How {Not} To Sleep Train

Evan turned 8 months old a week ago. How is this year going by SO FAST???

Dessert. Mmmm bibs are tasty.

Evan spam. I just love this cute little face.

Also happening a week ago? He was still sleeping in the Rock ‘n Play. For naps and at night. Because… we are SUCKERS.

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It was a disaster.

For whatever reason, he was refusing to sleep in his crib.

Untitled

I will sleep anywhere else.

We’d put him in there and then he’d thrash around like it was play time. He wouldn’t cry like all the books said he would. No, he would party in his crib with GLEE. He’d kick his legs, smile, shriek with joy, and laugh. But after about 30 minutes, he would realize that he was partying by himself — and then, wide awake, he would cry. And cry like I had never heard him cry before.

camcrying

So, like I said, we were suckers. Or just tired. And frustrated. Whatever the reason, if we wrapped him up, rocked and bounced him until he was asleep and then put him the Rock ‘n Play he would sleep. Kinda. So that’s what we did. But, while he WAS sleeping, he was also waking up 4-5 times a night. I felt like a freaking zombie.

forthelovesleep

While I was away, I REAAALLLY hoped that Dan would figure out how to get him to sleep in the crib. But, that didn’t happen. I mean it’s NOT like he was doing ANYTHING else the entire week or anything.

So, when I got back into town and had an 8-month old who refused to sleep in his crib. It’s funny to think that Braeden was sleeping in his at 6 weeks. Yes, third babies are special.

For some reason hitting 8-months really triggered us and we realized we had ENOUGH. So, we talked about it and after much debate we decided we would put him in his crib, let him party down, and then let him cry. <–hardest thing in the world to do

GotoSleep

Dan is much more of a hard ass, than me, about sleep and crying-it-out so we had to compromise. I didn’t feel comfortable with E crying for more than 20 minutes – especially if he was all-out wailing so that it where we (I?) drew the line. Thankfully, we didn’t even come CLOSE to that line.

No, instead he made us look like FOOLS.

We did the normal bedtime routine. Around 7 he took a bath and got into his jammies. I fed him (in his room, in the glider with his Sleep Sheep in the background), and then put him in his crib – sleepy — but awake. I then IMMEDIATELY jumped into the shower where I could not hear him. I took the world’s longest shower (that’s a lie – my water gets cold after about 10-15 minutes) and when I got out. And there was silence. I looked on the baby monitor and he was sleeping. IN. HIS. CRIB.

Most certainly jinxing myself... But  OMG this is happening.

i-won

I was expecting it to be a fluke and I was on guard all night. He made some noise and moved around a few times — but only ended up waking up twice (in which I fed him and he immediately went back to sleep). This pattern continued and has gotten easier every night. On Saturday night he went down at 8, without fussing, and woke up ONCE. ONE TIME. At 5am.

TwiceasLong

Of course last night, he was up twice again. But you know… baby steps.

I know a lot of parents stress about the whole sleeping through the night thing — and while I too love sleep, I’m don’t expect it until he’s at least a year and walking. There’s just too much developmental stuff going stuff going on inside of that little head. Plus, you know… teething. If it does happen – woo-hoo! But, it’s not my top priority. That said – I will probably try to put the kibosh on the middle of the night feedings sometime next month because I don’t think he’ll NEED to eat then.

So here is my (not-so expert) advice for sleep training…

  1. Try to get that baby out of the Rock ‘n Play by 3 months. If not… good luck. It is like baby crack.
  2. Your baby needs to LEARN how to go to sleep on his/her own. In all of the baby books you’ll read “Putting the baby down drowsy, but awake, and letting them self-soothe is key.” It’s kind of ridiculous to understand what this means though until you are doing it. So, just have patience and go with it. This pretty much always includes some kind of crying from the baby, whether you stand there or not.
  3. Napping is good and CAN help nighttime sleep, but schedule is more important — try to be consistent about the time you put your baby down to sleep. If the baby doesn’t nap or nap well — adjust your schedule to compensate.
  4. SLEEP BEGETS SLEEP. Put your baby to bed early. Do not keep your child awake because you think he/she will sleep longer. The opposite will happen. It’s against common logic, but the baby gets more sleep if they sleep more. I don’t know, I don’t get it either, BUT IT IS TRUE.
  5. Letting your (older – not newborn) baby cry sucks, but it can be effective. If you have older kids – tell them that the baby is going to cry, but it’s OK and that they FOR THE LOVE OF HUMANITY cannot get out of their beds to check on him/her.
  6. Even third time parents suck at sleep training. Every baby is different. In fact, all three of my babies have been completely different. Personality determines A LOT.
  7. You’ll sleep eventually. I promise. They will get the message that sleep is awesome and necessary. And then you will celebrate. By sleeping.

Sam

Dean

Was your kid a great sleeper, just plain horrible, and kinda in between? I feel like I’ve had all three now. Please share your tips and tricks! Or just vent. Sleep training SUUUUUUCKS.

Comments

  1. says

    We had to put K in the crib almost immediately because she wouldn’t sleep in the pack n play. She started sleeping through the night (well, until 4-5 a.m. which, close enough!) but she stopped sleeping at about 7-8 months. It would take 1-2 hours to get her to bed and she’d wake up 37 times a night. But sleep training it was just like you said, so much easier than I thought it would be. The first night was tough, but the next night she slept 12 hours without a peep and for the most part, she has ever since. (I still find things to complain about though!) I just wish I had done the same with the pacifier…
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    • says

      That reminds me of what Livie did. Actually, she would refuse to take a bottle at daycare, so she would spend the majority of the night making up for lost food. SO ANNOYING. Once she finally started eating it got better. However, she started crawling and walking way early which jacked up her sleep. We finally got her to sleep at 13 months – and I really think it was because she was done with the motor skill milestones and was just exhausted.

      It seems that none of my kids have gotten hooked on the pacifier — but Livie has her thumb, which is even worse. She is supposed to be giving it up when she turns 5, but ummm…we’re suckers.

  2. says

    Oh wow, I love that you posted about this as we are currently going through this. My little Patsy is now 4 months old and the last few nights of sleep have been terrible. I don’t know if she is annoyed with the swaddle or what (she is not yet strong enough to wiggle out of it), but she just doesn’t like to sleep (and then the viscous cycle begins. Lack of sleep means being over tired, means fighting naps, means more bad sleep). We occasionally co-sleep because that is the only way to get through the night, but that is not something I like/want to do.

    She still sleeps in her rock n play sleeper and I want to try and get her into the pack n play before we transition her to the crib, but she just won’t have it. I think I need to try it on a Friday when she gets some good naps during the day. It is nice to know that it isn’t just first time moms that struggle with getting all this stuff together, but third time moms too! :) Here’s to hoping you have lots of sleep-filled nights with E in his crib!
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    • says

      This was our exact scenario. E was in the room with us and if he wasn’t going back to sleep I’d just drag him into the bed with me because it was so easy.

      I mean to add this in the post (and I should) but E’s daycare provider told me that he had ZERO problems sleeping in the pack n play for her. He wouldn’t even fight her. She’s pop him in there – no swaddle, no paci– and he’d sleep. I was like WTF??? Why won’t he do this for me!!

      I feel more confident in my parenting choices as a third time parent — but yeah, it’s still a struggle. Always a struggle. Lol.

  3. Angie says

    Sleep training is tough and my husband was the one holding me back. We would set the timer for 15 min and
    Let him CIO, unless we could tell it was serious and sure enough, at 14 min he’d stop. At Joey’s 8 month check up the peditrician said he should start STTN and he shouldn’t have to nurse at night anymore. That was tough. Now that Joey is 15 months I’m ready to start talking about adding a sibling and my husband says he doesn’t want to get since he still remembers how rough that first year is, but in the end it’s so worth it. Did you have to sleep train your older? I have friends who’s kids started STTN at just a few weeks old and they didn’t have to do anything. I don’t believe it:)

    • says

      Yep, I had to sleep train all of them and they all had their own challenges. My oldest was the easiest because he didn’t really fight me. I had no idea what I was doing, so that was the biggest roadblock. The middle baby was the hardest because she has the strongest will in the world. Evan is definitely somewhere in the middle. He is the easiest baby, but has a strange stubborn streak that my oldest didn’t have.

  4. says

    I don’t think it is a third time parent thing. We are suckers too. This post both gave me hope and scared me.

    Baby E is almost 6 months and still sleeps swaddled in the Rock and Play. Oh, and we still nurse and rock her to sleep. Yeah, we created a monster. The problem is that she sleeps all night swaddled in the rock and play. If she gets up once it is a rough night. I know we need to get her unswaddled and into her crib, but I am not ready for the sleepless nights. We tried breaking the swaddle about a month ago and that was a disaster.

    Did you do no swaddle and crib cold turkey or did you break the swaddle first? Want to just sleep train her for us ;-)?
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    • says

      E and E are quiet a pair!

      We did it all at once. If I had put him in the crib with the swaddle on he would have probably rolled around on it and ended up with it on his face. We did try the Magic Sleep Suit but that didn’t really help us. So cold turkey it was!

      As for the nursing to sleep – I’ve done it with all 3 and that has never given me issues. Of course, E is never fully asleep when he’s done eating. I know all the books say not to do that — but eh. What do they know? It’s the last nursing session I drop — it’s our time together :)

  5. says

    I have been following your blog for a while now and think that it is about time that I tell you how much I love it :-)
    My baby is two months old and I feel like I will never sleep a full night again, but I know that it is all a season and it will be over before you know it. But, man…when you are in the thick of it!
    Anyways, just wanted to say that you inspire me at how well you balance your life: work, family, running. I am excited to get back into running soon and find encouragement reading your blog. And thanks for keeping it real! Your post a few days ago about being able to back out of things so you are not over extending yourself gave me comfort too.
    Also, loved your post on going back to work and breastfeeding. I read it three times! Today is my first day back and pumping is a pain, but all your tips are super helpful. So thank you!
    Ok. That is all…
    Just wanted to stop lurking and say hello…So HELLO:-)

    • says

      Awww – you’re so sweet! I recognize your name from Instagram — your little guy is SO cute. You are also in the thick of it with a newborn — it DOES get easier! You will sleep again and totally forget what sleep deprivation feels like. It’s weird how it all works.

      I hope your first day back went smoothly. It’s still so hard for me to leave him, but I know he’s having a ball (he gets so excited when he gets there!) and when he’s 2 and tantruming, I will enjoy the break.

      Thanks for delurking :)

  6. Julie says

    We transitioned from the Rock N Play to the Pack N Play after N started breaking out of the swaddle. I was hoping that would make a crib transition easier. We started naps in the crib and that went well so we were ready for the switch to full time crib. Then she started waking (she STTN from almost day one) and what we thought was teething was actually a cold. So we waited. Then on Friday I realized that she was past the weight limit on the Pack N Play (for the bassinet feature) so we had to lower it. Now, we have started from square one again since it being lower has pissed her off. Grrr!

    • says

      UGH!!! Colds and teething really screw up everything. Hopefully she will get back to her normal routine soon. I am so damn jealous that she’s been STTN from day 1 though. I’ve never had that kind of kid. Lol.

  7. says

    #5 made me laugh out loud.

    We’ve just started letting Atlas cry it out in the last 2 weeks for naps. I don’t let him cry for more than 10 minutes (my heart can’t take it), but luckily he rarely cries for more than 7 minutes before he zonks out. But sweet Lord that is a looong 7 minutes!

    We actually had Atlas in our bed for the 1st 2 months. I swore up & down I wouldn’t co-sleep, but when I was sleep deprived & I realized he would go 5 hour stretches in our bed as opposed to 2 in his crib I retracted all my negative statements about co-sleeping. Ha! it still wasn’t something I wanted for a long period of time so he’s back in his crib now (thankfully) but when you’re dealing with a newborn I’m now a firm believer in the “whatever works” method.
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  8. says

    I’m glad you’re making progress! Ezra has been such a stinker about sleep. He was waking up 3 or 4 times at night to nurse and I was becoming more and more unable to act like a normal human being during the day. My husband starting going in when he woke up and rocked him back to sleep. Now he usually just wakes once around 4. Sometimes he doesn’t wake up at all, but then I still wake up because I’m so used to being woken up! I think once he realized daddy was coming in when he woke up, he figured it wasn’t worth it because there was no milk involved :). Naps are still tough though!

  9. Emily says

    I don’t sleep train, in the traditional sense (my philosophy is that I’ll help them to sleep at whatever level they need, while gently encouraging toward the next step toward independent sleep), but these two kids could not be more different! We do a family bed, but I’m sure I would have ended up co-sleeping with Fern even if I was staunchly against it, because it was the ONLY way she was going to sleep. She literally never latched herself off from nursing until she was like 18 months or more (I pried her mouth open every. single. time. or she would have stayed attached all night). Nursing to sleep was the only thing that worked, except for sleep regressions, when we’d have to nurse and then rock vigorously in a pitch dark room with music turned up kind of loud. I think I just had to drown out whatever developmental process was churning in her little brain with so much stimuli that she had no choice but to fall asleep (that was the 9 month one). However, while she still sleeps with us most of the time, she almost always sleeps soundly through the night and while it’s still hard for her to turn her brain off, once she does, she falls asleep almost immediately. We usually nurse briefly and then “talk about our day” right before she falls asleep, which seems to help her download whatever she’s thinking about and fall asleep more easily… plus it’s usually awesome or hilarious in some way.

    And then there’s Harvey. Last night I put him in the side-carred crib while I read a chapter of Fern’s book and he was out by the time we were done. That was around 8 and he slept until about 3:45. We did get a Magic Sleep Suit which helps his MOTN flailing sessions (he would sleep well until about 3 am and then be restless the rest of the night – kicking and flailing), but overall the kid is just so chill. Fern never fussed – she was only happy or screaming. Harvey rarely cries (mostly for diaper changes – he is not a fan) and he’ll fuss and whimper and generally give you a lot of warning before he cries. I guess basically he’s going to be hell on wheels as a toddler, since Fern was the opposite and is usually the easiest toddler ever. Ha!

    • says

      E is a lot like Harvey! Even now he doesn’t full on cry unless something is REALLY wrong. I wish I had done the Magic Sleep Suit sooner – because I think it would have worked — but by the time I did, he was already rolling so it just frustrated him. He’s so funny though – he’ll just calmly sit and take it all in. Maybe planning his toddler rebellion. Although, most of the time I think he’s probably thinking “what the hell did I get myself into?” as he’s watching a three-ring circus.

      And Livie was a lot like Fern. Maybe it’s a girl thing? She still comes into our bed in the middle of the night because “she feels so alone.” She was by far the most challenging out of the 3 to get to sleep through the night because she just wanted me (or really my boobs). Also – she is just SO FREAKING STUBBORN. Although, she was not like this until she turned 4. I thought 3 was going to be tough because it hellacious with Braeden – but it was a breeze. I guess she was just saving up for 4. Is this year over yet??

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