Sleep training help for my 2 children, both under the age of 2.
I came across Full Feedings by a recommendation from a mutual friend because we work in a similar space – Bumpdate helps you stay connected to your support circle while pregnant and postpartum and Full Feedings supports families, with young children, get in a happy sleep routine. Sleep means everyone sleeps!
It was true serendipity because at that time my husband and I were facing sleep challenges with our two young children. I started following the Founder Ann Marks’ Instagram account and her videos spoke to me. They were simple, straightforward, and quick. I was tired of reading through tons of information and sifting through the floods of opinions, figuring out what was relevant to my situation.
Time felt more precious than ever and I didn’t want to waste it on methods that felt irrelevant to my scenario. I was struggling with getting my 4-5 month old sleeping through the night and then a month after, I’d struggle with my toddler being a crib climber. He was showing signs he was ready to transition to a toddler bed at 23 months old, so it was a lot of changes to juggle at once – all affecting our sleep. Ann’s advice was just what I needed to hear at that very moment. It was succinct and effective.
Why is my infant not sleeping through the night?
At 4-5 months postpartum, I had gotten lost in early motherhood and completely forgot about spacing my feeds. I was physically and emotionally drained and our baby girl wasn’t sleeping through the night. The lightbulb moment that changed everything was a reel I saw on Ann’s Instagram that discussed the idea that if your baby isn’t sleeping it’s likely because there are changes you need to make to their routine. It was a harsh reality, but it was true. And it was exactly the kick-in-the-butt that I needed to be motivated to problem solve and get to the bottom of our lack of sleep.
A simple tip: make sure baby is having “full feeds”
Ultimately my misstep was that our baby was “snacking”. She wasn’t having “full feeds”. I learned from Ann that if your baby has full feeds you can be confident in between routine feedings that the baby is 100% not hungry, therefore you can put them down for a nap with the confidence that they can, and should, sleep because they are full. Sleep means everyone sleeps.
This was really hard at first. My baby kept popping off my breast, wanting to break to burp, smiling and getting distracted half way through, but I stuck with this advice. I put aside about 20-30 uninterrupted minutes (sometimes a little more if we took short breaks), the time I knew it would take to get my baby fully fed. Because she was a snacker, I skipped one of her usual snacks and stretched her so she’d be really hungry for her next feed.
That next feed, I coordinated having our babysitter that day specifically for this reason. I had our sitter feed her with a bottle, rather than her typical feed at the breast, so I could be confident in the ounces she took in. I also had this side theory that our baby girl was so comfortable with me and being at the boob, changing up the feeder would hopefully help her focus more on eating her entire meal. She ate so well in that next feed! That was the start of getting her on track.
Sleep means everyone sleeps and a rested family is a happy family!
One philosophy Ann believes in is that “Sleep is a basic human need…for babies and parents alike.” This basic truth is forgotten by so many new parents as we sacrifice ourselves for our children. By learning age appropriate sleep routines, limiting daytime sleep, and ensuring the baby is fully fed, we as parents can rest assured that our children’s needs are met and they are sleeping and therefore can find the time and energy to meet our own.
Eat, play, sleep.
Another one of Ann’s helpful philosophies is to ask yourself, “Who is in charge here?”. The baby is here to learn from you. It’s our job to teach them while always keeping them in mind. A key piece is to educate yourself on the best routine for your child’s developmental age. One way is to be mindful of developmental milestones and support your children through these changes.
Here are some takeaways from the Full Feeding Method that have helped my family.
- Follow a daily routine
- Tape a schedule that works for your family to the fridge
- Don’t panic if you deviate from the schedule, just get back on track when you can
- Stay educated on developmentally appropriate eating and sleeping schedules. (If your child oversleeps during the day, you are going to have trouble at night. If your child doesn’t eat well during the day, you are going to have trouble at night.)
- Feed baby fully and avoid “snacking” by spacing your feeds accordingly
- Sleep means everyone sleeps and a rested family is a happy family!
I personally pull advice from a few different sources and believe in a hybrid approach. Ultimately it’s important to do what’s best for your family unit and no one knows those needs better than you.
For more from Gabrielle, read 11 Tips to Happily Survive 2 Under 2.