Prebaby, I thought surely babies knew how to sleep. Where else would be get the phrase “sleeping like a baby”. And then there was the beautiful, if not misleading, Mila’s Daydreams that made me think all babies would be happy to pose during deep, blissful naptimes.
Then I met Nate. The most anti-sleep baby on the planet. And I discovered an awful truth about humans–we need to be taught to sleep (and eat, talk, play, walk–we are almost as useless as the panda). At 7 months, Nate had yet to sleep through the night. We had a whole host of problems at the beginning related to feeding and reflux, but that cleared and now he was waking up just to get a little late night mommy time. While I love being an object of his affection, the sleepless night were getting a little out of hand and I was getting a lot grumpy.
So, last week I sucked it up and started the dreaded, and ridiculously named, sleep training. Ugh, I hate that term and nothing short of the feeding debate (breast or bottle) will raise the cockles of new moms like the question of sleep. We tried cosleeping, which I honestly loved. Nothing is sweeter than snuggling close to my little man, but he stopped sleeping then too. I could only be woken up by tiny baby fists ripping out my hair so many times before I kicked him out of bed.
Chris and I read several books and talked to my brilliant MIL (a PHN and sleep expert), weighed up all the options and took the plunge. I’ll give you the spoiler first: Nate is now sleeping through the night! But it took lots of tears from baby and mom to get there.
We agreed on a bedtime routine and feeding schedule: Nate nurses at 5ish, gets a bath or massage, has dinner around 7, plays for a bit, nurses around 7:45, goes up to his room for story time and a round of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, then kisses and bed by 8:30. We gradually want to bring bedtime up earlier, but that is going to take a lot of dinner-time coordination on my part.
Night 1: We put Nate down in his cot with a soft toy at 8:30pm. Chris sat next to his cot and softly shushed him or sang for a bit and then just sat still. And he cried and cried, and I cried. It was horrible and went against all my maternal instincts. Two hours later, Nate fell asleep. He was up and down the rest of the night as we kept vigil beside the cot.
Night 2: Same routine. Cried for 30 minutes before going to sleep. Woke up once to feed during the night and took about 30 minutes to get back to sleep.
Night 3: Same routine, moved the chair a little further away. Cried for 30 seconds. Played with toy for a few minutes. SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT!
Each subsequent night we’ve moved the chair further away until we eventually just wait at the door and he keeps sleeping through the night! Now, naps are a different story but the jackhammering outside isn’t helping the situation. It was frustrating and difficult the first night, but the reward really has been seeing him fall asleep on his own and snuggling up to his little cot toy.
Every mom has her own journey to take and this route might not be right for you. If you have any questions or want to know more about the book we used (I have it on PDF) email me.