I’m happy to say we survived the month of February. Between the bronchiolitis, ear infection, and sleep regression, we made it out alive. Once Brady’s ear infection cleared up his sleeping got remarkably better. We also made the decision to do a little sleep training. He got in the habit of waking every 1-2 hours when he was sick and sometimes he was waking every sleep cycle, which is about 45 minutes for him. He went from sleeping 6:15p-6:15a straight to that. It was a bit much. For the past 4 months we would swaddle Brady up, I would nurse him before bed and he would generally fall fast asleep. If not, we would have to walk with him in his room until he fell asleep. Although we don’t mind doing it, we would like to be able to just lay him in his crib, semi awake, and let him fall asleep on his own. It was becoming a sleep crutch for him so every time he woke up, he needed to fall back asleep the same way. We also wanted to get rid of the swaddle. He was starting to roll over onto his belly, while swaddled. Little man is STRONG! We realized this was an obvious sleep hazard and now was the time to rip the bandaid off so to speak. He wasn’t sleeping well as it was, might as well do it all at once.
We did sleep training on a Sunday night. It was not fun at all but his pediatrician said now is the time to do it. So I nursed him to drowsy as I always do and laid him in his crib, unswaddled in his sister’s pink sleep sack. We have a really nice sleep sack that he got from his Grammy but it is still a little bit big and covers his face if he moves around a lot so we aren’t comfortable using that one just yet. And I’m feeling too cheap to go out and buy a sleep sack just for the sake of a different color so he is rocking his sister’s pink one for the time being. (The week prior, I put him in the Merlin Sleep Suit after a night of him not sleeping and thrashing around while being swaddled. Brian was traveling so I was on my own that night. It was not fun. Anyway, the Merlin Sleep Suit is like a weighted down suit that he isn’t supposed to be able to roll over in it. However, a few nights prior he actually rolled over in it, told you he was strong, and I had to take him out of it. I almost feel like he was getting mad in the sleep suit too because although he could move his arms, it was much more difficult to do since the suit is weighted.) Back to our sleep training night- he fussed for a few minutes then went to sleep. At 9p he woke up crying. We went in there, rubbed his belly, but didn’t pick him up. Heart wrenching. He spent the next 2 hours crying on and off. From 9p-11p, we went in shifts, every 10 minutes to his room, rubbing his belly, letting him know we were there. Personally, I think that every time I went in there it made him more mad but who knows. He finally fell asleep for an hour and then woke up crying again. At this point it had been 7 hours since he last ate so I nursed him. He nursed ok, mostly a comfort thing I think since he generally didn’t really wake up at night before he was sick to eat. When he was finished, I laid him in his crib and he fell asleep. He woke up again at 3:45, crying. One of us, I can’t even remember who, went into his room and rubbed his belly, again, and he went back to sleep until we had to wake him up at 7a.
Some parents/people are against sleep training. I am not one of those parents. Don’t get me wrong, I despise doing it. It’s not fun. It goes against every single instinct in my body to let my child cry but I do know that it works and can be extremely effective. Sleep training doesn’t mean CIO (cry it out) either. It can mean pick up until calm, put down drowsy, repeat as necessary. Or it can mean doing hush/pats, which is patting the back or belly while saying shush. It can also mean doing checks at certain time intervals of your choosing. We chose 10 minutes. I can 100% tell you that I could never do the CIO method with extinction. That basically means you put your baby to bed, turn the monitor off, set your alarm for the next morning and don’t set foot in the baby’s room until then. I know people that do use this method and I don’t judge them for it but it is not a method I would be able to use.
Monday night I was nervous for what the night was going to be like. You know that anxiety you get as a parent, the unknown. I nursed him as I would and he was pretty awake when I laid him in his crib. He fussed on and off for 10 minutes, then rolled onto his side and was quiet. Brian and I were watching him on the monitor while giving Makenzie a bath and he just went to sleep. A few hours later, he rolled onto his belly, fussed for a couple minutes, laid his head down and slept all night on his belly. We had a very successful night. Since then, we’ve been able to lay him down pretty awake for bed and naps, and he goes to sleep on his own. Sometimes we have to go up there and pat his back and he will fall asleep within a few minutes. His daddy has the touch on this one. I go up there and pat his back and he just yells at me. Brian does it and he is out within minutes.
One thing I learned from his pediatrician is that when they are crying during some sort of sleep training it’s not because they are in pain. Crying is their only form of communication and they are simply protesting the change. That was one thing I kept reminding myself on Sunday night. He is dry, he is fed, he isn’t hurt… he is crying because, well, he is pissed off and wants someone to hold him because he isn’t sure how to self sooth right now.
Today, he is a belly sleeper. He starts off on his back and sometimes within 5 minutes or sometimes within 2 hours he is flipped on his belly and generally stays that way all night. He really likes being free and not swaddled. He can suck on his hands if he wants and just has a freedom to move around. He sleeps the same way at daycare as well. We are trying to stretch his wake time’s during the day because most of the time he is still taking 4 naps. The naps are short, usually 30-45 minutes long. So, we are extending his wake time’s to anywhere from 2-2.25 hours hoping that he will learn to consolidate his 4 naps to 3 and start stretching them out a bit too. It’s a work in progress but we will get there. He won’t be on 4 naps forever. His pediatrician said that naps can be tough especially when they are sleeping 11-12 hours straight at night. Cat naps are normal at this age and by 6 months they should really start working themselves out. I do remember that by 6 months old Makenzie was on 2 naps already. It’s crazy how different babies are! What works for one may not work for the other. We are finding that out now. 🙂