Saturday, January 25, 2014

Adventures in Sleep Training

First off, Happy 5 Month Birthday to my little stinker! 


Well, we started sleep training about three weeks ago. Spoiler alert - it works! It's pretty much the MOST AMAZING THING EVER. Here's a little recap.

We had been thinking about sleep training for a few weeks after a rough holiday season with a lot of interrupted sleep (baby with a cold + growth spurt + traveling = the perfect sleep storm). SO... we decided to start sleep training one night after two hours of trying to put Miss Emerson to to sleep. Two frustrating, cry-filled hours. We had been doing a strict bedtime routine for a week or so (this was also a huge improvement), which was working great to get her down. But, she would wake up after about a half an hour and then it would take up to two hours to get her back down to sleep. Goodbye nightly adult time... The past couple weeks I had also been getting very short tempered and cranky. I don't function well with such little sleep (does anyone?). She had also started waking up ever few hours again throughout the night (and this was after she had been doing good with 5-6 hour stretches). Dang the holidays and messing up our schedule! :) I was beyond frustrated. So, after some research on what to actually do, we decided to just go for it.

The Plan: 
Cry-it-out (within reason). To us, this meant putting her down with the normal bedtime routine. If she woke up and/or started crying we would wait 5 minutes, then 10 minutes, then 15 minutes (increasing every time) then go into her room, pat her on the head/tummy gently to soothe her and put her binkie back in her mouth. No picking her up, no talking to her except for some shushing.

Night one:
After two hours of crying off and on (we would get her down and 10 minutes later she would wake up screaming), we decided to go for it. We went in every 5 minutes, then 10 minutes, then 15 minutes until she finally calmed down after about 45 minutes and went to sleep. I thought it would be really hard (especially after a failed attempt a week or so earlier - we weren't mentally prepared yet!) but I was so frustrated and tired, I was more determined to make this happen than anything.

Night two:
Em did better and it was slightly harder on me. Her crying was near hysterical at times and it was hard to listen to through the monitor. Luckily we have a video monitor so I could see how she was doing without going in the room. We stuck to the pattern though, starting with every 10 minutes this time, then 15 minutes. The hard part was that Gramma Vonnie was there and kept wanting to go in to comfort her (and not within the appropriately planned timeline!). I forbid her though! No way were we going to go backwards. The bedtime routine was clutch, but she still woke up after about 45 minutes. After another 30-45 of the 5/10/15 routine she was finally asleep for good. Better.

Night three:
Kind of rough. She was still waking up after 30-45 minutes. We'd wait 10 minutes, go put her binkie in and pat her tummy/head, then walk out of the room. That continued for about 45 minutes again, but once the binkie was back in, she would be out. 

Night four-six: 
About the same as above, gradually getting better with less wake ups. 

Week two:
After about a week, she was already getting much better about staying asleep after we put her down. Maybe only one wake up where we'd wait to see if she could put herself back to sleep and if not, we'd go put the binkie in after 15 minutes and she would be fine. 

Three weeks later:
Fast forward to now and she is rocking it! We usually put her down at 7 with a bottle and she is out. For the past two nights she hasn't woken up crying at all! We then feed her before we go to bed around 10:30-11 which holds her until morning. She has been waking up between 4-5 and then we change her diaper and usually bring her in to bed with us until we wake up about 6:30. It works for us for now. My goal is to get her to sleep in her crib til 6:30, but for now this is a huge improvement and I'm taking it!

Moral of the sleep-training story - it is the best thing ever. For this tired and cranky Mama it was a life saver. The main thing that helped was just making a plan and staying consistent. Same bedtime and bedtime routine each night, consistency with the sleep training method, and feeding her before we go to bed helped SO much (having a full tummy helps her get through the night). It was also really important that Zach and I were on the same page with how we were sleep training and what the routine is. The routine is now sacred in our house. It needs to happen every night! We have veered off it for a couple nights here and there (you need to have some flexibility) but then hop right back on. It makes me not want to travel ever again so we won't disrupt the sleeping schedule! Haha. I'm sure we will, and when we do hopefully the bedtime routine, etc. will still help with her sleep through the night.

Yay for sleep training! I would highly recommend it. 

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