The last time I talked about Lewis sleep progress, we were just going back to sleeping into the crib after a cold, teething, and learning to roll to his tummy. I did start off trying to put him in “awake but sleepy,” and at first it seemed that it was going to work alright with me being able to stay there, rub his back, sing to him, and ease him into sleep with no crying. This quickly degenerated into him crying when placed into the crib and trying to crawl to me. I felt bad that maybe he still wasn’t feeling 100%, it was all new to him now that he could roll over and crawl, etc. etc. So I went back to my “bad habits” of nursing him to sleep and placing him in the crib fully asleep.
This worked for us for a few weeks, but he slowly started waking and trying to crawl when placed in the crib, waking more at night, etc. etc. Same old story that we had dealt with when he was 4 months. He also began trying to crawl in his sleep, thus waking himself even more frequently and being even more upset on waking. I started feeling exhausted, falling asleep on the couch in the night, etc. all over again. I researched crawling in sleep and such, which is when I learned that sleep regression is normal for babies at 4 months and 9 months (he is 8.5). I also read things stating that for a baby who has always had trouble sleeping and gets worse at these times, sleep training can work wonders, and also that when you have sleep trained once and baby has learned to fall asleep on their own it is like riding a bike and becomes even easier when you try again. (Sorry, I didn’t save any references. You can Google it and I’m sure some of the same sites will pop up.)
As I’ve mentioned, I hate letting him cry, but I started to feel like we needed to try the sleep training again. Chris reminded me how well it went the first time and how I said I wasn’t going to go back to nursing him to sleep. I still hesitated, and put it off for another week. In the mean time I started reading Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman. If you haven’t heard of it, it is written by an American mother living in France, about her discoveries of the differences between French and American parenting attitudes. I’m really enjoying it and will be doing a separate post on it once I’ve finished reading it. Anyway, the section on sleep in this book gave me another little push towards trying the sleep training again.
So, we started on Friday, and of course it has been going great. Even better than the first time. Chris gets to say “I told you so” and I get to enjoy a little more sleep and feel relieved that my baby isn’t crying for hours on end like I’m always paranoid will happen.
The first night, he cried for 8 minutes. The second night, 5. Last night he cried for under a minute and then we heard him making little sounds for a while, that sounded as though he were singing himself to sleep. He’s been waking less frequently in the night and several times I have heard him semi-wake and fall back to sleep on his own. He’s fallen asleep in some interesting positions, since he does start off by trying to crawl after me/crawl towards the door. On night 2 he fell asleep with his head on his toy leopard like a little pillow. Last night he fell asleep with his head in the corner and his elbow sticking out between the bars.
The first time we did this I was pretty strict and “all or nothing” about it. I tried to have him fall asleep on his own for bedtime, night wakings, and naps. I’ve been more relaxed with it this time, and it seems to be working well. He normally has two naps a day, and his first nap is usually in his stroller. On Saturday I tried to have him fall asleep on his own for his afternoon nap, but he got very upset in the crib and cried for more than our planned 15 minutes. I took him out, soothed him, brought him back in, and he cried even more. So Chris and I talked about it and decided that if he needs to be nursed to sleep for naps some of the time (or maybe all the time) that is ok. Naps were the hardest for him last time around, too. It makes sense since nighttime is dark and sleepy and we have our routines, where as day time is all bright and we also play with him in his crib sometimes or put him in there to play while I get dressed, so it makes sense that it would be more confusing and upsetting. Maybe once he really masters his nights we will get stricter on the day times.
I know I felt very proud of him the first time through when he started falling asleep on his own, and here I am feeling happy and proud of him again for doing so well with this. Like always, I know things will change. For instance, who knows what will happen when he starts teething again. For now I will enjoy this and feel confident that he will continue to be able to self-soothe at bedtime!