The title kind of says it all - we're in that terrible spot of doubt and guilt and not knowing what to do in the sleep department.
Background: Adorable 7 month old. Great sleeper for most of his esteemed baby career, until he hit 5 months and we weaned him from his swaddle. Then it was all middle of the night baby party all the time - two or three nighttime wakeups, with 30 min + of nursing/rocking to get him to go back to bed each time. It was rough over here for that month. Since my husband and I both work, we decided that this miraculous thing we had heard - sleep training - was worth a try.
Overzealous information hoarders we are, we checked out Ferber, Weissbluth, Mindell, Sears from the library. We did some background reading, felt prepared, and devised a plan - letting him cry with comforting checks (a la mindell) at the ferber intervals.
First night was rough - about 45 minutes total of crying, with us checking and picking up and singing a quick song three times. Miracle of miracles, he slept through the night. Second night 30 minutes crying (two checks). Woke once, quick feed and he was back asleep. Third night 45 (two checks). Fourth night 15 (one check). Fifth night 45 (three checks). Sixth night 35 (two checks). Seventh night - tonight - 45. We didn't do any checks tonight.
WHY OH WHY ISN'T IT GETTING BETTER? The crying at the beginning is killing me.
Here are some struggles we are having that we would love advice on:
- it is virtually impossible for me to nurse him without him falling asleep. I'm blowing on his face/tickling his feet/etc - it's rough. All the little dude wants to do is fall asleep. And he gets (rightfully) upset that I am not letting him.
- he is definitely overtired when we are putting him to bed (around 8:30), but when we try earlier (7:30ish), he seems to cry longer since he is used to going to bed later. How do we break that cycle?
- we aren't nap training, but he has suddenly gotten VERY hard to put down for naps (rocking).
- his night sleeping has improved tremendously - he is either sleeping through the night or only waking once and after I feed him he goes quickly back to bed.
Please, throw advice at me. Anything and everything. I feel so terrible when he is hoarse in the morning. He is such a wonderful little guy - all smiles and sunshine - that I hate the idea that he is still crying this much after a week.
Thanks in advance
pomegranate / 3791 posts
This probably sounds obvious, but I'm going to say it anyways - have you tried an 8:00 bedtime? For us, 7:30 gets "I'm not tired enough for bed yet" screams and 8:30 gets overtired screams, our magic window is right in the middle.
I would probably start being consistent and doing the same thing for naps that you are for nighttime. For me it took longer for it to work with naptime, but once it did, all of the work was well worth it and he became a much better napper!
What does your bedtime routine look like? Is it predictable? Maybe stop making the bottle the last thing, especially if he's falling asleep during it. Our pattern is bath (if he's getting one, we don't do a bath every night), bottle, pajamas, brush his teeth, read a book, and put him down to bed. We're at the point now (he's 15 months) where we can rush through the bedtime routine when needed and he doesn't mind, but for the first few months it had to be exactly the same thing every night.
It's great that you're having less wake-ups though, that is something to celebrate!
Oh! And I almost forgot to ask...does he have any sort of soother in the crib? I went out and bought one of those light-up aquarium style soothers that attaches to the crib when we started sleep training, and it made such a huge difference - instead of crying to calm himself he would just watch it in awe.
pea / 19 posts
Bedtime routine used to look like Bath, PJs, story, nursing to sleep. When we started sleep training, it became Bath, PJs, story, nursing (while valiantly trying to keep away), song, sleep. Since he has been getting so upset when I am forcing him to stay away during nursing, tonight I tried Nursing, Bath, PJs, story, song, sleep. The experience was more pleasant, but he still cried for 45 minutes
Soother is a great idea, I think he'd love that. He's got a lovey in there as a transitional object, but I don't think it's doing much good.
As far as the bedtime, we tried 8pm last night, without much luck, but he had also went on strike for his third nap, so he was already super overtired by then...
persimmon / 1339 posts
I know not everyone agrees with this, and I suppose the horse has bolted from the barn by now for you guys, but we started straight up with extinction. The one time we tried checks he got SO wound up when he saw either of us that it was like setting the reset button on his crying. So I'm wondering, if you proceed from now on without checks maybe the time will get less every night? It definitely has for us. But again I know no checks is not for everyone.
I'm nap training our son now and the crying is all over the place. Some naps he falls straight to sleep, others (like this afternoons) he cried for 30 minutes!! There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason, except for his level of tiredness which I guess I'm terrible at reading.
Good luck - it freaking sucks listening to them cry. I try and tell myself (like a mantra) that we'll both end up happier at the end of it. I hope I'm right
nectarine / 2400 posts
Check out troublesometots.com she has great advice about why cio isnt working! That website has definitely helped me troubleshoot things like this!
pomelo / 5469 posts
Yeah, I would also suggest not doing the checks. Only because if you decide to go in after 10 minutes you are likely to guarantee you'll always have to go in after 10 minutes.
Also...what does your nap schedule look like?
pomegranate / 3160 posts
I also sleep trained using Ferber, and it actually says in there you can nurse and put then down. That's what we do. I nurse, she falls asleep-ish, I put her down. I guess if you're trying to get to full on put down awake, it won't work, but I don't mind it!
Also agree that checks can make things worse. Good luck!
Eta: also, it wasn't a magical perfect linear regression of crying each night, either!! Don't give up!
coconut / 8472 posts
@ScarletBegonia: We did extinction also. At that age he would get way more wound up if he saw me and I didn't pick him up.
When we sleep trained we didn't immediately see no crying to sleep. There was a good 2-3 weeks where he cried some amount of time (10-40 min). Sometimes if he was over tired, it was much harder to get him to sleep.
As far as routine, my LO has a serious nurse/eat to sleep association too. So we changed our routine so that we do bottle first, then bath, story, put in crib. Usually if he gets really tired and falls asleep he wake up when I start to bring him upstairs and undress him. If he's SUPER sleepy, we skip bath. Otherwise, he wakes up and we do bath time and the rest of the routine. I have noticed though, if he's falling asleep during the bottle, that means we've started too late.
GOLD / wonderful coconut / 33402 posts
No checks worked better for us.
Nurse with the lights on. Then turn off lights, sound machine on, and rock/sing. I think it helped my LO to not fall asleep during nursing.
I would also try 8 verses 730 or 830
pea / 19 posts
Thanks for all the advice! I think you guys are right, checks are probably out for now. The overtired issue is the one I am struggling with the most, because I don't want him to be overtired, but putting him to bed a significantly earlier time than he has been going to bed is exactly what Ferber warns will get you a long crying session. I feel like we are screwed - overtired:cries, bedtime earlier than usual:cries. It doesn't help that his naps haven't been as consistent as they once were. He used to be religiously 9-10:15 AM, 1-2:30, 4:45-5:15. Now he's mostly refusing his third nap, creating a sleepy grouchy baby. We had no intention of transitioning to two naps WHILE sleep training, but we can't force him to take the third nap (no matter how much we - or our nanny - try).
@Illumina, @ShootingStar, thanks for the advice regarding not having a magical perfect linear regression of crying. It's hard, because he's been a pretty magical perfect baby in general, so I didn't expect we would be at 7+ days and still have him crying. He's such a doll in the morning though - all smiles and giggles - that I'm just trying to pep talk myself that he isn't remembering the crying the night before.
@TurdFerguson - I hadn't read you could nurse to sleep using Ferber, I feel like all the books are chanting over and over "drowsy but awake." My fear is at this point I might have some regression in the night wakings if I do that - how long did it take you to sleep train?
olive / 71 posts
We did 3 checks only (after 5, 10, 15 min) but strictly did not pick him up. Only shushed and patted him for no more than 2 min (wld still be crying sometimes when we walked out again). Also, DH read him his story, put him down and did the first checks. Worked by 3rd night. That said, we weren't also dropping the swaddle so may have had it a little easier.
Good luck! Hang in there!
nectarine / 2115 posts
Since he is refusing his third nap, maybe you could try starting the second nap a little later each day with the goal of getting him down for his afternoon nap at 2:30 or 3. This, along with pushing up bedtime a little bit (and again, maybe try moving it up incrementally instead of all at once) should get him out of the over-tired/over-stimulated zone and (hopefully!) decrease the crying.
Also, if he is falling asleep with nursing, I would flip the routine around. Since you have added steps on to the routine instead of changing it, he is still getting the same queue to go to sleep. Maybe try story, bath, PJs, nurse, song... or even nurse, bath, PJs, story.
pea / 19 posts
Okay I'm sure you are all waiting with baited breath for an update Dude wouldn't take a third nap again yesterday, so he really might be done with that (unfortunately).
We did 7:45, and I switched nursing to before bath, which bad the whole thing less stressful. He still cried for 29 minutes. He woke up once in the night, I fed him, and then he woke up for the day at 7:05. I think we're making some progress.
Thanks again for your help - 29 minutes still seems like a long time to cry 8 days into sleep training, but maybe our errors at the beginning are extending this.
persimmon / 1339 posts
@rolypoly: Definitely sounds like good progress! 29 minutes still sucks, I know. My son cried right through his nap yesterday, almost an hour I sat downstairs staring at the monitor crying right along with him....i felt terrible. I don't know if it was the right thing to do. This mom shit is so hard. I hope you start to see a reduction in the crying soon - but remember to trust your gut regardless! You always know best with your baby (I need to take that advice too).
nectarine / 2466 posts
I went through a hard time a few months ago and someone recommended weebeedreaming.com. She's a sleep consultant but has a fb page and a website with tons and tons of info. I sat down and read everything that applied to us, wrote everything out and then implemented changes that day. She went back to STTN or with only 1 wake up almost instantly. For us, the problem was mostly environment. I had to change a few things in her room ( I tinfoiled the windows, put in a fan, took things out of her crib and changed when I gave her her last bottle. ) You might find some useful information on her pages
cantaloupe / 6730 posts
@rolypoly: 29 min is a huge improvement over 45 min! The only thing I would suggest is to stick with the changes you've made. Every time you switch something up, it's as if you've started sleep training from day 1 again. So pretend this was day 1 and do the same thing tommorow and the day after, etc. Good luck!
grapefruit / 4291 posts
@rolypoly: fwiw, the whole "drowsy but awake" doesn't work for lots of babies! I found that nursing was my LO's way of winding down and her little hands and feet wouldn't be still until she was totally asleep!
If you're after some different resources you could check out babysleepconsultant.co.nz or thesleepstore.co.nz -lots of good info on both sites!
honeydew / 7687 posts
@rolypoly: I didn't read the entire thread just your last post- when my lo dropped his third nap at 6 months we put him down for bed super early, like 6 pm. He adjusted and it went later slowly but during transition times like that, he did best going to bed way earlier than normal!
pea / 19 posts
So - three more nights, 30-36 minutes of crying each night at the beginning. Great nights after that. Since we're almost at the two week mark, this just truly seems like we've got an outlier kiddo.
Tonight, I nursed to sleep. He woke about 30 minutes later, and resettled himself back to sleep within a minute. We'll see how the night goes, but I'm thinking that we might be going @TurdFerguson's and @Kemma's route of nursing to sleep but allowing him to cio (within reason) if he wakes after that. I think our dude might be one of those kids that drowsy but awake doesn't work for the initial laydown - he just needs to chill out and wind down, and at this point (6.5 months), it seems like he has to do that with nursing.
persimmon / 1339 posts
@rolypoly: though all our sleep training I've always nursed to sleep. My son would wake up (like clockwork - you could set your watch) 45 minutes after going to sleep. So when we let him cry with no checks, it was for that wakeup. We tried to be as consistent as possible with that, and with any wake ups that happened before 1 or 2 am. By some miracle, I can now put him down drowsy but awake at bedtime but much more importantly, for naps. It seems like the crying it out at the first wakeup taught him to put himself to sleep - and when we unswaddled it just started happening quicker and quicker. So I definitely would say you're doing the right thing - since it worked for us (for now, I know better than to think this happy sleep time will be permanent!)
So happy to hear your nights have been better! x
kiwi / 567 posts
@rolypoly: Thanks for updating this. We are on night three of sleep training (modified CIO with checks and picks up to console). Night one he cried 27 minutes, with one 3:40 am wake up, night two he cried 15 minutes and slept through the night, and then-- just as I was high fiveing myself--last night we had 15 minutes of crying (over 30 minutes) and he woke up twice at 2:40 and 4:40. So I too am hoping this is just nonlinear progress.
Have you considered that your baby may be a "tension releaser" who needs to cry a little bit before falling asleep? I don't know much about it but I have seen a little bit of discussion of tension release versus tension increase in various sleep books (google wasn't much help). The basic idea is that some babies need to cry in order to release cortisol stress hormones in order to really sleep. The fact that he cries for a relatively consistent period followed by a great nights sleep sort of lines up with the idea.
I'll be following along. Good luck, and don't give up