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?