On this fine Mommy Monday post, I’m sharing my sleep training story. If you don’t have kids, you probably won’t want to read this post. No worries. I get it. People asked me to share what we did and so that is exactly what this post is.
To start, I want to state that I am not a good role model for sleep training.
If your child is older than Tommy and still not sleeping through the night, then I might be able to help you out. If your child is younger than Tommy and not sleeping through the night, do these tactics now! And if your child has been sleeping through the night, feel free to laugh at my expense for being a naive first time parent.
At 11 months old, Tommy finally is sleeping 12 hours straight. I have friends with children who did this starting at 12 weeks. We are late to the game but some people struggle with sleep habits for years.
As a nursing first time mother who was afraid of the “nipple confusion” lie, I didn’t give Tommy bottles when I should have and he therefore has never taken them. I waited too long and then didn’t give them on a regular basis. He needs my boobs to fall asleep. Nick and I always wait to go out until he is down if we have a babysitter.
We do a bath a couple of times a week. Give him a new diaper, put on PJ’s, read a book and then I nurse him. I put him down sleepy but awake most of the time. Rarely does he cry after I put him in his crib at night. If I’m not there however, he will cry and it takes him much longer to fall asleep as he is wondering where his boobs are. He refuses the bottle or sippy cup of breast milk.
To get him to go down at seven, we did do cry it out but he didn’t have to cry it out really. It took three days and we followed the methods of Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. It was easy for us as he only cried for 20 minutes, 10 minutes and finally 5 minutes. The routine was established at 5 months. For this reason though, we always have to be home by 7pm.
Waking Up In The Night
Tommy would wake up once or twice a night throughout the summer. I would nurse him and put him back into bed. I now know that this is when I should have done cry it out but I wasn’t ready a parent. Sometimes I’d let him stay with us in our bed. His sleeping was all over the place. The only regularity was going to bed at 7pm. It worked for us though as I shared in this post about napping on the go.
This fall, Tommy began to sleep straight through the night and wake up at 5 am. I’d nurse him and then he would sleep until 7. This felt like a great schedule. I figured that this was what a good sleep habit looked like until I told my mom friends who all had children sleeping 12 hours straight.
Then, I Went Away For Work
Remember when I went to Los Angeles for 3 days? I jokingly said to Nick and his mom when I left, “Oh, so when I get back, he’ll be sleep trained?”
Well, I’m not sure what they did but Tommy started sleeping 12 hours straight after I returned. Nick’s mom swears they didn’t do anything special. Nick says they did.
What I think happened, as gathered by what Nick shared and his mom told me, is that Tommy refused milk from a bottle and a sippy cup all day and all night. They even tried formula. Nick the first morning gave him string cheese at 5 am before putting him back in his crib. On the next morning, since Nick knew he would not take the bottle, he let him cry and eventually he fell back asleep. How long this took, how hard he cried I do not know.
So basically, they did cry it out for the 5 am morning wake up. I’m glad I didn’t have to listen to it as I would have gone in after 5 minutes.
Miraculously whatever this did to Tommy it helped him learn to fall asleep in his crib for naps as well. He now is taking his still short naps in his crib. His naps are usually around 45 minutes but once in a while he will sleep 90 minutes to two and half hours. He does however cry for about 1-5 minutes before falling asleep for his naps.
If he cries longer, I’ll set a time for myself when I’ll go in and give him cuddles. But every time I’ve done that, he falls asleep exactly one minute before my limit.
Tommy is still the happiest little boy, full of energy and a joy to be around 95% of the time. We went out for Nick’s holiday party on Friday night and I had one too many glasses on wine. When Tommy woke up at 6 instead of 7 I was not happy. Luckily this is rare these days and Nick got up with T. He gifted us Sunday morning by sleeping until 9:30 am.
I can’t believe in less than a month he will be officially 1-year-old. This first year, with the exception of the first 3 months, has gone by so unbelievably quick. Everyone keeps shitting on 2016 but since I have so many positive memories, I think it will just have to go down as one of the most memorable years of my life with serious personal highs and world event lows.
Did you too struggle with sleep or letting your child cry it out? While I wish I tried sleep training sooner, I don’t regret waiting because I did what I felt comfortable with.
Best line ever: “This first year, with the exception of the first 3 months, has gone by so unbelievably quick”. My son will be 3 months next week and I always laugh when people say it goes by so fast -- this has not felt fast to me! We are just now starting to get into a groove -- and I feel like I could maybe(?) know what I’m doing. Is this when it starts to become fun?? Thanks -- as always -- for keeping it real!
Seriously though!? How slow were those first 12 weeks… It gets a lot of fun real quick and then every week you think that it’s your favorite age.
We were “bad” and bedshared because we found out at a couple weeks old that she’d sleep 12 hours if in my arms! But then at 4 months she started having 1 night wake up. And then by 5 months it was 2. And then from 6-7 months she was up every 1-2 hours wanting to nurse. We were all exhausted and finally decided to sleep train, even though I originally was SO against it. It was so worth it. She’s a happier baby when she sleeps. I’m a better mommy when I sleep. My husband and I have a better marriage when he sleeps, lol. She’s had a couple setbacks (she decided 430 was daytime after the time change and we’ve worked to get her back to waking up at 6am…7 would be even nicer though) but she went from up 4-6 times a night to sleeping 11 hours straight.
Thank you for this post. I think I will get that book as I am not sure how early to start. My little one is 8 weeks and mostly falls asleep at night with the boob. And sleeps about 6 hours as of recently. My husband has started to give him a bottle once in a while to prepare him of when I go back to work in a few weeks. He takes the bottle but isn’t always happy to do so!
I think they say not to start before 4 months but I think I waited until 5 months.
Tommy is a few weeks younger than my daughter, so I love your motherhood posts so much. It always seems like we’re experiencing the same stages and transitions which helps to make me feel ‘normal.’ We are fortunate enough to have a baby that slept 12 hours straight by 12 weeks. The trade off is that she’s not the best at naps. She fights her two naps and will only sleep for about 30-40 minutes. An hour nap is awesome and a 90 minute nap is like…is she alive??!
We experienced a rough 4 month sleep regression that left us with a 5 am feeding habit that lasted a few weeks but by 6 months she was back to sleeping straight through the night. I struggled with CIO and would guiltily rock/bounce her to sleep every night until recently. When she hit about 11 months she started to stay awake no matter how long I rocked so I just started putting her down drowsy and she’d fall asleep. She’ll occasionally fuss but it’s not for long. I really do think it depends on the child and that different things work for different babies. I’m with you, I don’t feel guilty doing the things I did because it’s what I was comfortable with and has seemed to work for us. I do regret constantly feeling like I was doing something wrong because it’s not what “They” said I should do. Hopefully if we have another child I won’t beat myself up too much!
Thanks for sharing and for making us moms feel “normal.” You’re doing a great job!!
My baby girl is just a couple of weeks younger than Tommy. I fell into the nursing to sleep trap. She would wake up with almost every sleep cycle and need to be nursed back down. It was brutal. Breaking point was around 8 months. I stopped nursing her right before bed and worked on getting her to fall asleep in her crib with me there patting her and singing. Then I worked on her falling asleep on her own in her crib. She immediately started sleeping through the night and was able to start napping on her own for good stretches (would only nap on me previously). I read something recently that said you can rely on any sleep crutch until they are 3 months old, then you need to kick it or they become too reliant and can’t sleep without it. I wish I had known all of this before having her! It’s so hard to know what to do as a first time parent. I’m glad we both figured it out 🙂