It’s no secret that sleep has been lacking in our household. Ever since Mabel was 4 month old, she’s had multiple erratic wakings each night. Resulting in two very sleep deprived moms. It didn’t help that she was battling multiple colds back to back from Christmas until the end of Feb.
This past weekend was the first weekend in 2017 where NO ONE in our house was sick! Hoping it stays that way.
So now that Mabel’s finally not sick, I thought it’d be a good time to try some gentle sleep training methods. Specifically the No Cry Sleep method. It’s more of a long term gradual program to get your baby used to sleeping in their crib and to slowly get them sleeping for longer stretches. You do a sleep log in the first night and then aren’t supposed to do another one for at least 10 days. It’s a gentle, laid back method so it’s a lot of “2 steps forward, 1 step back” in the beginning. But after 22 days, I am happy to report that Mabel’s sleep is way more consistent now. Still have a ways to go, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Our method while she was sick and not sleeping well was for us to take turns cosleeping with Mabel in the bed we have in her room. She’d start the night in her crib, but once she woke up, we would bring her into bed with one of us and then take turns pulling “Mabel duty.” My wife and I decided we wanted to sleep in the same bed again. And get Mabel used to sleeping on her own.
Her bedtime routine at the moment:
- 5:30: dinner, which usually lasts until 6 or so
- 6:30: bath time. We don’t wash her every night, but she sits in warm water and plays with her bath toys every night
- Post bath: naked baby time until we put on her night diaper and pjs
- 7:00: bedtime bottle in her dim room with just a lamp on and her sound machine on. Once she finishes the bottle, we read a couple of books. When she starts yawning, the lamp goes out and we rock until she falls asleep. She’s usually out by 7:30-7:45.
The Plan (first phase):
Part 1: Mabel protested being in her crib a lot. So the plan was to let her fall asleep in my arms and then transfer her to her crib for each waking. This was exhausting. A lot of the time, it took 5 or 6 tries before she stopped fighting it and stayed asleep in her crib. Sometimes she would be fine in her crib for about 15 min and then would cry and scream. And there have definitely been nights when I gave up after a couple tries just to make sure we all got much needed sleep.
Part 2: Mabel was getting a bottle for every waking. I wanted to start slowly taking some feedings away. So the plan was to try to soothe her by rocking, walking, snuggles first, then if she can’t be comforted, we’d feed her. This is still a work in progress. But there is usually at least 1 waking a night where I can rock her and she’ll fall back asleep without eating. If she’s really upset and won’t fall back asleep, I give her a bottle.
Night 1 log: Mabel woke up 8 times!! The longest stretch of sleep she had was an hour and a half. No wonder we’re so freakin exhausted.
Night 10 log: let me just start by saying we had a fantastic Night 9. She woke up 4 times and I was excited about officially logging her progress on Night 10. Well of course, Night 10 was horrendous. She was up 7 times. Slight improvement over 8, but, eh, not really.
I didn’t actually do a Day 20 log but I’m hoping to do one in the next few days. But I am so happy to see her progress this week. After the horrible Day 10, she suddenly started waking up just 3 times a night. I know, I know. That’s still not great. BUT, those 3 times are consistent. She’s been waking up at 10pm, midnight, and 3am, waking up for the day around 7:30am. And last night she woke up TWICE at 10pm and 3:30am! Too early to celebrate though, we’ll see tonight if that’s the new normal or just a one-off.
After months of erratic wakings and never knowing how long she was going to sleep, this feels wonderful! And she’s spending most of the night in her crib. She’ll still protest her crib, usually at the 3am waking. But I’m ok with that. Big improvement.
Now that she has consistent wake up times, we can start working on Phase 2 of The Plan (assuming she continues being consistent.)
Part 1: This part is scary, but we’re going to now try to put Mabel in her crib when she’s really drowsy but not quite asleep. I know she’s going to protest this and it’ll take many tries and many nights before she’s ok with this. If she is ever ok with it! This is a very stubborn girl.
Part 2: Slowly keep phasing out the night feedings. We’re gonna continue to comfort her first and only offer a bottle if she keeps insisting on it. When given a bottle, I’ll listen for when her sucking slows down and I’ll gently pull the bottle out of her mouth. If she protests, I’ll put the bottle back, but repeat the process so she gets used to having the bottle out of her mouth before she actually falls back asleep.
Fingers crossed this progress continues. It’s a long road, but I feel comfortable with this method. I know it’s not for everyone, but I’m hopeful we’ll have a better sleeper on our hands soon!