I’m partially writing this post because y’all might care about it. The other reason is because that way someday Future Kat can consult Past Kat about this matter.
You guys. It is not a secret that we have a crappy sleeper. I distinctly remember one day when Critter was about 6 weeks old and he had gone a full six hours without sleeping and was acting like a maniac. He had not once shown any drowsy signs. It was at that point that I accepted that he was not one of those babies who could fall asleep on a dime or sleep anywhere and I got really aggressive about putting him down for naps because he was never going to do it himself.
He only naps for 20 – 50 minutes at a time. Four times a day.
Every night from weeks six through ten or eleven he screamed hysterically from 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM. And even though he was inconsolable, we still powered through our newfound bedtime routine (books, songs) and we never put him down or let him cry alone.
We followed his lead on all matters of sleeping and not sleeping because he was the boy king.
And so it goes.
I thought we were going to start sleep training at six months.
We started two weekends ago. At four months.
How did we get to this place? When we were at Critter’s four month appointment, I told our pediatrician that one night he slept for 8.5 hours and went 10.5 hours without eating. I mentioned that we were working on night weaning and had been rocking Critter back to sleep if he woke up after two hours. He seemed unphased by this change. Since he is (very obviously) flourishing, she halted me and immediately cut to Cry It Out.
With that in mind, she’s the doctor who Knows Babies and she’s a pretty low-key person, so I trust. She suggested With Soothing. We ended up going Without Soothing, only because I know my child and nothing him enrages him more than soothing that does not involve being held and/or nursing. We also moved him from a Woombie (which he was trying to weasel his hands out of anyway OMG and was swiftly outgrowing) to a Swaddle Me Up because I felt it was only fair to sleep train if he could suck on his hands, even though he had yet to demonstrate that as a soothing skill to us ever. Anyway. How did it go?
First Night: Put down at 6:22 PM. 40 minutes of crying to fall asleep. Woke up 45 minutes later, took 15 minutes to settle. Slept until 11:00 PM. Complained for 15 minutes. Fell asleep. Woke at midnight. I fed him, changed his diaper, returned him to the crib. Cried for 45 minutes. Slept until 4:00 AM. Woke up, and complained until 6:00 AM.
Second night: Put down at 6:38 PM. Chatted for six minutes. Cried softly for six minutes. Went to sleep at 6:50 PM. Slept until 3:37 AM. Fed him, changed his diaper, put him back into the crib. Slept until 6:10 when I had to wake him up to feed him and change him so I could get out the door and go to work.
Third night: Put down at 6:46 PM. Batted about. Made some sort of noise. Was asleep by 6:56 PM. Woke up at midnight-ish. Chatted with himself for ten minutes. Went back to sleep. Woke up at 4:15 AM. Cried. Fed him, changed his diaper, put him back into the crib at 4:45 AM. Went back to sleep at 4:55 AM. Slept until 5:40 AM.
Third day: We were not going to start nap training immediately. Frankly, Critter usually nurses to sleep, I didn’t want our mothers to bear the burden of nap training during the week. Then, on Tuesday, for his second nap, he was tired, but not ready to nurse and I was so torn about whether to rock him or whether to put him down and then I put him down and he cried for 17 minutes and then he was asleep. I think this was probably the worst of the CIOs because I was alone, and as it was 9:30 AM, I did not have a beer in-hand. Second nap involved 30 minutes of crying. Apparently naps are harder? Third nap was an hour of crying, no nap, and ended in being picked up and returning to bright spirits.
Fourth night: 10 minutes of crying. Asleep at 6:51. Picked him up out of bed for the day at 5:05 AM.
Fourth day: Since we accidentally started nap training on the third day, my mother-in-law had to helm the second full day. He went down well for two naps and the third was a circus, but hey, that’s effort, right?
Fifth night: One minute of crying, some wiggling Asleep in 10 minutes at 6:55 PM. Woke up at 3:28 Fed, changed, returned to crib at 3:47 No crying, lots of wiggling, asleep by 3:59 AM. He woke for the day at 5:39 AM.
Fifth day: Put down for a nap at 7:27 AM. Yowled when I put him down, stopped. Fell asleep at 7:31 AM. Put down for a nap at 9:55 AM. Fell asleep at 9:59 AM. Put him down for a nap at 2:42. Cried and fell asleep at 2:53.
Sixth night: Put down at 6:50. Cried as Marcus left the room. Stopped once he left. Wiggled for 10 minutes. Fell asleep at 7:00 PM.
And with that I’ll end the narrative as we are now at the beginning of week two.
What we learned: He needs a later bedtime because right now he is an Early Bird (5:00 AM wake) and depending on the day, he may be getting ready to drop his fourth nap but the success of this hinges upon him waking later.
The Best Part: We are more well-rested now than we have been for the past 19 weeks. There is no way we could have done this sooner with this baby, but Marcus and I? We’re both glad we were encouraged to try this out now. We’re sleeping, he’s sleeping, and more miraculously, he now knows how to put himself to sleep.