So, Elliott is 4 months old now, and I’d been gearing up for that age because I knew it was the earliest we could start sleep training if that’s what we were going to do. I bought the Richard Ferber book Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems and read it cover to cover. I know that it’s controversial and many people are opposed to what he recommends. But, I also knew that no one was sleeping at my house and that can’t be normal, so something needed to change. Elliott was rocked to sleep for all her naps, night-time sleep and any time she woke up during the night. She was waking up between 4-5 times every single night, and we’d spend about 30 or so minutes putting her back to sleep before we could lay her back down and hope that she wouldn’t wake up in the transition. And, for naps, she always slept way better if you held her and she would actually wake up if you tried to lay her down. So yes, that means that our poor nanny was holding her for all her naps, and so were we.
I knew all of this was crazy, but it killed me to think about her crying and being alone in her crib. But, we had our 4 month doctor’s appointment, and my doctor basically said that after 4 months it gets even harder to teach good sleep habits, so if she hadn’t learned them on her own by now, then it was definitely time that I help her do it. I knew that she hadn’t learned them because I didn’t let her. Any time she made a peep, I would scoop her up and rock and shush her back to sleep. So, she never had a chance to even try to self-soothe. I don’t regret any of this though because for a long time she was swaddled, and couldn’t self-soothe since her hands were bound. And, she didn’t like pacifiers at all. So, until she was ready to sleep swaddle-free I didn’t think sleep training was an option. We also were co-sleeping all the time, which I know many people are opposed to, but this is what worked for us. Sean and I were both ready to get our bed back though, and I think that she probably woke up more because of our movement.
So this past weekend we decided that it was time to start the sleep training. I held and cuddled her extra tight in the hours leading up to bed time. We went through our normal routine of bath time, feeding and reading and then instead of rocking her to sleep, I put her in her crib with her Pink Bunny Lovey, turned on the white noise and walked out. At first she just hung out in there with no crying, but then it started and she was really upset. So, at pre-determined intervals we took turns going in, patting her and telling her it was ok. We went in at 3, 5, 7 and 10 minutes and then every 10 minutes after that. So at the first 10 minute interval I saw that she had a poop explosion. This has never happened, and of course it happened on the first night of sleep training. I got her up, changed her and the sheets and we started over with the intervals. After a total of 45 minutes (including the time before the poop), she was asleep. Of course I cried right along with her and thought about calling the whole thing off. But, I knew that if I did that, all the crying she’d already done would have been for nothing. And, I didn’t want to do that to her. And, honestly I was expecting her to cry for much longer.
Then, she woke up around 12, and we started over with the intervals (3, 5, 7 and 10 minutes). She cried for an hour but eventually went back to sleep. That killed me! Again, I wanted nothing more than to pick her up and rock her to sleep. But, I knew I couldn’t do that. At 3:30 she woke up again and I decided to feed her. She fell asleep while I was nursing her and stayed asleep until 7:15. Amazing!
The next night was even better. She cried for about 20 minutes when we first put her to sleep, but she eventually fell asleep on her own. She woke up at 1:30 and 3, fussed for about 3-5 minutes (no real crying) and then went back to sleep. At 4:30 when she woke up, I went in to feed her. This time she didn’t fall asleep while I was nursing her, but after she finished, I put her back in her crib where she cooed for a while and then eventually fell asleep on her own with no crying! She stayed asleep until 7:45. We were in shock.
But, it hasn’t all been roses. Of course the crying is hard for me, and I cry right along with her. And, naps aren’t going as well yet. For naps, if they cry for 20 minutes, you’re supposed to end nap time and try again later. We had to do that on the first day, and it was not pretty. But, I know it will get better and we will all be happier and sleeping better.
I also think that you have to try this at the right time. She wasn’t ready for it before this, and if I’d tried it I probably would have been discouraged and put off trying it again for a long time. I know not everyone agrees with the “cry it out” method, but for us it has been a total game changer. Waking up every hour or more throughout the night was making all of us miserable. I was a zombie at work and Sean and I had more than a few harsh words for each other in the middle of the night. No more! So, obviously I’m a fan. I know were only 2 days in, but that’s how dramatically things have already changed at our house. I am a believer. Did you ferberize? Will you?