Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Wonder of Sleep Training

Ever since Joseph was born getting him to sleep at regular intervals has been a problem - as it is with most babies. For the first few months my husband and I knew we would basically be adapting to Joseph's schedule (or lack thereof) and we were cool with that. But when those first few months passed and he was still having trouble sleeping in intervals longer than two hours and when we realized we weren't going to be able to swaddle him anymore because he would bust out of the swaddle and it would create what looked like a noose around his neck, we knew it was time for some sleep training.

Well, my husband knew it was time. I, on the other hand, just wasn't ready. I couldn't stand the thought of hearing my sweet baby cry, and our pediatrician recommended waiting until he was 6 months old to let him "cry it out" anyway (I clung to that recommendation as proof that we should wait). We soon learned that Joseph slept well in his car seat, so we let him sleep there. For the first few weeks of November he consistently slept 8-10 hours a night (and spoiled me in the process). Then around Thanksgiving he started waking up after 4-6 hours and only slept in 4-6 hour intervals. Then we just went downhill from there. The magic of the car seat had worn off and it was wearing me out. Where had those 8-10 hours nights gone? Why were we back to him only sleeping in 2 hour chunks? And why (oh why!?!?) was it taking me longer and longer to get him to even go down at all - especially in the middle of the night.

By mid-December I was done. I was so frustrated with the whole (non)sleep situation. I started reading and was ready to let him "cry it out." We decided to wait until after Christmas to let him "cry it out" since his whole routine would be changing when we left town for a week and consistency is key when it comes to sleep training. I'm glad we waiting until after Christmas as I got Richard Ferber's book "Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems" for Christmas. I was able to read the first four chapters by the time we started our sleep training. Luckily, those four chapters had the majority of what I needed to know contained in them. The other chapters address specific sleep problems.

So, on the night of December 30 we implemented Ferber's "progressive waiting approach". I braced myself for hours and hours of crying. I just knew Joseph was going to cry and cry and I didn't think I would be able to handle it, so I made plans to leave the house for a little while the first night.
I was only gone for about half and hour and when I returned Joseph was already asleep. He fell asleep with only 20 minutes of crying! I couldn't believe it.

Joseph now sleeps fairly well from 7:30pm until 8:00am with one feeding some time between 2 and 4ish. He also takes 3 short naps each day. I think getting him on a regular schedule has been really helpful and helping him learn to put himself back to sleep has been key. With any future babies I won't wait until 6 months passes. As soon as baby shows us he/she can sleep through the night we'll begin training. And there will be no falling asleep at the breast (at least after the first couple months).
Joseph fell asleep in the middle of playing. Dr. Ferber
said to just let them fall asleep wherever they are if it isn't
bedtime or that's what I did.

1 comment:

Lucy The Valiant said...

Yay for sleeping! Deciding to do cry it out is SO hard with your first baby!! I waited as long as I could with my first, and I really think I cried more than she did that first night. But it really just works! So with my second baby, we started when she was four months (a little earlier than I had planned, but she was sleeping ONLY in my arms and freaking out every time I would lay her down, so it was pretty clearly a want and not a need)and it was so much easier! Just knowing how beautifully it works made the whole thing not stressful at all!