She Says… The Good Ol’ Days

Owen has always been a pretty good night sleeper. I have to keep reminding myself that he still IS a good night sleeper, even though he’s reverting a little bit recently.

Last week we went through his first sick night. I’m still not entirely sure what the problem was, but my best theory was an earache. For about 24 hours he was fussier than he’s ever been, cried every time I put him in the crib, wouldn’t eat more than an ounce or two at a time (but wanted to be fed every 30 minutes) and seemed uncomfortable in any position. Poor little guy! We made it through a rough night where he woke up three or four times, which is very unusual for him. The next morning he seemed back to his old self, smiling and cooing and eating/sleeping relatively normally. Prior to that day he’d been waking up just once, almost always around 2 or 3am. I would feed him and he would go right back to sleep, no problems. However, since that one bad night, he seems to have reverted back to getting up twice a night and napping for much shorter periods than before.

What gives? I thought we were moving toward better sleeping, not worse.  To his credit, it has been a weird week. We flew to visit family from Thursday – Sunday and sleeping was not nearly as regular and predictable as it is at home. Also, daylight savings time happened, so that added to the strange timeline. Now that we’re home I guess I expected that we could just fall back into our old habits… you know, the good ol’ days of getting up just once, at a reliable time, and napping for 1-2 hours at a time. Apparently Owen didn’t get the memo.

So last night in an effort to get us back to the once-a-night wakeup, I tried something new. I made a bigger bottle than I normally give him (I’ve been giving a 5 ounce bottle, but this time I prepped 8 ounces). I let him wake up for the first time, which was around 12:30am. I tickled his hands and rubbed his back to keep him awake until he finished the bottle (he seemed “done” at about 7 ounces, so I didn’t encourage him to eat any more than that) and then put him back down. When he woke up at 4:00am for his second wakeup, I turned the monitor down and waited it out. I knew he did NOT really NEED to get up to eat at that time, since he’d slept that long before, and he had eaten a LOT the day before plus extra ounces around midnight.

The minutes passed and he cried and cried. I wondered if I had made a huge mistake. What if he had pooped all over the crib (which happened the previous night)? What if he was freezing or his swaddle had come undone? I didn’t dare go in there, because although I know all about the graduated extinction method of sleep training (where you go in an try to calm/soothe your baby without taking them out of the crib), I am pretty certain it won’t work for him. Whenever we go in there he screams a lot louder and wakes up more than if he is left alone.

So the minutes passed, and I felt horrible.

Then, as quickly as it had begun, the crying stopped. It may have felt like an eternity, but it was really only 10 minutes. Then he slept peacefully until 7am! Go, Owen. Maybe you aren’t such a bad sleeper after all. You just needed a little reminder of what it’s like to wake up just once.

The general rule of sleep training is to wait until at least 4 months. I feel like since I’m still getting up to feed him once a night to eat that we’re well within the limits of what is realistic for his age/weight/temperament. I know sleep training is an incredibly divisive and controversial topic, so I’m hesitant to open this can of worms, but… Did you sleep train in a way that involved a bit of crying? How long did it take before the crying stopped? Did you train night time sleep and naps at the same time? Or go one-by-one like I am beginning to do, starting with reducing wake ups and then in a few weeks moving toward sleeping for 12 hours straight and then finally working on naps?

15 responses to “She Says… The Good Ol’ Days

  1. We haven’t done sleep training because of our baby’s reflux issues. I don’t think she’s comfortable enough to soothe herself sometimes. I don’t run to her at the first cry though. Sometimes she cries in her sleep, so it’s good to wait and see.

    I don’t think we plan on doing sleep training because she’s already sleeping through the night and it doesn’t feel right to me, but I understand that a lot of people swear by it. I think as long as reason is used, it can be a good technique.

    Keep in mind that babies’ sleep patterns change week to week (or day to day) so what works this week may not next week. Also teething will throw all of his sleeping patterns off kilter. Flexibility is key 🙂

  2. First of all, for us, travel is the devil. I’ve traveled 3 times with Ben, at 3 mos, 4 mos and 5.5 mos, and each time it totally disrupted his sleep during and after the trip. Fingers crossed he does better at 9 months when we visit family for Christmas! I’m already nervous!

    I did do sleep training with him starting around 5 months. We did Ferber–highly, highly recommend reading his book. If nothing else, it has some interesting information about sleep cycles, etc. I started with breaking the nursing-to-sleep association, so after I fed him, my husband would read to him and then we put him down drowsy. Once he got the hang of falling asleep on his own, we started with nighttime wakings. I picked a time, say 4am, and did the graduated extinction or whatever it’s called, if he woke up before then. It took about 3 nights for him and then he was sleeping straight through. We did have to “re-Ferber” after the vaca we took a couple weeks later though. I never had to worry about naps because he started daycare at 3 months, and they took care of that for me. God bless them. 😉

  3. First off, I think you should do whatever feels right for you & Owen. Don’t ever feel bad or guilty in the decisions that you make, because you know that you are doing it all in the best interest of your son 🙂

    I read Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby by Weissbluth when Eli was about 6 or 7 weeks old. I don’t follow his advice to a T or anything, but I liked the theories about how children sleep and how their sleep patterns & needs change with their age. We did like you are doing at night when Eli was about 12 weeks old… we realized that he didn’t need to eat and was just waking up out of habit, so one night we just let him cry until he went back to sleep – it took maybe 5 or 10 minutes. A few nights after that, he stopped waking up for the first feeding, too. Poof… 10 hours. He is now 5 months & sleeps 11-12 hours.

    Naps were a LOT harder. I started working on one nap at a time, but after a few weeks of what felt like no progress, I started working on every nap. I read to him, rock him for a minute and put him down awake. I let him cry for up to 10 minutes, then he gets a pacifier. Then I go back in every 5-10 minutes as needed. I only had to do that for about a week until he would fall asleep within 5 minutes of being laid down (he was probably 14 or 15 weeks). He always wakes 45 minutes into a nap, so we let him cry for 5 minutes, then give him a paci and he goes right back to sleep for another 45 minutes… it used to take 15-20 minutes to get him to go back to sleep but he is MUCH better about it now!

    His nap ‘schedule’ is similar everyday, but is not always the same. Some days he takes three 45 minute naps and one 2 hour nap. Other days he takes one 45 minute nap and two 1 1/2 hour naps. We just kind of roll with it. 🙂

    Best of luck… I look forward to hearing how Owen’s sleeping progresses!

  4. I am always conflicted about this and waiver back and forth. Sometimes I decide that it’s most likely necessary to let him cry for him to learn to soothe himself to sleep and to break wake up “habits” rather than waking for nutritional needs and then I’ll try it a bit and change my mind. I plan on waiting the 4 months because, unlike Owen, Cameron isn’t ready for it. Sleeping was our biggest struggle up until 10 weeks and I had to hold him for most of the first 10 weeks and it was utterly exhausting! He’s only 12 weeks now so I’m just starting to get my evenings back! Getting him put down for naps were out of the question because he would wake up immediately when he could sense I wasn’t holding him & he was too young to let cry (IMO). BUT he’s getting soooooo much better and sleeping for longer stretches at night now and at nap times can be put down in his bassinet and I’m very encouraged by it. So I’ve decided to just roll with it (since he’s improving so much recently) and then re-address what he might need when he is 4 months to try to wean him away from whatever assistance he’s requiring to sleep at that time. I used to have to nurse him to sleep and already it’s dropped from 100% of the time to about 75% so I’m just going to be patient. I did “try” to let him cry once last week because he woke when I put him down for his nap and I thought if I let him cry he would go right back to sleep, but he cried so hard he got soooo worked up that he couldn’t catch his breath and I couldn’t handle it and I didn’t feel like he was ready to either.

    I’ve always been envious of how well of a sleeper Owen is! I think even if he wakes abnormally now and then, he’s still a sleeper champ 🙂 Every mom knows her baby and what s/he can handle and when s/he can handle it and your approaches obviously are working!

  5. I didn’t do the sleep training thing with any of my kids. My first child, slept pretty much through the night (meaning 6 hours straight) since 3 weeks old, my second was constantly hungry and didn’t sleep through the night until he was almost 9 months old and the last one didn’t sleep through the night until he was almost a year (fault of the father in this one, little one thought it was “playtime” when it was really “sleep time” and had to break both of them of this habit)

    I don’t believe in sleep training, at least not until 6 months old. I think if they are crying, they need you and sometimes they are learning to “figure it out for themselves” it’s a hard thing to judge but just remember: he is YOUR child and you need to do what’s best for him and don’t follow books by the letter they are used as guide.

    Hope this helps

  6. Well, I don’t have much experience with sleep training. My 17 mo old daughter didn’t sleep through the night until she was 8 months. She nursed exclusively until about 9 months so it was easiest on all of us if she slept on bed with me and my husband. we have a king size bed and were able to clear a spot in between us. She would wake up once a night to nurse but I could pretty much sleep through it. Around 8 months I would put her to bed in the crib then bring her back to our bed to nurse and stay with us the rest of the night. pretty soon after that every couple nights she would sleep the whole way through. After I knew she could do it I wouldn’t go get her if she cried but it never lasted more that a few min. She was oretty easy going for us. Good luck on the sleep schedules.

  7. I did CIO at 6.5 months with both kids. Ditched the swaddle, ended all nighttime bottles, implemented a solid nap schedule, all at once. Rip off the bandaid, man.

    While I’m strongly a Weissbluth person 98% of the time, I did read Ferber’s book. I think he’s nutso as far as nap schedules and bedtimes and fundamentally disagree with the “get ’em good and tired” approach with babies (as opposed to “sleep begets sleep,” which was always what I found worked best). However, his whole discussion of “sleep associations” really resonated with me and the way my kids were waking overnight at that age.

    I started with the graduated extinction thing, but it really only served to make them (my son, especially) even MORE mad. So I waited until the tone of the cry changed from “I’m mad as hell” to “I rolled over and am stuck in the corner of my crib.”

    For me, doing it all at once made sense at the time. I’m a strong believer in the 3-day rule: nearly all transitions for infants take about three solid days if you’re consistent. I could either do 3 days for each thing (swaddling, bottles, etc.), or just do 3 days and get it all done at once.

    My son was unbelievably stubborn and fought sleep training tooth and nail. When I talked to friends ahead of time, some warned me they might cry as much as 45 minutes to an hour. The first night, Daniel cried from 2am to 5pm. It was ridiculous. A bit better the second night, almost worse the third, and then the fourth night he slept 12 hours and woke up with a grin. IT WAS AWESOME. He’s been an incredibly sound sleeper ever since. My daughter slept through on the third night, and they got great at sleeping through each other’s noises.

    CIO worked great for us, mostly because I read up on it and really believed in/committed to what we were doing. Two things that helped: 1) husband and I discussed the approach in detail ahead of time, because nothing good comes from doubt and questioning at 3am. 2) When one of them woke up in the middle of the night while we were training, I’d just get up and go downstairs, set a kitchen timer for whatever interval I was doing, and turn the monitor on very very low. I’d mess around on the computer or watch TV. It was much better for me, psychologically, to just get up and do something else, rather than sit in the dark and watch the clock.

  8. I forgot to mention that we stopped swaddling early… around 4 or 5 weeks. He HATED being swaddled, so we decided it wasn’t worth it for us.

  9. We have been struggling with naps TOOTH AND NAIL just about since the 1 month old mark. I’ve read “The no cry solution” and the “CIO” method books. I recently decided to try the CIO method and I feel he is old enough for it (16 weeks) for daytime naps and bedtime. I won’t do it in the middle of night because I figure if he is waking up, he’s hungry and I have no way to measure his intake to know how much he’s eating. He goes to bed at 7 pm and gets up at 8:30 am with 3 wakings in between so I cant complain and dont want to do CIO in the middle of the night in case he really is starving.

    How is it going? Sometimes good and sometimes bad! One time he feel asleep with only 6 minutes of minor fussing. Then yesterday he cried for 30 minutes (torture) and I saved him and nursed him to sleep (baby wins again).

    It is sooo hard to know what to do and what is right for your kid! Gah this parenting stuff is so complicated!

  10. I got up with the baby every time he cried for 7 or 8 months, but then he went from 2 wake ups to 7 or 8 each night. I was trying to maintain a quiet house for my daughters (then 4 and 2) and my husband, but I was the walking dead. We moved his pack and play downstairs, away from where everyone else was sleeping and I set a time I wouldn’t go to him before. It took four days and then he ‘got’ it. He’ll be one on Saturday and he still doesn’t go 12 hours, but at least we are only getting up once. I’m starting to reduce that 5 AM feeding so that he’ll sleep later (I hope).

  11. I did a modified version of Ferber’s method with both my sons. My older one slept very predictably for about 12 hours a night until he was around 7 or 8 months, so we hadn’t done any sleep training until then (I did still nurse him to sleep, though). Then he just stopped sleeping well, all at once. He was getting up 4-5 times a night, every night. I started sleep training with the bedtime, which took about 3 nights before he would go right to sleep with no crying (I think he cried for an hour or more the first night). Once he got the hang of going to bed, I started doing it in the middle of the night, and once he got that down, I started doing it for naps. It worked beautifully with him and he was a great sleeper until he got his big boy bed at age 2, which created a plethora of new problems (but that’s another story!).

    My second son didn’t cooperate as well on sleeping. He was a TERRIBLE sleeper from day one. The first time he ever slept more than a 2-hour stretch was when he was 2 months old. And that only happened 2 or 3 times. At the worst point, he was waking up every 15-30 minutes, all night long. At 4 months we decided to do the same sleep training as my older one, and it only worked partially. The going to bed part was fine. He cried for about 90 minutes the first night, 30 minutes the second night, and not at all the third night. However, it did not work AT ALL for the middle of the night for him. The main problem was that he was sharing the room with my husband and me (we only had a 2-bedroom apartment), so trying to let him cry was completely useless when I was “sleeping” in the bed right next to his crib. He eventually grew out of it (torture for me, but it seems like a long time ago now), but didn’t go a whole night without waking up until we moved and he got his own room (and he was almost 1 then – he’s 20 months old now). The one good thing we got out of sleep training with him is that he will go down to bed and for naps with NO protesting whatsoever. We put him in his crib wide awake, say goodnight, and don’t hear from him again (although he still wakes up a couple of times most nights, usually because he has lost his paci).

    Consistency and flexibility are VERY important, if you decide to try sleep training. In my experience it has worked, but every child is different, so it doesn’t always work the same. Good luck!!

  12. We slept trained my daughter about a month ago, she was 4 months at the time. She was waking up every 2-3 hours and sometimes even more. It was driving me insane. The first night she cried 15 minutes going down at 7pm and then I fed her at midnight when she woke up, then 15 minutes at 3am. Then she slept until 8am. The next night was the same, except the crying was about 10 minutes. The third night I decided I wanted to pump before bed instead of feed her, so I didn’t get her at midnight. She cried about 7 minutes then went back to sleep. I assumed she’d wake up that night at 3am and I would feed her but she didn’t! She slept until 7am. The fourth night she slept TWELVE STRAIGHT HOURS! She’s been sleeping 10 to 12 hours a night since then, and doesn’t make a peep when she goes down. The past few nights she has woken up a few times, I think she might be teething. Last night she cried for 30 minutes and I finally gave her Tylenol because she kept stopping and starting again, which made me feel like something was keeping her up. She went to sleep right after that.

    We haven’t started sleep training during naps yet – I just love watching her falling asleep while we cuddle on my bed and since we have less than three weeks before I go back to work I want to cherish that time. I’m hoping my SIL can do the naps once she starts watching her all day.

    Good luck with the sleep training. It worked WONDERS for us!

  13. The Laundry Lady

    The best advice I can give anyone is to remember that not every method works for every child. My mother says that I slept through the night on my own by 3 months, my sister by 5 months. We both almost always nursed to sleep and my mother never did any formal kind of sleep training. So I figured my daughter would be a piece of cake. Boy was I wrong! It took us almost a year to realize that my daughter is an incredibly light sleeper. We ran a CD of ocean waves in her room from birth and that seemed to be enough but I expected to be up at least once or twice a night for the first few months. Because it was expected, it didn’t bother me much. We tried going back to swaddling around 3 months and she began sleeping 4 hours at a time. (Remember that for an infant under one year “sleeping through the night” is defined as 5 hours of sleep without waking, not the 8 or 9 we would wish for as parents). Then at 5 months she slept through the night for the first time. We were ecstatic. But she didn’t sleep through the night again until 9 months of age. My pediatrician said to just let her cry. We tried that for a few nights and she screamed full force for hours at a time. It was horrible, my husband especially couldn’t take it. He said she was too young. So we waited to try again until 9 months. We had weaned her off of the swaddling because she still wasn’t sleeping well anyway, but still she wouldn’t sleep. We tried the No Cry Sleep Solution which helped alot, but it didn’t do the trick. I finally began letting her sleep on her stomach, which made a big difference, but she still woke up too often. We finally ended up taking turns laying in the doorway of her room. She could scream all she wanted, but she wasn’t getting up. But yet she still knew we were there for her. At 10 months she finally started sleeping. We did have to start the routine again at 13 months because of a vacation and teething disaster that totally reset her sleep clock, but then we finally discovered that running a loud fan makes all the difference in the world. She probably still wakes up a few times a night, but when she does she can’t hear the other household noises. I think the other thing that made the biggest difference for us were putting a sippy cup of water in her crib, per my pediatrician. I never would have considered it, but when she woke up thirsty instead of crying to nurse, she would just sip the water. Now she practically cuddles it like a lovey. I wish we’d discovered it sooner. I didn’t even attempt nap training until 13 months because of how awful the nights were. I let her cry in her crib for up to a half hour before naps. Longer didn’t make sense because 1.5 hours of screaming for half an hour of sleep didn’t equate to me. She was never a good napper. But now at 18 months she still naps twice a day for at least an hour each time.
    Just try to be flexible. Try your chosen method for a few weeks, maybe a month. If you see no improvement at all, be prepared to try something new. I’m not sure what my husband and I will do with the next baby, but I’m not prepared to assume that the next one will have the same sleep personality.

  14. I just wanted to mention, he might be going through a growth or developmental spurt, especially as it seems he wasn’t getting quite as much food as he needed before, the “jumps” might be catching up or coming at less predictable times as ‘they’ say. So it could be he was/is hungrier and just needs a couple of days to get the spurt done with.

  15. I never really sleep trained. Just by reading about different techniques, I was so overwhelmed about doing the wrong thing and messing up my son’s sleeping . And I schedule everything in, which is the complete oppositte of my sons personality, he is much more go with the flow and I couldn’t get him on a regular schedule for 15 months! He always got enough sleep though throughout the 24 day period. And I would control the amount of time he napped as he got older. So he didn’t sleep through the night regularly until 14 months. And I had stopped nighttime feedings by 9 months. I work 3-11pm part time, so it didn’t bother me as much as it would if I worked full time during the day. One thing I will say that I have learned over the past 2 years is: everything is a phase. There were many many times I worried about everything, especially when things weren’t going the way I wanted them to, or had planned for them to go. Then all of a sudden, it passed and we were dealing with a whole new ball game right when I had a situation figured out. I totally had to let go of my need to control and plan everything. Having a baby definitely makes you more laid back. Also, I learned that if you are having a couple of bad days, there will be a good one comming up. Good luck with the sleep!

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