake-up call and I couldn’t ask for a better one.

3. My husband, who will sit on the couch for 30 minutes while I practice presenting a presentation. He knows nothing about DNA and shotgun sequencing, but he listens and nods anyway 🙂

4. My fatty chickens that follow me around the yard, thinking I keep a sac of food on me at all times. They’re completely spoiled, but give me such fun entertainment.

5. For the Good and Mighty Lord giving me patience when I have to sit on the phone for 20 minutes with our internet provider. And the countless other times He’s extended grace and patience to me when all I want to do is lose my temper.

6. For peace in my heart while actually giving my presentation today…and for those two that came up to me to compliment me on it afterward. It takes selflessness and kindness to extend a compliment to someone else, and I greatly appreciate the feedback.

7. For the fact that my internet (that has been down all day) is going strong now for almost an hour. This allows me to “detox” from school and relax my mind. Thank you, Lord!

8. For stories of war and redemption, and the reminder that my life could be much, much worse.

9. For our great, big garden that is growing so amazingly! I haven’t lost a plant yet! All of our squash plants have bloomed beautiful yellow flowers…I am eagerly anticipating our first harvest 😀

10. For evening walks around our property with the mister. I love our talks on getting pigs and playing “Keep-Away” from Marley 😀 These things make my day.

11. For a mom that is so selfless that she actually gives me a gift on Mothers Day.

12. For friends that love adventure and trees as much as I do!

13. For glimpses of heaven and my Father that allow me to keep my eyes focused on the things above.

14. For elusive driveway bunnies that will gladly accept strawberries from me…but not a pat on the head 😉

15. For the last three weeks of school and this heart of anticipation. I will not rush it, I will soak it in and thank Jesus when it is over. It’s so close I can almost taste it.

I hope whatever you are doing, that your heart is light and filled with peace. Go give a hug and make someone else’s day 🙂 Until next time…

xoxo,

Stacey B.

PS. You can find me on Instagram if that is yo thing!

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5 Books That Will Make Your World Feel A Bit Bigger

Howdy 🙂

Thought I’d pop in to share some of the books I read over winter break. I love to read all kinds of books, but the books I read over my break seemed to all have the same theme: They all took me out of my corner of the world and allowed me to somewhat experience different cultures/ways of life/hardships/love stories..etc. They each expanded my mind in their own ways.

Jason says I read “depressing” books. He doesn’t like to read, so I’ll read a book and tell it to him like a story from beginning to end. I can see how he would think these books are depressing, but I don’t view them that way. They just remind me to be thankful for what I have. Like I said, they gave me a glimpse into another (sometimes heart-wrenching) world and I appreciate them for it 🙂

So let’s get started! (In no particular order)

1. Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity

There were times this book was hard to read. I found myself getting so frustrated with the characters, but I also grew attached to them as well. The book is fast-paced and is based on Katherine’s 3 year observations of life in the undercity. She does a great job of portraying the people she followed and how they felt in certain situations. This book will definitely expand your mind. This book made me feel so incredibly blessed to live where I do and to have the life that I do. Go get it, like NOW 😉

2. The Suitcases by Anne Hall Whitt

This book is not very big, I think I read it in a day. But I personally loved it because the author grew up in my hometown Charlotte, NC. It was really neat when she’d mention certain places in the book and I was like “I’ve been there!!”. This book is about 3 orphan sisters (how they become orphans is very sad/tragic–I may have cried) being sent from foster home to foster home. Anne recounts the different foster homes and what they were like (some good, some creepy). I don’t want to give too much away, but it is worth the read! It’s very short and is kind of old but it is still a great autobiography.

3. Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World by Bob Goff

Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World

Surprise! This is a happy book! Jason would be so proud 😀 Before I read this, I thought it would be sort of self-helpy…like how to make yourself happier..that sort of thing. But it isn’t. It’s more an account of Bob’s like and situations he’s been in that have shaped who he is. I loved reading about his adventures, especially the adventures with his kids. Jason and I plan on implementing some of those ideas on our own family one day 🙂 This was a fun read, it had me laughing out loud. It’s kind of like story-telling with a side of life lessons. It’s delightful and I wish I knew Bob Goff because I feel like we’d be great friends, haha!

4. The Invisible Wall: A Love Story That Broke Barriers by Harry Bernstein

The Invisible Wall: A Love Story That Broke Barriers

Oh. my. gahhhh. This book is sooooo goooodddd. This book is about Harry and his siblings growing up in a town somewhere in Europe (?? I think) in the early 1900’s. The characters are very well portrayed, you feel what they are feeling, you laugh and cry with them. This was the last book I read during winter break. It has a sequel called “The Dream”, but I didn’t have time to read it! Can’t wait until I have time to read again, I’m going to get my paws on the sequel for sure. This book is mainly centered on Harry’s street. The Jews live on one side, the Christians on the other. It is a love story, but even beyond the love story, the mothers story alone is enough to make this book wonderful. Highly recommended!!

5. Travels with Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck

Travels with Charley: In Search of America

This book is about John and his French Poodle, Charley, driving across America. It’s delightful. I am a huge Steinbeck fan- if you haven’t read “The Pearl” or “East of Eden” either, then I highly suggest those too! This is a small book, easy to read. It is mainly about his adventures cross-country, the people he meets, the sights he sees, the things he learns and ponders. It’s kind of a broad view of America in his days, John also wrote this in his older days, after he was already “famous” for his other works. It’s a descriptive, relaxing read that takes you out into the country with Charlie at your feet 🙂

 

So there’s my top five (recent) reads! I have 147 books on my to-read list for when I finish school and I. can’t. wait. Jason and I are planning a celebratory camping trip for July, and camping trips and books go hand in hand if you ask me! School is chugging along fine so far.  I have my first exam in Zoology this Thursday. The hardest thing for me so far has been getting back into school mode after winter break. I have terrible senioritis. Don’ wanna do nufin’. But I’ll triumph! In Jesus Name! It’s already done 🙂 4 more months to go!

Also- I’d love to hear your book suggestions! I like all kinds and I’m not sure my to-read list is quite long enough 😉

Xoxo,

Stacey B.

 

Underlining from Rick Warren’s “The Purpose Driven Life”-Part 1

Hi 🙂 It’s been a rough weekend to say the least. I hope these bits and pieces give you the encouragement, peace, and understanding they have given me. Happy Monday, friends!

“It is impossible to do everything people want you to do. You have just enough time to do God’s will. If you can’t get it all done, it means you’re trying to do more than God intended for you to do.”

“Purpose-driven living leads to a simpler lifestyle…”

“A pretentious, showy life is an empty life; a plain and simple life is a full life.”

“Henry David Thoreau observed that people live lives of ‘quiet desperation,’ but today a better description is ‘aimless distraction’.”

“Prune away even good activities and do only that which matters most.”

“Purpose always produces passion.”

“…death always seems unnatural and unfair. The reason we feel we should live forever is that God wired our brains with that desire!”

“If you learn to love and trust God’s Son, Jesus, you will be invited to spend the rest of eternity with him.”

“The closer you live to God, the smaller everything else appears.”

“When you live in light of eternity, your values change.”

“Life is a test, life is a trust, and life is a temporary assignment.”

“Character is both developed and revealed by tests, and all of life is a test. You are always being tested. God constantly watches your response to people, problems, success, conflict, illness, disappointment, and even the weather!”

“A very important test is how you act when you can’t feel God’s  presence in your life.”

“…every second is a growth opportunity.”

“And all that you have is from God, why boast as though you have accomplished something on your own??”-Bible

“Lord, help me to realize how brief my time on earth will be. Help me to know that I am here for but a moment more.”-Prayer from David, Bible

“When we flirt with the temptations of this world, God calls it spiritual adultery.”

“In order to keep us from becoming too attached to earth, God allows us to feel a significant amount of discontent and dissatisfaction in life- longings that will never be fulfilled on this side of eternity.”

“God wants our worship to be motivated by love, thanksgiving, and delight, not duty.”

“Living life for God…will sometimes mean choosing a difficult path instead of an easy one.”

“The ultimate goal of the universe is to show the glory of God. It is the reason for everything that exists, including you.”

“I have carried you since you were born; I have taken care of you from your birth. Even when you are old, I will be the same. Even when your hair has turned gray, I will take care of you. I made you and I will take care of you.”– God to us, the Bible.

All quotes from The Purpose-Driven Life and the Bible.

xoxo,

Stacey

 

Things to Celebrate

Hi.

Today has been a good day 🙂 Insomnia has been a beast this week. I had my Cell Biology final at 8 this morning…so I thought “Hey, I should wake up at 4 a.m. to make muffins.” <–I didn’t really think that, but that’s what happened anyway.  I was lying there awake already, so why not use that time to bake a wholesome breakfast? (is my reasoning).

I took my exam and it felt pretty easy. It should have felt easy considering that I spent four hours a day studying for it. But do you know what this means? I get to take the upper level Biology classes now! Cell Bio is like the “gateway” class to senior level courses. So now I can take Animal Physiology, Ecology and things like that! Yay!

After my exam, I skipped on over to pick up my books for Fall semester..but not without having an embarrassing bathroom moment first..Of course, because it is Wednesday and I am Stacey.

Side-thought: When Jason and I were reading a particular marriage book during our engagement, one of the chapters was on communication. And the question for each spouse at the end of the chapter said something like “Does your husband/wife feel comfortable talking with you about embarrassing things that happen to them?” And Jason simply wrote: “YES.”

It’s not that I over-share, but I am comfortable in my own skin and like to laugh at myself. So here you go..have a giggle at my expense 🙂

I was speed walking to the bathroom to pee, cos the test took like, 2 hours, and I had a cup of tea and juice before I left the house, so I had to go. I dashed into the first stall, slammed the door shut, dropped my pants and whirled around to sit on the toilet and the door hadn’t latched. There it was, WIDE OPEN. Luckily, the bathroom wasn’t busy. But I know there were at least two people that got a flash of my bare, white bum. Which is awesome…awesome stuff.

But that’s not what I am celebrating. I’m celebrating the fact that today I purchased my last $450 parking pass for school. It was a glorious feeling, both in my mind and my wallet. And this is the last year I will have to pay over $900 in mandatory student health insurance (that I never use). Yes, yes…my wallet wants to sing (and so does my husband!). And me too.

I’m also celebrating because I went to the library to get camping reading material and they actually had two books in from my list! This never happens. I’ve been disappointed in my local library lately because they never have enough copies of new books, or they don’t carry half the authors I want to read. But today I went in with my list and walked out with 2 books on my list! Another yay! (If you want to know, I’ll be reading these three books:)

 

The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For?

(source) (Book review coming soon)

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Oh, precious books. I miss reading so much. Surely these next seven days will make up for the lost reading time 🙂

I will have the home-related post tomorrow..though the pictures will be taken on my dumbphone because I can’t seem to find my camera batteries anywhere. Actually, I can’t most of my things at the moment…and I’m not sure what day it is or where I am….or where I’m going.

Need. sleep.

I’ll leave you with a beautiful picture of an evening at our house. So. in. love.

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xoxo