Let me preface this post by explaining his sleep patterns thus far to give you an idea. He started sleeping through the night at 5 weeks old. I seriously thought I was the luckiest lady on the face of the planet. And I totally was because he continued sleeping through the night up until he turned 4 months. Then crap hit the fan. He hit the be-dreaded sleep regression hard rocking in sleep at 3 hour incriments. I thought I was going to die! I went from having a baby that slept 8pm to 8/9am to a baby that went to sleep at 7pm and woke just about every 3 hours until 7am and he was up for the day.
I think the biggest mistake I made was feeding him each time he woke. At four months when the regression hit I assumed he was growing and hungry and this wouldn't last but a few days. Wrong. This continued until I decided to do something about it when he turned 7 months last week.
I probably could have addressed this sooner, but I was being lazy about it. I knew if I fed him each time he woke he would go right back to sleep. The feedings lasted about 10-20 minutes so I would quickly feed and go right back to sleep myself.
So I started the sleep training on the 19th, a little over a week ago and I've stayed dedicated each night since. He hasn't slept completely through the night yet, but instead of every three hours we have worked down to waking only once a night. It's a beautiful thing and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel!
So..... you are thinking HOW did you do it? And WHAT are you doing?
I put Maddox down at 7pm every night no matter what unless we are out at an event or Jon and I are having a date night. If we are home, we start our bedtime routine at 6:45 and he's down at 7pm. Not asleep, but down. Maddox has always been one to be ready for bed and he'll let us know so putting him down isn't difficult. We change his diaper, put on pj's, say a bedtime prayer and then I nurse him and lay him down with a paci and blanket for sleep.
From this point on I chose to allow him a dream feed if he woke before 11pm and then hold off any more feedings until 5am or after. He dream fed at 10 or 11pm for about three nights before he dropped that feeding all on his own. After he dropped it I only feed him 5am or after. This means that any time he wakes up and cries I go in and give him back his paci, rub his back and softly "sssshhh" him until he calms down. I do not do this until he goes back to sleep, but only until he stops crying, whining, etc and lays quietly. Then I leave the room. In the beginning he would spit out his paci and begin crying again almost before I had even left the room. I would wait just a moment to make sure he was working himself up and then I would go back in and repeat what I just did. Then leave again. I did this as many times as it took for him to finally give up. It can be exhausting at 2am, but stay consistent! Then he would roll himself around and finally go to sleep on his own. This lasted about three days.
After those three days he finally understood I wasn't feeding him and I wasn't giving in. From then on he has only woken once or twice a night and it's only taken me one time to soothe him when I go in.
He wakes anywhere between 5am - 6:30 for a feeding and then he goes back down until about 8 or 8:30. It's still not a full night of sleep, but we are almost there I can taste it!
So here is a recap of the basics.
- establish a bedtime routine
- create some structure by sticking to a schedule
- don't go in unless baby is crying (let them grunt, moan, babble, etc)
- repeat the same soothing method each time so your baby begins to understand - stay consistent.
- don't give up! It may take your baby a couple days or a few weeks, but it will be worth it!
You can do this! If you have any questions please don't hesitate to ask in the comments below or email me at email@example.com
Happy sleeping to you.... eventually :)