How My First 5K and Baby Steps Can Help You Sleep Train Your Baby

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When you’re a sleep coach, many other things in your life tend to remind you about babies or sleep training or sleep training babies. On November 5th, I ran my first 5K race. It was a race where a portion of the proceeds would be donated to The Honor Flight for World War II veterans to fly to Washington D.C. I can thank my son (who inspired this site) for the inspiration (I guess he inspires me a lot!). He ran his first 1K over a year ago and wanted to run in another race. Back then, I was out of shape and didn’t race in the 5K that day. I vowed I would run in the next one. For the last 8 months or so, I’ve been exercising (you may remember that) a lot more, so when he asked about another race, I signed us up.

Did I expect to win the race? No way! In fact, I came in 104th. Ouch. I was 14th in my age group, though (which was ahem, 37 but now 38 years old). It took me 32 minutes and 9 seconds. Not bad! :)

With many things in my life, I set goals that I wanted to achieve (not my friend or neighbor). They never have to be “Become the President of the United States” goals. My primary goal for the 5K was simply to do it. My secondary goal was to keep running the entire time. I achieved both that day and the feeling of accomplishment was AMAZING!

What does this have to do with sleep training?

I remember sleep training sometimes feeling like a race. All your friend’s babies were sleeping well. The babies in the playgroups were sleeping through the night. So many people making you feel like it’s your fault you can’t finish the race, too. It was because he was napping too much or my breast milk wasn’t enough or WHATever!

Unlike the 5K, I never trained for sleep training. Who knew that babies just don’t sleep when they’re tired?!?

One way my 5K race IS like sleep training is the small goals I made for myself and I started thinking this is EXACTLY what I did when I sleep trained my own son and EXACTLY what I do when I make a Personalized Sleep Plan™. I recently read Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover and he goes over “baby steps” to become “financially fit.” I related a lot to his “baby steps” because it is at the heart of how I view goals.

Will it work to do your bedtime routine, put your baby to bed, and not come back until morning, crying or not? For many, sure. Is that the way most people want to sleep train? Of course not! Do I recommend to parents they do that? Who needs to pay someone to tell them that, so no. That is usually the way a hare does it or someone who has done an extensive amount of sleep training, already. I am not a hard-core “sleep trainer” and never have been.

Instead, I think the reason I’ve been successful in many things I do is a) I’m not afraid to fail (that’s how we learn) and b) I make smaller goals that build to one big goal.

When I sleep trained my son, my primary goal was to stop taking THREE HOURS (yes, literally) to put him to bed each night. Sure, he fell asleep rocking in my arms, but then he’d wake up every time he felt me move to lower him into bed! My first goal was NOT for him to sleep through the night or even to stop waking up every two hours…yet (though he did anyway once we mastered bedtime, yay!)

When I created The Baby Sleep Site™, my goal was to help people. I had NO goals about how many. I had no idea what would happen, but all I knew is that I wanted to make a website to support other parents (even if it was only 10 people) who were going through what I had to go through essentially alone. Even my husband didn’t obsess about sleep as much as I did, of course, and frankly, I think he got tired of hearing about it. Now, he doesn’t have to, because you listen. :)

Breaking your goals into “baby steps” can help you sleep train your baby, too! I did finally help my son sleep through the night (though it wasn’t perfect every night by any means!), The Baby Sleep Site™ now enjoys over 150,000 visitors per month and has over 100,000 people who receive the weekly newsletter, and now, I’ve finished my first 5K and my next goal is to do it in under 30 minutes. And, who knows? Maybe one day I’ll even win one.

What’s Your Goal and How Will You Achieve It?

If you’re looking for your “baby” steps that help you achieve your long-term goal and ways to to get your baby or toddler into a healthy sleeping routine, please be sure to pick up your FREE copy of 5 Ways to Help Your Child Sleep Through the Night, our e-Book with tear-free tips to help your baby sleep better. For those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3-Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep (babies) or The 5-Step System to Better Toddler Sleep (toddlers). Using a unique approach and practical tools for success, our e-books help you and your baby sleep through the night and nap better. For those looking for a more customized solution for your unique situation with support along the way, please consider one-on-one baby and toddler sleep consultations, where you will receive a Personalized Sleep Plan™ you can feel good about! Sometimes it’s not that you can’t make a plan. Sometimes you’re just too tired to.

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11 Responses to How My First 5K and Baby Steps Can Help You Sleep Train Your Baby

  1. Amy says:

    Our daughter is 7 months old and has never slept thru the night. We have been “training” her since she was 4 months old and couldn’t sleep longer than 20 minutes at ANY time of the day unless we were holding her. When she got to the point of feeding every 3-4 hours at night she just kind of stayed at that point and has never lengthened that interval significantly. Now she gives us “glimpses” every once in a while by going 7 or 8 hours and we get so excited, but these nights are inevitably followed by a night where she’s up every 2 hours. We have let her cry it out at times out of frustration, but the next wake-up never seems to be any different so we are left feeling like all we accomplished was letting our baby cry for an hour! So our baby steps was first to train her that we didn’t have to be holding her, and now to at least get her back down without nursing as often as possible. Lately she goes to bed around 7, wakes up sometime between 11 and 2, where I will feed her, then she’ll sleep till about 6, I feed her again and sometimes she will go back down for another 1-2 hours. This is heaven compared to where we have been! At some point we will make the decision to not feed her at all at night but we’re not there yet. We can’t take the long bouts of crying that don’t seem to make a difference. So I think we’re on the “long” road of sleep training. I can’t stand it when people tell me it should only take 3 days! And we’re always worried about waking up our 2 and 1/2 year old son. Isn’t that every mom’s worst fear – to have 2 crying babies at 3 am????

  2. Debbie says:

    I am highly considering doing the consultation for my 16 month old. He sleeps through the night so that isn’t the issue for us. For me, I’d prefer a tad later wake-up instead of 5:45 or 6:00. I am also in the process of trying to wean but he uses that to relax before his 2 naps. I’m afraid a battle will ensue and naps will be missed once I try to wean this month. But I’m pregnant and due in April, so I’d really like to tackle these sooner than later.

  3. Nicole says:

    @Amy It used to drive me crazy, too, when books and other people would say sleep training was a “3 days and you’re done” thing. It was certainly NOT that way for us. Not even close. I would have gladly taken even 2 weeks. ;-) I’m sorry you have a challenging sleeper like mine! I hope you find that unique solution that works for your daughter. They grow and change so much these first few years. Hang in there and good luck!!

    @Debbie At this age, you may want to wait to wean until he has transitioned to one nap. That would leave just one! :) Most will transition by 18 months, if not sooner. It’s possible it’s related to the early rising, too. Waking up too early is a very common problem, so you’re not alone! I hope you will reach out to us as we’d love to help! Good luck!

  4. Debbie says:

    Nicole, I think that is why I’ve been hesitant to contact you. I am not sure how the consultation or plan works and it feels like I have a few items to address, I.e. Waking early, possible transition to one nap soon, and wanting to wean soon before the next baby arrives. Is it a one shot deal or do we work through these together? If I understood it more, I really think I’d reach you REALLY soon! :)

  5. Nicole says:

    @Debbie Oh we are used to many different things going on at once, don’t worry! :) We incorporate everything into the plan (e.g. First, transition to one nap by doing x, y, z, then do …. ). Many people who know things are coming up, like a new baby, will simply buy a larger package for us to continually work on things. For example, the Deluxe package comes with a Personalized Family Sleep Plan and 3 follow-ups. In the plan, depending on your full history, we’d probably give you information on transitioning to one nap and weaning. Then, a month or two down the line, you might have questions about a schedule issue that comes up and that would take one email. Then, you might have a question about your new baby and that would be an e-mail. We don’t charge for *every* email if you have clarification questions on the sleep plan or anything like that. We basically charge for our time, but not to explain something that might be confusing (especially when you’re tired!). We’re here however you need us to be. :) You can see all the packages here: http://www.babysleepsite.com/services We also have unlimited e-mail packages for those who like fast response, have a complicated case, and/or simply need a lot of support going through it to keep them going and stay accountable. I hope to see you in the Helpdesk! :) If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to email us: http://www.babysleepsite.com/contact

  6. Debbie says:

    Thanks Nicole. I just sent in an email giving a brief history of where we have been and where we are now, and what my goals are, and inquired which would be the best package. While your response above is thorough, I guess I need to do more research on prices and what comes with each package, unless someone responds to me quickly! Hopefully you will see my email shortly!

  7. Nicole says:

    @Debbie My assistant, Debbye, is very prompt and will reply very soon, I’m sure! :)

  8. Debbie says:

    Thanks! After looking around, I am leaning towards the deluxe package. So I get the personalized plan, in addition to 3 other emails I can send with new or different issues? I’m getting really excited about this and look forward to hearing from you!

  9. Nicole says:

    @Debbie Great! I already see your e-mail in the Helpdesk. :)

  10. Kristi says:

    I am so glad I found you! =)
    My 8 1/2 month old son sounds JUST like your first son… It used to take us 2-3 hours to get him to sleep, and then any attempt to put him in his crib would wake him up and we’d have to start all over. After 8 months, I couldn’t take it anymore (…and it doesn’t help that I have a few friends whose same-aged babies have always gone down by themselves and slept through the night). We just started some sleep training, and I can see slight progress, which really excites me!
    Thanks so much for the information and support! =)

  11. Debbye says:

    Hi Kristi-
    We are so happy that you found us too!!! I hope the sleep training goes well and you are all sleeping better very soon! :)
    Good luck and we hope to hear more good news from you!