It never fails–
at least once a week, someone comments on how great of a sleeper Hattie is. It's true– she is! And I most certainly don't say that to brag, because I know sleep, in general, can be such a hot topic among parents.
We decided before Hattie was born that we wanted to sleep train her, and we used Babywise, 12 Hours Sleep by 12 Weeks Old, and Taking Cara Babies (TCB) as our main resources. They are all VERY similar, so I knew they had to be onto something.
TCB definitely ended up being our default guide, and, you guys, I'm here to tell you that we are firm believers. Hattie turned 2 at the beginning of October, so she's 27 months old as I write this. She sleeps from 7p-7a and takes a 3-hour nap each day, and this has been her schedule since we dropped her second nap before she turned one.
We didn't purchase the TCB newborn course because she posts enough free information on her Instagram and blog, but I did purchase the other two, and, for the most part, followed them to a T which I think is key.
Here are our top 3 takeaways from TCB–
that we know make a difference in our house:
- Blackout curtains likely aren't enough
- A sound machine is vital
- Sleep isn't optional
Blackout curtains likely aren't enough
I remember watching a TCB story where Cara was talking about how dark a room should be. It was sometime during the blur of Hattie only napping for 33 minutes (literally on the dot. every nap.) during months 3 and 4, and I was at my witts end because I couldn't get anything done around our house. I told Jake we had nothing to lose and taped black construction paper to all of our windows in our room because she was still in her bassinet. #Classy But, let me tell ya– it worked like a charm and we've pretty much never looked back. Although Hattie's room has both blinds and thee cutest blush velvet "blackout" curtains, we still use these* and these* to completely darken her room.
Say whatcha want, but when it comes to baby sleep, we are in the if-it-isn't-broke-don't-fix-it camp!
*When we moved from Austin to Kansas City, we opted to buy these travel blackout curtains to use in her room so we could take them with us when we travel. You can read about our toddler travel essentials here!
A sound machine is vital
Barking dogs? Creaky home? Need to vacuum? Have friends over? (Insert other semi-loud activity here)? You get the picture! All of these activities are able to happen in our house because we use a sound machine! When we first moved to Kansas City, we met a neighbor who told us they didn't use the stairs after they put their kids to bed because it would wake them up, and we instantly told the parents to buy a sound machine! I once read something that explained we invite babies into our lives and we shouldn't stop living because we have a sleeping baby in the house.
We took this portable sound machine to the hospital with us– we love it so much we now own two! AND we still LOVE our Hatch sound machine and swear by it and all of its features. While we aren't there yet, we plan to use it as an ok-to-wake clock once Hattie is in her big-girl bed.
Sleep isn't optional
There is a plethora of research backing why sleep is so important for our developing babes. TCB shares a lot of this research through her platform, and Hattie's pediatrician in Kansas City actually recommends TCB on the literature they hand out at well checks!
It took me a while to learn that just because Hattie woke up, didn't mean she was ready or needed to get up. Before TCB, I had no clue that babies had to learn to connect their sleep cycles. Even now, Hattie will sometimes wake up in the middle of her nap or at night. However, if we just give her time, 9 times out of 10 she goes back to sleep. It is important to note that when Hattie does this, she's happy or content– not crying. This was anything thing I loved about sleep training; I know when something is wrong because I know my child and her sleep habits. So, if Hattie wakes up crying, I know she needs me because she never does that.
Our other sleep essentials:
- A solid sleep routine that is quick and easy to recreate. We use the same routine before Hattie's nap and bedtime because it signals her brain that it is time to go to sleep regardless of where we are. Pre-Covid, we planned to travel with Hattie, so her routine is simple: darkroom, fresh diaper, jammies (pm), sleep sack, 3 books, sound machine, snuggles & prayer (pm), bed. EZPZ. Every. Single. Time. We started this routine when she was ~5 months old and it still works like a charm today. The important thing is to create a routine that works for your family. You'll notice a nightly bath doesn't work for ours.
- Nested Bean Swaddle
- We transitioned Hattie to Merlin's Magic Sleep Suit when she could roll. *I'm not 100% sure this step was necessary, but it was cute and seemed to work.
- We used this Nested Bean sleep sack until she grew out of it and now we will use this Kyte Baby sleep sack which will be her last! Once she grows out of this one, we will officially be out of the sleep sack stage.
- Lamby, Hattie's Lovey. When I was transitioning her, I would stick Lamby in my shirt so she would smell like me, and to this day, Hattie still loves Lamby– she's part of our family! Be sure you talk to your child's pediatrician before introducing a Lovey for sleep. Safe sleep is a top priority for me, so Lamby made a slow transition to sleeping full time with Hattie!
If I made Hattie's routine sound like a walk in the park, I'm here to tell you that isn't necessarily the case. I do believe that some babies are better sleepers than others. I also believe that behind a lot of good sleeping babies are parents who put in the work and likely shed some tears to get there. Night sleep was never a huge battle for us. For the most part, Hattie picked up an additional hour each week as both books told me she could. However, naps were a struggle– mostly for my sanity, and by the time she was of age to officially sleep train (for us this meant getting her to fall asleep on her own and in her crib), she had a firm enough foundation that by night three she didn't even make a peep when we laid her down and now she often cuts our snuggles short and points to her crib!
After hearing horror stories from parents of their toddlers not sleeping at night OR napping, I am so very glad we did what we did and when we did it!
For a while I was worried that creating a dark room and using a sound machine would serve as a crutch and Hattie wouldn't be able to sleep on the go, but, for us, that hasn't been the case. She can fall asleep in the car during the day and without a sound machine, but we know she sleeps best under ideal conditions– don't we all!?
I'm a far cry from an expert, but if you ever need someone to bounce ideas off of, I'm always happy to help!
Meredith Maag Photography is a Kansas City newborn photographer and specializes in maternity, newborn, baby, and family photography in the Kansas City area, including Mission, Westwood, Brookside, Waldo, Country Club Plaza, Crossroads, Westport, Overland Park, Lee’s Summit, Prairie Village, Leawood, Independence, Lenexa, Olathe, and The Northland.
Meredith has a passion for connecting and helping moms through community, support, friendship, and kindness. In addition to using her blog to showcase glimpses and full sessions, she also enjoys writing and sharing products she loves. Some posts may contain affiliate links.
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