July 2, 2012

Sleep Training 201

At around 4 months, Levi slept through the night for the first time consistently...a glorious week and a half or so during which he was making it 7-9 hours a night.  But ever since then, a full night's sleep has been shoddy at best.  He will do it one night, sometimes even a few in a row, and then once again be up between 1 and 3 or so for a few nights.  Every night when he wakes up, we are faced with the same main dilemma: is he hungry or is this just now his routine?
At first, I believed he was hungry, especially since after we fed him he would immediately go back to sleep for another 4-5 hours.  But now that he is eating 3 "meals" a day and drinking about 25 oz. of formula before bed, I am certain he shouldn't be hungry! Over time, it became more and more clear that Levi was simply used to waking up and eating and lacked the very important skill of being able to soothe himself to sleep and that the nights that he slept through the night were probably more a result of luck than any developmental gains.
Basically, he was developing a routine, and when I read that such a routine was increasingly difficult to break after baby turns six months, I knew we had to take action quick (Levi is 5 1/2 months old now!).
Going into this experience, we had a couple of things working for us and against us.  One challenge was that Levi is big on fighting his sleep.  We know this, but the awful shriek of a cry that he develops really makes you think something is wrong.  It is very hard to stay strong and remember that he is fine!  Another thing against us is that Levi doesn't take a pacifier (actually neither boy did, so maybe we're doing something wrong on that front).  Most sleep things I read tell you to help baby out when he/she wakes up by giving them their pacifier, so obviously we're out of luck on that one, although he does have a lovey that seems to help some.  But on the positive, we have been through this before when I was working to get him to take a nap (you can read about that experience here), so I know it can work!  I also tend to have a lot of resolve when it comes to this stuff, so with decision made, here's how it all worked out.
just to prove this cuteness wasn't harmed by this process!

***We feed Levi for the last time at 10PM.  For our purposes, I was defining sleeping through the night as 8-10 hours (what I read a baby of his age/eating solids should be able to do), so we were aiming for at least making it until 6
Night 1: Slept until 5:26 (about 7.5 hours)...I seriously considered just feeding him, but remembered it was more luck that got him to sleep that long in the first place and that it was time to start practicing...luckily he only cried for a minute or two, and then fell back asleep....for 10 minutes (man, I sure was thinking this was going to be easy!)...cried for an hour (maybe even a few minutes more)...it was excruciating, especially since we were now fully past the 8 hour goal and I really kept wondering if he was actually hungry now, BUT I know consistency is the key and I just kept willing him to go back to sleep, even if for only 5 minutes so that we could say he did it!  Eventually, though, he did go back to bed (for about an hour and a half until 8!)
Night 2: Woke up at 2:30...clearly no where near ready needing to eat....cried off and on for 20 minutes...at one point I went in to flip him over (he had rolled to his belly and while he can roll himself back, he gets really frustrated trying to do it) and gave him back his lovey.  Went back to bed and slept until 7:30!!!
Night 3: Slept straight through til 6:45!!! WHAT?!?  Luck or progress?  I'm thinking luck
Night 4: Woke up at 1:45 crying, flipped him back to his belly again (seriously dude you really just need to roll yourself...we know you can do it!), went back to sleep within minutes...slept until 6:30
Night 5-12: sleeping through the night, a couple of times he would wake up for a minute or two, but would quickly get himself back to sleep, sleeping until about 6:30 or so each day!!!  That was much easier than expected!
So, it was at this point that we decided to take a major risk.   It was time to cut out that 10PM feeding, meaning Levi would eat for the last time somewhere between 7:30 and 8.  We had tried this a couple of times before with the end result being that he would wake up around midnight and then every few hours after that.  BUT, we were hoping that now that he seemed to have learned how to get himself back to sleep and that now that we were confident he wasn't hungry, that we would have a different result this time.  We were  also hopeful, though, that the new bedtime wouldn't necessarily result in that much earlier of a wake up time.  So...
Night 1: Did just fine.  Slept straight through until 7 or so!!  I'm thinking he was really tired.
Night 2: Woke up around 1 or so...cried for 20 minutes...and then went back to bed until 6ish.
Night 3: straight through until 6:30.
Night 4: straight through until 5:30.
Night 5: straight through until 5:30.
Night 6: straight through until 7:30!!!
Night 7: straight through until 6ish.
And now, although I hesitate to type it (in fact, I'm attempting to cross my fingers/knock on wood as I do so), I think Levi is officially "sleeping through the night."  And let me tell you, it has made such a HUGE difference on all of our well-being.  And actually, those days of crazy-frustration that prompted us to start sleep training now seem like such a distant memory.
Any time I write a post like this, I feel the need to preface it with the fact that I am not pretending to be a baby expert.  I am just sharing what our experience was like in hopes of helping someone else out there...So, if you're like we were...on the fence about sleep training, unsure of if it will work, but frustrated because you feel like you're baby should be capable of it and worried that if you don't teach him/her now, it may get to be too late...well, I say go for it!

1 comment:

  1. Good job mama! And one great thing about him not taking the pacifier as that you'll never have to wean him from it. We currently only let Taylor use the pacifier when sleeping and car rides (and if she's particularly fussy b/c of teething). I'm not looking forward to weaning her from it.


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