Sleep Training Decisions

Hi mamas, mama-to-be, daddy-to-be.. or anyone else reading this post! We need to talk about SLEEP. Yes, we all love it. Depending on where you are at in life, sleep could be 8 straight hours, 20 straight minutes, or anything in-between!

Sleep training was something I literally had no idea was even a “thing”. You think about becoming a parent and you just see cuddles, kisses, and some poop in your future. You know babies sleep, and you know babies don’t sleep. But, I mean, am I training a child to sleep like a train a dog to go potty outside?

In the beginning I was a firm believer in the fact that my child would carve this path for me. I would follow their lead and we would all be as happy as can be. Why wouldn’t we, she knew what she needed or didn’t need, so if I follow her cues, I could have a happy baby, have life, and “breeze” through this thing called parenting 😉

… I know, I laughing at myself too. SO go ahead, get that good HAHA out at my last statement.

Fast forward to NOW. I do still believe babies have a GREAT instinct of knowing what they need, especially as they get older and you need to adjust to starting foods and then whole foods and water and milk and naps, crawling and walking.. the list goes on and on. We can’t force our children to be ready for any of these things, they will move on when they are ready, all we can do is follow their lead. But what about sleep?

I am not a stranger to the book section… on amazon :p I have my fair share of parenting books. Some I read the whole thing, others a few chapters, some a few pages… others are still sitting unopened. I tried a few of the methods. I was completely against the CIO (cry it out) method. I made up my mind that if my child was crying she was crying for a reason. She needed her mama to rescue her!

So I tried the “no crying sleep solution”. This was quite the process haha. First you needed to go through all these mental check lists, of “if you are ready to actually do this”. Then you need to log your entire day… you needed to log naps and nighttime; how did they fall asleep, where did they fall asleep, what time did they fall asleep, did you move them after sleeping.. at night there were even more things to log. I did it though, I did two or three days and nights of logging. Then it was time to test it. The method basically means you put the baby down awake, but stay in the room. You can rub the baby’s back, or something like that. They fall asleep and you slip out. So, I’m like cool let’s try it. So night one.. she’s screaming and jumping and trying to climb out of the crib as I’m there calmly patting the back of a raging baby hahahaha. The book never said what to do for a baby that was mobile, or a demond.. haha JK!! But there wasn’t advice on how to calm a baby that wasn’t laying down. So after one night I did give up on this method. It was just not right for me.

Im going to back track a second here. I want to tell you about my daughter’s sleep transitions over the past year.

Starting off Finley, was an AMAZING sleeper. Newborn to about 3 months old she was a normal breastfed baby, she was up every 4 hours, basically on the dot. As a brand new mom getting 4 hours of sleep in a row I saw that as a WIN! I was happy with that!

Around months 3-4.5 she was only getting up once and sometimes even sleeping through the night! I also need to add that at this point she was basically putting herself to sleep as well at night! RIGHT!? SCORE!

Then we hit the “4 month sleep regression”. We hit that around 5 wish months. Well, this was my downfall. I catered to her regression. We were sleeping on the couch together, I was going in at every peep she made! I figured something must be wrong, my once, “sleep through the night baby”, is waking up; she needs me. Well, between 5 months and 10 months we went from sleeping through the night to up 2 times, then 4 times, then 8 times a night, until I was up about every 20 minutes with her. YES, you read that right, every 20 minutes she was waking up. Which sometimes meant between her waking up, me nursing her, and then walking around and getting her to sleep, by the time I would walk back to my room and pick up the covers, she was awake again! I should also mention naps were almost nonexistent, or 20 mins tops!

We did get a Dockatot around 9ish months. That helps so much with the naps, she was taking 2 hours naps once we got that! She was sleeping better at night, but she was still up 4-5 times a night (on a good night).

Finally, I took my struggles to Facebook hahah. I mean, let’s be honest… you can read as many books as you want, but first hand mama advice with a push of the button help center is what all sleep deprived mamas need in their lives.

After a TON comments with advice and techniques. We settled on the Cry It Out Method. But of course it wasn’t just that simple. Did you know there are essentially two ways to do this sleep training method? There is the lenient version and the hardcore version. At least thats how I think of them :p

So what exactly is CIO? CIO stands for cry it out. You want to first, before anything, settle on a bedtime. What time EVERY NIGHT will your child go to bed? Ours is 7pm. But the goal is between 7-7:30pm. That means she is SLEEPING by this time, not starting bedtime routine at this time. Next, plan a bedtime routine. This can be as long or as short as you would like. Ours most of the time is; dinner, play a little (depending on time), nurse, bath, lotion, diaper, pajamas, teeth, say goodnight to daddy and dog, books, prayer, bed. It sounds like a lot, but really, I can drag it out for 45 minutes if I need to, or do it in a quick 15 start to finish. Routine is so important. Finley now knows that once she is in the tubby, is it time to calm down for bed.

The Lenient Version>> this is when you don’t just leave your baby to cry and cry. You set a schedule for yourself. The schedule can vary depending on what is most comfortable for you. Some parents set a 5-10-15-20 rule. Some do every 30 mins. The point is; you go in to calm the baby. but you DO NOT. I repeat you ABSOLUTELY DO NOT PICK UP THE BABY! This is the most important rule of this method. You are teaching your baby independence. They need to know they are capable of soothing themselves to sleep. So if you plan to go in, you can lay them back down, pat or rub their back, sing or talk softly, but you do not pick them up! So if you decide to go in after 5 mins to soothe, and then wait 10 and go in and then wait 15.. or go in every 30 minutes.. that is up to you and you’ll have to read your baby to know exactly what will work best.

We tried the lenient version the first night. However, it makes things DRASTICALLY worse! The first time I went in and it was awful. The next time my husband went in, and although it didn’t sound like a murder was going down in our nursery, it still wasn’t pretty. It was legit painful, broke my heart to see her so upset. That’s when we decided to try out the hardcore method.  (ps. In another post I will go through night to night our CIO experience.)

The Hardcore Method >> this is the drop and leave method. hahaha. Kidding, but not kidding. You go through your bedtime routine and with the baby still awake (can be drowsy, but NEEDS to be awake) you put the baby in the crib. After you leave that room, you do not go back in unless it is an emergency situation. The only exception I see in the hardcore method for going in, is if you are still a nursing mama. Breastfed babies do tend to still nurse during the night (once or twice tops), so if you do go in to nurse, you pick up, nurse, and put right back down, and make sure it is before that baby falls totally asleep! That is very, very important. The hardcore method is not to abandon your baby; it is for the babies that do need that tough love. Once we stopped going in after we put her down during night time routine, everything changed for us.

I also want to add that we did not sleep training until Finley was 10 months old. Though, I do think it is something we should have done when we hit that sleep regression. I knew she was capable of sleeping through the night already, so I should have started to sleep train at that point- so around 5-5.5 months. I knew that she did not need to be up multiple times to eat at night. I do not recommend this for any baby under 3 months old, and honestly I would talk to your doctor before trying any type of sleep training. Nutritional needs should always come first! However, sleep is also super important for physical and developmental growth.

So why CIO works and why you should consider it.

There seems to be a ton of debate around this method, and I can see why. A baby crying, i mean, screaming their lungs out does NOT seem like a step in the right direction. Some will even go as far as to say it is setting the child up for abandonment issues and the feeling of helplessness. Believe what you want, I am not here to force my opinions on you, only to share an experience. Then there is the other side, a baby needs to learn to self soothe, a baby can’t do that with mommy doing it for them. Your baby will learn independence and setting up for a smooth transition into becoming a toddler learning to self soothe by crying it out. I won’t lie, I used to think it was abandonment. I couldn’t do that to my baby girl!!! But you get to this point in sleep deprivation that you know it is not “normal” anymore. You know that this is NOT the best thing for you, let alone that precious child.

There is much more to “crying it out” than just letting your child cry until exhaustion. In my personal opinion, they are learning the difference between crying because of survival reasons; nutrition, pain, etc., and crying for attention. Don’t get me wrong, give that baby attention 100% during waking hours! Love on that baby HARD when she’s awake. But, she needs to learn that awake time is for playing and cuddling, and night time is to sleep and recharge. Because sleep is just as important for them as it is for you.. (talking to that mama dragging from day to day with 7 cups of coffee and tooth picks holding her eyes open). No one in the house can function without proper sleep. Not you. Not the baby,  not your significant other, not even the dog.

Within a month of Finley sleeping through the night, she started to babble (yes at 10 months old she wasn’t even babbling), she started saying mama and dada, she even started walking! Makes me wonder how much her lack of sleep was holding her back physically, and developmentally. She started nursing more often and longer during the day, she started eating more at her meals. She was a new baby. She was always a super happy baby, but you can really see the light in her eyes now!

**NOTE: I am not telling you as a mama what to do for your baby, I am simply just giving my insight on my journey as a mama. I am not trying to give any type of specific instructions or information out to you, just going off my memory :p

Sleep Baby=Sleeping Mommy
Sleeping Mommy=Happy Mommy
Happy Mommy=Happy Family!

Why you really DON’T “have to” find out the gender of your baby.

I’d like to start off by saying that no matter what you choose; to find out or not find out the gender of your baby, I support your decision either way. Neither way is right or wrong. But, I am going to tell you why I personally think you should WAIT to find out!!

We live in a day in age where surprise and mystery, and the chance to be anxious about something doesn’t exist. Sure, you can plan a surprise birthday party, but that’s just a surprise for ONE person; iffff the secret is actually kept. We also live in a world that we know how much money is being taken out of our account before it’s gone, what TV show is airing not just within the next hour, but literally the next 3 months+, and what the weather will be like for the week (even though that’s still sometimes a surprise- haha).

But there IS a surprise that can be fun, and you’ll love it no matter what. Yup, the gender of your baby. So why don’t more people want the surprise? Here are the answers, uhmm excuses 😛 I hear…

1. I have to prepare.
This is the biggest and most common answer I get in return to my statement of ” you should wait to find out!!” I just find this one so funny because I felt 110% prepared for my little one. We had absolutely EVERYTHING and more than we needed to bring a baby boy or a baby girl into this world. Plus buying gender neutral for your big ticket items is smart; chances of your next baby being the same gender is still only 50/50! I will say the only real prep you need, is to decide if it’s a boy, if you’ll be having him circumcised or not. Otherwise all decision are the same for a boy or girl!

2. What about a nursery theme?!
This one I guess makes sense. However, I don’t think it’s a good enough reason to not be surprised by the BEST SURPRISE EVER! There are a ton of really, really cute neutral themes, that you can go back and put a boy or girl accent on after the baby arrives! We did light blue, grey and white for our color; with cute owls. Once miss Finley was born, I got cute grey pink and gold curtains, and will be getting a few wall images that are girly. The reason I say this isn’t a big deal, is because in no time at all they will have a favorite character or something and you’ll be redoing the room anyways!


3. I just can’t wait.
But, you can. First off it is so amazing that NO ONE in the entire world, with the exception of a small select medical team that takes the ultra sound and records the results, knows what is growing inside you! No one can spill the beans! I can tell you that it WILL be human. And that you WILL love it to death either way. I also know for a fact that you CAN wait, because not long again you didn’t have a choice but to wait! Guess what, no one even had a complaint about it 😉

Those are just the top three that I hear all the time. I am a huge fan of waiting to find out. Honestly, it was hard. Because we COULD know if we wanted. We actually tested ourselves to the max; we have the ultra sound lady put the gender on a print out of the ultra sound and seal it. We gave to to my husband’s secretary, and she locked it up in a safe that only she knew the combination to! So it was right there, at our fingertips. But we powered through. That moment that our baby emerged from my body and they said “it’s a girl”… okay, now I’m crying…

I’m not saying that having a baby you know the gender of, is any less of an adrenaline rush or special moment. But, boy oh boy is it surreal to fall in love all over again. All those days, weeks, months of gut feelings are proved wrong or right in a single moment. Ps, mom’s gut feeling is usually the right answer 😉

It is the best surprise life can give you. A surprise that can’t go a wrong. A surprise you’ll love love love, LOVE no matter what. Plus it is just so fun to see everyone else’s anticipation, and watch everyone battle it our over who is right, which old wives takes hold true, and which ones are totally out there!!

So be brave, take on the challenge and DON’T find out the gender of your next baby!! It is hard, it is exciting, it is so much fun!!

Do you have any gender stories? Did you also decide to not find out? Or why did you decide to find out?!

Feeding Baby: Homemade Avocado

I think it is safe to say that most of us are, or at least try to be, conscious of what we use to fuel our bodies. As adults we have been through the active teen years where you could eat everything and anything; the college years when we experience at some point the inevitable “freshman 15”, even if it was our super senior year… [HA!], and the young adult life where you are just searching and waiting for life to “settle down” or a change to happen… ahh I don’t want to get too far off the main subject here, our BABIES!

The point I was trying to make is, you have been there done that with food. You know what is GOOD for you, and what isn’t. You know the fresh greens provide vitamins and minerals and a double cheeseburger does not. So, if you KNOW these simple pros and cons of certain foods, it should be a no-brainer when it comes to feeding your little offspring 😉

My little girl is just over 4.5 months old. Before I get any backlash, I have done my research and have considered all pros and cons of when to start her on solids. She’s been showing the signs of being ready since she was just over 3 months old, and as her parents, my husband and I decided she was more than ready to start! Plus, we of course got the go ahead from her pediatrician.

Unfortunately our poor baby was a little backed up (before we started foods) so we started with prunes! She’s probably one of the only babies out there who got their first taste of foods and it was prunes… but since that was my first time preparing, I made some mistakes, however things went better with the avocado! So, that is why I am sharing the homemade avocado recipe with you!

Feeding Baby: Homemade Avocado

-Mixing bowel
-Measuring Tablespoon
-Freezing Tray
-Glass Jar or Freezer Bag

-Avocado (I used two)

1. Cut your avocado(s) in half, discard the pit. If you have some small light brown spots, that is okay, but you can scoop them out and discard if it makes you feel better.
2. Scoop out all contents of the avocado. During this step you can either scoop into a bowl and mash with a fork, or place directly in the blender.

** If using a blender, I recommend using at least 2 avocados because otherwise the mush will stick to the sides if there isn’t enough in thereto keep it going!
3. In the blender at 1 Tablespoon of water per avocado, if just using a bowl and fork, wait to add water until mostly mashed.

4. Divide into portions. I put them right in freezer trays and froze them (especially with avocado since it browns so fast, and I don’t feel comfortable adding lime juice to her foods right away) Once frozen, pop out and place in a freezer bag, or a glass storage unit of some type!

A few tips that I would like to share! I am NOT an expert by any means, this is my second time in my life attempting to make baby food. But, the first piece of advice I can give; is to not use breastmilk in the prepping phase. This just makes it way easier in the thawing process. Using some water or other liquid, you can heat it up, with breastmilk in it, you cannot do that! So, if you are like me and do want to have breastmilk in it for aiding in digestion and the added nutrients, do yourself a favor and add it right before serving it!

My second piece of advice is use LESS THAN a full tablespoon when freezing portions. they recommend 1 tablespoon per serving when starting off, however if you freeze a full tablespoon, and then plan on adding breastmilk to thin or for the nutrients, you’ll end up with more than a recommended serving. Starting with less, you’ll have about a tablespoon when you add breastmilk, or other liquids right before a feeding! 🙂

PS. She really liked the prunes, but she isn’t really a fan of the avocado… must take after her mama on that one!

Stay tuned, next we are going to try either peas or green beans!!

Prepping For Baby: Trimester Checklist Breakdown

Being a first time mom-to-be is an overwhelming feeling of emotions. If you are anything like me, you feel like there should be all this “stuff” to accomplish from the moment you find out you are housing a little one for 10 months. In reality, YES there is a ton that eventually needs to be done, but it isn’t as crazy as you think it would be, or at least as crazy as I thought it would be. I’m not kidding when I tell you I thought i was going to be baby prepping DAILY \, some times during the pregnancy are busier than others. The first trimester (for me), was basically all the registry and trying to keep myself upright and productive! I did a ton of research on everything I was putting on my registry. i am not a huge “name brand” person, but I do want QUALITY! If we are able to have a second child, I want this baby stuff the last and hold strong, I am not about to start all over again for baby #2. Look for a soon to come blog post on how to go about making a dynamite baby registry!

I love to be organized. If you know me personally, you know I am a chaotic mess that loves lists. I think that describes me pretty well :p I can be so organized yet so scatterbrained at the same time, and let me tell you, pregnancy brain is not helping my case one bit! If you look back to my last post, you will see I made a nice litter template for you to write all your baby shower gifts on! I made this and printed it and it is already being put to good use!

Today is a different type of list, I went through and did a little research and made a list of what I need to get accomplished, or that I have already accomplished, prepping for baby!! This is not a tried and true method, because, well, I am a work in progress and haven’t actually had a baby yet! However, this is the list I am personally following to prep for Baby Barnes. I don’t really have it in a particular order, except for what trimester I found suitable for the task to go into. You might think differently, that is perfectly fine! Just check it off as you go!

If you think there is something super important that I forgot, PLEASE leave a comment below and I will be happy to add it and update the image for you 🙂

Pre-baby Checklist