Dreadful Sleep Training

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While we have been proactive about Harper Sue’s morning nap (9am), bedtime (7pm), and sleep routine (nursing, bedtime story, low lights, ocean sound white noise) since Month3 we typically allowed her to sleep in as long as she wanted in the morning.  Her afternoon nap was variable and late afternoon nap nearly extinct. The one area we where particularly reactive was nighttime wakings. Harper would typically wake up 3-4 times/night, I would quickly put her on The Boob, she would nurse for 10 minutes and we’d both go back to sleep. This would have worked for a long time if I somehow got used to sleep deprivation and if Harper stayed sleeping in our bed.

We love having Harper in our bed at night. Combine that with Circadian rhythms not developing until around 3 months and you know why we waited until now to take on nighttime sleep training.

Our friends and fellow parents of a happy healthy toddler gave us the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child and I started reading it while we where in Maui.  The book explains the importance of a full night sleep (9-12 hours) for infants and gives a few options for how to “encourage” good sleep habits.

With the book open to the 5 to 9 Month chapter on the dining room table, We started our nighttime strategy last night and where prepared for a wakeful emotional night. Our strategy included accommodating no more than two feedings/night and using a 30 minute cry duration to signal a feeding. We discussed the schedule in detail before going to bed:

If she cries before she has been asleep for 3 hours it is unlikely that she is hungry and we should commit to giving her the opportunity to self soothe. If she has been asleep for at least 3 hours and has maintained her crying for 30 minutes it is likely that she is hungry so Patti will feed her in the nursery and lay her back down to sleep. The later will be done a maximum of two times between 7pm and 7am. In all cases of waking and crying, we will give her 30 minutes to learn to self soothe before any action is taken.

With this detailed plan we turned off the baby monitor and headed off to bed.

Sometime between midnight and 2am Harper woke, cried for 10 minutes, and went back to sleep.

At 2:30am I got up to pump my uncomfortably engorged boobs. Harper Sue had typically been nursing 3 or 4 times/night and my boobs didn’t get the memo that this might be changing.

At 5:11am Harper woke a second time, cried for 25 minutes before going back to sleep.

I woke her at 7am, fed her, and we all headed to Ritual for coffee. I was in a state of surprised shock the whole morning. “Had we just made it through night #1 with less than 45 minutes of combined crying and only two breaks in Harper’s sleep cycle?” Yep!

It’s now 10pm on night #2 and my thoughts are with Harper Sue, encouraging her to keep up the good work.