I feel like such a cliché: here I am, trying to figure out how to get my 4 ½ month old child to sleep more. I think the problem is I know it’s possible – she has done it before. When Alex was about 10 weeks old, we started implementing routines of eat, awake, sleep, loosely based on Babywise (but no crying it out). And it worked. Within a couple weeks, Alex went from getting up around 4-5 times each night to once or twice, just in time for me to return to work. And for about 4 days there, she didn’t get up at all. We gave her a dream feed, but other than that, she would sleep all night long. But then, she didn’t. Starting about 3 ½ months, she started waking up early – about 3 or 4 in the morning. Being the sleepy head that I am at that time in the morning, I would run upstairs, grab her, and bring her into bed (why TX houses have the master room downstairs is just beyond me!). I’d give her a boob, and we would all sleep until the morning. I would wake up, and try to slip out of bed without anyone waking up. Which worked – sometimes. And then a couple weeks ago, she started waking up at 1 am, and at 4 in the morning! I would be happy with continuing to grab her and co-sleep, except to be honest, I wasn’t sleeping with her next to me. I love co-sleeping, I really do. If it were completely up to me, and if I didn’t work, I would probably do that forever, or at least until she got embarrassed in college about it… But when she’s next to me, and especially when she’s sleeping with my boob in her mouth (her preferred method), I don’t sleep. I may drift in and out, but I’m always very aware of where she is, whether covers are over her, if the hubs is moving, making sure he doesn’t crush her, etc. Also my position when she sleeps next to me is so uncomfortable that I get up every morning with an aching back.
When I started getting comments from the hubs about spoiling our baby, I knew that our co-sleeping was coming to an end. Plus I was starting to get very bleary eyed. And I firmly believe that good sleep is very good for children. I have so many friends whose kids get up every night and crawl into their parents beds, or won’t go to sleep at night. My friends spend hours putting them to bed each night, or have to hang out outside their doors to make sure their kids don’t come out after bedtime. This is not how I want to raise my kids! I also have a few friends who have raised their children to be good sleepers, and these are also the same kids who can go out to a restaurant and sit nicely at the table with their parents. These are the kind of kids I want to raise – those that are pleasurable to be around! The parents who with well-behaved kids tend to be the ones who have rules, and have done some sort of sleep training. Hubs and I have talked about this a lot, and we both agree that we should do this (and he helps – you should have seen the spreadsheets he developed during daddy daycare!). So a few days ago, when Alex cried in the middle of the night, I would go to her, nurse her and then put her back in her crib. And she was fine. We do this twice each night – once around 1, and once around 5 am. Then I wake her up at 7 to eat and get dressed, and we leave for daycare about 7:45. But how do I get her to drop the middle of the night feedings?
Two nights ago, I was feeling awful and exhausted. I’ve been fighting a cold all week, and I was just done. So I asked hubs to do the bedtime routine, including giving Alex a bath and a bottle right before bed. Thankfully he agreed, and so I went to bed. In 4.5 months, this was the first time that Alex was put to bed by someone other than me. Other people, including hubs, my MIL, daycare people, have put her down for naps just fine. But nobody else has done the bedtime thing. I figured it would be fine, but I wanted to test it out before a planned event in early April – we’re actually going to get a babysitter and go out! Well, it didn’t go well. We have a routine where if Alex cries after being put in her crib, we let her cry for 5 minutes, then console her, then 10 minutes, then console her, and keep going back every 10 minutes until she sleeps. She’s never cried after the 1st 10 minute consoling. Until Daddy put her to bed two nights ago… It did not go well. After listening to her cry and hubs trying to get her to calm down for a few sessions, I finally got out of bed and took over. And she went to sleep instantly without crying! He told me good job, but it’s a problem. I can’t be there every night to put her to bed!
I started thinking about our routines, and I think I’ve been feeding her to sleep at night. Either by nursing or with a bottle, I put her into her crib either asleep or super drowsy. And then in the middle of the night, when she cries, I immediately nurse her and she falls back asleep. Maybe I need to console her in the middle of the night without feeding her? And make sure she’s more awake when I put her in the crib at the beginning of the night?
Last night, I fed her right before bedtime, and she was super drowsy. But I pulled a book out, and read it to her with a lot more enthusiasm and excitement than I normally do at bedtime. She woke up a bit, and started to play with the pages (so cute!). Then I sang her a song, told her I loved her, and put her in her crib with her wide awake. I gave her a lovie (small silky blanket), turned on her mobile, and walked away. She fussed, not really crying, for about 2-3 minutes, and then fell asleep. And amazingly, I woke her up at 7 am!!! For the first time in over a month, she slept all night long!!! Now I’m smarter than I was before – I know this could be a fluke. But I have hope again – maybe this will work.
But I’d love to hear from others about sleep tips. Honestly, I can handle the middle of the night waking. It’s a special time that we have, and I kind of miss it when she sleeps all night. Because I’m a working mom, I cherish the time we have together, which is also part of the reason I loved sleeping with her! But the real problem is we need to make sure that other people can put her to bed. The babysitter that will be over in April needs to be able to put her to bed, and Daddy needs to be able to do it too! So we’re going to try to have him do it more. I have this dream of a glorious little sleeper that wakes up in the morning in a great mood – how do I get there?