Sleep Training 

So basically sleep training is driving me crazy. I keep hearing the baby crying even when she is sound asleep. I find myself with my ear to the door listening intently. Alas she is sound asleep. There has been more crying in this house in the last six months than I care to repeat. Between a toddler and a baby, I have had my fair share. Somedays feel like someone is crying at all hours. So much crying that I feel like curling in bed under the covers and crying myself.

So with all this crying you would assume that sleep training would be last on my to-do list. I want to avoid crying at all costs. And last night as we hit the hour mark trying to get her to go to bed and I finally rescued her from the evil crib and nursed my baby to sleep I thought I would just give up. Last night we pressed on. And after finally laying her down around 9:30pm she slept until almost 2am. That is the longest stretch of sleep we have had in months. Maybe since she was born. And that is the reason we continue despite the many setbacks and all the crying.

I am writing about sleep training now because I didn’t go into detail when we sleep-trained Eleanor. And now as we embark on it a second time I wish I had detailed records for reference. I am keeping track of every time she sleeps, how many controlled intervals it takes for her to fall asleep, how long she sleeps, and when I nurse. It’s not pretty. But I am reassured from experience that this will only last a few days (tops) and she will be sleeping peacefully through longer naps and through the night. I am also reassured that this is not permanently damaging as evidenced by her beautiful smile this morning. We will survive. Not just that, but we will even thrive. (Although this picture may not show it!)

Here’s the plan:

  • From this day forward all naps and bedtime in her crib
  • Controlled comforting every two, five or ten minutes depending on level of hysteria (subjective measure). This includes giving her the pacifier and patting her head or back or letting her hold our fingers but not picking up out of the crib.
  • If we hit an hour of constant crying despite comforting we abort plan and pick her up, rock her to sleep, or even nurse.
  • I no longer nurse between the hours of 10pm and 6am. Hoping to eventually stop nursing from 7pm to 7am but will work up to it. And I may keep a dream feed at 10pm if needed.

We have been casually sleep training for naps for several weeks, teaching her to fall asleep on her own. But all of her naps were in the Rock N’ Play. The crib is very different and we debated whether to move her right now. But when making the decision it seemed best to do this once and for all and not drag it out. Why go through the torture of sleep training in the Rock N’ Play when we would just have to do it all over again in a few months? I am certain this would be going a lot easier if we stuck to the Rock N’ Play but then it would be harder in the long run.

So how did last night go?

  • 7:30pm: bed time, pretty easy going down, probably had to do two 5 minute intervals.
  • 8:30pm: woke up, we let her cry it out in 5 minute intervals that lasted over an hour.
  • 9:30pm: pull her out of bed, nurse her to sleep and lay her back down in the crib (I let her snuggle on my chest for a while first. Trust me when I say this is as difficult on us. I nearly gave up entirely in this moment and Alex and I had a long discussion whether to keep going.
  • 2:00am: woke up (woo-hoo a 4-hour stretch!) six 5-minute intervals, three 10-minute intervals. Her cries were soft, tired cries so I pressed for over an hour.
  • 3:15am: finally back to sleep
  • 4:30am: woke up, five 5-minute intervals, back to sleep
  • 5:45am: woke up, one 5-minute interval, back to sleep
  • 6:30am: up for the morning, nurse

You know the saying “sleep begets sleep?” Well I could tell she was extra tired this morning and I equate that to less than stellar naps so far today.

  • 7:45-8:30 nap had to do two 2-minute cry-it-out intervals
  • 8:30am nurse
  • 9:30am: tried to put her back down: two 2-minute intervals, six 5-minute intervals. She was super, extra tired and just not able to get herself to sleep. I picked her up and rocked her to sleep. At this point I figured a good nap is only going to help for the rest of the day and I needed to get her to fall asleep.
  • 10:30am: finally asleep
  • 11:00am: wakes up crying. I rock her back to sleep, try the crib again to no avail, get her back to sleep and then let her sleep in the Rock N’ Play. At this point I think she just needs some good rest.

I think we will end up with four naps today. Our ideal would be three. Two longer ones, and one cat nap before dinner. We will see how long she naps now and that will likely determine if she gets that cat nap this evening since she took one this morning.

This sleep training thing is hard. Especially since I am also incredibly sleep deprived which makes decision making even more difficult. It’s hard to know if my choices are helping or hurting. But we press on. I’ll be back to report progress after the weekend.

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