I feel like we have been in a fog for the past month or so. Noah James went from being a super sleeper who needed to nurse once in the night and then going right back to sleep…. To a cranky baby who woke several times during the night (claiming to be hungry) and wouldn’t go back to sleep easily. He was exhausted and so were we!
This happens at about 4 months for many babies. Their sleep cycle changes, and at the same time they are learning to be a little manipulative. Example… Noah will scream in his swing beside the dinner table while
we eat. But as soon as you look at him, he smiles and laughs! He knows his cries work!
Normal or not, what was going on was not sustainable. So last weekend we began sleep training. There are many viewpoints on how to best teach (or reteach, in our case) a baby how to sleep. Some say crying is inevitable, while others say that allowing a child to cry scars them for life. I fall somewhere in the middle. Noah James had learned that all he had to do was cry and he would get to be held and nursed, even if he wasnt hungry. I knew a little crying would have to be involved, but there was no way that I was going to be able to let him cry endlessly either.
We settled on a moderate CIO (cry it out) plan. We would put him in his crib drowsy but still awake. All of the sleep experts agree on this… If the baby is placed in his crib already asleep he doesn’t learn how to fall asleep on his own. He needs the rocking, nursing, or whatever else mom used to help him fall asleep. The idea is for baby to learn how to sooth himself to sleep, both at bedtime and when he awakens in the middle of the night.
So into bed drowsy, but awake. Of course Noah James starts
screaming the moment he is put down. On night #1 he was to cry for three minutes before someone went in to sooth him. Then we would pick him up, pat his back, say “I love you,” then put him back down. Many people
say you shouldn’t pick up the baby, but because Noah has reflux issues we felt it was important that he got a few pats on the back in case he had to spit up. Next, we waited 5 minutes before going to him and repeating the process. The next interval was 10 minutes. The intervals have gotten slightly longer each night.
Last night was night #3. He screamed for the first 5 minutes. Stopped when we picked him up and patted him. Screamed for the next 10 minute interval. Stopped again when he was picked up and patted. And then, miracle of miracles, he stopped crying 11 minutes in to the 15 minute interval. He slept until 12:30 when he awoke, legitimately hungry. I fed him and he soothed himself right back to sleep. When he started crying at 4:30, I was afraid we were up for the day, but he fussed for less than 5 minutes and soothed himself back to sleep….until 7:00! 11 1/2 hours with one feeding. That is something we can sustain!
Best of all, because he was well rested, he took a nice long morning nap and has been in a great mood today. Sleep begets sleep. It is much easier to get a well rested baby/child to sleep than one who is overly tired. Best piece of baby advise I got! In fact, he is now taking an afternoon nap…a good sign for tonight!
I know we will still have rough nights, but the past 3 nights have shown us that Noah can sleep through the night like he used to… And we are strong enough to stick with the program!
My mom came to help us with the first couple of nights of sleep training. She also babysat so we could have a Valentines Day date night. When you don’t get out much (or at all!), dinner and a movie is thrilling!!
I feel so lucky to have such a special Valentine in my life. Dave, I couldn’t ask for a better partner or friend than you. And seeing you sharing special times with Noah James, rocking him to sleep or making up silly songs, makes me love you that much more.
I leave you all with a few pictures of our newest little Valentine (who is still napping!).