Sleep Training Sextuplets

Whenever someone finds out I have sextuplets, a general series of questions soon follows.  Anything from how many boys vs. girls to what vehicle I drive to how they were conceived can come up.  One of the FAQ is if they all sleep at the same time, particularly napping at the same time.  The answer is YES!  They do. {I’d go crazy if they didn’t!} Currently, they all nap for 3 glorious hours in the afternoon and sleep 11-12 hours at night.  And no one fights going to nap or going to bed.  And if someone wakes up, they are content in their rooms until I get them {unless something is wrong, and trust me – they let me know}.  How is this possible?!  Two words for you my friend… Sleep. Training.

I am 100% a fan of sleep training.  If for no other reason than to have a scheduled routine.  As I brought my babies home from the NICU, it was very evident to me that we needed to get all of them on a schedule or we wouldn’t survive.  We would have always been feeding someone or trying to get someone to sleep!  A schedule allowed us to prepare for feedings and schedule around their wake time and sleep time {as well as ensure they got enough sleep which is oh so important for development…and mom’s sanity}.

I received all kinds of tips and tricks and books from well meaning folks on sleep training, but one in particular stood out.  My friend Christy Brunton {I call her the sleep training guru} loaned me a copy of Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Dr. Marc Weissbluth AND her Cliff’s Notes version she wrote for exhausted moms like I was.  {Because who has time to read books when you have newborns at home?!} I related to this method of scheduling and sleep training because it really explained the reasoning behind it.  Self soothing {it’s a good thing for everyone, but especially when you have multiples.}, adaptability, and growth and development are examples of the benefits.  The only negatives I have experienced are the amount of work that goes into training and having to always plan around the schedule.  That being said, sleep training was SO HARD.  So hard to stick with it, so hard to follow through, so hard sometimes you just want to give up.

But it was all SO WORTH IT!  Seriously.  Worth every ounce of effort.  To have good sleepers and not fight anyone about going to bed.  Yes, so worth it.  So just to get you started, I’ll share a few of my favorite tidbits of wisdom…

Survival

As I was told when my babies were first coming home from the NICU, “Just survive the first 2 months.”  Don’t stress about schedules or where they sleep or how long.  Do what you need to do to survive!  If they sleep better in the swing or bouncer, go for it.  If you want to rock them or keep them in a bassinet or put them straight to the crib, do it.  At this point you just want to get any sleep you can!  I will say, for me, it helped in the long run that my babies had a general feeding schedule.  Having set feeding times made working in a sleeping schedule a bit easier.

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Consistency

Once you establish what your schedule will be, STICK WITH IT!!  It’s going to be hard.  It takes time for your baby to adjust and there will be setbacks.  But it’ll happen if you stick with it.  Don’t let people talk you out of it because it’s hard.  And if it gets messed up or someone is sick or you go on vacation…you can start over!  It really will be okay.  {As long as you’re not starting over every week.} Nighttime sleep adjusts before nap time sleep.  I remember thinking those naps would never stick and they’d never nap the entire scheduled time, but eventually – it did.  They’ve been fantastic nappers ever since.

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Cry It Out

I know mamas everywhere have strong feelings on this one.  Whether you feel it’s fine and necessary or that it’s terrible torture for all involved, it’s part of this plan.  I’ll admit I did not do my research on all various methods of Cry It Out.  I just know what I did, and it worked for me.  The key is waiting until your baby weighs enough and their brain is developed enough to handle sleeping 8 hours straight.  Prior to that point, you’re just prepping them for self soothing by minimizing the stimulation and contact at sleep times.  {Again, if baby is sick or something is wrong, all bets are off and you must do what needs to be done. Then get back on track.}  What I loved about the Cry It Out method this system supports is that it wasn’t cold turkey.  You hear your baby cry, wait 10 minutes, then go check on them.  If they’re okay, rub their back, let them know you’re there and they need to go back to sleep, and leave.  Next round of crying, repeat.  Trust me, you know your baby, and you’ll figure out if you can push the 10 minutes a little longer or if it’s a different, more urgent cry.

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I sleep trained all of my kids at the same time {and they all shared a room!}.  It was rough.  There were times I had to walk out of the room because they were all crying and I was overwhelmed, times I turned off the monitor for a few minutes because I couldn’t handle the racket any longer, and many nights I spent curled in a chair or on the floor dozing as I monitored them.  But I stuck with it, followed the plan, and when it came time to Cry It Out for the 8 hour long haul, it took just 1 week to get all of my kids sleeping through the night without me going in there.  I almost threw myself a party the first night we made it through!

If nothing else, I hope you exhausted moms out there with sleepless babies find this encouraging.  You and your baby CAN get some sleep!

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2 Responses to Sleep Training Sextuplets

  1. Avatar
    Anju May 26, 2015 at 1:04 pm #

    The link for the book and the “cliff’s notes” version are the same book. Could you provide the link for the abbreviated version?

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