I haven’t written anything substantial this week because I’ve just been exhausted and sleep-deprived. Our household has just recovered from the flu/bronchiolitis and it was a very rough two weeks of just holding my 4-month-old day and night for her to sleep. And I don’t mean putting her on me and sleeping! I mean holding her while standing and swaying! I had to take shifts with my husband so I could squeeze in some shut eye to function on the most basic level.
Previously after a few days of sleep training some 7 ish weeks ago (read about it here), Miss E was able to put herself to sleep first thing in the evening and stay down for at least 2-3 hours, and also for some naps. However, just before she fell sick, it was becoming harder to put her down for naps. Granted, we weren’t consistent at all as she was still sleeping a lot in the Ergobaby carrier so we didn’t help ourselves much there. Then she fell sick and everything went out the window for 2 weeks.
Since recovering, her sleep has gone from bad to atrocious. It’s not like I’m going, “I need to sleep train because my baby is waking 1-2 times a night”, I was physically getting up to rock her like 10-20 times a night and I was barely sleeping and starting to feel myself go crazy. And she wasn’t even sleeping in her bassinette- this is when she was sleeping on me! If she slept well on me, she could sleep there for all she wants…but she wasn’t getting good sleep either. I was also still carrying her for naps in the Ergobaby carrier most of the day and after a while she went back to catnapping- consistently sleeping a maximum of 30 minutes in it most of the time. Carrying her all day was also starting to become very difficult to manage with a demanding (and loud) toddler to look after too. You might be able to hold your first child all day long but unfortunately it’s near to impossible to do with your second. Also, Miss E is far worse a sleeper than Miss A ever was.
So I decided it was time to bite the bullet, stay consistent and see this through. I know sleep training is controversial and lots of people make it out to be child abuse but hear me out- I would love to keep rocking and holding Miss E if she slept well but she wasn’t. She wasn’t sleeping well and I was barely functioning and barely able to look after Miss A. Something just had to be done. Miss E is 4 months now which is a good age for sleep training. Not too young (she has now lost startle reflex, feeds better, doesn’t throw up etc), but also not old enough to have hard-to-break habits or be mobile. The older they get, the harder sleep training becomes as they can sit up and pull up. I knew it was now or never.
At 4 months old, Miss E roughly has a wake time of 1 hour 30 minutes so I tried to put her down around the 1 hour 20 minute mark so she had some time to settle herself. We did the cry-it-out method where we stayed with her and comforted her by verbally reassuring her and rubbing her chest but didn’t pick her up. I find the whole pick up/put down method doesn’t really work- not for us anyway. They end up taking longer to settle overall and I think that equates to even more crying than if they were to be not picked up at all. So for those of you interested in sleep training, this is how Day 1 went for us:
Wake: 7am (after a really horrible night of co-sleeping with her)
Nap 1: Put down in bassinette at 8.20am. Cried 20 minutes. Then a part of me caved because I hadn’t fed her since she got up at 6.20am and wondered if she was hungry. So I got her out to nurse and we ended up both falling asleep together for 30 minutes until 9.10am. Oops. Not the best start. Note to self: Feed her before putting her down so I don’t ever doubt whether she is hungry!
Nap 2: Put down at 10.10am. Cried 20 minutes then slept/cried on and off for 10 minutes. I nearly cracked at that point. She then slept quietly for just 10 minutes and was up at 10.50am.
Nap 3: Put down at 12.15pm. Cried 10 minutes. Slept 10 minutes. Woke up and cried for 15 minutes (comforted her in bassinette). Slept another 20 minutes. Up at 1.15pm.
Nap 4: Put down at 2.35pm. Played with her blanket quietly for 15 minutes. Cried 10 minutes. Slept just 10 minutes until 3.10pm then woke up and cried. Tried comforting her for another 20 minutes before giving up and getting her up at 3.30pm.
Nap 5: Put down at 4.35pm. Cried 15 minutes. Slept 30 minutes and then had a little grizzle and went straight back to sleep with no intervention. Exhaustion and her natural nighttime drowsiness seemed to kick in and she ended up only waking at 7.15pm. Probably would have kept sleeping after a feed but I got her up for a bath.
Sleep: Fed her after her bath and she fell half asleep on boob. Put down drowsy but slightly awake. Went straight to sleep with no fuss at 8.30pm. Woke up 11.30pm, 1.15am, 3.30am, and 4.50am. Each time I fed her and put her down drowsy but awake and she would grizzle no more than 5 minutes before falling asleep. Woke up for the day at 6.20am when I realised after feeding her that her nappy had overflowed and her clothes were a bit wet. Only 4 awakenings for the first night? Honestly went far better than I thought it would!
Will keep tracking the days…stay tuned!