So, I took my son in for 4-month wellness visit last week and when our pediatrician asked how he was sleeping, I explained that he slept through the night completely for a few days, then all of a sudden has gone back to only sleeping about 3 hours until he’s up again. That’s when she said “It’s time to talk about sleep-training.” Sleep-training? This is totally unfamiliar territory for me, because my daughter was an angel and started sleeping through the night at about 6 weeks old (please don’t hate me for divulging this information). But, my son was a different story.
“So, what do I do?” I asked. Then she replied with probably one of the most dreaded phrases a mother can hear – “You let him cry it out. He doesn’t need you, he just wants the comfort of you.” And, then it dawned on me that I only had myself to blame. For some reason, I was just so much more disciplined the first time around with my daughter, than I’ve been with my son. I guess, maybe it’s because I’ve just been doing whatever is easier on me and comforting for him, because I’m busy chasing after a 2-year-old, too. So, he was petty much only falling asleep in my arms while nursing, and regrettably I almost always immediately pick him up whenever he started crying. My husband tried to warn me, but I didn’t listen…until now.
I actually started sleep-training during his 12:30 pm nap. I just laid him down in his Pack ‘n Play, awake, to let him put himself to sleep. He surprisingly didn’t fuss, just played by himself for about 15 minutes before he drifted off to sleep. Wow! That was easy!
However, we planned for a tougher evening and figured it was going to be a long, loud night. So my son and I slept downstairs, as far away from my daughter and husband as possible. He got up 5 times and cried…hard! We’re talking ear-piercing, angry, wail-of-a-cry. Oh my gosh, was it hard to handle as a mother! You’re fighting every natural instinct to not run and comfort your crying child! Each time he woke up, he cried for about 5 minutes. But, was able to soothe himself back to sleep. I wanted to cry the entire night, but fought back those tears, knowing it was the best thing for him – and my entire family.
Still downstairs and he slept through the night (10:00 pm – 7:00)! Was that it?!
Uh no! Night 3 was rough! He cried for about 20 minutes straight! I thought I was about ready to lose my mind! He finally fell asleep around 10:00 pm and slept until about 7:00 am. Once he was asleep we were good, but man those 20 minutes to get him to fall asleep were just brutal!
After talking with a friend who puts her 11 week old daughter to sleep around 7:30 pm (thanks, Stephanie), it dawned on me that maybe part of our issue was that we were putting him to bed far too late. So, I tried putting him to bed the same time as his sister (between 7:30-8:00) in his crib. Oh my gosh! What a difference! He cried for maybe a minute, fell asleep, and slept until 4:30 am, nursed, and went back to sleep until 7:30 am! Okay, this is more like it!
We followed that same bedtime routine the next couple nights and he’s doing great! Yay!!! Mission accomplished (I hope!)
What ultimately seemed to work for us:
- Crying it out (in a room that won’t disrupt your entire household) does seem to work, but yikes – super rough on mama!
- Setting a nap schedule and reasonable bedtime.
- Transitioning out of your bedroom and into their own crib.
- Finding something that they can soothe them self with.
Now, if only we can get our 2-year-old daughter to sleep through the night without waking up wailing – asking to go potty (when she doesn’t have to), or have balm put on her lips, or her nails filed – literally anything to try to get out of bed. Ugh! That one, we’re still working on!
Be Well (and Stay Sane),