Sleep Training my 9 Month Old

Today’s post is all about Sebastian’s sleep training process. What worked and what didn’t work. As some of you might know from Instagram Stories, Sebastian is now sleeping 10-11 hrs a night. It has been an incredible transformation as it hasn’t always been like this. He’s such a happy baby throughout the day, even if he’s teething. It’s made a huge impact on the overall happiness in our home.

Where the story begins…

When Sebastian was born in December last year, we were prepared. We had a crib in his nursery and the Snoo waiting for him in our room. If you aren’t familiar with the Snoo, it is a smart bassinet that your baby is strapped into and it creates white noise and motion. It responds to your baby when they cry and adjusts when they settle down. Sebastian slept so well. Pure gold.

For 3-4 months, we went to bed at 11pm and woke up at 6am. It was incredible! We love the Snoo, there’s a “wean” option for the size/month point when you move the baby from the Snoo to their own crib. Well, we didn’t use that feature on the bassinet. Big mistake on our part. He really needed to get use to not being rocked to sleep every night.

For the next few months, he’d go back and forth from the Snoo and our bed. Then the day came when he outgrew his Snoo. This was an apocalypse in our home. Naturally, we tried to just move him to his crib in his nursery without sleep training. We had zero success. So he slept with us from months 6-9.

Not the best idea when it comes to getting sleep. While I loved being so close to Sebastian, I wasn’t able to get sleep and neither was he. He’d smell me and wanted to feed all night, even when he wasn’t hungry. It was comforting to have him next to me all night. I loved seeing his face, touching his little hands, smelling his sweet baby scent. You have no idea how much I miss him every night. In retrospect, the main reason it took me so long to sleep train Sebastian was the fact that I didn’t want him away from me all night. It was selfish, but I couldn’t stand the thought of watching him on the baby monitor across our apartment, without me.

At 9 months

Even though I was really happy having him with me, I wasn’t sleeping… at all. Most nights I’d get 2-3 hours of sleep. The next day was a little disastrous for everyone. Sebastian would be cranky and tired the next day. Matt and I would argue because we were both sleep deprived and I was just so tired, mentally and physically. Around six months, he started teething, so going to sleep became even more difficult. We decided to move his crib in our bedroom. Mistake #2. We would rock him to sleep and put him in the bed. He’s sleep for 20-30 minutes, but immediately wake up. So naturally, we’d move him back into our bed. It was a vicious cycle.

The steps we took to get back in control

Mentally get prepared

This was my biggest challenage. I had to get mentally prepared to have him in another room while the rest of us were in our bedroom. This caused me so much guilt and heartache. Heck, even the cat and dog sleep in our bed. We’re a family, we should all be together. I rarely cried, but this caused me to tear up. Matt and I talked and we both agreed it was time to get him in his own room.

What in the heck is sleep training?

You guys have been asking me about sleep training since Sebastian was born, but I didn’t take the time to learn about it because we had the Snoo. This was a rude awakening for me.

Research

I spent hours and hours on Pinterest reading so many articles about sleep training. I have to be honest, we were super nervous about how this was going to go. He would obviously cry when we put him down in his own bed. Would we be able to let him cry it out? Will he stop crying? So many things went through our heads but we put that aside. I read about how another Mom sleep trained her son in a similar situation to ours and thought it was doable. It was certainly worth a try. Well it worked like a charm. We figured out a process that worked for us.

Our sleep training

We found 10 days in our schedule where we wouldn’t be traveling, out late or doing anything from messing up the first ten days of sleep training. We wanted to get everyone use to the process and we needed to dedicate the necessary time. The middle of September, we set aside time to be properly sleep train Sebastian. We both read this article, over and over again to understand the methodology of sleep training.

Getting the right crib

We wanted to get him in his crib, but it was such a hassle to get all the different parts for it to extend. We were so fortunate to have been reached out to by Nursery Works. Their stuff is so great! It fits our aesthetic and his new crib works amazing in our space. We received the Novella Crib as it converts from crib to toddler bed to daybed to reading nook. It’s absolutely ideal for us being here in NYC, working with a little space. Now, price tag can cause pause , however, it’s totally worth it.

It’s built well, has gorgeous detail and is convertible. We don’t have to worry about a bed for Sebastian till he is well into elementary school. It’s a great feeling and now we can finish up the rest of his room (again). We are going to be adding some wallpaper, new storage, ceiling fan & light and some new decorations. Really excited and we will be sharing all the new updates to his room with you.

Hope it’s done by December.

Here’s what we did

Dinner

Usually we start cooking around 6:30-7pm and begin feeding Sebastian. It typically starts with Little Spoon or some other snack, like shredded soy cheese while we cook. We sit down together and talk about the day, feed Sebastian and enjoy the meal as a family. Funny thing about this entire process, we’re on a schedule and we spend more quality time together, off our phone and NOT working.

We’re also in the process of teaching Sebastian how to eat on his own, so we’re also baby weaning, so dinner is a very messy process. Food all over the place! On the floor, in his hair and even in his diaper. Love teaching him how to feed himself. It’s adorable. He also is learning to spit out his food, so that has been a fun process. Batman loves when we feed Sebastian!

Now off to the bath.

Bath Time

This kiddo LOVES the bath. He’s practically climbing out of our arms when we walk into the bathroom. We try and get him in the bath by 8pm each night. He’s usually pretty wiped out by playing with all his bath toys. The bath calms him down and gets him drowsy. Bath time is anywhere between 15-20 minutes.

Getting dressed

This is an important process. After the bath, we take him to his changing table with the lights on. We put on a diaper and pjs him (these are our favorite pjs). At this point, he’s typically rubbing his eyes and ready for bed. The bath takes a lot out of him.

Feeding

We somehow managed to put a chair in his 5×5 nursery. I sit down with him and nurse for 5-10 minutes, with the lights on (also an important part of the process). While feeding, he typically wants to fall asleep, so we try and keep him awake and alert. We don’t want him to associate nursing with going to sleep. The purpose of this is to teach him to soothe himself and fall asleep on his own. No rocking, singing, or nursing to soothe him. At first I was NOT on board with this process. At all. But after reading the methodology behind the process, it made sense.

Matt reads to him

This process can get a little tough, because Sebastian knows when I hand him over to Daddy, he is going to bed soon. Matt and I switch spots. I leave the room and turn off any lights that might be shinning into his room. Matt then starts reading to him. It takes 1-2 minutes for Sebastian to stop whimpering. He can get upset when we pull him off from feeding.

Depending on the night, Matt reads one or two books. He’s currently on  Where The Wild Things Are. Last week, I peaked my head into his nursery while Matt was reading to him and Sebastian was asleep on his shoulder. It was the most precious thing I’ve ever seen in my life. I love when his belly hangs over his diaper.

Reading to him calms him down. He intently listens to Matt read every word of the book, which has been great for us. We want to read to him daily and this made us get on a schedule.

Lights off

Matt puts the book away, lays Sebastian in bed, turns on his white noise machine, fan, monitor and then shuts off the light. This process is crucial to sleep training. He does the exact same thing every single night. The point of turning on the white noise machine and off the lights is to signal to Sebastian that he needs to go to sleep. So if he wakes up in the middle of the night and hears the white noise and the light is off, he knows that he’s suppose to be asleep. This is the part most people miss. This is sooooooo critical to the entire process. We use the same method for naps.

At first, Sebastian would cry for 5-10 minutes. After a few weeks, it lasts for 30-60seconds. At this point, he’s so tired and knows the routine, he just falls asleep on his own. Well, he still whimpers a little bit.

Afterwards

Sebastian’s room is right off our kitchen and back door to our balcony, so we still need to be in and out of those areas. We carry on as usual. We try not to turn on the big bright light in the kitchen, but we go still go in and make a little noise. The idea of this is for Sebastian to learn how to sleep through noise. It works at night, this doesn’t work as well during the day. I think we need to get him black out curtains.

It worked on the first night

The first night we did this, it worked. It took him exactly 15 minutes to fall sleep. Matt and I both went into our room and watched him on the monitor. It was really hard for both of us to not go into his room and pick him up. From this article and other articles I read, if the baby continues to cry after an hour without a short break, you can go into the room and soothe them by rubbing their backs.

We’re lucky because we never had to go into his room. The first night, he put himself to sleep. The second night it only took him 10 minutes. From there, the time it took him to fall asleep went down. Now, we are all on the schedule and he falls asleep almost immediately. He typically wakes up between 7am – 8:30am. It really depends on the number of naps he takes throughout the day. If he doesn’t take any naps the day before, he will sleep a little later.

What improved after sleep training

Everything. The house was more balanced. We were all a lot happier and less stressed.

For Sebastian

Sebastian has been a lot happier since he started to sleep in his own crib. He is always happy but is as dependent on me and a little more independent now. He likes being in his room. Since there’s not a ton of room in his nursery, he’s only in there to sleep. I think he’s starting to like his little nook. We can’t wait to add a few more things to his room. Going to be really cute.

Mommy and Daddy

This is a little personal, but we’re all adults here. This made huge improvement on our marriage. Sebastian was typically in bed around 8:30pm, so that left us so much time for us to talk and be with each other. Most nights we’re working, but we didn’t have any interruptions. After having kids, a lot changes in your marriage. Some good, some bad.

It felt like we finally had our old routine back. Getting ready for bed together, brushing our teeth together and just unwinding from the day. We also didn’t have a baby between us every night. Months would go by when we wouldn’t even kiss each other before we went to bed. That’s so sad. I had that realization a few weeks before we started sleep training Sebastian. We had a baby, dog and cat in our bed. It didn’t leave a lot of time for Matt and Olivia.

It’s been a little under a month since we first started the process and I’ll tell you firsthand, our marriage has improved 10x. We both have time to mentally and physically unwind from the day. We also get anywhere from 6-8 hours of sleep. That’s incredible. We’re now working on a morning routine. Sebastian still wakes up and nurses every morning, but waking up to my family is the best part of my day.

Batman and Kitty

Even the pets were more at ease. They were also back on their normal schedule.

We Eat Dinner Together

The sleep training forced us to get on a schedule. We had to start dinner around 6:30 (at the latest) for Sebastian to be in bed by 8:30pm. As you can imagine, Matt and I love the peace and quiet in the house, so we make sure we stick to this schedule.

Before Sebastian, we’d sit down and eat together most nights, but after Sebastian we were pulled in a million directions. Causing us to grab something quick and then get back to taking care of Sebastian. I’m happy to report, we’re back together every night enjoying a meal together.

***just a little side note, I am not a schedule person. Yes, I’m very organized, but I do not like being on a schedule. It’s the Sagittarius in me. I don’t like anything in my life to be static or fixed. So the thought of being on a schedule really rubbed me the wrong way. Bu look at me, I’m officially a schedule a person!

Questions

Follow up to this post

I know there has been a lot of questions about our sleep training process. I’m going to write a follow-up post to this one. So, if you have any specific questions, please leave them in the comment section or message me on Instagram.

Favorites Products for Sleep Training

NurseryWorks Crib | Mattress | Bedding | Adventure Art Work | Rove Concept Chair | Storage Basket | Doggie Pajamas | Baby Monitor | White Noise Machine

Hope you enjoyed today’s post and some of you find it helpful!

xo, Olivia

11 Comments

  1. We literally had the EXACT SAME situation! We also used the Snoo, didn’t use the weaning function and then ended up co-sleeping and finally sleep trained too! I also miss having my little guy in our bed too, but literally no one was sleeping ever
    So glad you are all getting better sleep! I’m pretty much in the process of writing this same post haha!

    xo,
    Ally
    http://www.gumbootglam.con

    Posted 10.15.17 · Reply
  2. Elle wrote:

    loved this post olivia! would you be interested in doing a post on your experience with breast feeding? how often you feed, the transition to eating real food, how long it took to get used to it in the beginning? thank you!! 🙂

    Posted 10.15.17 · Reply
  3. Andrea wrote:

    Interesting! Good to know! Thank you for sharing this!

    Posted 10.16.17 · Reply
  4. Evelyn wrote:

    Nice story 🙂 When my daughter was born I thought that gentle rocking her to sleep is not a big deal. But day by day she wanted us to rock her longer and longer! When she turned 10 months I was really tired of it and I had to do something to make her fall asleep alone. After searching the internet I decided to get Susan Urban’s guide ‘How to teach a baby to fall asleep alone’. That was the best decision I could make! I’ve heard that sleep training is a long process. Well now I know that it’s not true! Took us 3 days to make my girl to fall asleep without rocking! This guide helped us a lot! Awesome help

    Posted 10.17.17 · Reply
    • olivia wrote:

      Hi Evelyn, thank you so much for the comment. Yea, I tried the “rocking” method, but he’d always wake up when we tried to put him in bed. Mentally it really exhausted both os us. Yay for your sleeping baby! Glad you experienced something similar to us.

      xo, Olivia

      Posted 10.18.17 · Reply
    • Melinda wrote:

      After reading comments here I decided to get ‘how to teach a baby to fall asleep alone’ guide and I wanted to give you some feedback. All the guides for parents should look like this guide – short! clear instructions! Without unnecessary information, less than 20 pages and after reading it I knew what, when and how! The method has worked just great so I am very very happy with what we’ve achieved! Big recommendation!

      Posted 10.20.17 · Reply
    • Dona wrote:

      Yeeey this guide works! Thanks for sharing 😀

      Posted 10.31.17 · Reply
  5. Eva wrote:

    Love your post!our girl is almost 5 months, half a night in crib half with me in bed, feeling you, I miss her when she is apart from me!!!gotta try your way sometime soon.The only thing that I wondered about that it said baby can cry for up to an hour, OMG I would never be able to take it, Im glad you didnt have to do it as well.All the best to your beautiful family.

    Posted 10.17.17 · Reply
    • olivia wrote:

      Eva, I’m with you. That’s why I refused to “sleep train” because I was scared. Yes, agree. Sebastian likes to play hard, so he can really tire himself out! Thankful he also likes to sleep!

      xo, Olivia

      Posted 10.18.17 · Reply
  6. lei wrote:

    i loved co-sleeping and did it for about 2 years, but oh how i wish i put more effort into sleep training. i think i mostly gave up because my then daughter (now 12yo) was breastfed and it was so easy to do it will in bed with us. thankfully my baby-making days are over. lol you and matt did a great job!!

    Posted 10.18.17 · Reply
    • olivia wrote:

      Lei! This just made me laugh out loud. Love the insight and sharing your experience.

      xo, Olivia

      Posted 10.18.17 · Reply

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