Four nights ago I made my mind up that it was time to start sleep training. I have to admit that I came to this decision in the middle of a pity party for one. I was somewhat reclining on the couch with a squirming, half asleep baby rolling around on top of me trying to get comfortable. My lower back was aching and my right arm was numb. I just started going back to the gym during lunch and my whole body was exausted. I had had enough of sleeping on the couch, enough of nights not spent in bed next to my husband, enough of being uncomfortable. I broke down and cried like a baby because all I wanted was a couple hours of uninterrupted sleep.
I decided then and there that the next night would be different. Abby sleeps alone at daycare, without protest, so I know she can do it at home too.
So, Wednesday evening as I was feeding Abby I decided it was time for a heart to heart.
“Tonight you are going to sleep in your own bed. Mommy loves snuggling with you, but it’s time you slept alone like you do at daycare. We are going to try tonight, and tomorrow, and every night until you can do it.”
When it was time for bed I took her to her bedroom and put her in her crib. She cried right away. Then screamed. She held on to the crib slats and jumped up and down. I turned on her white noise machine and monitor, the closed the bedroom door.
Five minutes later she was still crying so I went to her room. I bent over the rails and gave her a hug and told her everything was OK. “You’re not being punished and not being ignored; you just need to learn to sleep in your own bed sweetie.”
After ten minutes she was still going strong so I went back and repeated what I had just done. Again she jumped uo and down and pulled at me as I gave her a hug. At this point the sweet little face looking so upset made me doubt myself. “I will be back in ten minutes if you are still awake,” I said and kissed the top of her head.
As I waited in the living room listening to her over the monitor I could hear her stop crying and lay down. She whispered to herself and then started crying again, quieter this time. When my timer went off I returned to her room and she got louder when she saw me. I kissed and hugged her, got down on her level and told her that she needed to go to sleep. I left the room and set my timer for fifteen minutes this time. In less than five minutes she had fallen asleep and I could hear her snoring.
She woke up three hours later and wanted to nurse. I placed her back in the crib afterwards. She cried for about a minute but lay down and went back to sleep for another three hours. She woke again and nursed. We snuggled for thirty minutes and then it was time to get up and begin our morning routine.
I was surprised at how well she had done the night before and praised her for it.
After supper Abby had a bubble bath and nursed before bedtime. I placed her in her crib and she cried but did not scream or jump up and down. Almost immediately she lay down and went to sleep. She slept for almost two hours and then wanted to nurse. Again she went to sleep right away when put in her bed. She woke three hours later to nurse again but then slept until 5:00. I made sure to praise her for sleeping so well by herself.
I could tell Abby was very tired. Her daycare had a get together for parents after 5:00 so we stayed about an hour and she got some extra play time in. She is a very friendly and outgoing baby and had fun smiling and laughing for the other moms. She happily jumped up and down for almost a whole hour while the other kids played Ring Around the Rosie and Simon Says and wore herself out. After supper she wanted to cuddle instead of playing with her toys so it was obvious that she was sleepy. She nursed and then I took her to bed. she cried for about a minute and then fell asleep.
An hour later she was awake and upset. I nursed her and she fell asleep but woke as I placed her in the crib. She cried and didn’t want me to let her go. I told her I would be back in a few minutes to check on her if she was still awake. She fell asleep in a few minutes. Thirty minutes later she woke again. I tried to comfort her and rub her back and she fell asleep. Thirty minutes passed again and she woke up. This time she would not lay back down so I nursed her again and then she slept. Twenty minutes later she woke up. I comforted her and went to bed myself. Half an hour later she was awake again. I let her cry for a little while but she didn’t go back to sleep so I got out of bed and comforted her until she fell asleep while I rubbed her back. Twenty minutes later she woke up. My husband went in to check on her and she got very worked up. It seemed that each time I finally fell asleep she would start to cry again. By this time it was very late and I knew she would be awake and ready to play around 5:00 a.m. I lost my resolve and did what I said I wasn’t going to do- I snuggled with her for the next three hours. She slept a little longer than I expected and we got up at 6:00 a.m. this morning.
Naps on the weekends have been a struggle lately. Last weekend I tried to get her to nap alone and it was horrible. Encouraged by our success thus far, I was hoping that she would nap as easily today. After cleaning all the pancake off of her face and hands a little bit ago I noticed that she was rubbing her eyes and yawning. I just took her back to her room. She objected but after three minutes she quieted down and is now sleeping as I type this.
I’m sure we have a ways to go yet, but I think we are off to a good start!