September 23, 2019

Sleeping Training life

*Disclaimer: What I've learned is that every baby is different. Just because your baby sleeps through the night now, doesn't mean he/she always will. Just because your baby doesn't sleep through the night, doesn't mean he/she never will.
I do not consider myself to be ANY GOOD at the topic of baby sleep and feel at a loss for words when others bring up the subject. I have nothing to say. Wells did not react to any of the usual methods like "the other babies", so my advice is to do some trial and error and read about a few different methods before committing to a method of sleep training. Also, I don't have a single method, which is why I could talk about baby sleep all day, but I couldn't concisely give advice if asked. This post is a bit of a brain dump, so I can remember what happened when I tried to sleep-train Wells at 13 months.

And, as per the discussion I ended up having at a moms' group the other day, cry-it-out doesn't bother me that much. I know his cries. And his I-don't-want-to-go-to-sleep cry is much different than being hungry or in pain. Him just not wanting to be in his crib means he needs to sort that out on his own when I know I've done everything I can to make him happy and comfortable.*

I initially sleep-trained Wells around 4.5 months last November. I couldn't take the midnight bedtimes plus wakings 2-3 times a night. There was no predictability and I know some people do okay without predictable sleep and I am not one of those people. Back in my teaching days, I was regularly in bed before 9pm and up at 5am.

Being in the throes of newborn sleep right now is hard. That being said, I think anything before 3 months is "forgivable". Meaning, they're up all night and that's okay. I could live with it. It was around that 3 month point that I started thinking there had to be a better way. This was, for us, also the time that Scott's school schedule really started ramping up and he couldn't help me as much at night. By 4.5 months, I started looking for solutions.

I wrote a post here but, basically, Wells took to self-soothing in his crib (we moved him there at 3 months) pretty easily.  He would still get up a few times a night for a bottle, but he was putting himself to sleep every night. This went on from November until June.

In June, he started refusing to go to sleep. He'd go down at 7pm as usual and then wake up screaming at 8pm. Or he'd roll around, never actually going to sleep, until we'd relent and go get him and he'd crawl all over the couch like a wild man until 9-9:30pm when I'd force him, kicking and screaming, back to his crib. It was a very strange pattern of events.

By the end of July, I was done. He needed to be trained again and, I knew, he had to stop eating at night. I'd been hoping he'd just...stop?  Everyone has a story about how their baby eventually just figured it out. Unfortunately, coming up on 13 months, he was drinking up to 3 bottles in the overnight hours. Quality of life was low, taking him places overnight was stressful, and it was slightly embarrassing to admit to moms of younger babies that he didn't sleep through the night.

Finally, another mom (of a 6 month old!) told me it was fine and I could do it and I just, basically, needed to let him figure it out on his own at night without me getting up to help him go back to sleep. In short: I needed to let him cry it out. She said they had just done it and it was life-changing.

I know a lot of parents take issues with cry-it-out. Scott isn't fan of it, for example. Personally, I don't have a problem with it. Especially if you stick with a gentle version of the method like I found in this book about self-soothing. Babies crying in pain or hunger bother me a lot. Babies crying because they don't want to go to sleep don't. For Wells anyway, there's a huge difference in his types of cries so I never felt uncomfortable letting him cry because I knew, deep down, that it'd be temporary.

This is the framework of what happened when I sleep-trained Wells at 12 1/2 months. Again, he was putting himself to sleep each night (we never rocked him, really, because it never quite worked for him), but he was waking up multiple times a night and wanted a bottle for comfort.

The point is that sleep-training is exhausting and a necessary evil for some babies. While I wish I would've gone all in 4 or 5 months ago, if it wouldn't have worked then, I would have been so incredibly discouraged and not wanting to try it again. It took a lot of energy and desire to psych myself up for this and he took to it quickly! I met a mom last week who said she did a 14 day program and it took allllll 14 days for it to work for them. 

All that being said, we've adjusted some things in the last few weeks/month. We're still working on the bottle thing. He has no patience for a sippy cup when he wants a bottle. It's like he'll drink the milk no matter what but it doesn't "count" to him unless it's in a bottle.
I'm changing him from 8 oz before bed to 4 oz because he's, I think, too full? And he's been waking up at 2am just to talk to himself lately. I have tried to go in and change his diaper but he will NOT allow me to roll him over in the crib so I just rub his back for a minute and he goes back to sleep. We'll also look into moving his bedtime from 7:30 to 7 as winter comes too. I heard some people talking about how horrible it is when we move the clocks back? It definitely didn't affect him last year so I don't know what to expect now. 


  1. sleep training it HARD but so worth it. that whole business about CIO "damaging your baby" etc is bullshit; people who spout that shit act like you be sitting back with wine while you ignore your baby ALL DAY LONG. like the saying goes: sleep begets sleep. i did find that sleep training never really ends until probably 9 or so (sorry) but they will go through many MANY phases of life that interrupt their sleep.

    i remember kayla being an awesome sleeper from 3 or 4 months old until 2yo when she just WOULD.NOT.SLEEP.BY.HERSELF anymore. exactly on the night of her 2nd bday, she was like "NOPE no more of this" and REFUSED to go to sleep by herself unless one of us was in there with her. that went on for a while then thank fuck it stopped and went back to sleeping normal. then at 7yo, she was up MULTIPLE times at night (waking us too) and it was like we had a newborn all over again. some punk at school told her scary shit and she just couldn't shake it. that BS went on for like, 2.5yrs omfg and now at 11, those days are over (fingers crossed) but goddamn, it was hard.

    point of the story: do whatever you feel is right for your kid and to hell with anyone who says shit to you; unless they are willing to come and help you at night, they need to stfu.

  2. My friends had the same issue with around the same age as Wells... he would just whine & cry until his mom came in & laid with him.... it about killed her because her husband was like, NO - dont go in there. He's not sick, he's not in pain - he's just whiny. It took a little bit of time & he's finally broken of it ... there will be a light at the end of the sleep tunnel!!! ... & we joke, then they'll be teenagers & YOU stay awake to wait for them :) LOL

  3. SLEEP TRAINING FOR LIFE. K is 6 weeks and I’m already plotting/making a game plan for his sleep in the next couple of months. 😬

  4. Babies and sleep is hard...we have just gone through a rough week with Cyrus since he was coughing so much that he was waking up upset from it...but right now he's been sleeping for 10 hours. Score! For us, night weaning was really what started him on being able to sleep through the night much more often...and we accomplished that through the old-fashioned technique of sending him off to Grandma's to sleep for about 3 nights. hahaha! I picked Christmas break last year, because we all weren't that busy, he was 10 months old and eating a lot of "human food" and nursing every couple hours all day, and I knew he didn't need to be eating every 3 hours all night long but since I was always with him...he didn't know that. I'd feed him and he'd go right to sleep at Grandma's house at maybe 8....and then I'd be back knocking on their door at around 5 a.m. to pick him up and feed him again, haha! My mom didn't have a hard time with him at all...but the "delegation" strategy doesn't work when they realize that milk can come from different sources (he started refusing a bottle at 6 months and never picked it up again).
    It's definitely not been a straight point A to point B road....fireworks and thunderstorms and molars etc have interrupted things...but learning not to eat in the night was definitely key for him.
    My biggest problem with ever letting him cry in the night is concern for neighbors...this apartment complex is packed so close together and the apartments are open to the air and you can hear everything (to the point where late-night piano practicing a couple floors down makes me pretty frustrated sometimes)...that I have never felt okay with subjecting other people to my baby's crying. And I am probably a bit of a softy in that regard, too...


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