May 2, 2012

Cry it Out

So I'm quickly learning that no 2 babies are alike...or at least my two aren't. Take sleep for example. Colton always has been an amazing sleeper. He started sleeping through the night at about 2 months. Around the same time, I started putting him down for an official nap, and he has napped 2ish hours at his nap time ever since (except for some minor glibs when we brought his brother home a few months ago). I thought I must be the baby whisperer or something.
But then Levi came along. Levi was a little more reluctant to sleep through the night, but around 3 months, he started having some nights when he would do it. On the other nights, he would only wake up once at about 3 or so, eat, and then go back to sleep. Not a big deal.
Nap time, though, was a MAJOR issue!!! Nap time in our house is at 2PM. As I mentioned, Colton goes down easily, and I have always been able to count on that time to rest/get things done/decompress. So, at around 3 months, I decided it was time for Levi to start taking a nap. At nap time. In his crib. I had hoped this would be an easy process, but alas it was not. Here's how it actually went down:

Day 1: Put him down, cried for 5 or so minutes, and fell asleep. Slept about an hour and 45 minutes. Too bad Colton only slept for an hour that day...seriously?!? Thought this was going to be easy peasy, but then...
Day 2: Put him down, fell right asleep, but woke up after about 20 minutes. I went in, picked him up (rookie mistake...I now know this was a big no-no), fed him, sang to him, put him back down. He screamed and screamed for about 10 minutes, and then I gave up. I figured he must not be tired, but we then spent the rest of the afternoon battling a very cranky, fussy baby...not fun!
Day 3: Day 2 on repeat. Except this time he was even fussier when I brought him out of the crib, and I was pretty pissy myself. I may have even yelled at him. And I may have cried. It was not pretty.
Day 4: ***Decided it was time to start letting him cry it out!***Put him down. Slept for about 20 minutes. Woke up. Screamed for about an hour. Finally fell back to sleep. Woke up about 5 minutes later, screamed again for a few minutes, and then FINALLY went to sleep for about 50 minutes..Hallelujah!!!
Day 5: Braced myself for the battle. Put Levi down. He slept for about 30 minutes. Woke up. Screamed bloody murder for approximately 30 minutes. Fell back asleep for about 10 minutes. Woke up again for about 20 minutes, and then finally fell asleep for 45 minutes.
Days 6-8: We gave up...well, really were forced to pause because of circumstances (we had a date day one day during which the boys were with their grandparents, we took a day trip to Richmond for another, oh and on day 7 Josh was home since it was a weekend and couldn't stand the screaming anymore!)
Day 9: Here we go again...Cried about 10 minutes, fell asleep for about 30 minutes. Woke up for 20 screaming minutes, but then fell back asleep for about 45 more minutes. Progress?!?
Day 10: Cried for a couple minutes (oh and by crying we mean this special scream that he seems to have developed just for nap time), fell asleep for 30 minutes. Woke up and cried about 10 minutes, but then fell asleep for about 45 minutes.
Day 11: Cried for a minute, and then fell asleep for....1 HOUR AND 20 MINUTES!!!! Dare we declare victory?!? (although truthfully, we're hoping for more like 2 hours)
Day 12: Major mistake...stayed at the zoo too close to nap time. Levi fell asleep on the way home, woke up hungry once we got home, and then struggled to get back to sleep. Totally my fault.
Day 13: Slept for 30 minutes, then screamed for about an hour. We gave up!
Day 14: 3 hour nap!!!! ***Of course, I was at a freakin baby shower and missed this glory, but fingers crossed our battle is over.
Day 15: Cried for about 10 minutes, then slept for 2 hours!!! I'm starting to feel confident...
Day 16: regression. Slept for about 30 minutes, screamed for about 30 minutes, slept for about an hour.
Day 17: Was already sleeping when I put him in the crib... slept a little over 2 crying, no screaming, nothing. Either he was just really tired or...?
Days 18-present (about 2 weeks): Cried for a few minutes (between 1 and 10)...then sleeps for at least an hour and a half, usually closer to 2 hours... usually waking up once and whimpering for about a minute until falling back to sleep...VICTORY DECLARED!

I always like to preface these kinds of things with acknowledging I am certainly no expert or pediatrician, but these were my experiences and the things that worked, things that didn't, and the lessons I learned. With that being said, I was careful to follow a certain routine before putting Levi down for each nap. I made sure he had eaten, made sure his diaper was clean, and then would rock him for a few minutes while singing to him immediately before putting him to sleep. In addition, I kept Levi on a pretty regular routine throughout the rest of the day with the hopes that it would help him anticipate the naps more.
Also, most "crying it out" experts will tell you to go in and soothe the baby (without talking to him/her) in increasing intervals while they are crying. Well, for Levi, that didn't seem to help at may be the creaky floor in there or something but I found it was better to just stay out and let him work it out on his own. I had heard and read that if the baby isn't hungry or hurt, then you should just let it be and that was pretty much my philosophy. I found that he had to learn it was ok to be in the crib, and I think if I had kept going in to check on him, he would have never learned that lesson. I still have hopes that one day he will just take his nap without crying at all...this may be a pipe dream (he tends to fight sleep in general), but we'll see. On a positive note, I did find that through this process he started waking up in the mornings without crying and would just lay in his crib until we came to get him at which point he would have a huge smile on his face.
And finally, I want to say that crying it out was certainly a tough learning experience for me. I think my years of teaching have given me a pretty tough skin when it comes to kids. I realized through my experiences there that as much as I wanted to love and nurture every kid in every situation, my job was also to teach them to be better human beings and that sometimes that meant being a little tougher. With my own baby, it certainly is even harder to give him that tough love. But learning to sleep is a part of learning about life (from what I've read anyway), and as frustrating/heartbreaking as it was to listen to him wail, I kept telling myself it was the right thing to do. In fact, I even kept this as a daily journal while I was doing it, promising myself that the end result would be a success story.
Thank goodness it was (hopefully I'm not jinxing myself!). For those of you reading who may think your child will never take a nap or sleep at night or whatever the case may be, my personal belief is that you can train any baby to do anything. If you're consistent, it will work. And to those of you thinking, yeah it may, but I don't want to scar my child by doing it or something like that, I would say that I personally feel that the love you give them the other 23 hours and the other 17 and 11/12 years of their life will far outweigh the short time that they are left crying.
And now back to enjoying my 2 hours of peace...


  1. Children do need to learn these patterns. I never had one layed out for ours, especially when it came to naps. I just allowed them to sleep for as long as they wished and left it at that. You are absolutely right no two are alike in naps or anything. This is just one victory, you'll learn you may have to do things a little different throughout boys lives. Good luck and God bless!

    Cathy Kennedy's Blog

  2. I wanted to laugh and cry while reading this! I'm really just going to need you to come here and get livi to nap in her crib!


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