Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Cry It Out? The Joys of Sleep Training

I always thought I would be great at letting my kid "cry it out." After all, it seems like the easiest thing to do, and I am pretty lazy. Just sit there and flip through a magazine while your kid cries in the background. No biggie. Crying didn't really bother me. Or, I didn't think that it did.

Here he is, plotting his next bedtime revenge. Do you see the devious eyebrow action?
Cut to last night. There is something about listening to my baby cry for an hour that puts me in an extremely bad mood. But for our first night of sleep training, I guess it was a tentative success. Possibly. But let me back it up a bit and talk about how we got to this point.

I think we have been pretty lucky so far when it comes to sleeping. I haven't had to try too hard for everyone to coexist happily and get rest up until this point. Sure, we had the same sleepless nights as everyone else when Ben was a newborn. In fact, I remember getting anxiety at sunset, because I didn't know when my next shut-eye was going to occur. But after that first month, things settled into a routine. At about 2 months (maybe a bit sooner, I can't remember) I transferred Ben from his bassinet to the crib. I did a mini-sleep training at that point (nothing crazy, he was still so young). But, in order to get him used to the crib, I would put him in and just pat him on the back without picking him up (when I knew that he was all fed and changed), etc. etc., until he was almost asleep. Ben, like any normal little infant, would still get up a few times a night, but I could count on a few hours stretch at a time normally. Then little by little, three times up a night went to two, and then two times went to one. I would normally breastfeed him when he woke up, but when he was old enough, Dan would go in first to see if a pacifier would suffice. If I am remembering correctly, he began consistently sleeping for 12 hours straight at about 6-7 months. As a caveat to this, there are always exceptions for illnesses, teething, etc..

Eventually we fell into a routine at bedtime where he would fall asleep while I was nursing him, and then I would put him in his crib. After I stopped breastfeeding, he would be very sleepy after his bottle, and I would just rock him to sleep. I knew while I was doing it that this was all very big No-Nos according to every book ever. BUT, it was sooo easy for the following reasons. First, he would normally fall asleep so quickly that it took very little effort. Second, I really didn't mind doing it, because I liked holding him/rocking him. I could easily read a book on my iPhone while doing it, and I didn't have anything else pressing to do. Again, it was easy and felt right.

Two major things have changed a bit over the past couple of weeks. One, he is not falling asleep so quickly. Before, it would be 5-10 minutes. MAYBE 20. Now, it is like at least 45 minutes some nights. Two, I am not able to peacefully read a book while he drifts off to sleep, because he wriggles around like a maniac (and tries to grab my phone if he spots it). Now that rocking him to sleep isn't the easy and enjoyable process that it used to be, I am sort of over it. When I try to put him in his crib awake, he stands up and cries. Eventually, I would come back in and rock him to sleep (he would be more tired this time).

I knew that I needed to kick in the ole' sleep training, but I just didn't really have the motivation until last night, because he would still have a night here or there where he would fall asleep quickly. However, there were enough nights in a row not like that to get me to start the sleep training. Plus, we have a few trips coming up in the next few months, and I don't want to have to worry about going through a whole rigmarole during those.

So last night, I let him cry for about 15 minutes the first round (which was probably too long for the first time around, but I don't think it made much difference). Then I went in, laid him down, patted his back. He calmed down and fell asleep (whoops! I comforted for too long!). But don't worry, I had another chance, because he woke up again about 15-20 minutes later in a tizzy. This time, Dan went in after a few minutes. Comforted for a minute or two. Then he cried for another 5 minutes, I went in and comforted. Then he cried for another 9 minutes. I went in, then he cried for another 9 minutes, I went in. Then he cried for almost another 9 minutes and fell asleep. He woke up around 11pm and cried for a bit, so I went in and patted him/gave him his paci, and he went right to bed.

So tonight, I will be sure to put Ben in the crib when he is awake, even if it seems like it is going to be one of those quick to rock to sleep nights. I will still rock him of course, I am not a monster robot! But just for a bit to get him sleepy and to be comforting, and then off to bed. I will let you all know if he goes to bed more quickly this time around.


  1. Just wondering how this worked out for you. We went through the same thing with our daughter a few months ago. Once we finally decided to let her cry it out - it was a painful night - but then it was better. MUCH better.

  2. Hi Sarah! I just did an update post today about it - I was meaning to get to it sooner! Yep, it was pretty much the same way for us. I am so glad I finally did it and just pulled the band aid off so to speak.