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I know, who wouldn’t want to wake up to that sweet face every morning? It’s a trick question, because we weren’t truly waking up to it. See, I was seeing her awake about every hour, all. night. long. I was always against co-sleeping before I had a kid. In fact for the first 5-6 months of her life I was adamant about it. But when you are exhausted and not getting any sleep, you do things you always said you would never do.
Our average night was me doing the whole routine and rocking Addie to sleep. I would finally get her down around 10pm if I was lucky. She would sleep for about an hour and a half to two hours in her room and then wake up and refuse to go back into her crib. For a few weeks, I fought it and would spend hours rocking her back to sleep, laying her down, and her waking up as soon as she hit the mattress. Out of frustration, we started just taking her back to our room when she woke around midnight and letting her stay with us.
It worked for a while, and we were at least all getting some sleep (Thanks Zen Sleep Sack for what sleep we did get!). Eventually though, we realized that this was not going to work for us long-term. This is not to say that we didn’t love the cuddles and having that little sweet pea close to us, but we hardly had any time for just us. I felt like a slave to my child’s sleep routine and it was a very lonely, frustrating place to be.
Around 8 months, she started having trouble sleeping with us, too. She would wake up constantly and we were sleeping even worse than before. We knew something had to give, but all previous attempts at “cry it out” had been epic fails. She did not respond well to that at all, and would make herself sick screaming. I couldn’t even get her to nap without me holding her the entire time. I am sure at this point, if you are reading this you can probably relate to my frustration and exhaustion.
So I did what all tired, exhausted moms do! I went to Pinterest and researched. I found several different programs that appealed to me, and we came up with a plan that we could live with. At this point I was willing to give about anything a try! I am happy to say that within just 8 days, our girl was going to bed by herself by 9pm, and sleeping through the night (most nights)! I am going to break it down for you below!*
*I will say, we chose to wait until we were done with disruptions like holiday travel and vacation, and we tried to time this in between teething. I did not want to make her cry if she was just not feeling well.
The first, and most important thing, was establishing the groundwork. I tweaked our routine just a bit and made sure it was solid so that she would learn to wind down. I added a little extra milk to make sure she was full and wouldn’t wake up hungry, and then we started the plan. I made sure that her crib was comfortable, and we put literally 8-10 pacifiers in there so that she could find one if needed. (These Glow in the dark ones are awesome, and helped her to find them when she needed one!)
Days 1-4: We finished our routine, kissed Daddy goodnight, and I put her in her crib. I could stay with her as long as she needed me to, to get herself to sleep. I sat in the rocker with it pulled right up to her crib so that she could touch me and hear me sing, but I could not pick her up.
Day 1- I had braced myself to be in her room for hours, based on other blogs I had read that took this approach to sleep training. I was mentally prepared and this was a “cry it out” that I could live with, because I wasn’t leaving her all alone. I poured myself a glass of wine and settled in for the long haul.
As expected because it was totally new, she lost her ever loving mind when I sat her sleepy-but-awake little self down in her crib. She clawed at the sides, at my arms, at my neck when I leaned over to kiss her. She cried. I cried. We bawled together and I sang and sang until my voice was hoarse. But you know, at about the 45 minute mark, something magical started happening. She started to lay down in between fits. I played a few of her lullabies that I sing to her on my phone because my voice needed a break, and she started to settle in. At the one hour mark, she was asleep and she stayed that way until about 6am. This was a huge win for us.
Day 2- I planned for this to go about the same way that Day 1 went. It was still painful, and she broke my heart, but she only took about 35 minutes to wear herself down, and she knew that Mommy was right there if she needed me. We played “throw the Paci” quite a few times, but I held my ground and we stayed consistent. She was fully asleep after about 45-50 minutes and slept until about 4am. At 4am, I went in her room and handed her a warm bottle, since we decided that picking her up to nurse was too disruptive. She drank it, I took it from her and snuck out. She fussed for a couple of minutes and fell back to sleep until about 8am. Another win! I knew this was going to be worth it if we just stayed the course.
Day 3- She fussed, but it was nowhere near the hysteria of day 1 or 2. She fell asleep after about 25 minutes, with me holding her little hand as she laid down. I snuck my hand away and left the room and she slept until 7:30am.
Day 4- Now, the plan that I was going off of said to change things up for day 4. Since Addilyn was coming from co-sleeping and did not handle CIO very well, I wanted to give her an extra day to adjust before I changed things. Babies really need 3 full days of change to shift their thinking. I followed the same routine and she was laying down after about 15 minutes and was out cold after 20. We had a middle of the night bottle call, but I left it with her and when she finished it, she went back to sleep and slept until 8am.
Days 5-8: I could stay with her for 5 minutes only, as we had gotten used to, and then I would leave the room, checking in with her in increasing intervals.
Day 5- I did our routine, and put her in her crib around 8pm. She protested a bit, but was settling herself in to her songs. After 5 minutes, I left the room and she lost it. This was so hard for me because I was actually leaving her upset for the first time. I set a 15 minute timer on my phone and tried my hardest not to cry with her. (Michael had to give me a bit of a pep talk).
After 15 minutes I went in and patted and sang to her. She settled down, but became very upset when I left at the end of the 5 minutes. I set a timer for 20 minutes this time, and tried to do some housework to take my mind off of how upset she was. When the timer was up, I went back in for 5 minutes and we repeated the cycle. This time, I set a timer for 25 minutes when I left the room.
Toward the one hour mark of doing this, she went from standing in her crib screaming toward the door to sitting in her crib, crying. We were about halfway through the 25 minute timer and she transitioned to more of a whimper. And then wouldn’t you know it, that sweet little baby nodded off sitting straight up (which we were cracking up about).
I turned off the timer and we watched her. She would start to lean forward in her sleep like you did when you fell asleep in school, startle herself awake and cry for a minute and then nod back off. Eventually after about 20 more minutes of doing this, she laid all the way over and fell asleep for the rest of the night. All in all, it was about an hour and a half, but I only had to go back in the two times.
Day 6- I settled her down, sang her songs and she laid down and was quiet. When I left the room, she cried like the night before, for the full 15 minutes. I went in to calm her and left after 5 minutes. She cried about another 15 and then went to sleep, with more of the asleep-sitting-up that was so adorably pitiful. Praise the LORD it only took about a half hour! We had a middle of the night milk wake up, but otherwise got lots of rest, yet again! By this point we were pretty dang excited!
Days 7-8: I did our routine, sang her one song and then put her in her crib and left the room. No 5 minutes of staying. I could check on her in the 15/20/25 intervals, but only verbally with a quick reassurance.
Day 7- She protested initially when I left without sticking around a bit. She cried for 15 minutes, I came in the room and handed her her Paci. I told her that I loved her and she was okay, and I would see her in the morning. After about another 10 minutes of crying, she laid down and went to sleep for the rest of the night.
Day 8- Same as day 7. I left the room, she cried. But at about the 13.5 minute mark, she stopped crying. She didn’t go right to sleep, but since she wasn’t crying I stopped the timer. She did some wiggling around, whimpered a little here and there, and then after about another 15 minutes was sound asleep until 7:45am! Look at that cute little ruffle booty in the air!
From that point on, I have been able to lay her in her crib and leave the room. She doesn’t cry, and goes right to sleep! There are a few nights here or there that she will wake up, but can usually self-soothe. Only very rarely have I had to go in there and help her out, and thus far she has kept this up!
Now all of this to say, I know that kids do their own thing and the minute you think that you have them figured out, they change it on you. (Please, Lord, don’t let this post be a jinx!). I am fully prepared for sleep regressions, but I truly believe if we stick with this system, she will come through them just fine. It’s been 2.5 months and most of the time, she is sleeping from 8:30-9pm until about 8am! Some days a little earlier, some days a little later. Mommy and Daddy are much more rested, and everyone is happier! I hope that maybe this can help another tired mama or two. Please, let me know if you try it out!
Now her naps, I did not want to mess with those until we had this down pat, since naps are much harder. We have since straightened that out, most days! I will have to write a separate post on that another time.