9 In Baby

Our Experience Sleep Training: The First Week

Now that we’re a week into this whole sleep training thing, I thought I’d hop on and share my notes detailing how it’s been going. If you remember, and have been following along at all, then you’ll know that our littlest, Barrett, hasn’t exactly been the best sleeper. It’s been exhausting and it’s felt like we’re constantly at the end of our rope. We thought we were ready to sleep train a few weeks ago, and after a really, really horrible night (read: epic fail), we realized B had an ear infection, which meant we of course needed to hold the phone on sleep training. Once B’s ear infection cleared up though, we knew we had to start the process, for the sake of all of our sanity.

And yes, our mesh bumpers look whackadoodle. We just haven’t fixed them yet!

I would probably refer to this as, lazy sleep training. Or gentle sleep training. I don’t think we’ve hard core cracked the whip yet or forced him to CIO for extended periods, and we also haven’t shifted our routine much. More than anything we’ve just been working on forming new habits, and helping him learn how to fall asleep on his own, without being too intense about it. We’ve also worked really hard to get him on a more predictable schedule during the day, and that has made a world of difference! {Quick aside here about his daytime schedule – I’ve finally gotten him on a 9-12-3 feeding schedule, with naps around 10, 1, and sometimes again before dinnertime. It’s not exact, but he starts to get fussy around these times and wants to eat then start winding down for a nap. He’s also doing a lunchtime puree and a dinnertime puree.} Some of the things we’ve worked on include letting him cry without going in immediately, just reassuring him by patting or shh’ing but not picking him up immediately, and laying him down before he’s in too deep of a sleep. I’m still nursing him before most naps and bedtime, but to try and avoid the endless cycle of him using me as a sleep prop, I’ve been trying to make sure he doesn’t fall asleep nursing and that he’s at least somewhat awake when I actually lay him down.

So my goals with this first go ’round of sleep training have really just been to get to the point of being able to lay him down awake, and him fall asleep on his own, as well as teaching him to fall back asleep on his own when he wakes up in the middle of the night. I’d gotten into the habit of nursing him every single time he woke up, (mainly so he’d stop crying and not wake up big sis!) as well as at bedtime nursing him to sleep, rocking, and laying him down in a deep sleep, and now that’s all he knows. I KNOW I KNOW I KNOW. This ain’t my first rodeo. I’m not surprised by this at all. I’ve read Baby Wise. I follow all the sleep consultants there are to follow on Instagram. I know exactly why we’re in this predicament, and it’s finally time to fix it. If I’m being completely honest though, it’s been a hard thing to want to fix because those bedtime snuggles are my favorite, and I know how fleeting they are. But, this mama needs sleep! Adeline was also a fantastic sleeper, and all that snuggling never backfired with her. Ha!

One thing I will say is that I’m just not willing to completely change our routine up just yet, and I’m also still in the camp of sleep > listening to him cry forever. Our pediatrician suggested at bedtime that we switch the order of everything, and do his feed and then bath time and then put him down. But, I honestly just don’t want to give up my bedtime snuggles, and right now we’re in a really good routine timing wise too with coordinating Adeline’s bedtime. I love that the kids do bath time either together or right after the other, and I love that I nurse and snuggle B while Adam gets A ready for bed, and for the most part they’re both asleep within a few minutes of each other. As far as him crying throughout the night and deciding whether or not to do a nighttime feeding, I’m honestly still under the belief that sleep is way more of a priority right now, and nursing him for 5 minutes is WAY easier than letting him CIO for 20+ minutes. It’s kind of a game time decision each night though. He’s gone 11 hours in the past, so I know he’s capable of sleeping that long without eating, but, I also don’t want to deprive him if he really is hungry. So, yea, we’re not doing sleep training perfectly by the books at the moment, but we’re still making progress.

Our sleep training adventure also coincided with Barrett finally mastering being able to roll from back to tummy. He also started showing signs of wanting to drop the sleep sack/swaddle entirely, so we just kind of went with it on a whim. And bonus, he also all of a sudden started sleeping on his tummy! I mean, let’s just do all the things at one time, Barrett, k?! I’ve heard people say that 6 months can often be a turning point, and it couldn’t have been more true for us. I’m just going to go ahead and call it – as soon as we get B ‘sleep trained’, his first tooth is going to break through and all you- know-what is going to erupt again. Babies. GAH.

Ok so here’s what week 1 has looked like. He’s already off to a great start, and has been doing so good! Prior to us focusing on this recently, he would NEVER fall asleep awake, and he’d also never put himself back to sleep. Daytime naps were also alllll over the place and I’d pretty much have to nurse him to SLEEP or he wouldn’t take a good nap. So now, daytime naps seem to be going pretty great, and bedtime is slowly but surely getting better. The first few nights were rough, but towards the end of week 1 it feels like we’re getting into a better groove.

Thursday – Day 1:

  • Nap #1 – laid down awake after nursing him, cried/screamed for 25 mins with me going in every 5 mins to reassure him, finally fell asleep on his belly after taking him out of his sleepsack
  • Nap #2 – went down mostly asleep after a feed, rolled to belly, cried ~5 minutes, fell asleep
  • Bedtime – went down drowsy but semi-awake at bedtime, 7:45 ish, woke up at 12:45 am, screamed/cried off and on until ~3:30 am with me going in every 5-10 minutes to reassure him when he’d get really worked up, nursed at 3:30 slept until almost 8.

Friday – Day 2:

  • Nap #1 – nursed him, laid him down awake, cried for 10 minutes max, went in one time to rub his back, fell asleep on belly, slept about 2 hours!
  • Nap #2 – nursed him, laid down wide awake on side then rolled to belly/side, cried for 9 minutes without me going back in at all.
  • Bedtime – put him down awake after nursing around 7:45 pm, cried for maybe 15 minutes before falling asleep, woke up screaming to a poop around 10 pm, changed him and nursed him again, laid back down awake, cried maybe 5 minutes, woke back up crying around 1 am, we let him cry and he put himself back to sleep, woke up crying around 2, we let him cry until 2:30 when he somehow pulled down part of the mesh bumpers, Adam went in to pat him for 10 minutes and fix the bumpers, gave up and came downstairs, B talked and rolled around until probably 3:30 when he finally fell asleep, woke up crying again around 4, we muted the monitor finally and he fell asleep on his own again and slept until 7:15 when we woke him up

Saturday – Day 3:

  • Nap #1 – nursed him, laid down awake, cried 5 minutes then fell asleep
  • Nap #2 – nursed almost to sleep, woke up when I laid him down, cried for maybe 30 seconds then fell asleep
  • Bedtime – nursed almost to sleep, tried to wake him up by checking his diaper, laid him down, no crying, woke up at 10:45 pm to huge poop, changed him and nursed him again, slept until almost 4:30 am, nursed him, slept again until 7 am ish.

Sunday – Day 4:

  • Nap #1 – napped in the nursery at church then continued in the car
  • Nap #2 – at home, only cried for just a few minutes after laying him down
  • Bedtime – Adam put him down after a bottle, only cried for just a few minutes then woke up at 1:50 am cried himself back to sleep, (muted monitor) woke up again at 4 am crying, nursed him, slept until 6:30 am

Monday – Day 5:

  • Nap #1 – napped in car on way to pediatrician
  • Nap #2 – laid him down awake after he started getting fussy, didn’t nurse him, didn’t cry and fell right to sleep
  • Nap #3 – late afternoon, nursed him, laid him down awake, fell asleep no crying
  • Bedtime – nursed him, laid him down nearly asleep but woke up enough when I laid him down, no crying. Woke up crying around 11 pm – harder cry than usual, went ahead and changed diaper and nursed him, laid him back down semi awake, didn’t cry, slept until close to 4 am when he woke up crying, we let him CIO back to sleep, woke back up around 5:30 am, nursed him, put him in bed with me until 7:30 am.

Tuesday – Day 6:

  • Nap #1 – nursed him, laid him down mostly awake, cried when I laid him down for just a second, went straight to sleep, woke up happy and not crying, was just talking in his crib!
  • Nap # 2 – napped in car while we were out running errands at lunchtime
  • Nap #3 – didn’t happen, wouldn’t stop screaming, think he was legitimately hungry because I missed giving him a lunchtime puree
  • Bedtime – nursed him, didn’t fall asleep thankfully but got super fussy while I rocked him, laid him down, no crying, fell right asleep (He’s starting to fuss when he just wants me to lay him down! This is good!)

Wednesday – Day 7:

  • Nap #1 – nursed him and laid down awake, no crying, fell asleep for an hour and a half
  • Nap #2 – in the carseat when we got home from lunch for almost 3 hours (checked on him, don’t worry!)
  • Nap #3 – napped on the way to church
  • Bedtime – laid down awake after nursing, woke up crying at 11 pm, nursed him back down (too tired to care), woke up again at 3 am, nursed him again after he started screaming when Adam tried to reassure him (I think going into his nursery made it worse, we should have just let him cry for like 5 more minutes), slept until about 7 am

Thursday – Day 8:

  • Nap #1 – nursed him, laid him down on belly, fell asleep no crying, slept for 2.5 hours.
  • Nap #2 – nursed him to sleep, (oops! totally wasn’t paying attention), laid him down on belly, no crying, woke up crying maybe 10 minutes later, went back in to reassure him and pat his back, laid him back down awake, cried for about 10 minutes then fell asleep for another hour and a half on his own
  • Bedtime – nursed him, he mostly fell asleep, burped him to wake him up, laid him down on his belly, he cried for not even 10 seconds then fell asleep, slept 7:45 pm – 6-45 am straight! If he woke up, I didn’t hear him!

I feel like after just one week, he’s already learned a lot and has greatly improved his basic sleep habits. I’m hoping after another week of us cracking down even more, that he’ll be in an even better place.

Who really knows though! We’re just taking it day by day and night by night, and remembering that this too shall pass!

Did you sleep train? What approach did you use? How long did you work at it? Did you let them CIO for any amount of time?

9 Comments

  • Reply
    Tori
    March 1, 2019 at 12:59 pm

    Sleep training babies can be so difficult when there are other sleeping children that you don’t want to wake! Hang in there!

  • Reply
    Amanda
    March 1, 2019 at 3:02 pm

    Sleep training is definitely rough, I’ve never been able to stick to CIO for extended periods of time, and I agree with your reasoning: sleep > listening to him cry forever.
    I also love the bedtime cuddles. I still nurse my 15-month old before her naps and bedtime, but my husband puts her down after I nurse her. It hasn’t totally solved her bad sleep habits, but it’s a start. They all sleep eventually 🙂
    Amanda recently posted…She believed she could, so she didMy Profile

  • Reply
    Lisa
    March 2, 2019 at 11:12 am

    Sleep training can be so difficult – but it sounds like it’s going well! I hope it continues for you – there’s no reason to use harsh CIO methods if that’s working.

  • Reply
    Julia from Balancing Bravely
    March 2, 2019 at 6:50 pm

    Love how much detail you shared. This is so helpful. I used “Baby Whisperer” for my first. It was great.
    Good luck!

  • Reply
    Candy
    March 2, 2019 at 7:20 pm

    I’m not a fan of sleep training but I’m glad that there are posts like this so each family can make the decision that’s best for them. I know mothers from all sides of the CIO spectrum. I’m glad that you are happy with the progress after 1 the first week and I hope your little one continues on a good path. Big hugs for a sleep-filled night.

  • Reply
    Mary Rohrer
    March 2, 2019 at 7:20 pm

    Man I wish I read this when my kids were younger. Finally, at six and four they go to bed by themselves. I always heard to lay your baby down before they fall asleep. Thanks for the post. Good job mama!

  • Reply
    Amanda Cobb
    March 2, 2019 at 7:42 pm

    Of my 4 I only had one good sleeper. I was afraid to sleep train before 1 because I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle it. Way to go, mama! Keep up the good work for some good sleep!

  • Reply
    Shov Adams
    March 3, 2019 at 11:39 am

    OMG My boys are now 19 and 20 and hubby and I want to have another one so I will need all the help I can get! Thanks for writing this. lots of helpful bis in there xx

  • Reply
    Anh
    March 4, 2019 at 8:41 pm

    Great job, mama! Sleep training is so hard to do!

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