Hey Saltee People:
Today we are talking about my sleep training experience. I chose to go with the Taking Cara Babies ABC’s of sleep. This one I particularly liked because it stressed that it was not a cry it out method. I also love Cara and I think she has so much good information and so much to teach. I had tried this before but a week and a half in, there was one bad night and I got lazy and it kind of all went down hill from there. I decided this time that I really was going to commit to all 14 nights and I made a journal with each night’s plan written out.
Jameson’s pediatrician cleared us at his 1 month visit to stop waking him for night feedings… to which I responded – we weren’t even waking him, he wakes up on his own LOL. SO when we got to month 5 and he had actually increased the amount of wakings and feedings per night, I knew I needed to adjust what I was doing and how I was handling these wakings. It’s soooo easy to just hear the baby cry, pick him up and feed him. That’s what I was doing, and he ended up going from one night feeding to 3 or 4 each night. I could not function living that way. I think sleep training is definitely something that can be so beneficial but you need to wait until baby is old enough. According to the course I took, babies are not developmentally ready until they are 5 months old. That’s because at this age they begin to understand cause and affect, if they don’t understand this then you will likely not be successful.
Night one: Not gonna lie… I was up most of the night. Our first try at sleep training, I tried to go cold turkey with night feedings. This time I decided to go the gradual weaning route. I found comfort in the fact that I had a set plan and that this transition will be easier than the last and that I will be in control. I think that because I had a set plan, I was more confident and ready as opposed to feeling helpless in the middle of the night. Pretty much the plan was to start with 3 night feedings that I have set times for, and that I will go in and feed him, instead of feeding him when he cries. I also will time these feedings and gradually reduce the times over the next two weeks. Jameson woke on his own about 5 times, 3 of which resulted in a long amount of crying. When there is a prolonged amount of crying, I check in at 5 minutes, 10 minutes and then every 15 minutes after that. I did make the decision for me to handle all night wakings alone. That’s just me though. I’m a control freak, and would be awake anyways even if I wasn’t doing the check ins. Sometimes I would go longer than the 15 minutes between check ins because he would start to drift off and then something would spark him to start crying again. Overall it was exactly what I expected but, I felt confident.
Night two: SO much easier. He cried a little before 10 which was kind of weird, but it wasn’t for very long. He also woke a few times that didn’t result in crying and were more of just him shifting around. I did take the time to change his diaper around 12:30 while he was crying and I definitely think that helped him go back to sleep. Tonight’s feedings were easier because I didn’t have to wait for him to stop crying to feed him. Something that we are implementing is that if he is crying at feeding time, I wait for him to stop crying and go back to sleep and then go and feed him after he’s been asleep for a little. This reinforces that crying isn’t being rewarded. I will still go in and check on him, and his nutritional needs are still being met, but it is in a way that teaches him that night time is for sleeping.
Night Three: So this was when he started crying around 9 ish. This went on for a few nights but it would never be too long. This night he still got three feedings however we started to lessen the time of the 2nd feeding to start to cut it out. He only cried for a total of 13 minutes through out the night. I felt really in control and things were looking up.
Night Four: Once again he woke up around 9. I don’t exactly know why but it was fine. I didn’t have to intervene and he put himself back to sleep. We cut out the 2nd feeding tonight and there was a little crying around the time I would’ve fed him but nothing crazy. I did a diaper change around 3 am because he had been crying and he definitely needed one but that didn’t help much and he ended up crying for about 40 minutes. I still was able to do the 3rd feeding at 4:00 am but this was definitely a more difficult night as we had cut down to two feedings.
Night Five: This was a heavy crying night. He cried for a full 56 minutes at 4 am. so with that being said, I ended up only doing the dream feed and cut out the third feeding. Looking on the bright side, he did sleep from 7:00 PM to 4:00 AM with the dream feed at 10. But it was the most crying out of these first 5 nights.
Night Six: Now we have completely cut out night feedings. This is a HUGE step. And this night went really well. He only woke up twice (3:45 + 5:00) and both times I didn’t need to intervene. (we decided to keep the dream feed at 10 pm because I feel it does help with his night sleep)
Night Seven: Not going to lie, I totally didn’t log this. Which I think means we had a successful night again probably either equivalent or better then night 6!
Night Eight: He cried around 8:30 until 9:00 which was super strange. This doesn’t usually happen so close to bed time, so that made me feel like things were a little strange. We then did the dream feed at 10. Then he woke for 20 minutes at 3:30 and then also had crying on and off from 5 to 6. I think around 6 ish I ended up feeding him in my bed and then he fell asleep on the breast until 7:30. This was less than ideal, because we don’t normally do RAB (rest at the breast) but honestly I needed the sleep.
Night Nine: So he cried a little bit around 1:00 AM and then cried again around 4:00. Then at 5:00 he basically woke up for the day. He cried for the full hour until 6 and then I ended up feeding him in bed again kind of hoping he would fall asleep, which didn’t happen. So he was up for the day. I remember reading that when you start experiencing early wakings that means you are getting over the last hump until they will start sleeping through the night. So hopefully these super early wakings lead to a solid night’s sleep. (also side note – when I say he cried for a full hour, that doesn’t mean I left him to cry for an hour, it means for an hour I would go in and check in on him every 15 minutes)
Night Ten: This was a pretty good night. We put him to bed right at 7:00 and then he fell asleep pretty quickly. At 9:45 there was a little bit of noise but I don’t think that he was fully awake. I still did the dream feed at 10:00 with a little bit of noise afterward but for the most part he went right back to bed. The night went pretty well… I think he made a little noise at either 1:00 or 3:00 am but honestly I’m not sure, I didn’t get up to log it and everything is kind of a blur at night. Then around 5:30 or so he made a little bit of noice but we didn’t have to get him until 6:30! So the early waking wasn’t terrible today and I feel like overall it was a really low intervening night!
Night Eleven: Okay, I am kind of running out of thoughts.. but he keeps stirring around 9:00 every night. It’s super brief but it’s literally like clock work. It’s kind of weird, I don’t see a huge problem with it but I might ask my pediatrician about it if it keeps happening. I am also starting to wonder if I still need to do a dream feed? He has started crying after them for a little bit so I might wean this as well and see how it goes. He had another early waking which has been… exhausting. He woke up around 5:30 again so I need to definitely revisit the early waking section in the course that I am taking.
Nights Twelve, Thirteen and Fourteen: OK. I totally didn’t log these nights. A few wakings here and there and then one terrible night. He cried so much and for so long out of no where. Personally I think he’s teething because his day times have been extra clingy and needy. I think I found a solution to the early wakings. I had been allowing him to nap about 4-4.5 hours total during the day… when for his age I should’ve only been having him nap for 3-3.5 hours a day. I’ve only implemented this for 3 days total but I’ve already seen a move in the right direction.
So to wrap this up, I think sleep training is a great option for parents but only if it is developmentally appropriate. Our pediatrician had cleared us to stop night feedings super early on and we had eventually gotten down to one night feeding… so when I had gotten to month 5 and night feedings had only increased I knew I was enabling him with the way I was handling night wakings. Sleep training does not have to mean cry it out. We always made sure to check in, give him back rubs, and comfort him appropriately. I also always made a point to check his diaper, and make sure all of his physical needs were met if he had prolonged crying. The biggest success for me was weaning the night feedings. Once we weaned those, night wakings are pretty much just small short wakings here and there. Overall, I would call this a success. We still need to really wrap it up to get him to truly sleep through the night, but I am really happy with the growth we have achieved.
I hope you guys found this informative and helpful! Please feel free to reach out with questions you may have.