Friday, August 27, 2010

sleep training, final attempt. day two.

7.30 am / good morning
11.10 am / asleep in stroller, which is dragged up to the second floor and placed next to a fan
12 pm / awake/falls asleep on his own in stroller
12.50 pm / awake
8.10 pm / nurse/five books/plays with trains
8.25 pm / bedtime/shhh night night/loveys/2 short cries
8.40 pm / asleep

to be continued....

i used to read that you're supposed to put your baby to bed sleepy but not asleep. i didn't understand what this looked like until now. as a newborn, leon would nurse til almost asleep, and then we would bounce him for 10 minutes, lay him on his back with our hand on his chest, and wait 20 minutes. during the day he would play, kick vigorously, smile, and then a split second later, scream, freaking out. i would rush to nurse him, and he would inevitably fall asleep at the breast. by the time he was 3 months old, i was nursing him to sleep in bed. at 6 months, i attempted to sleep train him. i would nurse him for a while and then rock him until asleep. once placed in the crib, he would start flailing and screaming. at this point he began vomiting from crying so much.

every time we tried to sleep train him, we failed. i tried the no cry sleep solution and manage to break the suck to sleep association after several weeks. but i could never get leon to stop nursing at night. we tried dr. jay gordon's method, but even after he started falling asleep without nursing, he never slept for more than a 2 hour stretch before needing us to help settle him again. so i gave up and went back to nursing him to sleep. unfortunately the 2 hour stretch became routine even with night nursing.

and now, i can't even believe how smoothly it has been going. he's visibly tired when i nurse him. i tell him 'night night' and he crawls into the bed and lays his head on the pillow (which he started doing 3 weeks ago). i place his two loveys next to him, and he touches them. i say 'shh, night night,' and he closes his eyes, shakes his head, and tosses from side to side a few times.

this is what normal should look like.

it all seems so easy, i now understand how crazy i must have seemed to everyone else who successfuly sleep-trained a baby at 6, 10, or even 12 months. this is just a theory, but i believe that not all babies are ready to fall asleep on their own until they've reached the developmental stage that is right for them. for leon, i think being more verbal is what helps. he now understands 'night night' and my promises to stay with him until he's asleep, and my repeated declarations of how much i love him.

it all seems so easy now, but it was not easy getting to this point. i am still following the dr. jay gordon method, but for some reason, everything is falling into place now. i don't think i'm doing anything different this time, i just think that leon is more mature, more equipped to handle sleep on his own. we'll see how it goes.


Mona said...

Great news, do not give up if you have a set-back: if Leon does not have his molars yet: they hurt and will keep him up.

at 18 month, one nap also helped us

Christine said...

Sounds like a light-bulb moment...and just in the nick of time (you're going back to work pretty soon)!

I agree with you that each child reaches that period of readiness (for whatever the milestone may be, whether falling asleep on their own or something else) on his or her own timeline, and in his or her own way. Parents are there to help guide and support them, but then to get out of the way. Having said that, I think the learning curve for new parents is just as steep as that for babies, so the "guide and support" part above is easier said than done.

I wish you continued success on the sleep-training, Erica!

Stephanie said...


Hooray for you and hooray for Leon!

Catherine said...

Fan-tastic! You all deserve this, especially you. Well done, I know it's so hard having been here before (and still going through it on the occasion). Audrey won't go to bed without her lovey (a multi-colour caterpillar a bit like Eric Carle's) - the odd time I put her to bed without it she would be frantically looking for it.

I, too, agree with each child being different and being ready when they are ready. My two have been quite different.

Hoping that as I type this you are all fast asleep, enjoying sweet slumber.

valerie said...

ohhh i'm so happy for you, i could cry! what a wonderful feeling. i totally agree that some babies are ready earlier than others and that having some words/signs helps so much.

we were just starting to talk about sleep training when the molars decided to poke through. it has been a very rough three weeks with little sleep. i'm definitely going to check out dr. gordon's method when these chompers are all in.

Amanda said...

So glad for you. And I completely agree about the readiness idea, though I would add that the parents also must reach their period of readiness... I know I had to.
When we finally started getting our evenings, and then our nights, worked out, I felt like a new person. When we have our occasional set-backs (due to teething, or travel, or sickness, or just a difficult night), I find it hard to believe that we survived for almost a year with so little sleep.
I can tell from reading what a thoughtful and giving mother you are. And as a fellow mother and frustrated academic, I understand the conflicted feelings of total devotion to (and physical need for) your baby and also the need to get away, to have freedom to work. I just do the best I can, and I think it is pretty good.
Thanks for sharing all this.

Anonymous said...

I am SO HAPPY for you both. I'm sure you're right that being more verbal is making a huge difference for him, and want to echo Mona about set-backs. Growth spurts or a passing illness could also temporarily disrupt things at some point in the future, but I think you'll find it much much easier to get them back on track now that you know that comfortable sleep is possible. Congratulations!

shelley said...

Oh hooray! It's such a shock, isn't it, when everything is finally (quite nearly) so normal. While we managed to wean quite neatly, I feel like it was only a few weeks ago that Sadie wouldn't go to sleep unless she was holding my hand. Now I just put her in bed with her water bottle and mr. pig and leave the room. Amazing. Congrats!!!

Amanda said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amanda said...

You are doing it! Even if there are relapses - its so encouraging to know that if you made some progress now you can continue to move forward. I think the parents and the kids have to be ready too. And doesnt real sleep feel AMAZING?

L said...

So glad to hear this, E!

Anonymous said...

your words encourage me a lot. my son (almost a year) is horrible at night and sometimes i'm horribly mad at him and then sorry the day after. i hope i will really find the faith in him finding his falling-asleep-method sometimes.