I was really hesitant to start sleep training Jack when we did. He was only 4 months old and I felt it was too early and all the community health nurses kept telling me 5 months is the earliest you should start. But I had hit the wall! Jack had hit the 4 month sleep regression stage. He was barely sleeping more than an hour at a time and I was getting no sleep. He wouldn’t sleep in his crib. In fact, the only way he would sleep was if he was on one of us. To top it off, the only way we could even get him to sleep was with the walk, bounce and shoosh up and down our apartment. He was about 15 lbs by that point and by the time we got him to sleep for each nap and bedtime, we could barely feel our arms. As much as I loved having him sleep on me, this could not continue.
Cheeky Chops Consulting Inc. was recommended by a friend of mine. Hiring them as our sleep consultants was one of the best things we have done. It’s a very worthwhile investment to say the least. Before I had our consultation phone call, I did a sleep log for three days/nights, tracking when Jack ate and slept and then filled out a form on what our goals and expectations were. Dave and I had the following goals:
- To have Jack fall asleep on his own
- To have Jack sleep in his crib
- To have Jack sleep for longer than 2 hours at a time (self soothe back to sleep)
- To have Jack nap in his crib
- To have Jack nap for longer than one sleep cycle
After the hour long phone consultation, a detailed plan was formed based on our goals for Jack. The first two weeks we just concentrated on bedtime and didn’t worry about his napping. We continued to have Jack nap on us.
We dream fed him at 10:30pm every night and then again 4 hours after that. Eventually we weaned him off the second feed. This was a huge concern for me because he was used to eating so much throughout the night and not having large breaks between feeds. I had told the consultant that I wanted to monitor this and just see how it went. If he was waking up then I wanted to continue to give him that feed, but he consistently slept through it so my concerns were quickly alleviated. Jack was now ready to sleep through the night. He just needed to learn how.
The first night was awful. I knew there were going to be tears and I knew it was going to be hard on me to listen to the tears. We weren’t going to make him cry it out. We were able to go in to console him a lot, but we also had to give him time to figure it out on his own. The only way I got through it was with wine, tears, and hugs from Dave. Jack was a champ that first night. We had to go in to console him a lot, but he slept longer than he had in ages.
Each night got better and before we knew it Jack was essentially sleeping from 7pm until 7am. We always wake him up at 7am to start his day even if he is still sleeping. There are times that he wakes up early and as long as it’s past 6am, he is allowed to get out of bed. Before that, we let him chill in his crib till it is time to get up. Of course, there are times in the night that he still cries, but he’s now able to get himself back to sleep, and usually within minutes. Occasionally it is longer and we have to go in console him and do a diaper change etc., but what looked like it would never happen actually happened. I can finally say that Jack sleeps through the night!
Sometimes Jack doesn’t even cry before falling asleep now. It just really blows my mind that in such a short time, he was able to figure that out. Our little champ! It also helps that he’s now able to roll over, which means he can actually choose his own sleeping position. He usually prefers to sleep on his tummy. At first we kept flipping him over, but quickly gave up that futile exercise as the second he learned to roll over he lost all interest in staying on his back. He was like a confused turtle!
Nap training is a whole other ball of wax though. Nap training is way harder than sleep training. The plan for Jack was to have a nap at 8:30am for one hour, a nap at noon for two hours, then a final nap at 4:00pm for 30 min. We started nap training two weeks after we started sleep training.
Jack consistently takes that first nap. It is by far the easiest for him. I think he only cried through that nap once.
That noon nap is somewhat harder. He sometimes cries through it, he sometimes sleeps for just 45 minutes (one sleep cycle) and sometimes sleeps for the full two hours. The inconsistency is incredibly frustrating, but I now realize that he knows how to lengthen that nap and he does when he needs to. I used to be so hard on myself when he would wake up and I couldn’t get him to fall back asleep but now if he wakes up early, I just put him down for his next nap earlier.
I always make sure we are home for the first two naps of the day. I think it is important he has those naps in the same place. Of course, occasionally we can have them out and about, but the consistency is important.
That final nap is a total bitch. He has cried through it more often than he has actually taken it. We tend to do that nap out and about now. He has taken it in the Ergo, in the car etc. We basically do whatever it takes to get that nap so he isn’t overtired for bedtime. To this point he has only slept through that nap, in his crib, once.
We have now done seven weeks with him sleeping in his crib at night and four weeks napping in his crib. I am absolutely thrilled with how well he has done. Our little boy amazes me! I know these sleeping skills will take him a long way. It was absolutely worth starting when we did!
I have also learned three things during this time. First, I take things too personally (like blaming myself when he doesn’t nap well) which of course is ridiculous. Second, the inconsistency of babies blows my Type A mind! Third, my husband is amazing (yes, I already knew this, but he’s been just an amazing support throughout this entire process)!